When P2E was engaged to drive significant transformational change in a complex environment, it was crucial to use effective portfolio, program, and project management, coupled with organisational change management methodologies.

In early 2018, P2E was engaged by Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) Commissioner, Dr Peter Martin (APM), to work collegiately with the organisation and develop a transformational project and program of work.

An extensive review

With the new appointment of Commissioner Martin in mid-November 2017, and Machinery of Government changes taking effect on 21 December 2017, QCS became a stand-alone agency reporting directly to the Minister for Police and Corrective Services.

To gain a full appreciation of the organisation, its people, capability and culture, Commissioner Martin travelled to every correctional centre and community corrections facility in Queensland. The Commissioner listened to corrective services officers, unions, non-government service providers, representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, oversight bodies and other QCS partners in criminal justice and human services departments.

A Cultural Liaison Officer engaging with a First Nations prisoner (source: ©Queensland Corrective Services 2021)

“It was evident that to meet the challenges of the next decade, the QCS must transform into a forward-thinking, top tier public safety agency.”

Commissioner Martin

 

“Forward-thinking means we are strategic, innovative and evidence based. Top tier means we are trusted, respected and valued for our expertise as a public safety agency.”

This observation was the catalyst for QCS to embark on a journey to transform its strategy, culture, structure and its capability. With several major activities running in parallel, including the $265M Queensland Parole System Review (QPSR) Program, a complex and challenging environment was confronting QCS. Furthermore, a legacy of mistrust resultant from unintended consequences of previous reform activities, created a high degree of resistance, raising the risk of embarking on a significant change program. This necessitated the need for a clear, structured, and methodologically underpinned approach to gain business buy-in.

Key objectives

Working collaboratively with the Strategy and Policy business unit, P2E leveraged components of our eVolute™ cultural transformation project methodology coupled with a contextualised Prince2/Agile methodology to govern and control the project activities necessary to enable cultural change and deliver against the following key objectives.

  • Development of a 10-year strategic plan that aligns to the Queensland Government’s strategic priorities.
  • Establish a contemporary organisational structure (corporate capability focused) in collaboration with the Commissioner and the Board of Management that would support delivery against the new 10-year strategic plan, and provide a holistic approach to how the QCS will contribute towards the Queensland Government’s strategic priorities; with a particular focus on “keeping Queenslanders safe”.
  • Support of the Program Management Office’s QPSR five-year program of work that responded to recommendations from the initial review by Walter Sofronoff in 2016.
  • Establish and uplift the Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO) to enable supportive management and reporting of the transformational programs and projects.
  • Uplift of QCS staff capability specific to devolved strategic planning and management.

​After identifying and mitigating risk, a master schedule was created with instantiating controls and reporting mechanisms to manage against a compressed 12-month timeframe.

P2E eVolute™ Culture and Change Management Framework (source: ©P2E)

Planning

P2E were not correctional services subject matter experts. This removed the potential for us to seek to impose our own biases on the engagement and shifted our focus away from content to process. It was, therefore, imperative that we sought key information from the business experts that could contribute content knowledge to guide the evolution of the transformation program.

Collaborative and inclusive engagement helped to gather key data and develop a shared understanding of all operational and support areas of the business. This established an evidence-based framework for the proposed restructure of the organisation. P2E leveraged an action research paradigm across the overall approach, building rigor through the ongoing testing and challenging of emerging insights and findings through each successive cycle of engagement.

Consultation

Every corrective services officer was formally engaged and encouraged to collaborate on the delivery of the transformation program, which is known as Corrections 2030. Consultation was conducted from December 2017 to June 2018 to source key information. This included:

  • an online staff survey
  • state-wide workshops
  • site visits (correctional and community correctional facilities)
  • staff interviews
  • executive workshops
  • informal discussions
  • research.
Commissioner Martin opening the first Brisbane based Strategic Planning Workshop (source: ©P2E 2021)

There was a groundswell of support from all corners of the state and a shared commitment to building a new future for QCS. This enabled the surfacing of key information specific to the organisation’s perception of the current and desired future states.

We then explored the gap preventing QCS from moving to a future state. During this process, we also documented identified risks, opportunities, stakeholders and challenges.

During the above collaborative process, we sought staff feedback to enable adjustments to be made specific to our delivery. This was obtained by workshop assurance and pulse survey activities. We also leveraged an action research framework to test emerging insights with each successive cycle of engagement.

Deliverables

P2E, in collaboration with the organisation were able to successfully deliver the following:

  • Consolidated workshop findings delivered as the QCS Strategic Planning Outcomes Report
  • Commissioner approved organisational structure struck at Tier 4, with core business portfolio and unit functional descriptions
  • Strategic Planning and Management Masterclasses
  • Draft QCS 10-year strategic plan (Corrections 2030) and complimentary strategic framework
  • MSP® and Prince2® executive overviews
  • EPMO implemented tools and processes ready for transition into the organisation
  • Queensland Parole System Reform PMO team capability uplift with a high focus on business change, restructure and repositioning of program governance.

The five principles that enable change

Corrections 2030 strategically guides QCS and is underpinned by the following five key principles that collectively enable the QCS to transform into a forward-thinking public safety agency.

  1. Safety
  2. Excellence
  3. Empowerment
  4. Respect
  5. Accountability

 

Delivery

The QCS is now well poised, and championing delivery against Corrections 2030. Transformation within a vibrant, refocused workforce has been amazing to witness, with a significant cultural shift evidenced by the positive swing in the organisation’s Working for Queensland Survey results. Of most significance is the pride evidenced by staff working within the agency and the regard with which QCS is held by other agencies and the public.

Critical success factors

There were a number of critical success factors identified in order achieve the project’s goals. These included:

  • understanding and justifying the ‘story’ of WHY we need to change
  • strong leadership and governance with clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • change champions supported by senior executives
  • consistent and controlled messaging devolved from the Commissioner down
  • contextualisation and application of methodologies (eVolute™ incorporating P3 and change management)
  • clear articulation of the current and future states with an agreed understanding on what currently prevents QCS from getting there: ‘the Gap’
  • purposeful and targeted engagement across the organisation
  • ​the business leading the transformation and understanding how they as individuals contribute towards it.

Transformational learnings

Key transformational learnings from this engagement were:

  • compassion for staff undergoing significant change
  • open, positive and consistent communication about the future
  • active listening and open collaboration
  • do it with them, not to them.

 

Southern Queensland Custodial Precinct (source: ©Queensland Corrective Services 2021)

Post-project roll out

The recent retirement of Commissioner Martin in July 2021 surfaced some concerns that this may change the transformational trajectory of the organisation, but his successor, Commissioner Paul Stewart (APM) has continued to chart a course that is directly aligned with Corrections 2030, to affirm the organisation’s commitment to contributing to a safer Queensland.

The key takeaway I’ll leave you with is, when undertaking significant enterprise-level transformation, do not underestimate the necessity for strong and focused leadership with a clearly articulated strategy, where staff are provided an opportunity to directly contribute through open engagement. Corrections 2030 can be sourced here.

Author: Todd Hunt FAIPM CPPD, Managing Director of P2E is a Certified Practising Project Director, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Project Management, with experience spanning 30 years. Todd manages high value national and international programs and projects in complex organisations, across a variety of sectors, undergoing significant business transformation.

This article appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Paradigm Shift magazine. Find out more about the AIPM digital magazine and take a look at the full edition.