Assessment One: Human Services Innovation Briefing Paper
Length: 1,500 words (Not including appendices, figures, tables or bibliography)
For this assessment, students will be required to identify one recent innovation in
human service delivery in Australia or overseas and critically examine its
characteristics, the logic for its introduction, and its current or potential contribution to
policy. The briefing paper should discuss links between the service development and
broader processes of social, demographic and political change. Some of the
innovations that could be considered include case management; consumer-directed
care; service contracting arrangements; improvements in the coordination of
services; or the development of innovative servicing arrangements for a particular
Assessment: Human Services Innovation Brief
Length: 1,500 words maximum (Not including appendices, figures, tables or
Task: Prepare a briefing paper on one ‘recent’ human services innovation
(Australia or overseas). Critically examine its:
• Characteristics (what is it?),
• Logic for its introduction (rationale and context for the innovation)
• Current or potential contribution to policy (evaluate its use)
• Link this discussion to processes of social، demographic and political change
(those which are deemed relevant)
Examples of innovations include: case management; consumer-directed care;
Service contracting arrangements; improvements in the coordination of
Services; or the development of innovative servicing arrangements for a
Assessment One: Human Services Innovation Brief
Writing a Briefing Paper/Note
What is a brief?
• A report to someone، either written or verbal that either:
• gives the recipient the information they need to know to make an informed
decision – e.g. approve a course of action, sign a letter, approve expenditure; or
• provides information so the recipient is up-to-date on an issue – e.g., what’s
happened, what’s the issue now, and what needs to be done.
• The recipient should be able to rely on the brief alone – they should be able to make
a decision without having to go back to the person/people who has/have provided
Objective of a Brief
• A brief usually provides objective advice on what is best for the recipient. However
the writer’s opinion is being called for, since the brief tells someone what they should
• If there are a number of options, the brief should say what they are and why one
option is being recommended ahead of the others.
Structure of a Briefing Paper/Note
• Background to the issue – the history, how we got to this point.
• Current situation – what has happened that requires action or a decision now, or requires the recipient to be updated.
• Comment – sometimes the background and current situation isn’t enough to tell the whole story, so this allows for the inclusion of extra information. In terms of
analysis, the brief needs to explain a situation, analyse what the key issues are, and
recommend a way of dealing with them. The complexity of the issue will determine how much analysis there needs to be.
• Recommendation – succinct statement of what you want the recipient to do. If action is required, then provide a recommendation. If the brief is just to inform, then no recommendation is needed
• Sign off – in large organisations، the brief will often have to go through several layers of management for sign off.
• Attachments -Put any additional or supporting material as an attachment to the brief. The brief may be attached to a report or piece of research and may include an overview of the main findings and possible government response to it.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Australian Policy Online
Relevant peak organisations / think tanks
• ACCOSS – http://www.acoss.org.au
• NCOSS – http://www.ncoss.org.au
• Australia Institute – http://www.tai.org.au etc.
Relevant government Department websites
Relevant Journal articles, books and academic analyses
Report on Government Services 2014 (and previous years)
Assessed by the following criteria (from Inadequate – Excellent):
• Selection of appropriate service innovation
• Comprehensive coverage of key characteristics
• Assessment of logic/rationale for its introduction
• Critical evaluation of current or potential contribution
• Assessment of rationale and contribution of innovation in context of
relevant social, demographic and political change
• Appropriate use of evidence
• Brief cohesive – link between background, issue, evidence,
recommendations (if recommendations made)
The purpose of organisational structure
Organisational structures (Daft 2010):
• Designate formal reporting relationships, including hierarchical levels and
the scope of responsibility different roles within the organisation.
• Designates functional areas and groups people into those functional areas.
• Situates functional areas within the entire organization.
• Determines how communication occurs between levels and across functional
Organizational Design Principles
• Identify the core values of the organisation.
• Consider the degree of standardisation of work activities. Where the
activity is repetitive, where the output is standardised, efficiencies can
be gained from job specialisation.
• Consider how jobs can be grouped. Suggests coordination via common
supervision, common resources, performance measures and task
expectations. Three bases of grouping:
• By function performed (policy and research, administration)
• By service type (case management, assessment, intervention)
• By population served (target client group, geography, service sector)
Organizational Design Principles (cont …)
• Consider how activities should be coordinated. Standardised activities
facilitate coordinated supervision.
