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“To implement the new Central Revenue Information Office and reflect on the change management lessons of implementing a major front-line project.”

Abstract

The purpose of this project was to undertake a major customer service improvement project, while at the same time improving change management learning, centred on improved engagement with staff. The project also focussed on enhanced accommodation, multiple channels of delivery, accessibility and diversity.

Underlying the project methodology is action learning. The research methodology involved reviewing the implementation of the project and its outcomes. The methodology includes a personal reflection on each objective. It also includes the reflection of some key participants. This action research methodology was considered the most suitable for the people centred action approach adopted for this project.

The project has improved the customers experience in Revenue's largest public office, while increasing organisational and individual capability through action learning. An overarching learning point is that, for front-line change, people have to be at the centre. A people centred change model is proposed. The people centred change model identifies the lessons learnt, particularly the benefit of engaging with staff. Leaders need to provide or support processes that allow people to innovate and change. However, leaders and processes need to be focussed on people. This model may assist in the planning of, and implementing, front line change in a public sector organisation.

The action learning approach is specific to the reflective context of the project. This may restrict the ability to generalise on the results. Different contexts may require different approaches. The senior manager of the team also undertook the research and this may have led a less critical reflection from the participants.

1 Context for the Project

1.1 Rationale for the Project

The rationale for the project was to undertake a major customer service improvement project, while at the same time improving change management learning, centred on improved engagement with staff. The initial project outcomes have shown an improved customer experience in Revenue's largest public office, while increasing organisational and individual capability through action learning.

1.2 Background to the opening of the Central Revenue Information Office (CRIO)

Revenue is a good example of a mandatory service provided by a monopolistic public body with statutory authority to involuntary customers. It involves a more complex relationship, with the need to have taxpayer agreement to be successful (Hederman O'Brien, 1997).

The concept of serving the citizen is reflected in Revenue's mission “To serve the community by fairly and efficiently collecting taxes and duties and implementing import and export controls” (Revenue, 2005, p.4). The Revenue Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 notes, “our Citizens expect good service ... as a right” (Revenue, 2005, p.5) and commits Revenue to providing quality service to all their customers, including innovative e-services and self-serve options.

The development of quality customer service is central to Revenue's strategy of facilitating and maximising voluntary compliance with the tax and customs codes (Revenue, 2005). The reason for this focus is that, if there is a greater level of voluntary compliance, and greater use of e-services and self-service by customers, this will allow Revenue to devote more resources to tackle those who pose a risk of non-compliance.

The context to this customer focus comes from the problems with the Irish Tax System up to the late 1980's. The administration of taxation in Ireland had virtually broken down and non-compliance was a major problem (Commission on Taxation, 1986). The tax system was fundamentally changed with the introduction of self-assessment. As a result, Revenue undertook a Quality Customer Service (QCS) initiative, requiring a major cultural change. The appropriateness of the term customer in a mandatory relationship was debated internally. Staff accepted the concept that improved service delivery would make it easier to gain and retain customer loyalty, once it was made easier to comply, by rewarding compliance with better service and discouraging slippage back into non-compliance (Humphreys, 1998).

An integral part of this change was the development of the mission statement and the publication of a Charter of Rights (Revenue, 1989) for customers. Revenue integrated QCS into its business planning processes, improved information leaflets and consulted stakeholders. Humphreys (1998) notes that perhaps the most significant change of all was the opening of the CRIO, Dublin, a one-stop customer focussed approach. He notes that it was possible to fundamentally reorient the organisation from being process oriented to being focussed on the needs of its customers completely changing the public's perception of Revenue. The Joint Oireacthas Committee on the Strategic Management Initiative's First Report (2001) recommended that lessons from Revenue's QCS should be applied to the wider public service.

1.3 Increasing Demands

In 1992, the CRIO was designed to deal with up to 150,000 callers per year. By 2006, caller volumes had increased to over 300,000 per annum. This put significant pressure on the physical accommodation and capacity to provide adequate customer services. Revenue's Customer Service standard for public offices was “We will … ensure that you do not have to wait more than 10 minutes to be attended to.” (Revenue, 1996, p.11). In 2005 44% of customers were attended to in less than 10 minutes.

The work of the CRIO has become more difficult in recent years with the changing profile of customers. Almost 70% of callers are now non-Irish nationals and language difficulties are increasing. This customer profile is expected to continue to change over the medium term. The citizen's experience of private sector service, particularly e-enabled service, has also increased citizen expectations (Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002).

1.4 Personal Context

In June 2005, I was appointed as District Manager, City Centre Revenue District. This is the largest and most diverse Revenue District in Ireland with almost 200 staff. The District consists of seven Assistant Principal Officer (AP) led Units. One of these Units includes responsibility for the management of CRIO operations and a PAYE customer service section. The CRIO has 40 staff, in eight Executive Officer (EO) lead teams, under the management of the CRIO Manager, a Higher Executive Officer (HEO).

On taking up duty in the District, it was clear that there were severe demand pressures on CRIO, with queues on the street, poor customer service standards and regular complaints from the public and their representatives. A business case was prepared to obtain additional accommodation and undertake a major refurbishment project. Agreement was obtained to proceed with the project in November 2005.

2 Concepts of the Project
2.1 Literature Review

The review of literature relevant to this project noted that there are a number of main themes that influence successful change in the public sector. This review will consider customer focus, quality, culture, leadership, and employee engagement.

2.2 Customer focussed public service

The idea of citizen-focussed government is as old as the concept of democracy. Plato (c.360BC/1987) noted the need for governments to rule not for their personal enjoyment but to do what is in the interest of the community. The concerns about public sector effectiveness are worldwide (Heeks, 1999; OECD, 2001, 2006). Most reforms are based on business-model solutions for government and are focussed on improving effectiveness by providing a choice of services to citizens at the lowest possible costs, the model of New Public Management (NPM). Osborne and Gaebler (1992) advocated the idea of customer driven government, meeting the needs of citizens rather than the bureaucracy. However, the public sector is different to private business. It is required to respond to different social, political and cultural contexts, adapting to changing citizen lead social demands and values (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2004; Noordhoek & Saner, 2004).

The terms client, customer, consumer and citizen are often used interchangeably and can lead to confusion (Humphreys, 1998). The terms client or consumer imply a degree of dependence, oversimplify the relationship between government and citizen, and can strengthen the idea of elitist politics (Box, 1999; Ciborra, 2003). In most situations, the public does not have a choice when looking for public services. Citizens have rights that go beyond those of customers or clients. Furthermore, citizens not only have rights, but also obligations, to pay taxes and to respect laws.

This complex relationship limits the appropriateness of Business to Customer relationship terminology for Government to Citizen relationships. However, it is helpful to have some acceptable terminology to explain the concept of user centred service. Mintzberg (1996) distinguishes customers from clients, citizens and subjects. He notes that you don't have to call someone a customer in order to treat them well or ensure that services are designed with them in mind. This broad concept allows other terms such as client, customer and consumer to be linked to citizen (OECD, 1986). As Gaster & Squires (2003) note, the one value that is common to all public service organisations pursuing quality improvement is “citizen-centred”.

2.3 Transforming the relationship between government and citizen

The citizen's experience of private sector service, particularly e-enabled service, has increased citizen expectations of public services (Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002). Governments have recognised the need to improve their relationship with citizens and putting citizens' needs at the centre of public services (Cabinet Office, 2005). Deloitte Research (2000) note that customer centric governments achieve nearly 50% more success in providing easier customer access, increasing service volume, getting better information on operations and improving their own image. As the Centre for Digital Government (2003) note, the central theme of digital government has been transforming the citizen experience, expanding citizen convenience and choice, moving people from “in line” to “on line”.

