The Technology Strategy Board – An Interim Manager's Perspective

25 March 2010

Background

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) was originally established as an advisory Non Departmental Public Body (NDBP) following the publication of the Innovation Report ‘Competing in the Global Economy: the Innovation Challenge’, in December 2003.

The report proposed the development of a technology strategy with a medium to long-term perspective, to provide a framework for setting policy priorities and improving the effectiveness of the Department of Trade’s (DTI) support to business.  The report further recommended the formation of a business-led TSB to ensure the technology strategy reflected business needs and was informed by business processes.  The TSB was formed, and operated out of the DTI in London.

The March 2006 report ‘Science and Innovation Investment Framework: Next Steps’ published alongside the Budget, announced that the TSB would have a wider remit to stimulate business innovation in those areas that offer greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity, and that plans for it to operate at arm’s length from the Government would be formulated.

In his written statement to Parliament on 1st November 2006, the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling said ,

“I have concluded that the right way forward both to build on the success of the TSB and ensure the technology support programme continues to be delivered in an efficient and effective way is to create an executive arm’s length body.  Subject to the approval of Parliament the new body will be established by Order of Council, as an Executive NDBP... It will be business focused with a business led Board.  It will work closely with Government Departments to ensure that policies and spending programmes contribute fully to the technology and innovation agenda, creating real commercial advantage for UK businesses.”

During the TSB’s transition to becoming independent from the DTI, which involved establising its own business led Board, the organisation also moved physical location from London to Swindon.

The Role

A TSB Transition Team was selected to manage the organisational change.  Late in the project lifecycle it was identified that many of the existing London based TSB staff would not be transferring to the new Swindon location, possibly resulting in a loss of intellectual capability.

A new role within the TSB Transition Team was established under the title of “Process Improvement and Knowledge Transfer Specialist”, with responsibility for redressing this situation.  This role had five main tasks:

  1. The creation of process mapping standards including the sign off procedures for process maps with DTI staff prior to sign off by DTI senior executives.
  2. To draft operation process maps for TSB core business activities (Collaborative Research & Development projects, establishing Knowledge Transfer Networks & Partnerships, Innovation Platforms and Eureka & Framework 7 projects).
  3. The development of a template for Business Handover Packs to assist the smooth transition of TSB operations and to ensure business continuity during the transition.
  4. To mentor and support existing TSB staff in the preparation and collation of relevant information for inclusion within the Business Handover Packs to agreed standards and timetable.
  5. To act as a focal point for the final check of standards and completeness of Business Handover Packs before transfer of business to the new TSB.

The Assignment

This was an intensive three month (April – July 2007) assignment that required the interim to have extensive change management, process re-engineering, facilitation, public sector project management and delivery expertise while being able to work independently.  There were political sensitivities to be aware of due to the changing nature of the DTI as well as sensitivities regarding the possibilities of TSB redundancies. 

The assignment involved liaising with existing TSB employees to gain an understanding of the processes associated with individual core business activities and then producing process maps detailing all operational activities.  Recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these processes were also documented.  Operational process maps also highlighted the documentation that should have been produced during the development of the business activities.

Using the process maps and expected documentation as templates, individual project Business Handover Packs were produced containing all the relevant information to enable employees recruited into the re-structured organisation to be trained and operational with the minimum of disruption to the TSB’s normal business. 

It also ensured they had contact details for all the relevant people they would need to work with.  The outcome was that continuity was maintained. 

The client agreed the assignment had been completed on time, to budget, to a high standard and within the agreed timescale.


Categories: Technology, Entertainment & Communications

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