We all have a moment of entanglement. We are beavering away at our work, pouring all our efforts into a task that we believe of the greatest importance. We are stressed and feel overwhelmed by what we have to do. Customers, colleagues and bosses are placing their demands and we are racing to keep up with our work.
We are entangled in the doing of our work. So deeply entangled in work’s own logic that we have lost an important thing – perspective. We lose the degrees of freedom of action that come from perspective.
Then one way or other the hard question comes. The question could be asked by a boss, a customer, a friend, a colleague or family. The question that is some variant of perspective. A question that can take many forms:
‘Why are you doing that? Why is that the best way? Why is that the best use of your talents now? How will that achieve your goals? How does that fulfil your purpose? How is that consistent with your values?”
With just that question it is clear to us that this work is not worth our time, is misguided or even counterproductive. The question has cut through the tangles and freed us to see a better way to work. The question restores our freedom of action.
Entanglement comes in many forms. We are entangled by culture and the way things are done around here. We are entangled by unspoken expectations. We are entangled by our history and the assumptions we bring to our work. We are entangled by senses of duty and obligation to our colleagues, our customers, our family, our friends and ourselves. In all these tangling webs of ties, we can easily lose sense of which way is up, what is right and what is best.
Don’t wait for a challenge, a failure, a post mortem or a Royal Commission to help you get perspective on your work and your plan of attack. Challenge yourself. Ask the hard questions every day. Push back on work that fails the test. You will be far more productive and more satisfied with your work.
When a prophet promises simple solutions, be curious because partial solutions will increase, not decrease, complexity and second order effects are all too common in complex systems.
When a prophet promises a complex solution, be aware that the value is in the outcomes not the effort to get there.
When a prophet tells you what’s good for you, be suspicious as to what’s good for them.
When a prophet tells you what’s good for others, be generous and give the others the chance to speak for themselves.
When a prophet promises it has been done before, be sceptical because context always changes and small differences change outcomes.
When a prophet tells you it can’t be done, be inspired to prove them wrong.
When a prophet promises to end debate, be inquisitive because it is often unclear whether the problem is talking or listening.
When a prophet promises that the fault lies elsewhere, be vigilant that the fault doesn’t lie here.
When a prophet promises to restore order, be concerned because it will take force to deliver order in the face of ever-adapting change.
When a prophet promises to conserve the past, be doubtful because it takes energy to fight entropy and change is required.
When a prophet promises a better future, be pragmatic and focus on the work to be done.
When a prophet promises change in human behaviour, be considerate of whether it is likely behaviour of real humans.
When a prophet promises a small loss of freedom for a large benefit, be sure that the benefit will be at best small and the lost freedom ever-growing.
When a prophet promises to exclude others from community, be confident that they prefer exclusion to community.
When a prophet promises benefit without efforts, be conscious they are offering to take benefits without outcomes.
When a prophet offers something that is too good to be true, be aware that it is.
Experts in collaboration and productivity tools can be overly familiar with the tools and capabilities of the leading platforms. Working daily in the tools and listening to a continuous flow of updates we no longer see have the same view of these tools as an every day employee. Employee won’t just get the value of new tools and features. We need to help employees make sense of the potential of new tools. Their work is challenging enough. They don’t need to become experts in collaboration and productivity too. However, learning to create value together through new tools and practices is an important skill in the future digital economy.
I’ve worked in a wide range of organisations and teams. I am still consistently surprised what what features of collaboration and productivity tools are not obviously valuable to others. As I noted recently, the more you work the more you realise that diverse mindsets, company cultures and experiences mean that what is obvious to me is not obvious to others. While I might love the idea of creating a slide presentation with the active participation of a large community of change agents making comments and changing the document online, others prefer a process of deliberate iterations where they carefully control the developing product and who gets access. Experienced the person who sent an online link to a file downloads it and then emails it back to you with comments marked up in their own unique markup system rather than embedded markup features? When you meet the person who still doesn’t get the point, after a decade of modern cloud collaboration, you learn something about their style and approach to work.
These people are not being difficult and they are certainly not ignorant. They are using the tools as best suits their understanding and need for value. Making sense of the value of the tools we use in work is one of the key skills of the digital workplace. We have now got to the point where the rate of creation of new tools, features and practice is high. In this environment central experts won’t always be well placed to assess the best course of action. The best assessments aren’t always expert. They are practical and founded on the learning of real experience. We need every employee to participate in the process of assessing and fostering their individual and collective value.
We need to help employees to understand the value of new tools, new practices and new features. They are rightly busy on important work and expect support with adoption of new tools. We need to skill employees in new considerations in their work like the value for others of the tools and practices chosen, the value of iteration and the power of engagement. We have to help employees to develop curiosity, collaboration and experimentation. We can enable every employee to contribute directly to the value creation through their work and that of their peers. These capabilities are not just the skills required to adopt new digital work tools. These are the capabilities that will enable organisations to adjust to a new digital competitive environment and the expectations of consumers. The key change in any digital transformation is not the tools and the practices used. They key change is the employee capabilities, mindsets and focus on learning new paths to value.
