Just like football…

Just like football... training primary care NHS

Football’s back on the telly.

I can’t say I’m wildly enthusiastic.  I’ve had enough of the whole cheating, shirt-pulling, foul-language, rolling in money, rolling in the penalty area, pantomime.

I think I can say; I’m over football.  I’ve grown out of it.  See it for what it is…

… one of the most unfair games of the lot.  Low scoring with no account made of how players behave or perform during the match.

Indeed, when a goal is scored, there’s no guarantee it will be counted.  As we saw last week, in the Sheffield game.  

Reality, if it is not served-up by technology, is no longer, reality.  The game’s officials, sidelined, abused and powerless.

It’s not the level of uncertainty that makes the game exciting, it is what makes it unequal, unfair and not-worth watching.

Rasmussen Ankerson, a Dane and director of Brentford FC, published a book on human performance.  It was he who first highlighted the fact, soccer was pointless without capturing the stream of live data that could be collected during the game and fed into the ‘who has won’ equation.

Chances created, fouls, work-rate, possession, shots on goal… could all be collected and curated into an alternative table of performance.  The best team would win.

Subsequently, his use of data was adopted by soccer’s money-makers and now is used in the process of acquiring and valuing players.  

Ankerson teamed up with Matchbook, an on-line gaming company and Smartodds, specialising in sports modelling, predicting results.

Not only football managers can learn from Ankerson.  He called it ‘probabilistic thinking’ incorporating data into decision making.

For a sales company; how many prospects does a salesman talk to before making a sale?  This throws light on the skill of the salesman but also highlights the value and quality of the sales leads, the source, cost, the appeal of the product and for whom.

For an HR manager; where do the top performing staff come from.  Who goes on to achieve, least likely to be involved in complaints, popular with colleagues, who gets thanked, try to be promoted.  There are a range of soft-metrics, taken together, give us hard facts.

Data… the new oil.

Ankerson tells us performance is all about context.

In the NHS; the probabilistic approach should be easy because there is a huge amount of data in our organisations, able to create ‘probability’.

…where clinical failures are likely, where costs are the least, efficiency indicators for everything from estates to epidurals, bunions to breakfast… measured however you want.

And, context.  There is no point expecting a seaside hospital to be able to recruit on the same basis as a metropolitan, teaching Trust.  

Where there are recruitment problems, there are inevitably performance issues.  Trusts are prisoners of their context; geography, history and economy.

Prescribing costs, complaints, staff turn-over, sickness, thank-you’s, disciplinary actions, training, outcomes, re-admissions, revisions, infection control… a string of, important and sometimes seemingly insignificant, data, that taken together, creates a probability of success or not.

Watching trends, comparing organisations by creating audit families, to calibrate like-with-like, to see what we can learn, pass-on and use to create success.

A probabilistic view of the world can make managers, in pursuit of excellence, better prepared for uncertainties and complexities.  

Managing without surprises.  Managing in context.

This is why the CQC, redundant over the last few months and threatening to return with business as usual, are so, totally, Neanderthal and needed, as the Confed said, ‘like a hole in the head’.

Focussing on data, learning to forecast, understanding probabilities, helping organisations to avoid problems… instead of turning up and looking for what they think is wrong… seems beyond them and totally destructive.

An organisation, a quarter the size and cost, with most of its staff working from home, collating data, using machine learning and probability techniques, to tell us what to look for and in what context, is how the NHS should be regulated and shepherded

towards excellence.

Avoiding problems, sharing success, improving through innovation, enjoying relationships based on achievement… for the CQC this would be nowhere near as exciting as ignoring context and wrecking people’s careers.

The CQC; the wrong results, pointless league-tables, destroying morale, bringing out the worst in people, own-goals, disputes, off-side, powerless management, cheating, gaming the rules… just like football.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
Contact Roy – please use this e-address roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net
Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.