A View from the Top

The transition to the NDIS has been (and is) a rocky road for many organisations – the chance to see this reported from a senior management perspective is something that can be quite illuminating. The NDS CEO Conference for 2015 was entitled #LEADTHECHANGE and it was obvious from the start that “Change” really was the focus of this years’ proceedings.
With a desire to gauge this level of change in the sector, the Calxa Team attended with our partner Pam Chilman representing MYOB.

The Opening address by NDS CEO Ken Baker spoke of the Road Ahead – he shared his experience about his first car, a 1957 Morris Major, an analogy which was quite apt in that this vehicle had a traditional heritage and solidity but was totally inadequate to meet the standards of todays’ high speed, highly congested freeways. He likening the path to the NDIS as being “like traveling along a 1000km road with only $41 to buy fuel”.

The comment was to set a theme for many at the conference. Discussions centred around the need to collaborate and work together to move forward and that change should focus on taking a more customer orientated perspective. End-user funding was about giving choice to those with disabilities – that was the message.

With this in mind the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission used their address to release their 2014 Australian Charities Report. Highlighting a whopping $103 billion industry generated income and employment of over 1 million people (not counting the 2 million volunteers), the report provided basis for discussions. Further details were made available via the ACNC interactive website data portal. Further data released was that the Disability sector was the largest of the NFP areas with the highest labour force, emphasising the need for more investment in education, training and sector development to meet the oncoming challenges.

McDonald’s Australia CEO, Sean Ruming delivered a rousing speech on his organisation’s massive cultural swing over the past two years. Faced with mounting competition in the fast-food sector and a steady downward trend in profits, McDonald’s had abandoned their tradition “Make if perfect EVERY time” in pursuit of a new ideal that puts “Progress not Perfection” as their leading statement. With a business model centred around a “Bundled Innovation” concept, McDonald’s launched their new Burger Choice product, in place of the traditional “new” McDonald’s designed burger.  The new concept saw customers choosing their own ingredients and condiments  and experiencing a higher level of service such as table service – ‘how very un-McDonald’s’. The company conceived, planned and introduced a completely new aspect of their business within a very short 2 year period. As a result, their margins saw immediate growth and their ability to hold staff increased as job satisfaction grew.

The Case Study set a compelling idea for adaptive change and while a totally different environment to the disability sector, parallels were evident in areas of staff management, innovation and a genuine desire to change perspective to achieve a positive outcome.

It proved that outcomes can be achieved with decisive planning and a vision to establish a NEW operating model. It will require putting aside long held convictions in favour of new ideas and beliefs, something those transitioning from traditional block funding to the new NDIS scheme will have to embrace.

As Bob Dylan once sang “The times….they are a-changin’”.