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Q&A With Matthew Punshon

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Q&A With Matthew Punshon

What was the motivation behind your transformative project?

  • The primary motivation was to modernise the Met to find better ways of keeping every community in London safer – in a world that is rapidly changing with different threats – from terrorism, cyber crime, safeguarding vulnerable individuals to the recent gang challenges, the Met had to move with the times.  The traditional police station with front counter was becoming increasingly redundant as the public communicate by telephone or digitally.  Equally crime is going digital with every one of the groups outlined above using digital platforms to commit crime.
  • Our ambition was to combine the objective of improved productivity and efficiency with meeting the significant cost reductions expected by central Government.  New technology means that we can have more mobility and fewer buildings; but it also means that we can respond to the public more quickly and efficiently.  14 desks = the cost of one police officer!

Before implementing the project, what protocols/preparations did you undertake to ensure it was as successful as possible?

  • Property was only one programme of 12 different transformational change programmes
  • The first critical preparation was how to develop an estate strategy that was driven by the business when the business itself was developing its operational strategy through the programmes?
  • Property lead times are much longer than most other areas of the organisation – with a refurbishment being a minimum 3 years from inception to occupation and new buildings being five-plus years.  So we need to start earlier and think longer – communicating this was critical.
  • The Met developed a new single Transformation Directorate that was set up specifically to oversee the 12 inter-linked programmes – with property and technology being the key enablers for all the programmes.
  • Two key documents were created for our programme – a four page ‘Business Requirements Document’ that established a baseline for all areas of the business. It challenged established practices and forced all management levels to think differently. Second a ‘Key Decision and Dependency’ document – what decisions needed to be made and by when?  This provided a basis for change control.

What has been the project’s biggest challenge and how do you plan to/have overcome it?

  • The natural mis-match between one programme’s timelines to achieve their objectives against property’s much longer timelines.  For example, the business is changing its operational model from 32 Boroughs to 12 Base Command Units (BCUs) over a period of 18 months, the property refurbishment programme that delivered the new operations rooms and open working environment was a 3 to 5 year programme.
  • The need for cultural change.  All 40,000+ staff and officers would be impacted.  One of the 12 programmes is ‘Smarter Working’ – a business wide initiative about using new mobile technology, working differently between teams and using property differently.  This is resource intensive!
  • Managing the amount of change happening all at one time – in property we have over 40 significantly large capital projects (from £10m to £120m) running at the same time all in a 24 hours a day operational estate with need to decant and undertake works.  This, at a time, when 11 other programmes are also making significant changes.

What can other organisations learn from your project?

  • Linking business requirements with the estate strategy – it is not possible for one to precede the other in a perfect world.  The breakthrough was a cross programme and organisation agreement of a series of objectives that would sit behind the strategy.  If, or rather when, those changed, then we had a baseline off which to operate.
  • Breaking the project into bite sized chunks – but not too small.  By bundling groups of projects we could reduce the management impact – although do not under-estimate the resource required…….big lesson learned.  Optimism always rules, this needs to be countered with realism and pragmatism!
  • One we all know, but ‘working culture’ is hard to change – particularly at scale and in an organisation that has no time to rest (day or night or weekends or holidays).  The Met is running a very large programme of management training for all managers in the Met – called Leading for London.  This is just a start.  Decisions and culture come from the top and Management Board at the Met were, for example, the first team to go open plan and away from offices – this was a clear demonstration of change.  The new New Scotland Yard has been a great success and not an office in sight but there remains nervousness out in the field!