How good are you at making friends?

The Disability Reform Council, an advisory council to the NDIS, released a report last year on the state of the disability marketplace: Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy.

The report described the Council’s vision of what a robust and ‘mature’ NDIS market will look like. In this virtual marketplace people with disability are the customer with ultimate purchasing control over their supports. And like any customer they would have the power to choose from a variety of available products, from a range of diverse and sustainable providers, and from a diverse and capable workforce.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that we were still a long way from reaching maturity as a market.

Of course ‘the market’ is a broad and complicated thing and it is hard to pinpoint exactly what they mean by this. The phrase itself has become a kind of catchall for all the things Providers need to do to be able to meet the big changes facing them in the Human Services Sector.

Often when CEOs look at the changes needed and they ask “Is my house in order?”, what springs to mind are the tangible structures of a company. Strategy and planning typically throw up questions like:
“Is our bottom line in shape?”
“Do we have line of sight over the true cost of individualised funding?”
“Does my structure support flexible and individualised supports and a more transient workforce?”
“Are my workforce prepared?”
“Are my back-end systems right (CRM, Accounting, Payroll etc.)?”
“What is my capacity to grow and scale?”
“Who are my customers? What will I deliver? Where is my market?”

One question that is often overlooked by leaders across the sector (and is in fact conspicuously missing from the report) is:

“Do I have the right partnerships to provide the best service for my customer?”

If there is one thing the legacy of block funding and the cycle of procurement has created, it’s the tendency of organisations to treat each other with suspicion, to hide the company secrets, to see the threat and not the opportunity.

How often have you heard a workmate be critical of other ‘hopeless’ organisations, whilst saying that your organisation was somehow the only one which knew what it was doing?

How we collaborate and develop partnerships is key to building our maturity as a market place. And there are a number of good reasons we need to ‘grow up’ and start making friends:

1. Unlike the block funding model which enforces a one size fits all provider who delivers the ‘complete’ service, the new customer has more control to mix and match their products with more than one provider.

In this shift of purchasing power, new questions arise: what is my strategy to attract new customers and support customer loyalty?

Consider the wedding planner.

When a bride and groom engage a wedding planner to plan their wedding, they don’t care that the florist is a contractor, the reception venue is a partnership and the limo driver is an employee. All they care about is that their special day will be perfect, just as they wanted it.

The people you deliver services to are your customers. It seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating here (and as often as you can to your front line staff): like the bride and groom, if your customer isn’t satisfied with your products and services, they won’t complain, they will walk and take their money to another provider who will deliver what they want.

2. Good partnerships enable you to focus on what you do well and move away from services that conflict with your core purpose.

A great wedding planner will have confidence in the ‘package’ that they, along with their collaborating partners, are delivering to their customer. This means knowing the product of their partners is a quality one and where it isn’t, being able to deal with this and ultimately having the courage to find a new partner. The wedding planners brand is connected to their partners, so this is of course vital.

3. Build your brand recognition and attract more potential customers.

For the wedding planner, when the partnership works well, the potential for building their brand and attracting more potential customers is great.

4. Learn from each other and build your own expertise.

Organisations that will thrive in this ‘maturing market’ are those that can build partnerships with other trusted providers and can offer a seamless suite of products and services and know that it will be done to a high standard.

Some of the services will be your own niche product, the ones you know you can deliver exceptionally well, while your partners will deliver their own complimentary specialist services.

Occasionally your partners may also be your competitors for certain products. ‘Co-opetition’ is long established in commercial marketplaces and is used extensively to fill in your gaps, build your own expertise through learning from your partner and emphasise your strengths. We can expect to see a number of ‘non-traditional’ organisations entering into this emerging marketplace too. Some will raise their stand on the outskirts, building ‘adjacent’ marketplaces, others will be direct competitors. The concept of co-opetition will be already very much part of their culture as a Provider.

There is no mistaking it, the very nature of human services is undergoing a fundamental change. It is not just a case of business as usual, just with a change of funder. So, obviously taking stock of your house in this new market is vital.

But don’t forget about this most important part of your stocktake: how you partner with other providers. It might mean a considerable shift in the way you have done things in the past, in your organisational culture. From your leadership down to your frontline worker and everyone in between, how good are you at making friends?

