ReGeneration Resources

 

 Case Studies

- Vermont Agency of Transportation Culture Change Initiative
- Vermont Department of Health District Office Tension
- Hilltop Montessori School Strategic Planning
- Vermont Agency of Transportation After Action Report
- Business Process Analysis - Vermont State Agency
- State-Wide Strategic Planning Initiative
- School Wide Conflict Related to a Change Initiative
- Survey Research to Support a Change Initiative at a Psychiatric Hospital

Vermont Agency of Transportation Culture Change Initiative

In 2010, ReGeneration Resources was engaged to help VTrans improve its workplace environment. While this assignment focused on an assessment and included training activities, we also believed that changing the workplace environment at VTrans would require a culture change. Therefore, in addition to assessing the agency's morale through focus groups and a survey, we began working with a leadership group to identify and manage aspects of the culture that were contributing to a sub-optimal workplace environment.

Among the cultural issues that emerged were a belief that "once someone passes their six-month probationary period, they can act like they are self-employed", and a belief that "things can't and won't change." Over a half-dozen meetings, the leadership developed an action plan to better manage cultural barriers to an improved workplace environment, especially for women. This work included a communication plan, developing leadership competencies that would be used in hiring and evaluations, and clarifying expectations for leadership regarding accountability. (A copy of the leadership competency self-assessment tool we helped develop is shown on the next page.) In addition, ReGeneration Resources conducted trainings on conflict resolution and harassment, mediated disputes in some garages, and provided change management services. Despite the defensiveness of many VTrans workers to receiving training about harassment, we worked hard to conduct trainings that were engaging, safe, and that fostered discussion and growth.

Vermont Agency of Transportation Culture Change Initiative

Through this effort, VTrans has made great strides in improving its workplace environment. Because this work began eight years ago, VTrans' leadership is not listed in our references. However, in 2017, Scott Rogers from VTrans wrote a reference letter for us in which he stated, "Greg was the lead of a consultant team that helped us analyze our workplace, develop an action and communication plan to affect real changes, work with our managers and supervisors on managing those changes, develop and deliver extensive training to all employees …. Our goal was to institutionalize this initiative, with the hope that the culture will continue to change in the right direction over time. Thanks to Greg's work, this initiative is widely viewed as a success and many of the tactics used over the past decade have become a part of our new culture.

"What has struck me the most about Greg is his ability to connect with anybody. From the frontline maintenance workers to the Secretary of Transportation, Greg is able to communicate and connect in an effective way. He took the time to understand our organization and our employees, and that extra effort was noticed and appreciated.

"Greg has since provided a significant amount of training for us at the VTrans Training Center. He has also been retained to work with our Highway Division leadership team on change management strategies..."


Vermont Department of Health District Office Tension

In the fall of 2016, ReGeneration Resources was engaged to work with a regional office of the Vermont Department of Health (VDOH). To assess the organization, we used both qualitative data from interviews and a benchmarking survey that includes measures of retention, morale, and 12 questions which Gallup claims can predict 70% of employee engagement (Q12). Our assessment of the team of roughly 15 workers showed:

  • a few workers were not being held accountable and were negatively impacting the environment;
  • the leader was perceived to be micromanaging the office staff, fueling resentment;
  • there was a lack of trust and safety in the office environment that inhibited discussions and resolutions of conflict;
  • many things in the office were undergoing changes but leaders were not paying attention to change management or the "people side" of change.

Given this assessment, we recommended (first to the leaders and then to the group as a whole) an action plan that included:

  • group work to build trust, including some work on strengths and different styles;
  • group work to create norms and implement some conflict resolution tools;
  • ongoing coaching of the leader to curb her tendency to micro-manage;
  • coaching the leader on holding the two difficult employees accountable;
  • a high-level change training for one of the leaders.

After three half-day sessions of group work, trust began to improve. Additionally, after being held accountable for things they were not doing, two employees decided to leave. These changes, along with the leader's growing ability to pick and choose when she gets involved and micro-manage less, made huge improvements in the office environment.

Before-and-after surveys indicated that, over the course of our work, the scores for individual morale went up 41%; for office morale, 138%; likelihood to recommend the Brattleboro District office as a place to work increased 70%; and scores for commitment to ongoing employment at the office went up 26%. Similarly, scores for independent variables which predicted the scores cited above also increased significantly. In the 2016 survey, five of the nine independent variables were below the scale's midpoint (3.5); in the follow-up survey, all scores were at least 15% above the scale's mid-point.

