Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service

Redefining Values and Behaviours

The Challenge

Innovation Central undertook a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation for Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS), zeroing in on leadership, culture, performance management, and promotion.

The initial assessment encompassed 115 DSFRS team members (5% of the workforce) from various sections of the organisation. To encourage maximum engagement and diverse input, multiple Stations and the Service headquarters hosted free-format focus groups.

A key revelation from the diagnostic was the organisation’s reflection that its values were recognised “only in name”. The supporting behavioural indicators were primarily tied to leadership and management roles, revealing a disconnect between intention and application.

Innovation Central presented their findings to the Service, prompting DSFRS to reflect and re-evaluate how their values and behaviours could be embraced and exhibited by all team members daily. The proposed solution aimed to build on the pre-existing awareness of the values, fostering a deeper connection to these values through relatable and accessible language.

The Solution

To capture the collective insights of the organisation, it was essential to re-engage team members and gather their opinions on the desired end-product. The values and behaviours had to be moulded by the people and for the people, ensuring a true representation of the entire organisation and creating a DNA blueprint that everyone could connect with, embody, and take pride in.

In close collaboration with the client, a project plan was developed outlining the timeline, locations, and personnel involved. Focus groups, each comprising up to 12 team members (5 groups per day), were organised to include both uniformed and non-uniformed staff, as well as those with and without leadership responsibilities.

A total of 256 team members (>10% of the workforce) actively participated in redefining the values and underlying behaviours. Colleagues challenged one another to create simple and clear values. The collected data was analysed to identify common themes, emphasising the frequency and value relationships across the various descriptive terms used by team members.

A process of consolidation and refinement was applied, distilling the essence of the shared statements and resulting in a maximum of four behavioural statements for each of the four identified values. Finally, these statements were pressure tested against the existing values and behaviours to ensure all team members could recognise the new statements as an evolution and improvement of the existing values, rather than a completely new approach.

The Results

The final “We are” values and associated behaviours were presented to the project steering group for validation and critique. Importantly, any suggested modifications were cross-referenced against the database of terms gathered during the focus groups. This ensured the amendments stayed true to the people’s language, maintaining the project’s objective and integrity.

The resulting values have been professionally illustrated (see image), and the database of descriptive terms is being actively employed to promote the new values. Innovation Central continues collaborating with DSFRS to integrate these values throughout the organisation, closely working with the client to make these values their applied DNA. As an example, DSFRS plans to leverage the newly defined behaviours as a means of evaluating team members’ behavioural performance, reinforcing the anticipated cultural transformation across the Service. User guides enable colleagues to measure and provide feedback on the values and behaviours in their everyday work life and during performance discussions and evaluations.

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