Key to transforming the relationship is understanding the needs of the citizen. This requires systematic engagement with stakeholders, communicating and consulting, to ensure that expectations are realistic and achievable (Barnett, 2002; Hirschheim & Klein, 2003; Cabinet Office, 2005). Engaging users provides an input in the design of services, and improves the understanding of the service expectations of citizens and businesses. One aspect of citizen engagement that also needs to be considered is that of community. There is a need to look at how services can be brought together to improve the whole community (Putnam, 1993; Denhardt & Denhardt, 2003).

2.4 Quality

Quality is a major theme in management thinking. One of the predominant contributors to thinking on quality, Deming (1986), noted that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organisations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs. He advocated continual improvement and systems thinking. Osborne and Gaebler (1992) argue that a government agency's survival depends on improved productivity and quality.

However, there are challenges of applying the principles of quality management, primarily manufacturing techniques, to public sector organisations (Deming, 1986; Rago, 1994). Stringham (2004) cites Harari (1997) that only about one in three Total Quality Management (TQM) programmes in public and corporate institutions achieve significant improvements in quality and performance. Stringham (2004) suggests that, to address quality, major changes in public management practices are required to address leadership, culture, practice and processes, particularly staff involvement.

Organisations require processes and tools to continuously improve quality. A good example of such a process is Hartley's (2004) framework, 1, for fostering innovation and improvement. This is similar to Deming's (1986) Plan, Do, Check, and Act cycle.

A Framework for fostering innovation and improvement

Incubating and prototyping

ì

î

Generating possibilities

ã

ä

Replication and scaling up

ë

í

Good practice transfer

Source: Hartley, 2004

This framework allows for the exploration of different options, testing ideas before wider development and the further refining of ideas, with appropriate feedback.

Particular care is needed in organising innovations that challenge the status quo. Kawalek & Temren (2003) suggest creating a special project team, with independent time and resources, having high-level sponsorship and then for the organisation to consider plans to integrate with existing structures. It is similar to suggestions of building independent units (Bessant et al, 2004; Christensen & Overdorf, 2000).

2.5 Organisational Culture

Organisational culture refers to the shared patterns of beliefs, assumptions and expectations held by organisational members, and their way of perceiving the organisations artefacts and environment, and its norms, roles, and values (Bowditch & Buono, 1994). Schein (1985) suggests that culture consists of three dimensions - assumptions, values and artefacts. He notes the need for an organisation to develop a culture that enables it to adapt to the changing environment and, simultaneously maintain itself through internal integration. Leadership is noted as playing a significant role in the cultural change process. However, achieving a degree of consensus or ownership of change is also necessary.

Culture is central to the change process and to the attainment of strategic objectives (Bluedorn & Lundgren, 1993). Burke (2002, p.13) notes it is “the way we do things around here” and it is the people component of organisational change. He notes that changing values is difficult and likely to be resisted so most change is focussed on behaviour.

A number of similarities have emerged in research on culture. There is an emphasis on values, as they are both more accessible than assumptions and more reliable than artefacts (Howard 1998). The concepts used to identify and describe culture tend to be similar, identifying the competing influences of the internal/external and control/flexibility divides within organisations, based on the open systems approach (Senge et al, 1999; Quinn, 1996). A good example is Zammuto & Krakower's (1991) framework; adapted by Parker & Bradley (2000), 2.

Despite the development of such models, there are difficulties in measuring the dimensions of culture. Schein (1990) noted insufficient linkage of theory with observed data. However, in the organisational change and innovation process it is necessary for managers to understand the current organisational culture (Kanter et al., 1992). Models can help in developing change management and innovation strategies that are appropriate for the organisation.

2.6 Culture within Public Sector Organisations

Despite the changing nature of management in the public sector, most organisations continue to demonstrate a bureaucratic, hierarchical organisational culture. The traditional model of public administration includes a system of rational rules and procedures, structured hierarchies, formalised decision-making processes, top down change, short-term thinking and advancement based on administrative expertise (Bozeman, 1979; Quinn, 1996). Stability and predictability are central characteristics of the traditional model (Perry & Rainey, 1988; Quinn, 1996).

NPM has sought to achieve a greater orientation towards change, flexibility, entrepreneurialism, outcomes, efficiency and productivity (Osborne & Gaebler, 1992). It also advocates more participatory and flexible forms of work organisation designed to improve commitment among employees. However, the NPM reform agenda may conflict with the culture of public sector organisations.

Because of the public sector's unique environment the level of change required for innovation and creativity could be argued to be greater than the private sector (Doyle et al., 2000; Boyle & Humphreys, 2001). Many initiatives are slow to be implemented (PA, 2002; McDonagh, 2004; OECD, 2006) or are incomplete and inadequate (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2004). This may be due to insufficient attention to the culture of the organisation. Attempts to change have been hindered by a culture that stresses stability and conservatism through bureaucratic processes aimed at minimising uncertainty and risk (Brooks & Bate, 1994). Organisational strategies need to be developed with an awareness of existing organisational culture within public sector organisations (Harrow & Wilcocks, 1990). Implementing quality management in the public sector requires a comprehensive culture change, which requires sustained leadership, and employee involvement at all levels (Stringham, 2004).

2.7 Developing a Culture of Innovation

Most public sector organisations are knowledge based and increasingly dependant on innovation. Innovation needs to be a core activity as it helps public services to improve performance and increase public value, improve responsiveness to citizens, increase service efficiency, and minimise costs (Cabinet Office, 2003). This requires organisational capacity to change people and their behaviours. Organisational culture is particularly important in this regard (Tushman & O'Reilly, 1997; OECD, 2001; Iske, 2006). Amabile et al. (1996) note that work group supports, challenging work, encouragement, freedom and sufficient resources are stimulants to creativity, while workload pressures and organisational impediments (such as culture, internal politics, risk avoidance, emphasis on status quo) are obstacles to creativity.

Denhardt & Denhardt (2001) noted that to develop an innovative culture requires paying attention to core values and addressing all aspects at the same time, working through and with people across and outside the organisation. Their study noted that, to change core values, people need to be involved, with an opportunity for all to participate in defining and promoting the values. By considering how innovation is approached, people can feel involved, valued, responsible and empowered, rather than frustrated and resistant to change. The challenge is to prepare the minds of employees by providing evidence that innovation is possible and desirable, and by giving them the skills they need to act when the need arises (Bessant et al, 2004). With time, consistency and perseverance you can develop a culture of innovation that respects and values people, enhances their trust and confidence and over time develops capable and innovative staff (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2001).

Martins & Terblanche (2003) developed a useful model to identify how organisational culture influences creativity and innovation, 3. It shows how strategies, organisational structure, support mechanisms, behaviour that encourages innovation and communication, operate to either support or stifle creativity and innovation.

However, such models do not fully take account of the extent of external barriers to innovation. Neely & Hii (1998) note that external barriers include the lack of infrastructure, deficiencies in education and training systems, availability of skilled workforce, and inappropriate legislation. Heeks (1999) also notes structural/cultural barriers between organisations, citing lack of incentives and poor coordination and information sharing.

2.8 Leadership

Leadership at all levels is required to create the environment to encourage change. Burke provides a useful description of a leader: “It is the leader who articulates and brings together the external environment and the organizational mission, strategy, and culture and then provides a vision for the future: the destination, the change goal(s).” (Burke, 2002, p.240).

Zalenick (1977) questioned whether managers and leaders were different, arguing that management theorists were missing half the picture; the half with inspiration, vision and the full spectrum of human drives and desires. Kotter (1995) noted that management and leadership are different but complimentary, and in a changing world, one cannot function without the other. He compares the primary tasks of the manager and the leader, noting that managers promote stability and cope with complexity; leaders press for and cope with change. Only organisations that embrace both will survive turbulent times.