In reflecting on the experience of working with ReGeneration Resources, Prudence MacKinney wrote,

"We wanted to improve morale and accountability and to increase trust. Greg conducted an assessment using survey data and staff interviews. He facilitated all staff meetings to discuss the results and work to improve communication and understanding. Greg also provided leadership coaching to me and the office supervisor.

"Greg was skillful and knowledgeable in all aspects of the work. He gained everyone's trust and helped us work together to improve our office atmosphere. Greg was comfortable with the conflicts that inevitably arise in this work and helped me use my strengths to improve the effectiveness of the office.

"I found Greg's coaching extremely valuable. He provided perspective, specific suggestions, resources, and support."


Hilltop Montessori School Strategic Planning

Case Background

Hilltop Montessori School engaged ReGeneration Resources in 2014 to help guide it through a strategic planning process.

Key Challenge

  • Some tension between parents who desired increased exposure to a second language and teachers who were skeptical about the tradeoffs involved in adding second languages to the curriculum
  • Rising costs
  • A desire for increased diversity in the student population

Our Approach and the Outcome

ReGeneration Resources worked with Tamara Mount and the board of the school in designing surveys to parents and parents of families who had left the school, facilitating a feedback session with parents, interviewing all staff (either one-on-one or in focus groups), interviewing key stakeholders, synthesizing the data, and leading a day-long retreat to set the future direction of the school. The planning process resulted in:

  • A commitment to increase the school's diversity moving forward
  • A plan to raise a $5 Million endowment to provide more aid to current students and increase student socio-economic diversity
  • A decision to use art, PE, and after school care to expose students to more languages without adding classroom time dedicated to second languages
View this strategic plan

Vermont Agency of Transportation After Action Report

Case overview

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) contracted with ReGeneration Resources four months after Tropical Strom Irene, asking that we chair a committee charged with collecting all the innovative ways in which VTrans responded to the aftermath of the storm. This "after action report" was also charged with making recommendations for how VTrans might respond more effectively to future emergencies and in ongoing operations.

Key Challenges

  • The response to Irene involved personnel from many different state agencies and many other states. While the charge was to focus on VTrans' response, many barriers to effectiveness were in the broader system.
  • VTrans used an incident command system to respond to the emergency. Each incident command had a different experience and some came to different conclusions as to what would be most effective.
  • Frequently, policies and governance structures did not support the use of innovation in ongoing operations.

Our approach and the outcome

ReGeneration Resources led a committee that conducted over 60 interviews and led over eight focus groups and reviewed numerous other documents. We authored a report that contained recommendations for VTrans as well as recommendations to improve integration of different state agencies. We addressed innovation and barriers to innovation in IT, workflow, communication, incident command, contract administration, training, and organizational structure. We have been told that the report is referred to frequently and was the impetus for a recent reorganization of the agency.


Business Process Analysis - Vermont State Agency

Case Background

ReGeneration Resources partnered with Epiphancy, LLC to conduct a business process analysis for a Vermont state agency. The project included analyzing the agency's internal functions and recommending efficiencies that could be implemented to expedite processing times and reduce expenses.

Key Challenges

  • Creating a safe environment that engaged staff without fear of retribution
  • Lack of business process metrics
  • Several critical success factors relied on the efficiency of external processes
  • Processes varied across regional offices
  • Lack of identifiable business process owners

Our Approach

We engaged the client in every facet of our work. We identified processes needing improvement through document research, interviews, observations, and employee surveys. In collaboration with the client, we narrowed our focus to 10 processes. We then created a "case for change" for each of the 10 processes and designed high-level process maps that highlighted their inefficiencies.

Figure 1. Phase I: Analyze Business Processes
Figure 1. Phase I: Analyze Business Processes

The client prioritized the 10 inefficient processes and selected the top five that offered the greatest return on investment (ROI). We met with process owners and subject matter experts to design detailed "As-Is" (current) and "To-Be" (future) process maps for each process. Our efforts also included systemic analyses of the agency to determine its elements and cross-functional impacts, as well as identifying applicable policies, procedures, laws, and statutes, and other data that provided a deeper understanding of each process. We compiled this data and generated five business requirements documents (BRD), one for each process.

