Getting ready for tomorrow
We are in an era of change. Housing providers entered into long term operating agreements or frameworks with government from the 1960s through to the 1990s. They have been operating for many years without significant change to their operations because those agreements or frameworks had conditions and constraints to them. Each housing provider over time has become used to operating that way. But, time has now passed and those agreements and frameworks are coming to end. Some organizations are beginning to chart their own course without those agreements in place. They may have new arrangements in place with a different set of constraints, and a whole new world to navigate. The question is, how do you get there?
For those that have been through the transition, they already know what it’s like. But for those organizations that are approaching the end of their first mortgage and operating agreement, it can seem a daunting task to undertake. A good practice is to start early and put a plan in place that can help transition to that new world. Even if the agreement is expiring in more than 5 years, it is closer than one would think. Those that have been through the transition have said, “It’s never too early to plan for the change because 5 years passes by quickly”.
Have you ever attempted to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture? Someone gives you a diagram, you try your best to assemble the piece of furniture from the diagram. You start by checking if you have the tools and parts you need. Do you have the right ones? Do you need help? Then you start to assemble it. You make mistakes along the way. You get some things right while others are harder to do. Bit by bit a piece of furniture gets built. Business transformation is like that.
In an era of change, the component parts of a housing provider’s organization come up for review. It is a time to review the business model. This includes reviewing the mission, the mandate and the outcomes that the organization is trying to achieve.
A housing provider’s business can be broken down in different ways but at the heart of it, the business includes one or more buildings (an asset), its board (governance), its staff (organizational structure), where the money comes from and where the money goes (finance/operations), and who it serves (tenants and community).
In creating a plan to manage a transition, each part of the business needs to be looked at. Some parts may not need to change. Others might need to change. Each organization’s path into the future will be different. The key part is starting somewhere. Perhaps start with a conversation with the staff or the board. We are in an era of change and it is the right time to talk about where we’re heading.