Organisational development at place with Surrey Downs

Over the past year, organisational development has been an urgent priority for many organisations looking to support their people to adjust to a “new normal” for ways of working and to perform well under the continued strain of the pandemic.

For us, organisational development is as much a mindset as a set of practical interventions. Through all our work, we focus on creating safe spaces where people involved in change can share their views, take ownership of and agency in helping to shape the change they are trying to achieve, and feel engaged and motivated to create a better future. Recently, we have been working with place-based partnerships in East Surrey and Surrey Downs, using organisational development techniques and interventions to support the development of place-based working and the integration of organisations and teams.

Throughout this journey, Surrey Downs developed a clear ambition, vision, values and purpose. They were in a position earlier this year to start to consider how to bring this work together into a unified culture. They wanted this culture to be one that celebrates the unique contribution that each individual resident, member of staff, team and organisation brings to the Partnership, while uniting them under a common identity and shared narrative.

This year we have worked with Surrey Downs to support them to develop this shared culture and narrative through a series of engagement and co-design activities. This culture model was supported by a narrative created through the conversations we had conducted with multiple people over several months. We are now working with Surrey Downs to translate this cultural narrative into real change and behaviours on the ground at all levels of the system including the board, operational managers, staff, communities, lay partners, volunteers and residents.

The work aims to share the vision for place and to achieve the following outcomes:

  • A clear and consistent culture and narrative for Surrey Downs as a place
  • Staff and residents understand the role and purpose of Surrey Downs as a place and feel confident to tell their version of the Surrey Downs story
  • The Surrey Downs Partnership has a clear plan for the long-term delivery of the OD programme and its long-term cultural priorities

Excerpt from Surrey Downs narrative: “For this to be effective, staff will need to challenge themselves to treat people with dignity, considering the whole person, looking beyond the immediate symptoms or needs. This was summed up by one clinician who, after visiting someone in their home to support their health needs, realised in hindsight that he should have asked himself ‘but what are we going to do about the mould?’ that was affecting her home and, inevitably her health.”

You can read more about our work with clients and partners in our latest Impact Report -