Many theorists have developed models to explain the interaction of the different factors affecting managers/leaders. Schein (1996) identifies three cultures of management; Operator, Engineer and Executive, whose lack of alignment often hinder learning and change in an organisation. Quinn (1996) notes that managers are expected to play four general competing roles: vision setter, motivator, analyser and taskmaster.

2.9 Transformational Leadership

Burns (1978) developed the initial ideas on transformational and transactional leadership and Bass (1985) further developed these. Transactional leadership is developed from the interaction process between leaders and subordinates where the leader provides rewards in exchange for performance. Burns's (1978) transformational leaders are those who bring about change, never leaving a situation the way they found it, and the organisation will be a different organisation as result of their leadership. Bass's (1985) view of transformational leadership includes trust in and emotionally identifying with the leader, encouraging questioning of how things are done, and considering the individuals need for learning opportunities.

Transformational leaders often engage in a phased process that includes recognising the need for change, creating a new vision, and then institutionalising change (Tichy & Devanna, 1990). Ford & Ford (1994) suggest that leaders create change by providing a vision that is attractive to followers rather than creating dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Kotter (1995) notes that the transformational leader can play a critical role in communicating how the changes have led to better performance and ensuring that the next generation of top management follow the new approach. In Quinn's (1996) four roles model, the vision setter and motivator are transformational roles. The vision setter attends to the future, remains up to date with emerging trends, focuses on purpose and direction, and communicates a sense of where the company will be in the future. The motivator attends to commitment, emphasises values, challenges people with new goals and aspirations, and creates a sense of excitement.

There are similarities between the various models and frameworks. Fernandez and Rainey (2006), having looked at a wide variety of models and studies, identified eight factors that leaders must address to ensure successful change, noted in Table 1:

Table 1 Factors affecting successful change

Factor 1

Ensure the Need

Factor 2

Provide the Plan

Factor 3

Build Internal Support for Change and Overcome Resistance

Factor 4

Ensure Top-Management Support and Commitment

Factor 5

Build External Support

Factor 6

Provide Resources

Factor 7

Institutionalise Change

Factor 8

Pursue Comprehensive Change

Source: Fernandez and Rainey (2006)

However, the capacity to undertake successful transformational change can be affected by how leaders learn from the past. Organisations and individuals often look at the past to decide the future and end up repeating what was previously successful, ignoring the fact that the environment has changed (Martin, 1993). Some are trapped in the past, struggling to make today's reality fit yesterday's answers (Senge et al, 1999). Others can fall in to psychological traps that anchor their decisions based on the past, the status quo, or using only evidence confirming a personal view (Hammond et al, 1998). Leaders are not always able to overcome their own cultural biases and to understand that elements of an organisation's culture are dysfunctional for survival in a changing environment (Schein, 1995).

The importance of leadership as a factor in public sector transformation is well documented. Most literature on the NPM includes leadership as one of the factors affecting change (Osborne & Gaebler, 1992; Moore, 1995; Denhardt & Denhardt, 2003; OECD, 2003). However, leadership in the effective management of change was identified as a weakness in the delivery of Irish public sector reform, (Boyle & Humphreys, 2001; McDonagh, 2004; PA Consulting, 2002).

There are also alternative views on the importance of leadership in organisational change. There would be a view that the role of leadership in change is exaggerated, change being a function of environmental factors, leadership being just one factor. Romanelli and Tushman (1986) emphasise the discontinuous nature of change where external shock is required for radical change. Senge et al (1999) challenges the myth of the Hero/Leader, noting that not all change starts at the top. Boyle and Humphreys (2001) note that a top-down approach alone is unlikely to lead to successful change given the scale of other issues involved.

However, even where there are different views on the importance of leadership, most commentators recognise that leaders have unique responsibilities to inspire, support and sustain change.

2.10 Engaging People

Employee engagement is a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values, along with a willingness to help colleagues (CIPD, 2007). Townsend and Gebhardt (2007) note that despite the enormous money spent on “quality solutions”, such as Six Sigma and ISO, the implementation often suffered from lack of employee involvement and leadership, or concern for the human factor. An analysis of TQM notes that there is too much focus on tools and techniques and not enough on the human factor, and building the right culture (Dahlgaard & Dahlgaard-Park, 2006). Building sustainable capacity to continuously improve or innovate requires developing and encouraging creativity from the people in the organisation. More than 50% of successful innovations do not come from the top (Borins, 2002; Cabinet Office, 2003) and there is a need to encourage front-line staff (Meyerson, 2001).

Organisations don't resist change; people do (Senge et al, 1999). Therefore, there is a need to develop the capacity of managers, at all levels, to manage people (Mintzberg, 2004). Fleming & Asplund (2007) note that engagement is primarily a local phenomenon and local managers need to be developed and empowered to foster engagement. Leaders need to provide, or support, processes that engage people to innovate and change.

To achieve quality, staff need to be empowered with responsibility for their own areas of work (Quinn, 1996; Townsend & Gebhardt, 2007). Osterman (2001) notes most new systems give employees more say over how to do their jobs and encourage greater teamwork, flexibility and problem solving. Rafferty et al (2005) note that employee engagement is a two-way mutual process between the employee and the organisation. It taps into Maslow's highest order of need, self-actualisation, the full emotional, intellectual and values commitment and potential of staff (Burke, 2002).

Engaged staff are key in the value chain. They note that support for the goals of the organisation; effective leadership; supportive colleagues and work unit; tools, authority and independence to do the job; career progress and development; and workload, are possible drivers of employee engagement in the public sector.

In the UK, Ipsos-Mori (2006) research indicates that the public sector needs to improve in the core areas that can lead to enhanced employee engagement, such as clarity of direction, effective communication and management. It concludes that the public sector needs to concentrate more on how it manages change and develops leadership capability, to deliver on the reform agenda.

3 Objectives of the Project
3.1 Improved customer services

There was a need to improve the service level to customers. Revenue's Customer Service standard for public offices was “We will … ensure that you do not have to wait more than 10 minutes to be attended to.” (Revenue, 1996, p.11). In 2005, only 44% of customers were attended to in less than 10 minutes. Customer service standards are measured daily and reported monthly, using the queue management software. In fact, service levels were worse than that, as the measure only counted time spent from when customers received a ticket for the internal queue. At peak times the queue to pull a ticket often went onto the street. Customers occasionally had to wait up to two hours to be served.

The expectation of customers has also increased. Citizens want better services, more choice, more convenience and improved customer services from government (Davis, 2007).

3.2 Enhanced accommodation

The existing accommodation provided 20 public counter service desks, 40 waiting seats and one interview room. It was designed to accommodate around 150,000 customers per year. There was a need to increase this capacity to deal with the growth in caller volumes, up to 2,000 callers per day, over 300,000 in 2006, and provide scope for future demands. There was also a need to provide a more comfortable waiting area and to minimise the need to queue on to the street.

3.3 Information Technology (IT)

A key element of Revenue's customer focus was the IT development of Integrated Taxpayer Services (ITS). The traditional legacy systems were based on separate tax and duty systems, with no integrated view of the customer. Citizen centred service requires coordinating and integrating delivery from across internal silos (Heeks, 1999; Accenture, 2001; McDonagh, 2004). From the mid-1990's Revenue invested in progressively developing integrated systems to present a holistic approach to business processes, customer relationships and e-government. A key element of the customer focus in Revenue was the development of ITS. Revenue has also implemented innovative Integrated Correspondence and Voice over Internet Protocol systems. These systems link scanned correspondence, to phone and information systems to create a customer relationship management system that includes pop up screens for caseworkers. The success of IT innovations allowed Revenue to maintain its staffing levels at c.6,500 since 2000 despite a 29% growth in the national labour force, which increased from 1,745,000 in 2000, to over 2,247,000 in 2007 (CSO, 2007).

