Meeting the Needs of the Community: Chapter 4 Implementation of the Initial Plan
Updated: Jul 12, 2020
4.1 Defining the Why and the What
1. The risk of conducting a chapter on the implementation of any plan, is to examine in minute detail exactly what happened, and ultimately learning nothing. Tempting though this may be, the purpose of this chapter is to examine broadly what St Winfrid’s did to try and implement their plans, not with the intention of criticising, but to enhance possible solutions the church could employ.
2. The recognised first step in delivering any project, large or small, is to understand why the project needs to be carried out, and then define what the project is intended to achieve (Newton, 2016; Villanova University, 2019).
3. Newton suggests that at the beginning of any project four key questions should be asked by whoever is responsible for organising or controlling the project. The first is why do you need the project? The second is what will you have at the end of the project? The third is whether anything else will be delivered by the project, and finally will anything be excluded from the project.
4. The answer as to why, is simple and straightforward. The church membership required a building that was fit for purpose. This automatically leads onto the second question, what will you have at the end of the project that you do not have now? A building that did not let in water and was warm in the winter.
5. The answer to the third question, will you deliver anything else? was to provide a building that could be used by, and a benefit to, the whole community. More specifically, the plan was to have a centre that would focus on the arts, especially music, that would enable the church to tackle issues of social isolation and unemployment within the town.
6. The answer to the fourth question was that there were no exclusions over and above those that would not be generally accepted for a working church building.
7. Underpinning the answers to the key questions were three important assumptions. The first was the assumption that the sources of income coming into the church would continue.
8. The church had, at that time, income coming in from renting the Thistle Hall, mainly from the Humpty Dumpty Pre-school and later from Ickle Village (now Lottietots Street) play centre. The assumption was that the income from these groups, together with any income coming from other musical events, would support any applications being made for finance.
9. This assumption of continuing funding was based on a further underlying assumption, that the membership would give sufficiently to support the basic functions of the church. The church did incur members leaving for several reasons. These included the temperature of the building, ill health, moving, and in some instances failing to understand the link between the why of the project and what was being proposed, and this revealed itself through confusion and conflict. As a result, income from the church membership reduced placing more demands on the rental income.
10. The assumption of continuing funding also contains within it two inherent risks which are frequently ignored, but to date have proved to be important. The first is that the groups renting the church building continue to exist. The Humpty Dumpty Pre-school ceased operation because of an internal conflict.
11. The second inherent risk is that there is a building that is available for renting. This is not referring specifically to the requirement of having to close the church building down in order to renovate it, but more to the situation that has occurred where the church building has been closed down due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
12. In both scenarios, the level of income coming into the church is reduced, in the second scenario to zero, placing at risk the ability of the church to carry out any restoration work at all.
13. The second crucial assumption was that making the main auditorium of the church a music venue would help fund other projects that the church wanted to carry out. This assumption could only hold true if, on the completion of the development project, the proposed venue had some form of miracle and became one of the south’s leading musical venues overnight. The reality would be more likely to have been a slow growth, with a serious risk of the main church funding any shortfalls for several years, if not continually.
14. The third assumption was that the project could be split into two streams, the repair of the building and the redevelopment of the church into a venue. This assumption could only hold true if the repairs and redevelopment of the building were minor. They were not, and any plans were dependent on the repairs to the building being completed first.
15. The parish also had an organisational structural issue that had to be overcome. The Charities Act 2011 placed a requirement on all Church of England parishes with an income exceeding £100,000 to register with the Charity Commission. This requirement had been in force since 2009 and was reaffirmed by Parliament in 2013.
16. It became apparent during 2013 that the Totton Team Ministry, the parish of which St Winfrid’s is part of, was not complying with the legislation. Enquiries with the Diocese revealed that the reason why this had not been picked up by them was that each of the churches within the parish were submitting their own financial accounts.
17. Submitting the individual accounts was permissible if, and only if, the team had been formed of individual churches with their own Parochial Church Councils, each church in the team had their own legal identity. This was not the case with Totton, and no one had picked this up.
18. In the job description for the Team Rector, which was issued in 2014, the Deanery Finance Committee lay representative, wrote this:
‘On behalf of the team, I am currently forming a charity as our combined income has exceeded the threshold at which this is required. The need to register as a charity was inadvertently missed a few years ago and we are being guided by the Diocesan Financial Team on the way to address this oversight.’ (Totton Team Ministry, 2014, p. 28)
4.2 Creating the Plan
19. Fundamental to the implementation of a project of this magnitude, is the creation of a business plan in the early stages of the project’s development. The purpose of the business plan is to clarify the idea, identify any potential problems, set out the objectives of the project, and measure progress (H.M Government, 2020), and as the HM Government website makes clear, is necessary in obtaining any funding.
