RACO (Representation Association of Commissioned Officers) is an association which represents 95% of the Officer Corps of the Irish Defence Forces (circa. 1,000) on all industrial relations matters pertaining to pay and conditions of service. In 2015, it was at an interesting and challenging crossroads from both an internal and external perspective. The dynamics of its membership had changed and evolved quite significantly over the preceding decades and will continue to do so. While the external influences on the Association are in continuous flux from the changing national economic conditions, to the structural reorganisation of the Defence Forces, to the future direction of the Defence Forces as laid out in the Irish Governments White Paper on Defence 2015.
The Senior leadership of RACO recognised that in such a challenging internal and external environment, a constructive and generative dialogue needed to be started on how best RACO should approach its future challenges. We were engaged by the leadership to initiate this internal dialogue and help shape a vision for the Association.
Through a series of measured and focused assessments including executive interviews, department survey, and key internal/external stakeholder interviews an intervention was designed and co-created with the President, General Secretary and senior leadership of the association, which included:
- 2 large scale appreciative inquiry workshops with all key leaders across the organisation;
- development of a vision for 2025;
- an internal communication strategy;
- coaching sessions with key leaders to enable continued progress.
The focus of the project would be Vision development and cultural change. Specific consideration was placed on:
- engagement and internal processes (engaging and open dialogue);
- policy development (progressive policies) and;
- attaining desired outcomes (strong voice and recognition).
The planned intervention helped to create a constructive and generative dialogue focused on delivering a Vision that resonates with the values and pillars of the Association. Furthermore, the process allowed the members to recognise the achievements of the association to date, their collective strengths, and identify 20 projects/change initiatives and actions that have the potential to move RACO toward the desired future. The Association now has a Vision that resonates with the membership, a clear strategy and an impactful