Simon Terry helps organisations develop the capabilities of teams and individuals to enable more effective work and digital transformation.
Last year, I facilitated three discussions for HISA on Innovation in Healthcare as part of the Innovating Health series. HISA’s Innovating Health series has the ambition to connect senior participants in healthcare from many different parts of the system to discuss how to use innovation to address challenges and realise new opportunities. A common topic of those discussions was that there is plenty of positive innovation in the healthcare system. However, many participants were frustrated that innovations are isolated or unable to scale due to systemic issues, a siloed approach to health and care and a lack of collaboration between participants.
Across each of the three Innovating Health sessions discussion continued to return to the view that a step change in performance and policy outcomes will require:
- systemic innovation in healthcare beyond the boundaries any one organisation and the boundaries of our current siloed view of modalities and services
- greater connection of payers, providers and consumers to enable change and to increase choice and control
- creating ‘crucibles of innovation’ to enable policy makers, payers and providers to experiment, to learn and to demonstrate the value of new solutions; and
- parties coming together to take action on change.
Moving Beyond Silos in Health & Care Payments
Collaborative industry conversations are a powerful motivator of change because they enable participants to step out of their individual roles and see the wider picture of the system. These HISA conversations also highlighted to me the imperative to move from conversations to action. In August last year, I found a way to make a direct contribution to these four challenges by joining LanternPay as its Head of Markets, responsible for growing LanternPay’s propositions in healthcare, disability, insurance and ageing. This role brought together my passions for healthcare, collaboration, innovation and driving strategic change in complex systems.
LanternPay is a standardised claim payment platform across healthcare, disability, government and private insurance and aged care. Claim payments is a critical enabler for the necessary systemic innovation in the health and care, but too often in the past the solutions delivered to market have been siloed and not delivered to the broader needs of providers and payers. To improve the experience of the health and care system for all, consumers, providers and payers must all benefit, improve their choice and control and move forward together in a connected way.
Connecting Payers, Providers and Consumers in Choice and Control
In all my conversations around health and care, I have found providers are looking for standardisation of claim and payments workflow and greater certainty of payments to ensure. Providers want to maximise their revenue opportunities by delivering the widest range of services to consumers across health, disability and aged care. Providers don’t want to navigate multiple custom payment channels for each consumer, learning new processes and payment approaches on each new scheme and program. Having won the battle of getting the consumer to their practice or business, they don’t want to have to turn away consumers because of uncertainty or complexity of payment. Importantly, the provider doesn’t want to feel their direct relationship with the consumer is being managed by the payer or an intermediary.
LanternPay simplifies and standardises the claims experience for providers integrating it into their business processes and providing certainty of payment. Integration of claims and payments into provider systems reduces the cost to providers of adding new customers and new revenue sources. The effect of this change is significant. Here’s how a range of providers to the Transport Accident Commision in Victoria describe the experience of the change that LanternPay has brought to servicing TAC clients.
Health and care costs are rising faster than inflation. All payers and providers in health and care need to find ways to realise cost savings while continuing to improve care. Directly, LanternPay remove claiming costs and reduce customer & provider workload by simplifying and standardising the payment process for providers. LanternPay enables resources to be redirected from the administrative costs of claims and provider management to improving customer service and the quality of care.
LanternPay enables payers to work with consumers and providers to realise the benefits of consumer choice and control on costs. Our rules engine capabilities, deliver schemes the ability to shape authorisation and reporting with the participation of providers and consumers. The benefits are we turn authorisation rules into a real-time experience, improves data gathering and awareness of all parties of their choices. Our approach also enables schemes to move from payers after the fact to be a engaged participant in the delivery of care, helping consumers to understand more clearly the role of the scheme in assisting them to get care.
Consumers would like to make different choices to improve their care, but feel constrained by the lack of transparent, efficient & flexible payments platforms that deliver solutions where and how they choose to engage care. In a real-time omni-channel world, no payment scheme can afford force consumers to use only one channel of engagement. If payers want to avoid expensive costs for provider and consumer adoption, they need to provide solutions where the consumers are. Consumers want to focus on their care and recovery, not learning a new tool or process. For consumers, LanternPay enables choice of provider and ability to manage their care simply.
Systemic Innovation takes Collaboration & Action
LanternPay is already operational in the NDIS nationally and with the TAC in Victoria, but this is just the start of the wider vision for our platform. We have much work to do to develop the claim payment capabilities our platform and collaborate across the health and care ecosystem. We are actively working to engage payment schemes, both government and private, and to bring them together with providers who see the potential for new ways. We look forward to launching additional payment schemes as the year progresses.
To date, the response across health and care has been enthusiastic and we are finding great collaboration opportunities to showcase the innovation possible. As an example of our collaborative approach in action, Uniting Care’s LeapIn! has recently launched a new Android plan management application in the NDIS, based on our unique capabilities. We are actively collaborating with additional industry participants, providers, government and private schemes because they can see the growing scheme and provider benefits of a platform approach.