3.4 Multiple channels of delivery

Revenue had developed more on-line services, the latest being self-serve for PAYE employees and improved telephone call centre service. The new CRIO needed to provide scope for encouraging the use of self-serve facilities, providing a choice of channels, including assistance to those who choose self-service options.

The concept of one-stop shop government underlies much of the debate on e-Government. However, a lot of focus is on using the Internet channel and the cost reduction potential and not necessarily on the benefits to existing service delivery channels. Schellong and Mans (2003) note that a counter service is still ranked second in terms of customer preference, the first being the Internet, with call centres third.

A multiple channel strategy is required to improve service delivery. Matching the service user with an appropriate channel and creating an appropriate interaction experience is a key challenge. Channels such as phone and Internet can now be blended and this has increased customer expectations. With multi-channel delivery customers can self-serve, or be serviced through more than one channel (Moore & Flynn, 2004). Channels for direct interaction, such as counter and telephone services, are still required for more complex, urgent issues, along with providing access for those who cannot access online services (European Commission, 2004; Australian Government, 2005). Targeting repeat transactions and pointing out to users the faster, easier and more convenient channels for future contact would encourage future use of on-line services (Australian Government, 2005).

3.5 Accessibility

The project needed to address the wider accessibility agenda. Under the Disability Act 2005 and Equal Status Acts 2000-2004, each Government Department must ensure that reasonable steps are taken to make its services accessible to people with disabilities. This presented particular challenges in this project as it involved the refurbishment of two existing buildings. Both were built before the 1960's, to lower standards and there were multiple levels, with consequent connectivity difficulties.

Access is also a significant issue in developing services. People with disabilities and other groups without adequate technology, skills or literacy are at a disadvantage when accessing e-services (Arch & Hardy, 2004). European governments have significant challenges to make e-services fully accessible and inclusive (Cabinet Office, 2005). As Dugdale et al (2004) note, there is a strong correlation between low rates of the use of the Internet and those who receive significant government support. Kiosks, or public access points, can be successful in enhancing accessibility (Slack & Rowley, 2004). They can assist in bridging the digital divide by providing access to groups that do not have adequate access to technology.

3.6 Diversity

The population of Ireland is changing rapidly, with immigration growing. Internal surveys of CRIO customers indicate that over 70% are non-Irish nationals and many have difficulties with communicating in English. The project needed to looks at ways of improving service to this more diverse customer base. There are also cultural awareness challenges. Some academic research suggests that ethnically diverse countries have lower tax compliance levels than homogeneous countries (Rothengatter, 2005; Schneider & Torgler, 2006). Revenue must ensure that its customer service and other programmes can meet the challenge of diversity.

3.7 Staff Engagement

The project had to encourage real staff engagement and local partnership. People need to be engaged and supported to participate in change and develop innovation. By considering how change is approached, people can feel involved, valued, responsible and empowered, rather than frustrated and resistant to change (Amabile et al., 1996; Bessant et al, 2004; Hamel, 2007). There is a need to develop a culture of innovation that respects and values people, enhances their trust and confidence and over time develops capable and innovative staff (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2001). It needs to involve front-line staff, as more than 50% of successful innovations do not come from the top (Meyerson, 2001; Borins, 2002; Cabinet Office, 2003). Innovation needs to be a core activity. It helps public services to improve performance and increase public value, improve responsiveness to citizens, increase service efficiency and minimise costs (Cabinet Office, 2003). Organisational culture is particularly important in this regard (Tushman & O'Reilly, 1997; Parker & Bradley, 2000; OECD, 2001; Iske, 2006).

To encourage innovation and staff engagement, staff groups were set up within CRIO to identify improvements required in the new CRIO. Groups were assigned action areas such as physical accommodation, service to non-Irish nationals, whole government/self-service, accessibility, and art-work/signage. In addition, the District meeting and Team meeting formats were changed to encourage all staff to consider new ideas to improve service.

3.8 Housekeeping meetings

A “House-keeping” group was formed between local management and local unions to discuss all proposed changes in advance. This quasi-partnership approach addressed the partnership agreement model for change management. Sustaining Progress (2003) par. 22.12 provides for informing unions in advance of change, with sufficient time to allow for a partnership approach to discussions.

However, the partnership and staff involvement approach has potential to challenge Revenue's traditional adversarial Industrial Relations culture. In a previous role as Revenue's Personnel Officer for Industrial Relations, I experienced resistance to limited changes, such as temporary outsourcing of routine data entry work, improving selection processes and cross-functional team working. The housekeeping meetings were intended to avoid the adversarial potential and discuss real issues, as they arose, with staff representatives.

3.9 Pilot new initiatives

Some project initiatives used “pilots” to overcome initial resistance. Any failures or mistakes were treated as a learning experience. At every opportunity, the management team walked the floors, met teams and encouraged any new ideas, developing communication that was more open. Unknowingly, similar elements of Martins & Terreblance's model (2003), 3, were applied in influencing the direction of the District and the pilots operated on the lines of Hartley's (2004) framework, 1, and Kawalek's (2006) “bubble strategy”. This “pilot” process allows for exploration of different options, testing ideas before wider development, refining and evaluating ideas, with appropriate learning feedback.

3.10 Revenue Culture

The Irish Revenue continues to display a bureaucratic/hierarchical culture. As noted in section 2.6, the barriers to innovation in the public sector include a bureaucratic culture that is risk averse, focused on short-term pressures, poor change management skills, no reward or incentives to innovate, constraining cultural or organisational arrangements and an over-reliance on high performers. In preparation for this dissertation, all 18 members of the Dublin Regional Management Team (RMT) received a questionnaire by email. It was based on Parker & Bradley's (2000) analysis of 6 Australian Organisations and their adaptation of the competing values framework noted in 2. The results of this survey are shown in 5. The analysis indicated that the current culture is dominated by the rational model and the internal process model, with the internal process model slightly less dominant. The indication is that the Regional culture is control focussed, with an emphasis on production and rule enforcement. It reflects a more externally focussed model of bureaucracy than would be expected in the traditional theoretical model of the public sector.

The analysis indicates that the RMT would like to move away from the rational model towards a more balanced model with a more developmental and group culture. A more personal and caring culture is desired. There is no indication of a desire to reduce the formalised rules and policies associated with bureaucracy. There is an indication of a need to reduce the production and task focus. However, the biggest change required is in developing a more flexible, dynamic, risk taking and innovative culture.

3.11 Action Learning

Underlying the project methodology is action learning. While the staff groups were not titled Action Learning Sets, they were encouraged to question and reflect at each stage of the project. The staff groups tackled real problems in real time, taking account of the business setting and dealing with a large group of people (Revans, 1980). The groups learnt through experience, experimentation, discussion, action and reflection.

3.12 Research methodology

The research methodology involved reviewing the implementation of the project and its outcomes. The methodology includes a personal reflection on each objective. It also includes the reflection of some key participants. The reflections of two groups were captured during meetings facilitated by me. The research includes the personal reflection of four key members of staff on their personal experiences. Each was at a different grade level, from the AP-Customer Services Manager, the HEO - CRIO Manager, an EO -Team Manager and a Clerical Officer - Team member. Their reflections were captured by way of semi-structured one to one interviews. A copy of the proposed questions was given in advance to the interviewees, appendix D. The semi-structured interview method has advantages in obtaining unique information and reflective opinions about the research setting. Hannabuss (1996) notes that it is flexible, accessible, and can identify important and often hidden aspects of human behaviour and belief. The individual interviews also identify broader lessons for further and future action in terms of improving public service delivery and may help the learning experience of the participants. The interviews were taped, which allowed me to concentrate on the flow of the interview. The taped interviews were transcribed and the interviewees were given copies to allow them to make any changes or amendments they considered necessary.

