DM challenge toolkit


Kickstart / re-invigorate your improvement work
The DM Challenge Toolkit is based on what we've learned from high performing councils of all shapes and sizes. It is designed to challenge and improve your service and is structured to help you to engage with staff, managers, councillors and other stakeholders of the DM service.

The toolkit is an ideal way of focusing your improvement work and is useful as part of a wide-ranging review or for simply making a few process changes. 
 
What does it cover/how does it work?
It covers the whole DM process and the overarching issues around leadership & management. To do it all at once might be quite overwhelming, so we've designed it to be used in smaller parts - ideal if you're pressed for time, for including as a part of a regular improvement/team meeting, or for focusing in on specific parts of the process. The format is very simple, it works by: 
 
• Outlining the practice of good councils and the key issues;
• Posing some questions to challenge current practice in a way that allows people to do the thinking themselves to understand how to move towards a better way of working.

Is there a cost?
The toolkit is free to download and councils are welcome to use it themselves. Sometimes it is more effective to have someone external lead the process to prevent it becoming perceived to be the performance management of individuals. We have several experienced staff who can put together a successful session for you for under £5k.   

Please contact martin.hutchings@local.gov.uk if you'd like to discuss the toolkit or would like some help using it. 

Who is it for? 
 
The toolkit is designed to help councils think properly before taking on change and improvement work, whatever their circumstances or whatever is providing the stimulus for change. It will be particularly useful for:
 
Authorities designated/in danger of designation
- Identifying what to stop doing to "get out the hole" and back on track 
- Provides the structure for sensible and realistic conversations about risk with leadership
 
Cash-strapped authorities
- Helps councils differentiate the "must do" Vs "nice to have"
- Focuses on the big picture and maximising income/reducing cost
 
'Cruising' authorities
- Guards against complacency and can provide a stimulus to ‘shake things up' every now and again involving officers & councillors
 
High-performing authorities
- Complementing the cycle of learning, and keeping staff engaged and empowered to identify and effect change and improvement 
- Reinforcing and understanding the culture/purpose of the service
 
Groups of councils preparing to collaborate
- Councils can often trip themselves up by failing to understand and appreciate differences in approach before combining processes. This toolkit helps draw out these differences so a common process can be agreed.  
 
When to use the Toolkit
 
There are no hard-and-fast rules about using the Toolkit; it can be used as a sense-check or critical review for current ongoing improvement work, or as a means to stimulate thought and ideas to kick-start a new programme of change and improvement. It will work best where it is used as a ‘continuous improvement' tool rather than for ‘one-off' projects, and when used to engage staff and other stakeholders in the design of improvements rather than imposing it upon them.  
 
Early feedback suggests that councils intend to use the Toolkit as part of:
 
regular team meetings – working through the various sections in sequence or concentrating on known problem areas as part of regular team meetings
 
team ‘away-days' – many councils will take their team away for a day to plan changes and improvememts and the Toolkit can proivide a useful focus and structure.
 
focused, concentrated improvement work – 2 or 3 focused days working through the Toolkit and creating an improvement programme 
 
geographical groups – facilitated sessions working through common issues and sharing good practice
 
councillor engagement – the Toolkit's has a specific section on political leadership, and covers the councillor role at each stage of the DM process (not just the committee).