December 14, 2015

How culture grows effective outcomes

Te Whānau O Waipareira is working with SVA Consulting to build an outcomes management culture and strategy to measure what really matters for Māori families in West Auckland.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So said Peter Drucker, one of the founders of modern business management. Strategy, the argument goes, sits on a page or a PowerPoint slide and risks gathering dust. Organisational culture, on the other hand, is embedded in people’s minds and determines how things actually get done.

When it comes to the social sector, many organisations have started to develop strategies and design systems for measuring and managing to outcomes. This is a positive trend and one to be encouraged. But too few organisations put equal effort into building a culture that supports ‘outcomes management’ – one that enables strategies and systems to be executed and improved over time.

Output, outcomes and outcomes management

– Outputs: are the direct deliverables of a program or service such as the number of people served, and the activities and services carried out
– Outcomes: are the things that result from an activity or an action (i.e. the positive and negative consequences)
– Outcomes measurement: is the process of figuring out if, and how much, our activities lead to certain outcomes. Outcomes measurement produces data.
– Outcomes management: is a broader, continuous process of using outcomes data to inform better decision-making and improve project design and delivery. Outcomes management uses data to produce insights. Leading experts also highlight that managing to outcomes often requires a significant culture shift and is primarily about culture and people rather than numbers[1].

Te Whanau O Waipareira (Waipareira) is one of New Zealand’s largest multi-sector Māori service providers. The organisation has more than $10m in annual revenue and delivers around 50 government contracts across the health, education, social service and justice sectors. More importantly, it has a deep commitment to advancing Māori wellbeing and measuring what matters most for whanau, the Māori word for family.

Waipareira is paying close attention to both tikanga Māori (Māori culture) and organisational culture as it becomes one of New Zealand’s leading proponents of outcomes management. It has worked in close partnership with SVA Consulting over the past year to develop not only the strategy and systems to support outcomes management, but also the organisational culture that it sees as critical to making this happen.

Organisational culture and Māori culture

– Organisational culture: is the self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking and believing that govern how people behave in organisations[2]
– Tikanga Māori (Māori culture): is generally taken to mean ‘the Māori way of doing things’, although the Māori word tikanga itself has a wide range of meanings including culture,  custom, lore, style etc[3].
– Whānau: means more than extended family; it is a diffuse unit based on common ancestry within which certain responsibilities are maintained[4]. Compared with Western society, Māori society has a greater focus on the collective rather than the individual[5].

A tribal home for urban Māori

Waipareira’s predecessor organisations emerged in West Auckland in the context of rapid Māori urbanisation throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The organisation itself was founded in 1982, bringing together many distinct community groups. Since that time, Waipareira has developed into a major service provider.  Underpinning this is the recognition of Māori cultural values and the promotion of tikanga Māori. For many Māori migrants to the city, Waipareira has taken on some of the roles previously associated with tribal structures such as iwi (a Māori tribe), hapū (a sub-tribe) and marae (a traditional meeting place for whānau, hapū and iwi members).[5]

It is no coincidence that the word ‘whānau’ is embedded within Waipareira’s organisational name (the word ‘Waipareira’ refers loosely to the West Auckland region). Waipareira thinks and acts with a focus on supporting whānau – the West Auckland ‘family’ – rather than delivering services to clients. It is also a genuinely community-led organisation, with a constitution that dictates that all non-executive Board members are from the West Auckland community.

A leadership team committed to outcomes

Waipareira’s CEO is John Tamihere, former MP and Cabinet Minister in New Zealand’s Labour Party. Tamihere has been a high profile and vocal supporter of Māori rights and advancement in New Zealand.

“We believe that commissioning for outcomes in New Zealand can drive the collaborative and innovative behaviours we need.”

Jon Tamihere
John Tamihere, Waipareira’s CEO

John Tamihere was instrumental in launching, and now heads up, Te Pou Matakana, the North Island’s Commissioning Agency for Whānau Ora (New Zealand’s national policy platform for Māori family health and wellbeing). As CEO at Te Pou Matakana, he has advocated for a whole-of-government approach to commissioning for outcomes, an initiative that continues to gain traction in New Zealand.

“We believe that commissioning for outcomes in New Zealand can drive the collaborative and innovative behaviours we need to see to get the best results for whānau,” says Tamihere.

As CEO at Waipareira, John recognised the need to build organisational capability and culture before launching an outcomes measurement system. In early 2014, he sent three key members of the leadership team to Sydney to attend an outcomes measurement conference and learn how the Australian social sector was approaching this field.

