Stuart Hope founded AutumnCare in 2000, and since then a lot has changed.
We’ve seen the developed economies struggle to balance the books in the face of rapidly ageing populations and existential emergencies like the global financial crisis of 2008. Technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed; from our first PDA product right up to our current suite of enterprise-grade apps and leading-edge deterioration AI development. And as a company, we’ve grown from looking after our first local customers in Perth to an international footprint across Australia and Europe. Throughout it all, frontline nurses and carers have continued to provide first-class care to those that need it.
When Stuart retired in 2017, and I took over as CEO, I had a complicated problem on my hands. While the company was operating out of a single office and serving clients in just one country, a top-down management approach worked well. But the organisation I inherited, having experienced explosive domestic growth, international expansion and the loss of its figurehead was no longer as simple as it once was. How was I to lead a complex group of people across various offices, time zones and even hemispheres?
In truth, it has been a long process of personal, organisational and digital transformation, and one of the central tenets of our new approach has been to embrace the inclusive and self-aware management philosophy of Collaborative Leadership.
How do we lead collaboratively at AutumnCare?
Joint problem-solving and decision-making
It’s not the CEO’s job to decide what to do and then tell everyone. On a day-to-day basis, this is just not practical. We encourage people to consider the problem as a team and to decide what to do in response together.
While I am responsible for developing our overall global strategy with the Board, I don’t merely have goals in mind and steer the group in that direction. Our strategising and decision-making is a team effort and a process to which everyone can observe and contribute.
My purpose is to help the collaborative process work, and rather than lead the team toward something (to a particular decision, for instance, or in a specific direction).
I focus instead on guiding people through ambiguity and challenging the status quo.
We’ve fostered a sense of unity among the management group, encouraging them to make effective business decisions quickly, to embody our core values and strategically address issues as a single, cohesive team. Adopting collaboration at this high level also demonstrates to the rest of the team that we should all approach our work in a similar, collective way.
Some of the tools, processes and procedures we’ve developed and adopted during this period of transformation include:
- Asynchronous communication tools and protocols;
- Matrix reporting structures, and;
- Semi-autonomous multi-site project and delivery teams
2020 has provided the perfect litmus test for us, an existential crisis all of its own: the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which will be with us for some time to come. Our processes have been tested and battle-hardened by the extreme circumstances and we’re better equipped to face our future challenges than ever before. The whole team participates at AutumnCare, with everyone’s contributions valued, and able to see how decisions are made and put into practice.
Twenty years is a long time, and as a service partner, we’re continually innovating and evolving so that we always meet the needs of our customers and the most important people of all – their residents.