• Direct supervision.
• Team based coordination.
• Consider how information can best be shared to meet organisational
• Horizontal structures facilitate communication and coordination
between functional areas. Allow work tasks to respond to changing
• Vertical structures utilise set regulations and work practices to guide
work, coordinates activities between the top and bottom of an
organisation so that front-line activities reflect organisational goals.
• Tension between vertical and horizontal structures.
Hierarchy and collaboration in organisations
Centralised structures are said to emphasise:
• Specialised tasks
• Top-down rules and regulations
• Formal reporting systems
• Centralised decision making
Decentralised structures are said to emphasise
• Learning and adaptation associated with shared tasks
• Few rules
• Face-to-face communication
• Teams that form and disband depending on work requirements
• Informal and decentralised decision-making
Organisations constituted by five different ‘constituencies’.
• Top management (strategic apex): charged with overall responsibility for the
organization. Responsible for ensuring that the organisation serves its mission in an
• Middle management: Top management is joined to the operating core by a chain of
managers with formal authority, who have direct authority over the operators.
• The operating core: encompasses those who perform the basic work related directly to
the production of products and services.
• Technostructure, or technical support: serve the organization by affecting the work of
• Support staff, or administration: exist to provide support to the organization outside
the operating work flow.
Organisational Forms (… cont.)
Five organisational forms depending on relative power of each of these constituencies (Mintzberg 1979: 301)
Simple Structure Direct supervision Strategic Apex Vertical and horizontal centralisation
Machine Bureaucracy Standardised work practices
Technostructure Limited horizontal decentralisation
Standardised skills Operating Core Vertical and horizontal decentralisation
Divisionalised Form Standardised outputs Middle Management Limited vertical decentralisation
Adhocracy Mutual adjustment Support staff Selective decentralization
Examples of Alternative Organisational Forms
• Human service organisations part of an interdependent system of
organisations that form a network
• Shift in focus on what organisations do to carry out their own activities to
what organisations do to coordinate the activities of other organisations
• Reflects trends towards specialisation in organisational functions and
increased reliance on outsourcing
• Key ‘organisational capabilities’ include ability to manage relationships,
monitor and ensure effective delivery of services by outside organisations
• Unstable structure:
• There is less commitment between two independent organisations than within a
• Contractors may fail to deliver to standards expected, resulting in the need to
find a replacement
• Changes in one or other organisation or their situation may make the
arrangement less tenable
Examples of Alternative Organisational Forms (cont…)
• Human service organisations may be constituted by several elements of
‘ideal typical’ organisational forms.
• Organisations may be hybrid also in the sense that they incorporate
service and advocacy goals (Hasenfeld and Gidron, 2005).
• Four key features of ‘multi-purpose hybrid organizations’:
• Their mission is to uphold and promote values that are typically at odds with
dominant and institutionalised values.
• They offer services that express these values. Service provision is a catalyst for
• Aim to meet the social identity needs of its members to promote collective
• They are hybrid because they combine the purposes of social change, service
provision and aid.
• Example Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and
Trauma Survivors http://www.startts.org.au
• Emphasis on survival. Resources devoted to production and marketing.
• Organisations are informal and non-bureaucratic. Crisis initiated by growth.
• Crisis of leadership.
• Organisation develops clear goals and directions, a beginning division of labour and a
hierarchy of authority. Formal systems of communication begin to appear.
• Lower level managers begin to assert control over their functional areas.
• Crisis of delegation
• Embedding of control systems as a way of managing coordination crisis.
• Senior management concerned with strategy, middle management with functional tasks.
Expansion of functional areas
• Crisis of bureaucratisation
• Emphasis on collaboration between functional teams.
• May result in fragmenting organisation into smaller divisions.
Hirsch and De Soucey (2006)
Mismatch between between an organisations structure, and its purposes and
• ‘Vertical coordination’: associated with high levels of control, task
• ‘Horizontal coordination’: associated with coordination between functions
to promote innovation.
Signs of structural misalignment (Daft 2010):
• Decision-making is delayed
• The organisation responds inadequately to a changing environment
• Employee performance declines
• Conflict between functional and organisational goals
Number of sources/references:between 9-10
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