"John and his  team initially led us through a very rigorous process to bring everyone on board with the new plan for the organisation’s future. This process enabled us to achieve strong consensus about structure, roles and responsibilities. We were particularly impressed by the way they embraced the organisation’s culture whilst keeping us firmly focused on the bigger picture. Our organisation is in a much stronger position as a consequence."

Nancy Bell, CEO, New Zealand Childcare Association

PLUS+ Case Study

Early Childhood New Zealand - Te Rito Maioha

Te Rito Maioha had gone through a significant period of growth, from its beginnings as a small group of individuals passionate about providing accessible teacher education to the ECE sector.  Nancy Bell, Chief Executive of Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, had seen the need for the organisation to become more business-like in its approach if it was to lift the quality of early childhood education in New Zealand, and had already embarked on a plan to achieve this.
Project Background

Nancy engaged John Ellen after hearing him speak about the PLUS+ approach, to ensure that they had a plan sound enough to execute.

After a research phase including interviews with Nancy and her senior management team, PLUS+ then put together a series of workshops comprising Te Rito Maioha’s council, senior management team and key staff.  Nancy recalls that the workshops were rigorous and demanding.  Attendees were challenged to contribute as thoughtfully as they could.  They carried out 12 structured activities, including competitive analysis, predicting 100 years ahead, and scenario planning.
Services provided by PLUS+

The process was robust and its outcomes impressed Nancy.  What emerged was the realisation that Te Rito Maioha would need to expand and improve to achieve their new vision, including significantly more specific skills and new roles.  The team set the challenge of evolving from an organisation focused on providing a voice and leadership for New Zealand’s early childhood development practitioners, to becoming, in Nancy’s words, “something much larger”.  They felt strongly that offering a degree in Early Childhood Education was the most meaningful way to enhance professional status and provide high quality ECE.  The step up that they were about to take meant fundamentally redefining the organisation’s core business and, by implication, its core competencies, to become a research-active organisation.  

Initially, PLUS+ highlighted the risk to Nancy, telling her that gaining approval for and developing a degree course would put considerable strain on Te Rito Maioha’s resources.  The organisation might not survive in the long-term as a tertiary education provider if they failed to achieve their goal of a degree course planned for 2011.  At the time there was a moratorium in force, in the wake of issues with a perceived oversupply of tertiary providers, preventing the approval of any new initial teacher education programmes.  However, Nancy and her team felt that they needed to have the strength of their convictions and that they should push ahead.

Te Rito Maioha was finally grated approval to proceed in late September 2008. PLUS+ assisted Nancy and her team to come up with the organisational structure that Te Rito Maioha needed.  The methodology helped them develop job descriptions and profiles for the jobs required to populate it.  What PLUS+ stressed to Nancy was the importance of finding people who matched the role profiles that they had developed in keeping with the target culture of strong personal accountability.
Nancy recounts how there were some staff anxious about the breadth of the new roles they were being asked to assume, the small number of keenly felt redundancies, her own concern about where they were going to find candidates with knowledge of the education sector who also had the required skills and readiness to take on significant leadership and management responsibilities.  Then there was the major task of supporting existing academic staff to gain the required higher degree qualifications required to teach the degree course. Nancy notes how useful the PLUS+ proposed organisational structure was.  The structure formalised their strategy and has played a major part in assisting them to achieve their vision.
early education photograph for case study-149

Staff and students at NZCA's Palmerston North base
Despite the compromises they have had to make, they now offer a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education.  The first students began their course of study in 2011, less than three years after the first strategic planning workshops were held.

Nancy is understandably proud of what her organisation has achieved, although careful to share credit with the team that have helped her realise Te Rito Maioha’s goals.  Nancy and John both know that without a clear, well-defined and thoroughly tested vision, Te Rito Maioha would certainly not be the organisation it is today. 
Contact the Project lead for further information: JOHN ELLEN >