What did we learn from 2015?
Learning Number One – A new Brand and Marketing Plan isn’t the answer When the going gets tough, it seems social care organisations get a new brand and a new marketing plan. Although brand and marketing are important in the evolving social care market place, it should not become your central strategy. Your brand is more about your people and their behaviour that the artwork, font logo and colour scheme you choose. If you want to invest in your brand – invest in your people.
Learning Number Two – Bigger comes in different shapes and sizes It is true that scale is important and that growth conversations continue to dominate almost every Board discussion. However, don’t grow for growth’s sake – you are far better growing your impact than your organisation. Collaborations and alliances that allow small to medium-size organisations thrive in the new market place need to pick up pace. The sector is big on collaboration-talk and small on collaborative-action. A merger is not always the answer; governments often talk about ‘’co-operation’’ when in fact they often mean ‘’consolidation”. Look to other industries like travel, transport and retail. Small companies can thrive when they know their purpose, their speciality and their value proposition. They can do this singularly or as part of a wider network or social franchise that provides critical services to other organisations that serve specific customer segments.
Learning Number Three – Human Resources need investment For a sector that is fundamentally dependent on human labour (paid or voluntary), most small-to-medium sized organisations have done very little to invest in their human resources. As a consequence we are seeing a dearth of skill and a lack of capability to identify and foster fresh talent across a sector that needs it now and into the future. It is important to get all the other aspects of your organisation ready for the new world but don’t leave the most important people behind or think of them last. Focus on your people. They are the most important resource you have.
Learning Number Four – Your Customers are your Future We have seen it again and again. Without a close and intimate relationship with the people that you exist to serve, your future is questionable and arguably, bleak. Knowing and really understanding the needs of your customer is the key to your success. If you do not have a direct relationship with the people who use your services, get one. There is no use building your database, collecting information about people you serve if you do nothing to build a relationship with them.
Learning Number Five – Get Board Members that Care Impressive CV’s and paper-based connections mean relatively little if your Board members are only focused on building their own CV or saying they want to “give back”. Board members must contribute. People with lived experience and real connection with the purpose are worth their weight in gold. They are the ones who know what it’s like and, like to know more. A good Board member thinks about the issues, asks you lots of questions outside any meetings, and is prepared to take some risks. Make sure you have the correct balance