As noted in 3.10, the research also included an organisational culture survey of the Dublin RMT. The questionnaire was almost identical to that used in Parker & Bradley's (2000) analysis of 6 Australian Organisations, a copy of which was kindly obtained from Dr. Lisa Bradley. There were 16 responses, giving a response rate of 89%. A copy of the questionnaire used in this project is attached Appendix C. Carefully developed questionnaires are an objective means to capture knowledge, values, beliefs and behaviours (Sapsford, 1999).

This action research methodology was considered the most suitable for the people centred action approach adopted for this project. The main goals of the project had to be delivered. It also reflects the need to encourage values of engagement, continuous improvement, responsiveness and on-going learning.

4 Outcome of the Project
4.1 Enhanced accommodation

The new CRIO opened to the public on 26 June 2007. The physical environment for customers improved significantly, meeting the main project objective. The floor area, customer seating and customer counters have all more than doubled, increasing capacity to deal with the growth in caller volumes. As a result, the public no longer have to queue on the street.

A significant new feature is an Outreach centre. This is available to provide customer education seminars on Revenue obligations.

4.2 Improved customer services

Since the opening of the new CRIO, standards have improved, from 44% to c.70 % of customers now seen within 10 minutes, and there have been no complaints from the public or their representatives about the customer service levels or the accommodation. An analysis of CRIO customer service comment cards over the past three years indicate the reduction in complaints and an increase in positive recorded feedback.

Table 2: Analysis of CRIO Customer Comment Cards

Complimentary

Complaints

2005

7

23

2006

12

15

2007 (to 31/10)

13

7

Source: Internal Document, Operations Policy and Evaluation Division, 31.10.07

The feedback from the interviews notes the continuous review of customer services, e.g. the reception arrangements, to maximise potential of increased accommodation. This continuous review process is similar to Hartley's (2004) model, noted in 1, of the exploration of different options, testing ideas before wider development, the further refining of ideas, with appropriate learning feedback.

4.3 Multiple channels of delivery

The new CRIO provides the citizen with maximum choice of channels for service, similar to that advocated by Moore & Flynn (2004). New channels include an Internet café type facility, where PAYE Self-serve and REACH Services are now marketed fully on the arrival of a customer. Assistance is available to those who self-serve from trained customer service staff. In addition, four self-serve stations also have access to the PAYE Employee telephone call centre, to enhance seamless service from self-serve to assisted service. The main channel of full service for public caller remains. This channel is available for more complex issues, or where access to online service is not available or a suitable channel (European Commission, 2004).

4.4 Accessibility

The physical environment of the new CRIO was adapted to maximise accessibility and to comply with the Disability Act 2005. In addition, assistive technology was installed. This includes loop systems for hearing impaired, large format and audio response software for the visually impaired, and special keyboard and roller-mouse for physically impaired. These measures address many of the accessibility challenges noted by Slack & Rowley (2004). CRIO staff also received additional training on disability awareness. In recognition of the measures taken during the project, CRIO was awarded the quality standard in the National Disability Authority (NDA) Excellence through Accessibility Award in August 2007.

4.5 Diversity

To address the need to improve service to Revenue's more diverse customer base a number of measures were implemented during the project. Four polish speaking staff were recruited and are integrated as part of the CRIO work-teams. CRIO staff have translated the most popular forms into the most frequently used other languages. They have received additional training on cultural awareness, and a presentation on Polish culture. Some staff received specialised training in other language skills. In addition, an outreach programme for new businesses, to be delivered in other languages in CRIO, has been developed. The first pilot presentation, in the Polish language, to new businesses was made on 8 November 2007. These measures should address some of the compliance issues of a heterogeneous society, noted by Rothegatter (2005) and Schneider & Torgler (2006).

4.6 Staff Engagement

The project was used to involve staff in all aspects of implementation. This was done through a number of staff groups being assigned particular tasks. Issues addressed by the Groups included accommodation, customer service to non-Irish nationals, self-service/whole government and accessibility. The District and team meeting formats were also changed to encourage all staff to come up with new ideas to improve their work, getting staff to take personal responsibility for their own area of work.

Staff engagement is an ongoing feature; with all staff groups continuing to action learn and develop new ideas. The long-term aim is to create a highly engaging work environment that inspires staff to give the very best of themselves (Hamel, 2007). Based on Heintzman & Marson's Model (2006), noted earlier in 4, this should lead to improved customer satisfaction, trust and confidence in Revenue. Ultimately, this should contribute to Revenue's goal of improved voluntary compliance.

5 Organisational Learning
5.1 Organisational learning

Revenue has benefited from this project in two ways. Firstly, customer services have significantly improved with the implementation of a major customer service project. CRIO has been restored as the flagship of Revenue customer service in Ireland. Secondly, the organisation can benefit from the action learning and participative approach used to implement the project, which will be explored in the following sections. This could have longer-term benefits, with a greater understanding of organisational culture, capability development, customer focus, leadership and the need to engage and empower staff.

5.2 Flagship service

The new CRIO is now recognised within Revenue as a flagship service. The new CRIO has been visited by Revenue customer service managers from throughout the country, and abroad, to see what can be, and has been, done and to learn from the experience of CRIO. Statements from senior management visitors include

“You have set the bar in the CRIO, even higher than it was set before and that is a good thing”, …

“It's great to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world walk into a public office and to immediately see they are respected by an organisation through the excellence and quality of the office and it goes without saying the courtesy and quality of the staff.”, and

“You've certainly re-set the bar for front-line customer service. It was quite an experience to observe such a positive working environment.”

The CRIO benefits from a performance focus on customers, with a measurable target of 80% of customers being attended to within 10 Minutes. It also now has a focus on improving the customer experience, which is more difficult to measure.

5.3 Organisational Culture

As part of the preparation for this dissertation, a limited survey of Revenue's Dublin RMT was carried out, see 5. The survey findings indicate that the Regional culture is control focussed, with an emphasis on production and rule enforcement. It reflects a more externally focussed model of bureaucracy than would be expected in the traditional theoretical model of the public sector. This is similar to the views expressed by the interviewees that the culture of CRIO was previously bureaucratic and process focussed. The CRIO manager noted it was hierarchical, with instructions coming from above down. The CRIO team leader notes a ‘boss and boy type situation' with dicktat from the top. However, the external focus, centred on delivery of quality customer service, was also evident.

On reflecting on the project, the move towards the human relations and open model is evident in the team working and increasing staff involvement in managing their own area of work. The Customer Service Manager notes the culture is ‘stimulating' and the change from ‘being told what do and that is all you did' to ‘all of a sudden you have to activate your brain'. The Team leader notes everyone wants to be in CRIO. The people centred action approach helped achieve this change.

5.4 Capability Development

The project has developed the capability of the staff in CRIO. The CRIO manager noted that she was stretched beyond what she thought she was capable of, but is now confident she could lead a similar project again. The CRIO team member also notes increased confidence in providing customer service.

The staff in CRIO also noted that they felt that the project and processes used have been a worthwhile learning and capability developing exercise. Staff in CRIO have had to learn new skills. The CRIO manager developed good networking and project management skills. She notes that the groups improved their team-working and organisational skills, and they became more self-reliant. The team member stressed her greater independence, confidence and responsibility. She notes improvements to her communication skills. Specific groups developed capabilities relevant to the responsibilities of their groups, such as health and safety. Staff also developed a wider awareness of issues such as disability and non-Irish national culture.