  Click to listen highlighted text! HomeServices Access the NDISFind and keep a jobPlace and Train Employment SupportFind a place to liveBuild skills for lifeGet expert advice and guidanceEnjoy my communityPlan and manage my NDIS moneyContinue my educationTravel and go where I want to goMy Therapeutic SupportsEarly Childhood SupportsPositive Behaviour SupportPhysical Wellbeing AboutNews & StoriesBreak Thrus FAQsContact Search for: How good are you at making friends? April 18, 2016Blog, Break Thru, featured, I am able Blog, News, Storiesco-opetition, customer, Disability Reform Council, National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS, NDIS market, report share The Disability Reform Council, an advisory council to the NDIS, released a report last year on the state of the disability marketplace: Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy. The report described the Council’s vision of what a robust and ‘mature’ NDIS market will look like. In this virtual marketplace people with disability are the customer with ultimate purchasing control over their supports. And like any customer they would have the power to choose from a variety of available products, from a range of diverse and sustainable providers, and from a diverse and capable workforce. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that we were still a long way from reaching maturity as a market. Of course ‘the market’ is a broad and complicated thing and it is hard to pinpoint exactly what they mean by this. The phrase itself has become a kind of catchall for all the things Providers need to do to be able to meet the big changes facing them in the Human Services Sector. Often when CEOs look at the changes needed and they ask “Is my house in order?”, what springs to mind are the tangible structures of a company. Strategy and planning typically throw up questions like: “Is our bottom line in shape?” “Do we have line of sight over the true cost of individualised funding?” “Does my structure support flexible and individualised supports and a more transient workforce?” “Are my workforce prepared?” “Are my back-end systems right (CRM, Accounting, Payroll etc.)?” “What is my capacity to grow and scale?” “Who are my customers? What will I deliver? Where is my market?” One question that is often overlooked by leaders across the sector (and is in fact conspicuously missing from the report) is: “Do I have the right partnerships to provide the best service for my customer?” If there is one thing the legacy of block funding and the cycle of procurement has created, it’s the tendency of organisations to treat each other with suspicion, to hide the company secrets, to see the threat and not the opportunity. How often have you heard a workmate be critical of other ‘hopeless’ organisations, whilst saying that your organisation was somehow the only one which knew what it was doing? How we collaborate and develop partnerships is key to building our maturity as a market place. And there are a number of good reasons we need to ‘grow up’ and start making friends: 1. Unlike the block funding model which enforces a one size fits all provider who delivers the ‘complete’ service, the new customer has more control to mix and match their products with more than one provider. In this shift of purchasing power, new questions arise: what is my strategy to attract new customers and support customer loyalty? Consider the wedding planner. When a bride and groom engage a wedding planner to plan their wedding, they don’t care that the florist is a contractor, the reception venue is a partnership and the limo driver is an employee. All they care about is that their special day will be perfect, just as they wanted it. The people you deliver services to are your customers. It seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating here (and as often as you can to your front line staff): like the bride and groom, if your customer isn’t satisfied with your products and services, they won’t complain, they will walk and take their money to another provider who will deliver what they want. 2. Good partnerships enable you to focus on what you do well and move away from services that conflict with your core purpose. A great wedding planner will have confidence in the ‘package’ that they, along with their collaborating partners, are delivering to their customer. This means knowing the product of their partners is a quality one and where it isn’t, being able to deal with this and ultimately having the courage to find a new partner. The wedding planners brand is connected to their partners, so this is of course vital. 3. Build your brand recognition and attract more potential customers. For the wedding planner, when the partnership works well, the potential for building their brand and attracting more potential customers is great. 4. Learn from each other and build your own expertise. Organisations that will thrive in this ‘maturing market’ are those that can build partnerships with other trusted providers and can offer a seamless suite of products and services and know that it will be done to a high standard. Some of the services will be your own niche product, the ones you know you can deliver exceptionally well, while your partners will deliver their own complimentary specialist services. Occasionally your partners may also be your competitors for certain products. ‘Co-opetition’ is long established in commercial marketplaces and is used extensively to fill in your gaps, build your own expertise through learning from your partner and emphasise your strengths. We can expect to see a number of ‘non-traditional’ organisations entering into this emerging marketplace too. Some will raise their stand on the outskirts, building ‘adjacent’ marketplaces, others will be direct competitors. The concept of co-opetition will be already very much part of their culture as a Provider. There is no mistaking it, the very nature of human services is undergoing a fundamental change. It is not just a case of business as usual, just with a change of funder. So, obviously taking stock of your house in this new market is vital. But don’t forget about this most important part of your stocktake: how you partner with other providers. It might mean a considerable shift in the way you have done things in the past, in your organisational culture. From your leadership down to your frontline worker and everyone in between, how good are you at making friends?