“We had a vision to measure what matters most for whānau…but we needed a partner to help us design a roadmap to get there.”

Awerangi Tamihere, Director of Strategy & Design Thinking for Outcomes, was on this trip and got particularly interested in the Social Value Principles (see box).

The Principles of Social Value provide the basic building blocks for anyone who wants to make decisions that take this wider definition of value into account, in order to increase equality, improve wellbeing and increase environmental sustainability. They are generally accepted social accounting principles.

“We had a vision to measure what matters most for whānau and had articulated this in a 25-year strategic plan, but we needed a partner to help us design a roadmap to get there,” she says. “SVA seemed to understand not just the theory but also the practicalities of measuring outcomes.”

Some months later Waipareira invited SVA Consulting to West Auckland to explore how the two organisations could work together.

Preconditions for success

Three pre-conditions existed for Waipareira to be successful in navigating the first 12 months of its outcomes management journey. They were:

1. A vision for measuring what matters: Waipareira had set forward an ambitious 25-year strategy that included short-term goals such as:

  • producing the first annual governance whānau outcomes report
  • embedding a strong continual quality improvement culture
  • implementing a range of tools which enable whānau to provide regular feedback on how services are meeting their needs.

2. A champion for change: John Tamihere was an influential leader with a firm belief in the need to prove that Waipareira was making a difference. He had an appetite for risk-taking and was willing to be a first-mover in New Zealand’s social sector.

3. A commitment of resources: Waipareira made significant early investments in building an outcomes management culture. Most prominently, this included appointing a member of the leadership team with responsibility for outcomes. But it wasn’t just seen as a stand-alone project, with members of the operations and funding teams getting involved from the outset.

Growing an outcomes management culture

When Waipareira and SVA Consulting started working together in October 2014, Waipareira’s leadership team was initially interested in undertaking a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis of one specific service. But the conversation soon developed into one about how SROI, the Social Value Principles and an outcomes management approach more broadly could be applied to Waipareira. Building on these early discussions, three distinct stages of work were undertaken over the next year.

Stage 1:  planting the seeds of outcomes management

In the first stage, Waipareira and SVA drew on the seven Social Value Principles and the Golden Thread methodology (see box) to create a set of ‘Service Snapshots’ that cut across each of the organisation’s three divisions (Health, Education and Social Services). Each ‘Service Snapshot’ was underpinned by a logic model and provided answers to the following questions:

  • Who changes as a result of our activities?
  • How do they change?
  • How do we prove that they change?

Logic model: a model that describes how your activities lead to outcomes and have an impact on the issue you are trying to address (sometimes known as a theory of change or program logic).

SVA’s Golden Thread methodology is a visual and effective way to develop logic models.

Awerangi Tamihere
Awerangi Tamihere, “We wanted to do this from the ground-up.”

More than 50 staff members took part in a series of workshops that helped Waipareira to identify the most important changes that it aims to achieve for whānau. This stage also engaged the front-line workforce in a two-way process of learning. SVA and the Waipareira Leadership team learnt from the first-hand experiences of the workshop participants. Staff members developed a deeper understanding of outcomes management and what it would mean for them.

“It was important for us to describe the changes we wanted across different parts of the organisation, but we wanted to do this from the ground-up and make sure that our kaimahi (staff) were a central part of the journey from the very beginning,” says Awerangi.

Stage 2: the first shoots of growth

In Stage 2, the emphasis was on using outcomes management, and in particular the Golden Thread methodology, as a change management tool. SVA and Waipareira worked closely together through a restructuring process, as the organisation shifted from a divisional structure (Health/Education/Social & Justice) towards one that was built around demographic groups in four different ‘clusters’: Child, Youth, Adult and Whānau.

Awerangi recalls that Waipareira “wanted to re-imagine the way we support whānau by moving from a funder-centric outputs approach towards a whānau-centric outcomes approach. Restructuring the organisation in a chart was the easy part, the Golden Thread methodology gave us a way to change our culture too.”

Building on the ‘Service Snapshots’ that had been created in Stage 1, the team mapped out the changes that Waipareira wanted to achieve for each cluster group. Staff came together in groups that hadn’t previously worked together. This helped to create buy-in and a sense of identity around the new structure. For example, staff from 10 different youth services developed a shared set of outcomes that they were all working towards for young people. Awerangi noticed that they also “got much more excited by measuring outcomes data than they ever were about just meeting contractual output requirements.”

