Every organisation has a unique set of existing structures and practices that can be changed or enhanced to improve outcomes for children and families.

Embedding structural changes, as well as shifts in practice, is usually an iterative and ongoing journey. It involves recognising the organisation’s strengths and what is already working well; building on these processes and practices; and considering changes that can happen along the way.

This page provides guidance on how to approach this journey, identifying the three phases of the organisational change process:

  • gathering information
  • making plans; and
  • taking action.

These phases can help your organisation to set the foundation for changes to practice or service models.

Getting started

The change process is divided into three repeating phases:

  • Gathering information: collect information to identify what you are already doing well and where you can improve.
  • Making plans: prioritise areas for change and use your existing organisational structures and strengths to make a tailored action plan.
  • Taking action: carry out an action plan and monitor outcomes.

Gathering information

Gathering information around your organisation’s current values, culture and structures will help you to identify barriers and opportunities for change. These understandings will make it easier to develop and embed new ways of working.

This phase involves identifying and reviewing existing sources of relevant information and data. This might include:

  • existing organisational policies
  • strategic plans
  • vision statements
  • quality improvement processes
  • committee structures
  • communication systems
  • training/learning systems
  • practice models
  • service user feedback; and
  • demographic data.

Gaps identified during this phase become part of the possible areas for action.

Making plans

With an understanding of what you are already doing, areas for improvement and possible strategies, this phase is about identifying where to start.

Strategies are interconnected, often contributing to multiple key action areas. Some strategies require the presence of other strategies to bring about effective outcomes. Considering your organisation’s energy and appetite for change will help you gauge how big to make your plan. Remember, this journey is more like a marathon than a sprint. Your action plan should be made up of achievable chunks, designed to steadily develop structures and practices that promote and support child mental health.

When prioritising strategies for your action plan, consider motivation, resources, achievability, timeframe, outcome and perhaps where the most change can happen with the least effort. You could rank these action areas based on the level of need and their perceived importance.

Once you have identified which strategies to start with, the plan needs to determine who will do what, by when and how you will know if it has been successful. Identifying how to measure the strategy’s success will help you monitor its progress, so you can adjust your plan as it happens.

It is important to remember that not all strategies will lead to the results you hope for. A successful change process is underpinned by organisational policies and systems of oversight. Consider what committee/decision-making structures the plan could be reported to and monitored by within your context.

Taking action

Now you have a plan for where to start, this phase is about taking action and monitoring outcomes. Checking in regularly with your ‘change team’ helps to keep the plan visible and moving forward. Collecting the identified measures and regularly providing feedback on progress can inform adjustments to the plan as needed

As the timeframe of your plan comes to a close or the actions are completed, it’s important to reflect on the three ‘whats’:

  • What happened? – what was actually carried out? What went to plan? How did the plan change?
  • So what? – did expected results happen? Were there any unexpected results?
  • What next? – how can the organisation build on the progress made? What new gaps did this process reveal?

The information gathered at the end of this phase is then added to the foundational knowledge collected in the Gathering information phase. It can then be used to guide you through the next round of phases in your change journey.

The change team

Bringing about organisational change is a team sport. Identifying the players and finding the champions and supporters at all levels of the organisation is necessary to make the journey possible.

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