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Surrey County Council DMA case study

Surrey County Council’s new Target Operating Model sets out the principle that structures (as a default) should be with six spans and six layers. The Community Protection, Transport & Environment Directorate used the DMA process to support the intelligent application of this principle. 

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Decision Making Accountability (DMA) takes a bottom up approach, its focus is to support our frontline services so that improving outcomes for our residents is at the heart of organisational design. Based on over 200 interviews with staff, the process identified how decisions are made in the directorate and gave compelling evidence to support the identification of over layering and service redesign. 

The LGA provided over 40 hours of support and training to the directorate to deliver this programme.  

The challenge

The directorate is very large and diverse. It has developed over time and some structures evolved organically. There are also many technical experts within the Directorate (planners, engineers etc.) with many managing only one or two staff members. This meant staff were wary and worried about the impact of the process. The size of the directorate also meant that over 200 interviews were required - therefore time and resource intensive. Delivery is in two phases: Phase 1 was completed in April 2019 and phase 2 will be complete in April 2020. 

The solution

The DMA process recognises that an expert does not need to manage staff allowed flexibility in applying the six spans and six layers principles. Application of the findings will result in a leaner and more efficient design for the directorate whilst protecting the frontline services that matter to our residents. 

The impact

  • Phase 1 £1m
  • Phase 2 tbd

How is the new approach being sustained?

Future restructures be they service wide or local will be based on DMA principles so that it remains embedded. 

Lessons learned

Consider group interviews rather than individual for some categories or use drop in sessions. Ensure that communications about the process are really clear to address any concerns that staff may have about being selected for interview. 


Sarah Kershaw: [email protected]