Figure 1. Phase I: Analyze Business Processes
Figure 2. Phase II: Develop Process Plans and Maps

Upon completion of the five BRDs, we collaborated with the client to identify success criteria and measurements of success used during implementation of the future state processes. We consolidated our findings into a final report, which described the mapping process, current and desired states of the client agency, a gap analysis, recommended improvements for each of the five processes, and recommended next steps for moving forward.

Figure 1. Phase I: Analyze Business Processes
Figure 3. Phase III: Report Findings, Recommendations, and Metrics

Outcomes

  • The client's ROI for the first year will be over 6-fold. We helped the client identify a minimum of $450,000 in annual savings. Depending on the specific options they choose, savings could reach three or four times that amount.
  • Our interactive process generated many suggestions for redesign from the client's staff, thus increasing their buy-in to the proposed changes.
  • During process mapping sessions, the client identified and improved several inefficient processes on the spot.
  • The client identified process owners and developed metrics to measure process efficiencies.
  • We identified external processes that were the source of the agency's inefficiencies. These process owners were identified, and dialogues were opened between the cross-functional organizations.
  • Our change management assessment provided the agency with a comprehensive, but easily understandable plan. The client took this plan, and even before the project was completed, began leading its process improvement initiatives and removing barriers needed to overcome resistance to change.


State-wide strategic planning initiative

Case overview

The Vermont Department of Health, Tobacco Control contracted with us to lead a statewide effort to develop a strategic plan aimed at reducing tobacco use for those for whom "proven practices" were not working. The work was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our task was to design and lead a process that would first select a few groups disproportionately affected by tobacco use, and then develop a strategic plan to address those disparities.

Key challenges

  • Different special interest groups all wanted to be selected
  • Stakeholders were located over a broad geographic area
  • Stakeholders had little experience in strategic thinking and were more "action oriented"
  • Stakeholders came from very different organizational cultures

Our approach and the outcome

First, we convened the group and, after some initial team building work, we had the group develop criteria for selecting groups to work with. Having criteria developed and having reached consensus on accepting the criteria helped groups that were not chosen from feeling slighted. The group also agreed that long-term plans would be developed for all groups affected disproportionately by tobacco.

We scheduled meetings every three weeks and had plenty of good food on hand to encourage participation. Seven meetings were scheduled in different locations across the state. We adjusted our normal strategic planning process to keep it simple and useful to the stakeholders.

When the group realized that many of the barriers to success had to do with cultural differences between the groups selected and the Vermont Department of Health, building cultural competency became a part of the strategic plan. The work was accomplished in seven half-day meetings and the plan was rolled out statewide.

Letter of support


School Wide Conflict Related to a Change Initiative

Case Background

Just before the termination of the school year, ReGeneration Resources received a call from a New England elementary school asking for help facilitating an all-staff meeting. The meeting was an attempt on the part of the leadership committee to resolve a deeply entrenched conflict that had developed when the school principal had unskillfully announced a change initiative three months earlier. In addition to feeling insulted by how the principal presented the change, teachers were concerned about their perceived lack of input into the change itself. It was reported that about half of the staff of 35 teachers were actively looking for new schools to work at for the following year.

Download the full document


Survey Research to Support a Change Initiative at a Psychiatric Hospital

Case overview

A New England psychiatric hospital engaged us to assist with a full-system change aimed at drastically reducing the use of seclusion and restraint to manage patients.

Key Challenges

  • Staff at the hospital had been using seclusion and restraint for their whole careers. For many staff this had been over 30 years. They believed that the change implied the way they had always handled these situations was wrong.
  • Staff historically felt dis-empowered at the hospital.

Regeneration Resources approach and the outcome

In this project Regeneration Resources helped the leadership address cultural issues, conducted assessments using both qualitative and quantitative measures, led a team building retreat, served as a process consultant and helped the change task force address strategic questions. Using a quantitative survey that included checks for reliability and validity we learned that staffs' beliefs about the inherent safety risk in the change predicted commitment to the change three times better than did their understanding of the change vision. This led to a shift in the change strategy which had been focused on selling the change vision.

Letter of support 1

Letter of support 2

 

Impact!

 

  ..... Team

        Building

 

 

"This session was just what the doctor ordered! We covered relevant material that will enhance our staff meetings in the coming year. I appreciated Greg's acceptance of all comments made by attendees and his ability to deal with moments of tension within the group that might otherwise have derailed all our good efforts. Thanks."
Peg Downing, Program Director, NH AmeriCorps