I’m being stalked. Followed around. Everywhere I go it’s there. It’s a word and the word is Data!
On Wednesday evening, at the King’s Fund, I was in conversation with Lord Carter of Bog-Roll, talking through his life and career and of course, the Carter Report.
Patrick Carter is an entertaining speaker with a rich hinterland of experience and anecdote. An interviewer’s dream. The audience warmed to him, immediately.
Regular readers will know, for ages, I have been promoting the idea; show people what good looks like and they will get on and do it… better.
Patrick is a fellow traveller, in pursuit of what good looks like. ‘What good looks like’ is the whole point of the Academy of Fabulous Stuff.
Finding out what good looks like can be a tricky proposition. You come to work, head down, give it your best shot, nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel. You go home, knackered in the certain knowledge you couldn’t have done any more.
But, if you’ve never compared yourself with anyone else, another department, another practice or Trust, how will you know there are not things that you could do better, quicker, cheaper?
The whole thrust of the Carter report is to hunt down variations. Inconsistency is the enemy of quality. Quality is only consistency: figure out what it is you are doing; deciding if it’s what you want; putting things in place to make sure you get it all the time, every time, until you don’t want it any more.
However, how will you know, if what you are doing is the best that can be done?
The truth is, until we open our minds and our hearts, to the possibility there are things we might learn elsewhere, we will never know. That is the Patrick Carter message and the way to do it is through data.
Collect the numbers and compare them to everyone else. If you are running a Trust, do you know how much laundering a soiled bed sheet costs and is it the same as another Trust like yours? Or, the cost of running a square meter of care space? Or engineering maintenance costs, or staff absences.
I’m spending two terrific days with HEFMA the hidden army of highly skilled professionals who keep our hospitals running, the meals keep coming, the lights on, the kit working, the waste disposed of and who find ways of motivating and encouraging some of our lowest paid colleagues to do the jobs we’ve never dreamed of.
They are obsessed with data. Find your nearest estates and FM person and ask them to explain ERIC, you will be amazed!
Data has a bad name. It is used by the CQC and others to find fault, demotivate effort and send everyone home, hacked off.
Actually, data is our friend. Audit is our ally, not our enemy. Data is the new oil and yes, sometimes we do need a data refinery but that isn’t a reason to trash it.
Data can show you what good looks like and show you how do it better. Data will surprise you, support you and take you to the next level of performance, but you have to trust it, share it and recognise it is a fickle friend but a good partner.
Data poses no threat to an open mind but it will batter down the door of a closed one.
Data is our friend.
Have a good weekend.