Progress, Not Perfection

Business transformation and the NDIS

With this maxim, breakthru entered the trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, scaled up, grew talent, expertise and business. Mistakes were made, successes were celebrated and the journey continues.

Our adopted maxim, ‘progress not perfection’ became infectious around the organisation after breakthru leaders returned from a national disability conference around this time last year. After recounting the experience listening to keynote speakers, industry leaders and delegates, the short pithy statement was mentioned almost as a tag line in a conversation with the organisation’s CEO.

”Progress, not perfection” began to sprout up around breakthru’s offices from North Queensland, through New South Wales and down to Victoria. The dialogue around progress became more pronounced. Milestones became more visible. Products and services took on a more tangible form. The workforce stood a little taller as headway was realised. It became an acknowledgement of our own approach towards risk and innovation. That it is not essential to have any new innovation or strategy nicely wrapped in a bow before being tested in the market. It is not an excuse to ‘half bake’ new concepts or ideas, rather it gives us freedom to be brave in our quest to be a progressive organisation.

It’s progress that the National Disability Insurance Agency, the body administering the NDIS, is championing, boldly evident in the recent release of their Quarterly Report for April-June 2016.
There are now 35,695 participants in the Scheme with 53,423 plans approved (and a small number now acquiring their fifth plan), growth to 3,519 service providers and a survey result of 95 per cent of people’s experience either good or very good (NDIS Quarterly Report accessed via

Despite this progress, we know not everything is perfect – IT issues have plagued the new computer system operating the provider portal, coupled with a major slow down in plan approvals far less than expected. Such issues have angered and frustrated providers and participants alike. It’s fair to say we encountered scepticism from other local disability operators doubtful that the Scheme will deliver on its promises. It is important though to acknowledge that providers are the face of the reform and that the workforce, in particular those staff undertaking Support Coordination with multiple network connections, should embrace the reform.
To ponder the future and linger on the last days of block grant funding while we wait to see how the reform will impact us is rather unappetising for breakthru. As the largest social reform to impact Australia since Medicare, the NDIS has inherent risk but also offers great opportunity and taking and managing risk is key to a competitive edge.

breakthru’s strategy was to take positive action, which meant complete business transformation, based on key differentiators and vision. Transformation meant adopting a whole of business person-centred approach with an inclusion agenda, and the recognition that with fundamental change to the model, a fundamental change to business is required. A key premise was to not assume the same service can be delivered with a different source of funding. The option to change was seen as a risk, but to not change was seen as fatal.

The journey for our progressive organisation has been one towards greater responsiveness and flexibility of service with a culture of entrepreneurship. The rise of the enterprising worker with an identifiable personal brand, an understanding of product and billable service is evident and gaining momentum.

The words of Patrick Lencioni in his book, ‘The Advantage’ remind us that an organisation smart on strategy, marketing, finance and technology is only one requirement for success. The other is organisational health with minimal confusion, minimal politics, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover.

What is the health of your business? And more specifically, what is your NDIS experience operating in the Scheme?

You’re invited to the breakthru ‘NDIS Key Learnings’ event in Melbourne. Join other leaders for lunch to discuss strategies successful to transition to the NDIS.

Tickets are available via

breakthru is a for purpose enterprise supporting thousands of Australians to meaningfully participate in and contribute to their community.

Andrew Malloch, Product Manager – Business Development at breakthru

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