“I don’t know numbers, but I sure know outcomes.”

Waipareira Gathering
The West Auckland community gather at a Waipareia event.

This stage culminated in an all-staff breakfast event attended by almost the entire Waipareira workforce. Selected staff members presented their own ‘Service Snapshots’ and told the story of positive change that their services and clusters aim to achieve.

Vivian Cope, one of the team members from the Incredible Years Parenting Programme, proudly presented her logic models and outcomes from her service. “I don’t know numbers, but I sure know outcomes,” she said with a big smile on her face.

After this event, Waipareira’s leadership team received numerous requests from other team members who asked “when can we develop our own ‘Service Snapshot’ ”. An outcomes culture had taken root and was starting to grow.

“Our team got really energised by telling the story of how their service impacts on the lives of whānau, and they could also start to see how different services fit together in a bigger set of outcomes,” says Awerangi.

Waipareira and SVA also spent time working with the Board to discuss outcomes management and develop an organisation-wide logic model. The team benefitted greatly from the input of leading academics Sir Mason Durie, former Massey University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Te Kani Kingi, Director Māori at Massey University, throughout this stage of the journey.

Stage 3: a flourishing outcomes culture

Waipareira had now engaged widely with front-line staff, the Leadership team, the Board and outcomes experts to develop and endorse a set of logic models at three levels of the organisation: service, cluster and the overall organisation. SVA Consulting captured the outcomes from each logic model in an ‘outcomes database’ that mapped the relationship between the different levels. The next step was to develop a simple yet detailed outcomes framework that was ready for implementation. The decision was taken to start small with an initial focus on just one cluster – Child Services.

As Awerangi puts it, “We knew from past experience that trying to force change across the organisation all at once did not work. Given the evidence around the importance of early intervention, our tamariki (children) were seen as the most logical place to focus our outcomes measurement efforts.”

A further round of consultation was undertaken with Child Services staff and a set of 10 prioritised child outcomes emerged (see Figure 1). These become known as the ‘Tamariki 5’ and the ‘Whānau 5’. Together they formed a simple yet powerful narrative of change that Waipareira were committed to.

“We hope the ‘Tamariki 5’ will become a catch-cry for staff to describe the changes they are all contributing to. It will also makes the data collection feel more personal and meaningful,” says Awerangi.

Figure 1: The 10 prioritised child outcomes
Figure 1: The 10 prioritised child outcomes

Some of the 10 outcomes and indicators were uniquely Māori (eg ‘Increased connection to culture’), but they were also well aligned to government objectives and frameworks, such as the New Zealand Government’s Better Public Services policy (eg ‘Improved child development’).

The next stage of growth

Waipareira understands that its process of building an outcomes management culture is  ongoing. But with SVA Consulting it has developed a clear roadmap for the next six months and will be moving into a pilot phase with the completed Child Services Outcomes Framework in early 2016. In the next financial year it will replicate the approach taken in Child Services in its other clusters, developing outcomes frameworks for Youth, Adult and Whānau Services. “This really is a journey not a destination for us, but we know we are making great progress,” says Awerangi.

Insights for Australian organisations

While Waipareira is a uniquely New Zealand organisation founded on Maori culture, there are still key lessons from its journey that have great relevance for organisations in Australia.

For any large multi-sector service provider pursuing outcomes management – no matter the organisation and community served – there are three key insights:

  1. Take a long-term perspective: Waipareira has a 25-year strategy, and a focus on generational change, and it has been willing to invest the time and resources in a long outcomes management journey.
  2. Give organisational culture the attention it deserves: outcomes management is not just about having a strategy and designing a measurement system.
  3. Keep it simple: don’t try and do everything at once; prioritise outcomes into a clear compelling narrative.

Endnotes

[1] Leap of reason video book notes, McKinsey on Society

[2] Culture eats strategy for breakfast webinar, strategy&

[3] Wikipedia

[4] Analysis of the Characteristics of Whānau in Aotearoa, A Report prepared for the Ministry of Education By Chris Cunningham Brendan Stevenson and Natasha Tassell, May 2005

[5] Analysis of the Characteristics of Whānau in Aotearoa, A Report prepared for the Ministry of Education By Chris Cunningham Brendan Stevenson and Natasha Tassell, May 2005

[6] Sir Mason Durie, Waipareira Outcomes Framework, 6 August 2015