20. The Prince’s Trust (2020) expands on these ideas further. It suggests that the plan needs to be both concise but specific. The document needs to explain what the business or organisation represents, how the proposal will make money or meet the community needs immediately and be understood by everyone who reads it. It also needs to provide sufficient detail as to how the project will be implemented, in order that everyone, including the church, understands.
21. As the intention of the project was intending to create a music hub, the business plan also needed to describe the market into which the project was entering into, how the church was going to make money from the project, and how it was proposing to obtain the funding to develop the project.
22. Having completed a business plan, it is then possible to create a project implementation plan. Following the guidance provided by Newton (2016), figure 4.1 provides an example of a possible project plan in the form of a Gantt Chart. It should be stressed that the Gantt Chart is not intended to a definitive project plan but as an example of the order in which the project should have followed.
Figure 4.1 Example of suggested project plan
23. Newton argues that the advantage of this type of project plan is that it breaks the project into its individual components, placing them in the right order of completion, and estimating how long each component will take to complete. This then enables the project manager to evaluate what resources are required, including money, and what resources are available already within the organisation, enabling the project manager to determine what resources need to be brought in.
24. It is not clear if a business plan was in place in the early stages of the project, and from that whether the project manager used any type of project plan. An indication that the project manager and team did not have any form of business plan or project plan, was given in a report released for the St Winfrid District Church Council on 16 September 2016.
25. The report revealed that they were having problems with funding the project.
In investigating funding, it is becoming increasingly clear that it will be very difficult to realise the funds required from one, or even two or three, sources. With regards to grants, it will certainly involve funding from a variety of sources, who will be interested in different strands of the project. (St Winfrid's District Church Council, 2016)
26. The report also acknowledged that in order to obtain serious funding, they had to show that there was a demand for what they were proposing, and that this was problematic because of having to close the building for a significant period of time, creating uncertainty.
27. Ultimately, what the report revealed was that the project team did not understand the guidance that was given to them from both businesses within the community and the Diocese, to break the project down into smaller segments. Their breaking the project down was dealing with specific parts of the building, and not, as should have been, the individual elements.
4.3 Delivering the Plan and Completing the Project
28. Based upon a report presented to St Winfrid’s District Church Council in June 2016 (St Winfrid's District Church Council, 2016) and a written message from the Team Rector issued on 13th June 2018, describing what happened (Steed, 2018), it is now possible to gain a better understanding of the issues faced when attempting to deliver the project.
29. The delivery of a music hub, and all the community benefits that would ensue from that, were all based upon the premise of creating a business. The plan was that the auditorium created would bring in income to support the rest of the work of the church.
30. In order for this type of project to be successful it required someone leading the business element of the project who was experienced, a high degree of communication because the risk of business failure was high, and the right structures in place to protect the finances of parish from any such failure. It is not clear whether the church had those necessary requirements in place.
31. What is fortuitous, is that the inability of the church to get beyond making repairs to the roof, meant that when the corona virus pandemic hit the world, there was no risk of there being a business failure through lack of income.
32. The question that must be asked from what has happened is whether the project could have been delivered? The simple answer is no but explaining why is more complex.
33. To explain why the project could not have been delivered, it is always necessary to examine the leadership, or in the case of a business, the managers.
34. Any textbook on management will explain the intricacies of what is required of a manager, at whatever level of the organisation. These would include communication skills, understanding or creating the culture of the business, understanding the finances, and how to motivate and control your staff (Boddy, 2014).
35. More importantly, however, is what the manager brings into the organisation. Upper Echelon Theory, developed by Hambrick and Mason (1984), argues that how a manager controls the business, especially at the higher levels of the organisation, are more dictated by that managers prior beliefs and experiences.
36. There are risks. The most obvious is that past experiences and beliefs of a manager may not be enough to deal with the organisation that they have responsibility for. In addition, managers, being in a position of authority, must be able to deal with the power that their position holds, and for some managers this may be too great.
37. There is a further risk which can be best explained through the example of football managers. The ultimate objective of a football manager is results. If the team gets promoted, avoids the looming relegation, or gets good results week on week, then the manager gets to keep his job. Poor results and relegation, or in some instances failing to win the titleship race, means losing their job.
38. The Team Rector has argued that a significant part of his being brought to the parish was regeneration. That means different things to different people. However, he takes the view that he has been successful in completing stage one of the project, the roof being repaired.
39. The questions that come from this are numerous. What does the term regeneration mean? Did the Team Rector have the right people around him to provide a critical analysis of the problems faced, or did he act like President Trump and reject the comments of anyone who disagreed? Should there have been better communication with all the congregation at St Winfrid’s, as they were ultimately taking responsibility for the cost? Did everyone trust him?
40. It is not for this report to answer those questions, as the only person who can answer them is the person in charge, and they must answer to the ultimate shareholder. What is clear though is that not all the needs of Totton were identified and plans to address them. The objective of this report is to begin to address that issue.