8 September 2015
We’re making some changes to how we work, and we’d like to share the details with you.
CSRA is run by volunteers from across the Civil Service. In the last 12 months, over 50 LGB* civil servants have given up significant amounts of their time to help us do our work.
Having so many people willing to lead and shape our work is fantastic. It also presents challenges for how we prioritise, coordinate and make decisions.
We all do this in our spare time, so we need an organisation structure that is lightweight, responsive and that delegates decision making to where it has the most direct impact. We wanted to share some of the lessons we’ve learnt recently about how we work, and how we’re changing to make CSRA better for members, volunteers and the broader Civil Service.
Understanding the problem first
Over the last year, a number of our volunteers haven’t been able to get involved with CSRA as much as they used to. We wanted to understand why that was: so we asked them.
For some, it was because they couldn’t take time out of their working days to help – something Ben Summerskill also highlighted as a concern in his report, Don’t ask, don’t tell.
Others weren’t sure what decisions they could make and how they could impact on strategic direction. They didn’t feel confident about how to get their voices heard amongst so many other volunteers.
We’ve changed our structure and decision making to reflect what we’ve learnt. We’ve kept the things that work well for us, whilst iterating on the things that didn’t.
The team is the unit of delivery
We now have 4 teams: networks, communities, regions, and a central team that provides support across the other four. These teams are designed to be independent and are empowered to shape their own work. They have clearer leadership, and a better defined purpose.
Our networks team’s mission is to support the development of local departmental LGB* networks.
The communities team aims to support each part of the LGB* community. The team has reps whose role is to represent the interests of their own community.
The regions and devolved administrations team are here to support LGB* staff across the country, ensuring there are networking and development opportunities available to them.
Our central corporate team is there to support the other 3 teams. It provides policy expertise and the resources CSRA needs to run effectively, like communications, delivery management, and finance. It also leads on ad-hoc or cross-cutting projects.
Better governance for better decisions
This new structure needed a better decision making process too.
Our old structure relied too much on individuals and on escalation. It also saw the decision making split between two time horizons: long term strategic decision making, and day-to-day delivery decision making.
We wanted to empower each of the teams. We wanted them to make decisions themselves when it’s appropriate, without the need for escalation (so long as it’s safe for them to do so!)
Each of the new teams will now meet regularly to discuss near-term delivery decision making. Not all of our teams did that before, and we know it’s important they do that.
How they organise this is up to them – but each month, the teams will report to the new CSRA Executive Board.
A new Executive Board
We’re introducing a new Executive Board to ensure we focus on longer-term strategic issues affecting us, the Civil Service and the LGB* people working in it.
The new Board will meet monthly. Each of the teams will be represented on it – feeding in from their own teams.
We’re also introducing some Non-Executive Advisors to the Board. These advisors will provide challenge to CSRA and ensure we remain focussed on our mission.
Evolution not revolution
We’re learning to be a more agile organisation; one that learns from the things that work and the things that don’t.
The changes we’re introducing build on what has worked for CSRA so far. But this won’t be the last changes we make.
We have a lot of volunteers – which means we have a lot of change in the team. We’ll keep learning from each of them, and iterating our structures to support our volunteers and our mission.