Analyzing The Move To Create A Trust For Independent Agencies In Southampton

Issues Faced by Independent Agencies

Before the children trust in Southampton was created, there were several issues related to how to help children and young people from Southampton. The existing agencies that were operational had diverge missions, visions and there was lack of harmony. That is why despite presence of many agencies, many issues affecting children, young people and their families were still unresolved (CIPD 2008).  Consequently, it was deemed necessary to unify the agencies so that they can work not as independent agencies but as a partnership.

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The existing information clearly reveals that there was problem with agencies. The change agents clearly revealed that before the creation of trust, the vision for children was not clear. The diverse employees could not understand what it expected of them. For example, there was no clear mechanism for communicating or reaching the employees. During that time, the communication was done mainly through formal channels and change agents noted that the message did not filter down through the organizational level. Apart from lack of clear vision and proper communication channels, the change agents revealed that independent agencies were faced with issue of budgetary pressure. This is true because government could not decide how to allocate budget to several independent agencies serving the same purpose. Creating a partnership, according to change agents, could help in budgetary allocation. Additionally, the change agents reveal that the independent change agencies were faced with issue of limited staff involvement in the change process. The senior staff, for example, could not offer feedback at the right time and even if they do, limited number of the workforce could get the feedback. The views from staff also clearly reveal that formation of trust was indeed a noble idea. Staff, like change agents, acknowledged that vision for the change was poorly communicated. Staff believed that structural change could be achieved by introducing new change agents and ensuring that the vision is communicate. However, the staff felt that emotionally resilient people could benefit most from the proposed change. This is because staff believe that change was functionally driven and that emotional aspects of change is not addressed.

The graphs below demonstrate that indeed the children and young adults have issues which can be solved through change in the working of the agencies. The figure below shows the estimated number of sessions missed from school for teeth extraction


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The number of children and young people admitted to mental health care also signifies that there is a problem. The figure below clearly suggest that the number of children and young adults admitted to mental health is highest in Southampton compared to England average.

Potential Alternatives and Advantages/Disadvantages

Firstly, it should be noted that there were two potential alternative. The first is whether to introduce change and the other one is whether to allow the independent agencies to operate independently. All these options targeted at one thing- to improve the outcomes for children, young people and their families. The decision criteria should be guided by ethical framework such as the utilitarianism framework. Under this framework, a decision is considered appropriate if it benefits more people.

As stated, there were two potential alternatives. The first alternative is to let the existing agencies to continue operate independently. The second alternative was to let the existing agencies work as partnership under one trust and under one vision with accompanying organizational change. Each of these alternatives had pros and cons.

There are many disadvantages related to the first alternative (to let the existing agencies work independently). Firstly, it is associated with prominent service botches that led to the deaths of young people and children across the UK contributed to the need to develop a culture of partnership. Secondly, it was hard to allocate enough budget to different independent agencies. Thirdly, it was hard to ensure that all agencies working independently serve one vision. Consequently, despite presence of many agencies, the needs for children, young people and their families were unresolved (Kotter, 2008).

The second alternative (to unify all agencies into one trust and create appropriate organizational change) seems to solve the setbacks related to the first alternative. In fact, the idea for formation of a single trust was conceived following the failures of the first alternative. The death of Victoria Climbie compelled the government to come up with strong mechanisms that promote collaboration among agencies providing services to young people and children (CIPD, 2011).  The government viewed multi-agency collaboration as an effective strategy for reducing service failures. These mechanisms were incorporated into the Children’s Act of 2004 (CIPD, 2011). The law stipulated the creation of official partnerships or the children’s trusts by 2008. The purpose of the trust is to create vigorous engagements for working across agency and organizational confines to advance the outcomes for young people, children, and their families. The trust is a partnership, which is a unique aspect because it is not an organization with its employees. It relies on the employees of partner organizations and agencies. However, when the new government came into power, a reconsideration of the landscape and prospects of trusts across the United Kingdom was initiated as local authorities waited for new guidelines. 

Recommendations for Organizational Change

Although the establishment of children’s trust partnerships was a legal requirement, the law did not prescribe the form, shape, and nature of the trusts. Local authorities had the mandate to interpret the objectives and visions created by the government while adhering to general guidelines. The failure by the government to propose the nature of partnerships between organizations/agencies impeded collaboration, leading to the high-profile failures (CIPD, 2011).

The need for efficiency was another driver of culture at the trust. Through the restructuring of services into more joint partnerships, the trust aimed to reduce wastage of resources and duplication of services. Furthermore, the need for efficiency was driven by the financial challenges faced by the public sector in the recent past (CIPD, 2011).  Although the need to collaborate to improve the outcomes for children and young people still motivated staff and the continuing organizational change, fiscal efficiency was considered as the main driver for the reconfiguration of services.

The first recommendation is that the parties concerned with the change should adopt the second alternative. They should unify the independent agencies into one trust and create common vision.

The second recommendation is that the parties concerned with the change need to have comprehensive organizational change. The case shows that staff felt that the change focus only on structural aspect and does not gather for emotional needs. That is why some staff felt that only emotionally resilient employees will sail through the change. This means that there is need to have comprehensive organizational change (Shapiro, 2010). The case clearly revealed that changing the organizational structure was seen as an effective way of entrenching the ethos of multi-agency collaboration (Kotter, 2012). Although the speed of implementing a new organizational structure was slow, the trust altered its structure in the space of three years. Changes to the organizational structure were associated with changes and redundancies in responsibilities and job descriptions (Cawsey & Deszca, 2007). From 2008 onwards, the trust created locally-based multi-agency teams, but the differences were intricate since partner agencies had different change drivers.

The second recommendation entails creation of values to support the organization’s structure and strategy. This was realized through a strategic workforce manager who worked across agency boundaries. The manager worked with the partners in developing ways to foster collaboration (O’Donovan, 2017).  Additionally, a strategic plan was created to guide the trust for the next five years. However, the reconfiguration of the organization’s strategy has been driven by budget deficits instead of values and vision. The other change intervention was using leaders as change agents. Since the trust is politically motivated, the leadership was provided by the cabinet member (Ingols, Cawsey & Deszca, 2015). The leadership developed the vision and values for the trust and created the blueprints for the new structures. Leaders are important change agents because they help embed the values and determine the resources needed (Lewis, 2011).

Organizational change is challenging because it changes how the organization works. From the perspective of change agents, effective communication during the change process was insufficient (Gibbons, 2015). The other challenges identified by change agents was implementing change in a political context and failure to involve employees in the change process. The challenges identified by employees include the lack of clarity of the vision required, living with uncertainty, and the need for communication and more involvement (Spector, 2013).

It is evident that the trust needed to implement changes to its culture and structure to enhance efficiency and reduce failures in service delivery. However, the change process was slow and difficult because the trust failed to communicate effectively and involve employees in the change process. Communicating the vision of the change clearly will remove the uncertainty associated with change (Keyton, 2011). Involving staff in the change process convinces them of their importance and enables them to own the changes. Going forward, the trust needs to embed the desired culture in the organization through more communication, staff involvement, and development of a clear vision.


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CIPD. (2008). ‘Developing organization culture: Six case studies.’ Accessed from studies_tcm18-10885.pdf on Sep 22, 2018.

Gibbons, P. (2015). The science of successful organizational change: How leaders set strategy, change behavior, and create an Agile culture. Australia : Pearson Education

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Spector, B. (2013). Implementing organizational change: Theory into practice. Boston: Pearson.