The CRIO manager also notes that the learning is ongoing, ‘it has to be to deal with change'.

5.5 Customer Focus

One of the major goals of the project was to improve customer service delivery. This customer focus permeates through all the research. The CRIO manager noted that even during the transition phases in temporary accommodation the focus was on service delivery to the public. The team member notes that every team's goal was clear; improving customer service. The pride the teams have in delivering quality customer service is also evident from the reflections and the statements of senior management visitors, quoted earlier.

The project reaffirmed the CRIO team commitment to Revenue's mission, serving the community. This higher purpose was self-motivating for the team. The focus and motivation was strong enough to encourage change. The recognition and acceptance of a problem with the level of customer service also helped ensure the need for change, and build internal support for change and overcome resistance, as noted in 1 (Fernandez & Rainey, 2006).

5.6 Leadership

Leadership at all levels was required during the project. The project followed similar lines noted by Tichy & Devanna (1990) where there was a phased process of recognition of the need for change, the creation of a new vision and then institutionalising change. The other factors affecting successful change, noted by Fernandez & Rainey (2006), see Table 1, were also addressed. The CRIO manager notes the benefit of support from the Board of the Revenue Commissioners in the delivery of the project. This internal support helped overcome resistance and blockages and develop commitment. It also ensured the resources were available. The reflections note that the goals and vision were clear and that management of the project was left to the front-line teams. The ongoing nature of the groups also indicates an attempt to pursue comprehensive change.

The role of the local managers in leading the project was particularly important, supporting the views of Fleming & Asplund (2007). The role of the CRIO manager and team leaders became more complex. They had to guide and nurture their teams. They had to encourage greater communication between and within groups and teams. They also had to reinforce the changing values of openness and front line responsibility. The team member notes how her team leader and the line managers all supported and encouraged her. However, she also notes that not all team leaders got involved as much as they could and this meant that the some members of other teams did not benefit to the same extent.

5.7 Engaging staff

The project was built around engaging staff. This was done through the working groups, the team/staff meetings and the District meetings. Staff were encouraged to get involved in managing and taking responsibility for their own areas. The CRIO manager noted that, along with ownership, staff had a greater sense of pride and greater enthusiasm for their work. She notes that they are ‘a very committed group of people'. The enthusiasm of the team member from involvement is also evident. She notes the great level of collaboration within the team. The team leader noted, “people like to be involved in the running of their organisation. … It makes people more proud of the job. It is nice to be listened to.' The staff groups noted that they felt ownership and responsibility for dealing with real work issues. Outside observers have noted the positive work environment created by this level of staff engagement.

Most staff welcomed change, enjoying new experiences and new challenges. The change was worth working for, they care about improving service to the community, and they have a clear purpose. CRIO staff have the opportunity to self-actualise, and bring their full emotional, intellectual and values to bear in their work. One experienced team leader's comments, on taking a career break, noted it was “easily the best job I've had in the civil service to date, I really enjoyed it”.

The team member's enthusiasm for getting involved, her desire to have a positive say about how things are done, and her statement that, now, everyone in CRIO is open-minded to new ideas, confirms the benefit of staff engagement. The team leader notes that ‘It was quite an exciting time. People embraced the change.' He also notes the ‘catalytic affect' of everyone wanting to get involved when they saw others involved and enjoying it. This level of engagement has resulted in the institutionalisation of change and the pursuit of ongoing improvement (Fernandez & Rainey, 2006). The team leader notes how ‘we need to look at it (continuous improvement) all the time, to see if there is any way to improve things.'

An interesting outcome from the process is the change in union/management relationships. The team member was also a union representative. She notes no conflict with her union role, saying she was there ‘to see what we can do … if you can sort it, sort it.' She also notes that ‘being part of CRIO I can have a say in doing things differently.' This level of engagement has transformed the local union/management dynamic and is a good example of the successful application of a partnership style approach, in conjunction with greater staff engagement.

5.8 Limitations

There are a number of limitations to this project and the analysis that may impact on applying conclusions in a wider context.

The action learning approach is specific to the reflective context of the project. This may restrict the ability to generalise on the results. Different contexts may require different approaches. However, the project had particular local relevance and the underlying lessons may have relevance for similar local change initiatives in the future.

The level of consultation and listening to customers could have been greater. To be more customer focused, there is a need to connect staff to their customers and with each other. It was intended to set up a customer consultative panel. However, this was superseded by a Revenue Policy to set up such panels on a Regional basis. The Dublin Regional Panel has been set up and that panel will deal with consultation on the services provided by CRIO.

The level of engagement with staff in CRIO was restricted by the need to continue to meet the day-to-day service to customers. With growing demands this restricted the capacity to give all staff time to get involved in groups and time to reflect. Some additional staff resources for the duration of the project may have increased the scope for engaging with all the CRIO team.

The small number of staff interviewed is also a limitation. There may be perceptions of bias towards my values in the selection of such a small sample. Also their Senior Manager directed the interviews and that might have reduced the level of openness and honesty, particularly of potential criticism. However, the reflections of the groups, noted in appendices A and B, may have helped to counter balance that limitation.

The interviewees understanding of some of the concepts and terms used may have limited the feedback. For example, the meaning of culture in the context of organisational change may not have been fully understood. This restricts the value of feedback on some of the more academic concepts. The questionnaire type approach used with the Regional Management team may have been more appropriate for such an exploration. Carefully developed questionnaires are an objective means to capture knowledge, values, beliefs and behaviours (Sapsford, 1999).

The scope for creativity at a front line level is limited by IT systems, which restrict front line capacity to change the way they work. The scope for front line staff to influence the design of Revenue's front-line systems, which can impact on processes, is limited at present.

6 Personal Learning
6.1 Personal Learning

The project has been a very positive personal learning experience. My previous experience of change management was at an organisational level, negotiating and implementing Revenue restructuring and grade integration. This project focussed on change management at a front line level in the implementation of a major customer focussed project. My experience to date in implementing this project suggest that a way to overcome these barriers and to improve innovation is to address leadership; processes; and people. All need to be tackled at the same time in a way that is systemic and continuous, in order to create the climate for change. However, engaging people is an absolute essential to getting ownership of change.

The project was also a personally enriching process. It provided an opportunity to deliver a major change project, while developing the capability of the organisation and myself. I learnt the value of spending time listening, learning and reflecting. Next time, I might try to consult even more broadly and listen even more intently.

6.2 Leadership

From the project, it is clear that leadership is required at all levels to change the culture and be more flexible and responsive (Borins, 2002; Martins & Terblanche, 2003). I had to be supportive and create a climate for change and flexibility. The CRIO manager notes how important this was for her in the project. Front-line and middle managers also need to feel empowered to lead. A central part of my role was encouraging the customer service manager, the CRIO manager and team leaders to lead the project. She notes that the direction they were heading was clear, they had to “go out” how to get there. I had to encourage flexibility and responsiveness, and to move more towards the open systems and human relations models of organisational culture, noted in 2. The CRIO Manager notes that I provided a “safe environment” for people to have their say.

There was a risk of the line management being anchored by their bureaucratic experience; used to following instructions; ensuring tight supervision; and following detailed role profiles. This formality can disconnect staff from customers and disengage employees. However, in changing approach, line managers had to face up to a fear of giving up authority, giving up the status quo where their positions were based on rank. This was a challenge for the line managers. The check and balance of hierarchy initially caused them to question providing time and space to engage with staff. The question “Who will do the day job?” was often asked at the beginning.

