Stephen Childs on NECS turning ten and how lessons learned over the years will help shape NECS in the future

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Jul 10, 2023

2023 sees NECS celebrating its tenth anniversary and we are looking forward to what the future brings. Our Executive team has been looking back over the years and asking ourselves what have been the biggest lessons that we have learned to date – there is much we’d like to share, but we have selected some of the lessons that we feel may be of interest to others. We have learnt:

1. To trust our people, encourage them to be brave and make it safe for them to fail as they seek creative solutions for our customers. Their powers of innovation and their instinct for collaboration have been astonishing.

2. The value of customer ownership. Entrusting the stewardship of the business to our major customers and empowering them with overseeing our strategic direction has been the single most important contributor to our success since our inauguration.

3. The importance of truly understanding our costs. Thanks to our people consistently recording how they use their time, every working day, we are uniquely able to scrutinise and understand our costs – so important as we seek even greater efficiencies for our customers, patients and the taxpayer.

4. That competition is a force for good rather than the negative force that is often painted to be. We have learnt that operating in a competitive environment has incentivised us to innovate; to take sometimes uncomfortable risks, to challenge the old way of doing things, to continually improve the quality of what we deliver and constantly seek to reduce our costs.

5. Reputation is so precious……and so fragile. We have found that it can take a long time to build a good reputation but only a moment to lose it. We appreciate that each and every one of us, including our Customer Directors, have a responsibility to protect and nurture our reputation.

6. That by acting quickly, positively and transparently when aware that a service that is under-performing or when there has been a serious incident, we are actually able to build trust and loyalty with our customer. By demonstrating candour, showing senior ownership of the problem, evidencing our understanding of the cause and acting decisively, we are able to emerge stronger.

7. That a customer’s perception is their reality and that we must accept that. In the early years we would find ourselves on the defensive, challenging what people thought of the quality and cost of our services. Today, we accept the customers opinion – and we set about changing it, often by going the extra mile to demonstrate the quality and value of our services.

8. That everything we do is ultimately for the patient. In our early years, our people felt we were too focused on the commercial aspects of the business. We have since learnt the importance of translating our vision, to make life-changing differences for the communities we serve, into all that we do for our customers, each and every day.

9. That we are not in the care system support business to serve people, but that we are in the people business to serve care system support. Deep relationships built on dignity and respect, between each other in NECS and between us and our customers is paramount.

10. That we have so much more to learn and much more we want to improve.

We look forwards to seeing what the next ten years brings!