Developing a probation mutual: from theory to practice

Saleha Wadee, CEO of Laurus Development, with her second post on setting up the first mutual to spin out of the probation service. "One of our values is “acting with a sense of urgency” and this has been the main contributor to our development in the world of probation. Freed from institutional constraints we have reacted swiftly scaling up our ambition to become a national provider capable of attracting and securing business with both the retained public service and the new providers of adult offender services."

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This post is the second in a series written by Saleha Wadee CEO of  Laurus Development, the first mutual to spin out of the probation service.

The challenge of implementation

In my first posting, I covered the impact of the current reorganisation on the service using the classic change curve as a model to identify where we all are in the process – mostly at different stages!

Our decision to become a mutual was easier than implementing it. There are many misconceptions, many different models and many advisors who are all too keen to take you through what could be a complicated and costly process.

In addition, there are a number of websites, notably the Mutuals Information Service which has a plethora of tips, tricks, models, blogs, advice, help, examples and case histories.

We developed some principles to help guide our decision making in that:

  •  staff are safeguarded, as are their skills, knowledge and expertise
  • quality is paramount
  • there is a strong commercial future
  • it retains the support of the service in its current or new format
  • it remains values driven

Legal structures

We also took advice specifically on the alternative legal structures as we had discovered there were a large number of alternative models all coming under the umbrella term of “Mutual”.

As a result, we made some quick and simple conclusions:

  • We could not design something top to bottom when we didn’t know the shape and organisation of the new service
  • We had to have a structure that was lightweight and nimble enough to react very quickly to the changing landscape
  • We had to have a strong core offering but be capable of working with partners to deliver a wide range of quality programmes which would reflect the needs of services in a new era.

 

Laurus what we do

The result – Laurus Development

A simple new company structure with just two directors at start-up, a share structure allowing an Employee Benefit Trust to hold shares for future employees as they come on board, an associate structure for trainers and a new core set of service offerings which have been designed by our current staff group in support of our future direction.

This model gave us the flexibility and low cost base we needed to grow the business. This is where our staff, free from the constraints of reacting and responding to rigid requirements, has really blossomed.

Developing a commercial approach means a mind-set change from looking at an allocated budget and deciding how to spend it, to going out into the world and winning business to create a budget in the first place. This turns the existing model on its head; in that we are anticipating what our potential clients need formulating a variety of solutions up front in anticipation of their requirements. The rest is about listening and bringing innovation to the co-design of services.

One of our values is “acting with a sense of urgency” and this has been the main contributor to our development in the world of probation. Freed from institutional constraints we have reacted swiftly scaling up our ambition to become a national provider capable of attracting and securing business with both the retained public service and the new providers of adult offender services.

A new mind-set 

Our new mind-set means freeing yourself of all limits in thinking through service offerings. For example, looking at the existing Probation Qualifications Framework and then developing a quality, competency-based framework which allows movement and career development between the Public and Private Sector where we can keep high and consistent standards between providers.

We deliver e-Learning packages to involve participants in learning appropriate to this medium creating flexibility and cutting costs. We recognise that Probation Trusts are undergoing massive cultural and structural changes so have already developed a suite of Leadership, Change Management and Communication modules.

Historically, we know that major outsourcing initiatives like this create casualties and it is easy to become becalmed waiting for other people to determine your future but, at Laurus, thanks to our management of the speed of the change curve, we are creating our own destinies and that feels much more positive and engaging!

 

Visit our website for details of forthcoming briefing events aimed at those interested in joining us: www.laurusdevelopment.co.uk

You can also follow Larus Development on Twitter: @LaurusDev

 

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