On a personal level, from the reflections of others, my style of leadership appears to be more transformational than transactional. I appear to have created a sense of urgency, a supportive coalition, a vision and strategy. I appear to have communicated the change vision, involved and empowered staff, and generated quick wins. This is similar to many aspects of Kotter's (1996) change model. The CRIO manager notes my “open door policy”, where I provide a safe environment for people to say what they need to say without it having a direct repercussion on them afterwards. The team member notes how comfortable she is in discussing ideas with me. This was because I was always on the floor; I was ‘part of CRIO'.

6.3 Processes

A learning point was that the project benefited from processes and tools needed to support changes in behaviour to improve flexibility and responsiveness. This process adopted in piloting new initiatives, is similar to the special project team approach suggested by Kawalek & Temren (2003).

The project also benefited from reduced internal, rule-enforcing constraints that exist within Revenue. The staff groups and revised meeting focus created a local action centred change model. The CRIO manager, her team and the groups were all encouraged to be more flexible, with an external customer focus. This required reducing formalised rules, permitting innovation and encouraging calculated risk-taking. She noted ‘If you bring something in (in) a more phased basis, see what the problems are, it is better, because then when you get to the final goal the staff and yourself have kept up with the changes.' This is similar to Hartley's (2004) pilot process, noted in 1. The groups also encouraged continuous improvement, with the vision, plan, do, and reflect cycle repeated. The team member notes how positive the pilot process was in identifying problems and finding solutions, so that the changes would work.

6.4 People

A key personal learning point was the benefit from engaging and supporting people to develop behavioural change. I developed my own capacity and the capacity of other CRIO line managers, at all levels, to manage people and make decisions in a complex environment (Mintzberg, 2004). To change the remnants of a culture of blame, there was also a need to ensure that we got over the fear of failure, giving staff at all levels the confidence to suggest new ideas, and provide time and “safe-space” to experiment. The CRIO manager noted that there was a fear amongst some staff that they couldn't talk up, that if they said something it could be held against their manager. However, she also noted how an open and safe environment was being created and how essential this was.

The management of the project was also made easier by sharing the burden of a major project with bottom up support and ownership. The people centred approach creates an interest in the project. Staff were given responsibility for designing aspects of their work. There were formal consultation mechanisms through the group and housekeeping structures. All the reflections note that the additional involvement in groups was not seen as a burden. They also note that their jobs are much easier now that the changes have taken place. This has increased the desire for continuous change and involvement in the process from the staff interviewed.

An overarching personal learning point is that to change the culture, there is also a need to bring the three elements together, with people at the centre. Leaders need to provide or support processes that allow people to innovate and change. However, leaders and processes need to be focussed on people.

7 Change Management Lessons
7.1 Change Management Lessons

This project provided insight into the complexity of change management in the Irish Revenue. It tested many aspects of change management in its implementation.

The project highlighted the success of a people action change model. The key points learnt are the basic foundation requirements to establish the need for change, creating a new vision; top level support; adequate resources; and a focus on continuous customer focused service improvement. Institutionalising the change can occur through a focus on leadership, processes and people.

In addition, bottom up change requires leadership advocates to succeed. Along with supportive executive leadership, front-line and middle managers also need to be empowered to lead and to move more towards the open systems and human relations models of organisation culture. 6 is a graphical description of the people centred action change model that represents the approach, and the foundation factors in place, for this project.

Empowered People

Leadership

For the success of this model to be replicated, leadership, processes, and people need to be developed to ensure Revenue staff continue to develop the values and assumptions that are required to be flexible and responsive.

* Leadership is required at all levels to support the developing change in culture. Executive leaders have to be supportive and create a climate for flexibility and responsiveness. Front-line and middle managers also need to feel empowered to lead.

* Processes and tools need to be provided to support changes in behaviour.

* People need to be engaged and supported to change behaviours. This includes developing the capacity of managers to engage and involve their people.

All three areas require to be tackled at the same time and it needs to be systemic, organic and continuous (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2001; Hartley, 2004). However, perhaps the one stand out area from the project, often neglected in change initiatives, was the people area. Particular attention is required to engage, involve and empower staff to ensure continuous improvement and to take ownership of change. The use of pilots, in an action-learning environment, is a good example of how all three areas can be brought together in a systemic, organic and continuous manner.

7.2 Communicating the lessons

The lessons of this project could lead to a greater understanding of organisational culture, capability development, customer focus, leadership and the need to engage and empower staff within Revenue. Already, some of these lessons have been or are being communicated.

The results of the organisational culture survey were presented to the annual Dublin RMT two-day conference in September 2007. Following the presentation, the Team agreed to work towards the desired future culture based on the analysis. The analysis indicated the Team would like to move away from the rational model towards a more balanced model with a more developmental and group culture. There is an indication of a need to reduce the production and task focus. A more personal and caring culture is desired. However, the biggest change required is in developing a more flexible, dynamic, risk taking and innovative culture. A sub-group of the team has been tasked with identifying the steps on how to achieve the desired culture and to address the leadership challenges facing the Region.

The success of the project, in all areas, has been acknowledged by the Board of the Revenue Commissioners and the Revenue's Management Advisory Committee. This has led to an increase in the number of internal and international visitors to the CRIO to see what was done and to learn the lessons of the project. A €30m Revenue property renovation project in Dublin was approved in mid-2007. This will impact on more than 500 staff. The lessons on establishing the need for change, creating a vision, leadership, pilot processes and, in particular, engaging staff, are all being applied in this project.

To widen the understanding of the lessons, I propose to develop a presentation on the project to be delivered to all senior managers within Revenue. This presentation will be designed for presentation at one of the bi-annual Revenue Senior Manager's conferences.

Appendices

Appendix A: Note of meeting, CRIO Self-Service/Whole of Government Group

7 August 2007

This group was set up in September 2006 to consider suitable channels for self-service and development of whole government approach in the newly renovated CRIO.

The group made a number of suggestions to progress self-service and whole government approach in CRIO. These included identifying the most viewed public service sites for access in CRIO, Revenue PIN change/replacement facility, Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) service level issues, additional facilities on Revenue PAYE Self-serve (e.g.. 1st time employment), and third party certification (e.g. housing forms).

Progress had been made on access to sites, Revenue PIN facility and DSFA service levels. Additional facilities requested will be included in a future release of self-service. The third party certification issue was raised with Revenue's Operation Policy and Evaluation Division and Customer Service Network. Discussions are ongoing to reduce the need for citizens to have forms stamped in Revenue through exchange of information and modification to other agencies procedures.

The reflections of the group included that they had made good progress on real issues. The members of the group felt they had developed their own capability and experience by learning through their action, and reflecting on progress and reviewing further changes that might be required when actions were completed. The group felt that they were making a difference in CRIO. They also felt ownership and responsibility for real issues. There was a sense of pride in making progress. However, there was also some frustration at the slow level of improvements from outside agencies. The group was also happy that CRIO staff knew where to bring suggestions or ideas on improving self-service and the whole government approach

The group were happy to continue to meet and work on their issues. The individuals did not see the work as an extra burden.

Appendix B: Note of meeting, CRIO Customer Service to Non-Nationals Group

2 August 2007

This group was set up in September 2006 to consider improving the level of service to non-Irish Nationals in CRIO.

The group made a number of suggestions to progress improving service to non-Irish nationals. These included identifying the recruitment of staff with particular language skills, translation of more concise and relevant information of certain forms, translating lists of frequently asked questions, basic taxation advice to provided to Citizen's Advice Bureaus and advice to colleges to include on fee receipts information that tax needs to be paid to obtain a refund on fees.