In our markets, we believe the best way forward is to demonstrate the potential for change in tangible ways. We are working to show the value of additional savings by bringing together providers, payers and other partners in pilots of new approaches. Transformative ideas need to be tested in practice with the widest range of participants in the health and care system. It is only through this action together that we will achieve the necessary innovation in health and care in Australia.
If you are interested in action to create innovation in heath and care, then reach out to talk. I would love to work with you to demonstrate what is possible when people come together to realise the value of innovation.
‘The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore one another, to care only about ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility or forgiveness lost their depth and dimension, and for many of us they represented only psychological peculiarities, or they resembled gone- astray greetings from ancient times, a little ridiculous in the era of computers and spaceships. Only a few of us were able to cry out loudly that the powers that be should not be all-powerful‘ Vaclav Havel
A conversation about China’s social credit score and its danger of bureaucratic absurdities, this week reminded me of this quote from Vaclav Havel’s New Year address in just first year as President of Czechoslovakia. Havel became President of Czechslovakia after the collapse of its communist regime in the Velvet Revolution. The contaminated moral environment he describes is a consequence of the totalitarian state and its pressures on citizens to believe falsehoods and to act in compliance with its rules.
We are seeing the threat of this contaminated moral environment widely in civil society. Our political systems are grappling with the challenges of fake news and media that acts as a tool of propaganda channelling information into media bubbles to reinforce opinions. Social media has become less about engagement and more about brand and image resulting in people portraying fake lifestyles on Instagram and acting as thought leaders across a range of channels by expressing uncontroversial platitudes in pursuit of followers and the satisfaction of acceptance.
At the same time, the recent revelations on the role of data in social media have highlighted the extent to which these platforms and all of digital society is creating a data-based surveillance machinery. In Australia the Banking Royal Commission, has highlighted the extent to which organisations espouse one set of values while acting in pursuit of the financial interests of another set of values.
The only path forward to unwind this threat is for us to engage in the real hard conversations of civil society. We need to resist the calls for cheap and easy solutions offered by demagogues. We need to resist the calls for division and pursuit of the one ideologically true way coming from many quarters. We have to discuss real issues in a meaningful and human way. When trust has broken down and people don’t share fundamental context, we can’t start by shouting at each other.
We can create domains to listen, to share, to understand and to begin to explore the connections that make a civil society. Social media can play a role in creating new connections and new conversations but only if we use it not as media, but as the foundation of community. We will have to widen circles, invite different views, encourage others to speak up and then agree on action. The path forward is not one of loyalty and alignment. The path forward in a civil society must always be participation and inclusion. Only on this foundation will we find the way to come together and act on the changes necessary to reform our moral environment and support the vibrant civil societies we need to succeed into the future.
I’ve been working on collaboration within and between organisations for over 10 years in earnest. The biggest lesson in that time is how much I have to forget. So many of my initial ideas, approaches and assumptions have proved ineffective. Here’s a short primer on a few of the lessons that I have had to unlearn.
- Forget the technology: Collaboration is about human behaviour in human relationships. Technology can enable and mediate these relationships but the core dynamics are human. The minute you want technology to change human behaviour you have an adoption problem.
- Focus on relationships, not features: the behaviours you want need to be sensible in real human relationships. You want people to decide to do them. Forget the ever changing list of fancy features. Most of your users will never use them or even notice. AI, bots, video, gamification and more can have a temporary impact. User behaviour change is what delivers sustainable activity and that is driven by relationships.
- You don’t need a shared goal: As discussed in a recent post on stretch collaboration, you don’t need a shared goal. Collaboration will happen when there are aligned interests, particularly strongly personal ones.
- You don’t need the CEO: having the CEO public support, advocate and participate in your collaboration initiative is great. It is also rare and can make engagement very fragile if CEO priorities change. Remember the CEO is only one relationship for an employee. They are more likely to be influenced by someone they respect near by.
- People enjoy sharing: everywhere across organisations people connect, share and work together. Go find that work, support it and bring it together. If you have to consistently tell users, your program is failing.
- Start with the user, not the company: you can’t make someone collaborate. You can’t force people to work out loud. Company goals are a way to find individual motivations. They are not an end in themselves. Starting with individuals helps you find their existing relationships that can be more collaborative. It also helps you find new relationships to create value.
- Focus on individuals, not personas or generations: Averages don’t do anything. Averages don’t mean anything. Focus on real people. Averages don’t have relationships, do work or collaborate.
- Don’t do special. Do the work: nobody in the modern workplace needs more work. Don’t add new processes and more complexity. Use collaboration to remove complexity and change processes. Focus on making existing work easier. Use tools to reduce the work, make it easier and better.
- No jargon: fancy words make consultants and their clients feel better. They don’t influence users. Big ideas like big tech mostly disappoint. Connect, Share, Solve and Innovate are deliberately simple words.
- If you buck the culture, culture wins: Culture is more likely to change your project than you are likely to change culture. When a vendor or consultant suggests they can change culture put aside a large contingency to fix the issues and make sure your leadership at all levels are going to work on the change too.