The Rubik’s Cube was launched across the world in 1980 as the most difficult puzzle ever, with more than a billion possible variations across its six sides. Yet it looked very simple.
The Rubik’s Cube is a perfect analogy for Aged Care, especially now in the advent of the Royal Commission recommendations. Delivering quality care for the elderly is the simple outcome we all want. Yet the sheer number of moving parts, such as human psychology, processes, logistics, legislation, public perception and paperwork makes the number of possible ‘moves’ nearly as great as a Rubik’s Cube.
‘Business’ has tried to solve this by the introduction of compliance, technology and high-speed communication, but the complexity of running a company is ever increasing, with new technology, globalisation, bureaucracy and customer demand. Add to this, 148 recommendations across 2580 pages in a 5-volume report from the Royal Commission and for many, it may become overwhelming.
History is full of disaster stories where complexity takes what appears to be a robust system and turns it to dust in a heartbeat. The Air France Flight 447 disaster of 2014 is probably the best-known example of this. The pilots had to make the right call based on contradictory information and failed systems coupled with Air France’s approach to risk management. A crash killing all 228 passengers and crew was the result. This means that making the right call is very difficult without hard, unbiased and non-contradictory data (even in life and death situations). Where systems are already flawed as has been seen in parts of the aged care industry, the route to disaster is even faster and more assured.
In the light of the Royal Commission report, Aged Care faces sweeping changes to answer the issues that have made it such a challenging industry: problems such as poor governance, leadership misalignment, resistance to change leading to low morale, performance, high staff churn, poor safety and quality outcomes for both staff and residents. These are all signs that the system simply isn’t functioning. Many business leaders recognise that problems exist but just like the pilots of Flight 447 making the right call with poor, contradictory or misleading information is a huge risk. This is why so many businesses fail to implement change successfully and then actually fail.
Sometimes businesses turn to third-party consultants for help and advice. That is if they know where to look and have pockets deep enough to engage them. These consultants spend considerable time, energy, and their client’s resources trying to gather enough information to provide some direction to fix business issues. However, this is also high risk. Consultants are only human with their individual motivations, inherent bias, desire to win business, eagerness for billable hours, not to mention a filtered view of the world. Moreover, the issues that arise will be symptoms of some other interconnected problems.
For example, consider what happens when a business appears to have a culture issue. Poor culture doesn’t just happen. Culture is an outcome, it is a direct result of something else; for example, stemming from dysfunctional leadership or perhaps poor process management or a combination of both. Bringing in an expert to fix symptoms is doomed to fail yet the one favoured by the majority of businesses. In addition, expecting (for example) a culture expert to be able to find, analyse and fix an inter-related problem such as process management isn’t realistic. Without the correct data and root cause, problems will soon re-emerge. In short, seeing “symptoms” as “causes” is a major issue.
So what can an Aged Care business do? The team at Epifini believes the 10 short action points below will help.
Find out why leading businesses are choosing Epifini to help them change successfully. Feel free to contact us through the contact page.