Those involved in city governance face a perfect storm: complex and interconnected challenges along with reduced capacity and in many cases fiscal austerity.
A step-change is required in the ways that current urban systems are arranged.
This involves assisting city teams to manage increasing complexity and enhance their capacity so they can deliver improved city-wide solutions.
Terms of reference
This is a tool developed by the TRUE partnership in Leeds. It allows users to assess, diagnose and plan.
It is intended to support city teams working towards collaborative and transformative outcomes.
By enhancing capabilities required to manage complex environments, the TRUE tool supports the delivery of citywide solutions that can meet future challenges.
To edit the project description contact project leader.
Listed below are twelve aspects of projects with descriptions of LOW and HIGH complexity. For each of them please select the description that most closely matches your project and/or challenge. If you decide the complexity of your project is neither LOW nor HIGH but somewhere in the middle please select MEDIUM (2).
In addition to understanding the complexity of the project and delivery environment, it is important to understand the capability and capacity of the team assigned to deliver the project. Capability means do we know how to do it? Capacity refers to whether or not we have the resources to do it. Resources may be financial, time, staffing numbers, etc.
We have divided capability and capacity into barriers, those factors standing in the way of achieving team goals, and enablers, those factors that make achievement easier. Both barriers and enablers are grouped into types (Vision and Value, Leadership and Governance, Integrated Working, and Outcomes and Accountability).
For each barrier factor in this section, please indicate whether it represents a challenge to delivery (yes) or not (no).
For each enabling factor, please indicate which description best fits the need for, or presence of, the factor within your team and for this project.
|Requirements and benefit articulation|
|Stability of overall context|
|Financial impact and value for money|
|Execution complexity (including technology)|
|Range of disciplines and skills|
|Extent of change|
|Organisational capability: performance to date|
A Vision and Value
B Leadership and Governance
C Integrated Working
D Outcomes and Accountability
Action PlanCapability-complexity correlations for TRUE
Once your team has completed the complexity and capability assessments you can begin to identify the most important barriers to address. Depending on the number of barriers, this may seem a daunting task. However, just because a barrier exists doesn’t mean it is highly significant to any particular project. Unimportant barriers can be de-prioritised for action so the team can focus on more important ones.
To separate priority from non-priority barriers, use the capability-complexity correlations table, checking which barriers correlate most highly with your high complexity factors. These would be a good set of high priority barriers to focus on. If you are lucky enough not to have many barriers that correlate highly with complexity factors, the table also identifies moderate correlations.
Once you have a list of priority barriers, as a team, start by identifying the most important barriers to your particular project’s success. For each one, explore why they are relevant to the project. It is important for the team to use its collective understanding and judgement in evaluating the importance of the identified barriers. Sometimes, an identified barrier may not be highly significant to a particular project due to particular circumstances.
Once you have agreed on the significant barriers to your particular project, review the Reference Guides, working on understanding and identifying potential solutions to the barriers and gaps identified by the TRUE tool. You may choose to do this:
- Individually followed by sharing,
- By one or more committee(s) reporting back to the group, or
- By the team leader making the decisions.
The specific method depends on your team preferences and requirements for working; however, experience shows the best outcomes are likely to be achieved through some form of group working rather than an executive decision.
After your team has completed the review of the guides and identified solutions to pursue, the next step is identifying recommendations - specific actions - that will address your existing complexity-capability/capacity gaps and barriers. One way to do this is to divide the gaps into the themes identified in the assessment (Vision and Values, Leadership and Governance, Integrated Working, Outcomes and Assessment) and break out into four groups to brainstorm the steps required to complete each action within the themes.
It may be helpful to reframe the gaps into their corresponding good practice (“Reactive or short-term perspective” could become “We match our timeframe/perspective to the needs of the overall problem”, for example) then backcast the steps required to achieve that goal. To do this, using the example of reactive perspective transformed to matched timeframe, you might identify actions such as 1) agreeing the relationships/dependencies of the steps in time sequence and assigning responsibility for each, 2) identifying the relationships, and 3) brainstorming what a matched timeframe might look like. These steps can then be reversed into a recommended action sequence:
- Brainstorm what a matched timeframe might look like
- Identify the relationships between activities in the sequence, including dependencies
- Agree the relationships and dependencies in the time sequence and assign responsibility for each
That sequence can then be associated with specific workstream(s) and entered in your actions table. Some actions may cross workstream boundaries or depend on, or feed into, actions in other workstreams. The exact relationships between actions and workstreams can be negotiated amongst team member to achieve a consensus on their sequence, timing, and responsible party.
Once you have completed your actions table and enhancement plan, you should be ready to start filling the gaps effectively and efficiently. If desired, especially if your gaps were large, you may wish to return to the TRUE tool and reassess your team capability and capacity to ensure you have achieved what you need to better address your delivery environment complexities.
Should you have any questions about the stages of action planning, or any other aspect of the TRUE tool, please contact the TRUE team leader, Paul Chatterton firstname.lastname@example.org.