PARTNERSHIP CASE STUDY Frankston City Council A structured approach to problem solving and focused teamwork is delivering practical benefits to ratepayers and employees at Frankston City Council. Local government has come a long way organisation. Using a structured problem- to take part and by taking on board from the days when its main concern was solving framework known as FADE recommended changes arising from roads and drains. Today, councils are key (Focus, Analyse, Develop, Evaluate), the the project,” she said. community service providers, managing teams identified and addressed issues Ian Holland, Frankston Council’s multi-million dollar budgets and employing ranging from management of the car Coordinator of Rates and Valuations hundreds of people. pool to distribution of library books. and the ASU shop steward, said his initial Frankston City Council is no “The objective was to provide concerns about the project were quickly exception. The council covers around improvements within the workplace put to rest. 131 square kilometres and services and foster ownership of solutions “My major concern was that it was a population in excess of 118,000. and recommendations,” Ms Hunt said. not management unilaterally changing Meeting the community’s changing Using the FADE methodology, the work process but rather a process needs is a constant challenge for the council embarked on eight improvement whereby the employees generated the council. And with population forecast to initiatives over 2004/05 resulting in workplace changes,” Mr Holland said. grow by 20,000 over the next 15 years, important changes to service delivery Mr Holland accepted an invitation to demand for services is expected to rise and internal management processes. be involved in the project, joining the first accordingly. “FADE provided a forum for FADE team and helping to shape many To meet these challenges and innovation, change and continuous of the project outcomes. He described improve existing services the council improvement that fosters ownership of the partnership that formed between recently embarked on a continuous solutions and recommendations for staff management, workers and the union improvement project designed to improve to the management team. It utilises the as strong and effective. teamwork and give employees a direct energy and resources of the team to “The fact that management was role in business-level problem solving. achieve measurable bottom line results prepared to embrace changes and With help from a Victorian State in a prescribed time, usually over eight suggestions coming from the workers Government Partners at Work grant, two hour sessions,” Ms Hunt said. was particularly beneficial. This approach Frankston City Council’s Partnerships for showed people that they could solve Community Benefit project has provided PARTNERSHIP APPROACH these issue without management an innovative and effective approach to The project started in mid 2004 with wheeling in an outside expert or teamwork and service improvement. the selection of the first two FADE teams. being prescriptive about it,” he said. Staff were invited to take part in the A key objective of the project was BACKGROUND project and senior management was to improve partnership between the Gretchen Hunt, an organisational briefed on the FADE method. council’s operational departments and development consultant who led the Ms Hunt approached the council’s among staff. Particular effort went into project, said council management was lead unions, the Australian Services Union recruiting team members from across keen to improve teamwork between (ASU) and the Association of Professional the organisation and among different three operating divisions while giving Engineers, Scientists and Managers, occupational and skill groups. staff more say in how services could Australia (APESMA) to explain the “The FADE system was useful in be improved. project’s objectives and what it meant improving work between departments The project sought to drive for staff. and solving problems,” Ms Hunt said. continuous improvement in service “The unions were very supportive of In all, 95 of the council’s 750 staff delivery through a series of team-based the project and contributed to its ultimate took part in the project over 12 months. improvement initiatives across the success by encouraging their members The Partnership Case Study Series examines better workplace practices in Victoria. www.irv.vic.gov.au All studies are published by Industrial Relations Victoria. PARTNERSHIP CASE STUDY: Frankston City Council “The project has changed the way people respond KEY OUT-TAKES to change and opened new, constructive ways of • When forming a continuous improvement team, recruit dealing with problems.” members from across the Gretchen Hunt, Organisational Development Consultant, Frankston City Council organisation to ensure a “fresh” perspective on issues. COMMUNICATION the project. The new library courier • Choose project sponsors carefully. The project was promoted within the system, for example, has streamlined Make sure they are genuinely council through a series of presentations, book delivery between the council’s committed to the improvement team meetings, information sessions three library branches, ensuring faster process and are sufficiently senior and the council’s internal staff publication. turnaround and fewer delays. to cut through red tape. Before the start of each initiative, team members received training in the LESSONS LEARNED • Remember to include sufficient FADE method. This helped build a sense Finding sufficient time in an already busy time in your project plan for of teamwork and established clear day to participate in FADE activities was training all team members in performance benchmarks. one of the key challenges facing team your chosen methodology. This “The objective is to focus on the members. This was addressed in part by can save time and money down problem not the symptoms. Once they keeping FADE meetings to two hours and the track. define a problem, the team then moves scheduling the meetings well ahead of into analysis. Only after they have time. Line managers were briefed in PARTNERS AT WORK PROGRAM researched and benchmarked the problem order to gain their support for staff do they then move towards a solution,” taking time away from their main • Partners at Work is a Victorian Ms Hunt said. duties to participate in FADE activities. Government competitive grants Mr Holland said he would recommend program designed to promote BENEFITS AND ACHIEVEMENTS the partnership approach to other councils. workplace change that benefits all Initiatives undertaken during the project “We would certainly do this again stakeholders within an enterprise. included an investigation into use of the in the future. The partnership gave council’s financial reporting system in employees and management a good • The program emphasises order to reduce delays in applications. outcome and that is the way it should be. increased employee participation FADE teams also worked on a new The most important thing is to get ideas and improved workplace library courier system and improvements from the floor because if staff don’t relationships. to the council’s car pool system. Other take ownership of the change, it is never issues addressed included the use of going to work. That is the lasting legacy • Businesses have used the event-scheduling software, understanding of this project.” Partners at Work program in of the customer service team’s role many ways to improve their and a new system for handling land LOOKING TO THE FUTURE workplaces and organisational use compliance complaints. While the Partnerships for Community performance. “What stands out about the Benefit project officially ended in mid partnership project is the range of benefits 2005, Frankston City Council continues • The Victorian approach is for it has delivered to the council,” Ms Hunt to use FADE teams to pursue continuous management and employees, and said. “The property creation team has led improvement. their representatives, to be seen to important changes in how we operate. “The project has really focussed as partners in the shared future In the past it could take five months from people on the benefits of team-based of an enterprise. lodging a subdivision application to it problem solving,” Ms Hunt said. “The being registered in our Pathways system. process was valuable because it got By investigating the process and asking senior management involved and endorsed questions, we have have slashed property the need for improvement. It also gave registration times to just five weeks.” us the resources to change.” Ratepayers, too, are benefiting from April 2006 The Partnership Case Study Series examines better workplace practices in Victoria. www.irv.vic.gov.au All studies are published by Industrial Relations Victoria.