By going beyond what the National Blood Authority (NBA) could control, and by focusing on what they have influence over, the NBA have delivered around $600m savings to government over the last six years.
I attended the Enhancing Performance Measurement in the Public Sector recently in Canberra – and a real highlight was the presentation by Ashley Jackson, CFO of the NBA. Ashley delivered a lively set of slides with a great story. Like all great stories there was the goal to achieve, the seemingly impossible challenge to overcome, and the eventual victory.
The inception of the NBA was in 2003 with a role, Provide a secure supply of safe and affordable blood products, including through national supply arrangements and coordination of best practice standards within agreed funding policies under the national blood arrangements. Essentially, their job was to administer supply contracts (principally with the Red Cross).
The NBA manages the contracts to collect and distribute fresh blood around Australia. Okay, so then when it comes to measuring performance and setting targets and KPIs, most agencies would then focus on what they can control, within the context of the NBA they would look at measures and targets that they have control over, the activities associated with supply contract administration and management. This is what most government agencies do. What’s typically missing here then is a description of the results the organisation achieves that relate to their vision, and then the performance measures that would provide feedback on the progressive achievement of those results.
Most government agencies, departments and services face this challenge. That is, the stuff you do, what is within your control, is often the only things that are measured. However the influence you have over the broader system can be enormous. And yet there is reluctance to measure the level influence you have.
Most government agencies see a vast chasm between what they do, and the eventual outcomes…there are too many dependencies, other people/agencies involved to be accountable for the end result. Maybe true, but this does not mean you should not measure it. So more often than not the focus is on the performance of what they can control. Whereas for most, the achievement of a true goal is beyond their control and is a combination of their control and their influence within the system that produces the outcome.
In my opinion the NBA have done an extraordinary job in retaining their focus on the vision, working with what they control, and influencing across the whole system to improve results – for the Australian Health system, for the country and its people.
The NBA focused their measures on the result of their influence.
This meant that they innovated to develop (amongst other things) “world first clinical guidelines patient blood management” (well beyond contract administration). The Demand for fresh has declined significantly and with that major dollar savings.
And, the NBA have demonstrated what can be achieved when government agencies manage what they have control over, and work where they have influence. This is achieved by ensuring you have translated your vision into a set of results, and then you focus your teams on the measures and targets that show the progress towards those results, and ultimate vision.
The chart above is from Ashley’s presentation – it shows how early on the NBA was focused on the management of supply contracts. But by measuring the ultimate impact of their influence, their activities shifted to create a balanced set of capabilities that delivered benefits to the Australian community as well as dollar savings.