Enforcement services are recognised as those public sector services that are designed around stopping people from doing something; littering, noise, anti social behaviour are good examples.
The services are always backed by legislation that defines the limits of what is acceptable, and those in the service often see themselves as having to ‘police’ or defend something.
Typically, for most services this is a warning, then a fine. Interestingly it is often the case that staff wear uniforms of some type.
Below is an example from a Food Safety Team from England, using a systems thinking approach to challenge their current way of working.
• Service improved from requiring special measures to excellent
• Service ethos changed from enforcement to helping
• Waste reduced by 75%
• Cost saving 24% overall
• Staff reduced by 2
• Nationally recognised transformation
• Customer feedback changed from suspicion to welcoming
When looking at food safety if you ask them what their job is, it is to
enforce food standards on restaurant owners.
They have the ability to fine, or even to take the owner to court, if they think it is appropriate. For the restaurant owner, the experience is never one that they enjoy - the officer suddenly turns up at my door, telling me that I am here to inspect you.
What Used to Happen
When the officer arrives, they put on a white outfit, and walk around the kitchen inspecting what they want to see. The restaurant owner just has to watch. And the officer usually has a list of items they expect to see; clean surfaces, training records & certificates, proof of inspections, and so on.
At the end of the visit the officer will go back to their office, and type up a reference document that lists all the items that failed the inspection. Each problem will include sections from the legislation, and a warning of when they should be completed. The tone of the letter is very standard and official - and the wording must be written assuming that the letter might be shown in court.
What They do Now
The same group of officers, after they have transformed their approach, did something very different. Firstly, they realised from a systemic perspective, that their purpose was to help restaurants create safe food - not to fulfil a pre-determined list of criteria.
Back in the office, there is the biggest change this is what has changed:
Have a look at these videos to experience what it was like
As an enforcement officer, it is now up to me to decide what I do and how I do it, for each situation I find myself in. It is great to be able to put into practice my knowledge, and help people.
In the office we have regular sessions, where we discuss what were doing, and what techniques we have learned. If any of us ever need help, all of us are there at the end of the phone - but the most helpful person is my manager.
Enforce principles of working:
Help me principles of working
The approach that was used was to take a team of inspectors and the manager through a series of tasks - they started by understanding what mattered to the restaurant manager. They also mapped out all the activities that they took to complete a visit, it was 134 steps!
They then set about experimenting with a new purpose - to help the managers create safe food. The team realised they had little idea how to actually do that, so they worked with one restaurant, and then another, until they had learned a new set of techniques and approaches that became their new way of working. They discarded those activities that they deemed not necessary.
Think of those public services that are 'enforcement' - that fine, chase, force people to do certain things. Imagine what would be the implications to the community if those services, instead of
we enforce became we help
The difference was so great, that an article was published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. You can read it here.
Helping others to learn how to do better things