Progress had been made on recruitment of Polish speaking staff. Four Polish nationals are now employed in the District. Some difficulties with work permits have been encountered in recruiting staff with Chinese language skills. Staff with Hungarian, Bulgarian and Russian language skills were also recruited on temporary contracts. More forms have been adapted and translated into other languages. The most frequently used form, 12A for 1st time employment, has been made more concise and translated into the seven most popular foreign languages. Local links have been established with the Citizen's Advice bureau in relation to the provision of relevant information. The college fee issue was raised with Revenue's Operation Policy and Evaluation Division.

The group felt that they had made useful progress on real issues. The recruitment of new Polish staff, in particular, was considered a valuable addition to the team given the numbers of Polish customers with English language difficulties. They felt Revenue could do more to identify existing staff with language skills for assignment to areas where this could improve service delivery.

Most members of the group thought they had developed their own capability through their experience in the group. They felt that they had all learnt through the cycle of plan, action and reflecting, and re-acting. They also felt ownership and responsibility over their area of work. The group was also satisfied that CRIO staff knew where to bring suggestions or ideas on improving self-service and the whole government approach

The group were happy to continue to meet and work on the service delivery issues. The individuals did not consider the group-work as an extra burden.

Appendix C: Dublin Region Organisation Culture Questionnaire

SECTION A: CURRENT CULTURE

These questions relate to the type of organisation that the Dublin Region is most like. Each of these items contains four descriptions of organisations. Please distribute 100 points among the four descriptions depending on how similar the description is to the Dublin Region. None of the descriptions is any better than others; they are just different. For each question, please use all 100 points.

For example: In question 1, if Organisation A seems very similar to the Dublin Region, B seems somewhat similar, and C and D do not seem similar at all, I might give 70 points to A and the remaining 30 points to B.

Each question is independent of each other.

For example: if I gave 70 points to A and 30 to B in question 1, I might give 10 points to A, 60 to B and 30 to D in question 2.

1. Dublin Region's Character (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A is a very personal place. It is a lot like an extended family. People seem to share a lot of themselves.

Organisation B is a very dynamic and entrepreneurial place. People are willing to stick their necks out and take risks.

Organisation C is a very formalized and structured place. Bureaucratic procedures generally govern what people do.

Organisation D is very production orientated. A major concern is with getting the job done. People aren't very personally involved.

2. Dublin Region's Managers (All managers in region) (Please distribute 100 points)

Managers in Organisation A are warm and caring. They seek to develop employees' full potential and act as their mentors or guides.

Managers in Organisation B are risk-takers. They encourage employees to take risks and be innovative.

Managers in Organisation C are rule-enforcers. They expect employees to follow established rules, policies, and procedures.

Managers in Organisation D are coordinators and coaches. They help employees meet the organisation's goals and objectives.

3. Dublin Regional Organisational Cohesion (Please distribute 100 points)

The glue that holds Organisation A together is loyalty and tradition. Commitment to this organisation runs high.

The glue that holds Organisation B together is commitment to innovation and development. There is an emphasis on being first.

The glue that holds Organisation C together is formal rules and policies. Maintaining a smooth running operation is important here.

The glue that holds Organisation D together is the emphasis on tasks and goal accomplishment. A production orientation is commonly shared.

4. Dublin Region's Organisational Emphases (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A emphasises human resources. High cohesion and morale in the organisation are important.

Organisation B emphasises growth and acquiring new resources. Readiness to meet new challenges is important.

Organisation C emphasises permanence and stability. Efficient, smooth operations are important.

Organisation D emphasises competitive actions and achievement. Measurable goals are important.

5. Dublin Region's Organisational Rewards (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A distributes its rewards fairly equally among its members. It's important that everyone from top to bottom be treated as equally as possible.

Organisation B distributes its rewards based on individual initiative. Those with innovative ideas and action are most rewarded.

Organisation C distributes rewards based on rank. The higher you are, the more you get.

Organisation D distributes rewards based on the achievement of objectives. Individuals who provide leadership and contribute to attaining the organisation's goals are rewarded.

SECTION B: DESIRED CULTURE

In Section A you described the type of organisation that the Dublin Region is most like. In Section B we would like you to describe the Dublin Region as you would ideally like it to be. For each question, please use all 100 points.

1. Dublin Region's Character (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A is a very personal place. It is a lot like an extended family. People seem to share a lot of themselves.

Organisation B is a very dynamic and entrepreneurial place. People are willing to stick their necks out and take risks.

Organisation C is a very formalized and structured place. Bureaucratic procedures generally govern what people do.

Organisation D is very production orientated. A major concern is with getting the job done. People aren't very personally involved.

2. Dublin Region's Managers (all managers) (Please distribute 100 points)

Managers in Organisation A are warm and caring. They seek to develop employees' full potential and act as their mentors or guides.

Managers in Organisation B are risk-takers. They encourage employees to take risks and be innovative.

Managers in Organisation C are rule-enforcers. They expect employees to follow established rules, policies, and procedures.

Managers in Organisation D are coordinators and coaches. They help employees meet the organisation's goals and objectives.

3. Dublin Region's Organisational Cohesion (Please distribute 100 points)

The glue that holds Organisation A together is loyalty and tradition. Commitment to this organisation runs high.

The glue that holds Organisation B together is commitment to innovation and development. There is an emphasis on being first.

The glue that holds Organisation C together is formal rules and policies. Maintaining a smooth running operation is important here.

The glue that holds Organisation D together is the emphasis on tasks and goal accomplishment. A production orientation is commonly shared.

4. Dublin Region's Organisational Emphases (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A emphasises human resources. High cohesion and morale in the organisation are important.

Organisation B emphasises growth and acquiring new resources. Readiness to meet new challenges is important.

Organisation C emphasises permanence and stability. Efficient, smooth operations are important.

Organisation D emphasises competitive actions and achievement. Measurable goals are important.

5. Dublin Region's Organisational Rewards (Please distribute 100 points)

Organisation A distributes its rewards fairly equally among its members. It's important that everyone from top to bottom be treated as equally as possible.

Organisation B distributes its rewards based on individual initiative. Those with innovative ideas and action are most rewarded.

Organisation C distributes rewards based on rank. The higher you are, the more you get.

Organisation D distributes rewards based on the achievement of objectives. Individuals who provide leadership and contribute to attaining the organisation's goals are rewarded.

Appendix D: Draft questions for semi-structured interviews.

What was your involvement in the CRIO Project?

Were you ever involved in a similar project?

If yes, how did this differ?

How would you describe the culture of CRIO before the project?

Were the team's goals clear?

Was there support for these goals from the CRIO team?

Was there a clear goal of continuous service improvement?

Were new ideas encouraged?

What processes to encourage ideas/improvement were used?

Were you involved in piloting/experimenting with a new idea?

What did the team learn from the pilot/experiment?

Was management supportive? Was there leadership?

How?

Were your colleagues supportive?

Did you have the tools, authority and independence to do the job?

Did your team achieve its goals?

What worked?

What could be improved/done differently?

What internal communications processes were used?

What worked?

How could they be improved?

How would you describe the CRIO culture now? Different?

Overall: Any lessons?

For you?

How did involvement in project benefit you?

Did it improve your capability?

How could you have been involved more?

Team?

How did project benefit CRIO team?

Did it improve team capability?

How could the team been involved more?

Organisation?

How did project benefit organisation?

Did it improve organisational capability?

How could you have been supported more by organisation?

Customers?

How did project benefit customers?

How could customers have been involved more?

To what extent is the learning ongoing? Substantial, some, none, too early

How would you describe the impact on your career progress and development? Substantial, some, none, too early

How would you say your workload changed after the project? Substantial, some, none, too early

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