Wellways CEO Elizabeth Crowther responds to questions about the organisation’s new strategic plan, which sets the direction for the next five years.

With the changes Wellways has undergone, most notably a major rebranding and service expansion last year, the strategic plan addresses our organisation’s growth and provision of services to communities across the country.

How does the new Wellways Strategic Plan differ from previous strategic plans?

The major shifts in the policy and funding environment have changed the industry landscape, so our strategic plan is different to any other that’s gone before. The NDIS trial in Barwon taught us that we have lots to offer to a broader group of people than we’ve worked with before. For example, people with intellectual disability started asking for our services, and our model of care has been successful in working with them. Our plan is to further diversify our services to reach a broad range of people in need.

There are also compelling business reasons to diversify. Reforms to government funding means the way we are paid to deliver services has changed. The challenge for us is to keep delivering high quality services while maintaining financial sustainability.

What were the key directions to be considered?

We had to consider who our client group is. While we have traditionally worked with people whose main challenge is mental illness, we realise that people are people and no matter what challenges they face—whether it’s mental ill health, disability or ageing—we can partner with them to improve their lives.

We needed to decide how broad we would go in our service offerings. We now also offer suicide prevention services, low intensity psychological interventions, and services to children in out-of-home care.

A key consideration in our strategic plan has been about diversifying our workforce to ensure that we build the knowledge and skills to deliver services that meet the needs of people with a broad range of challenges. We also needed to consider workforce mobility, including mobile technology to record service delivery, and our capacity to ‘scale up’ all of our business operations.

All of these considerations are about managing growth.

In practice, how does the strategic plan inform the way Wellways works?

The strategic plan offers a five-year direction, with annual business plans generated that have measurable targets. Each Wellways region develops a regional plan that works toward the five-year ‘horizon’, so the strategic plan is a core document that helps us set priorities.

What makes a good strategic plan and how do you know whether it’s working?

A good strategic plan offers clarity of direction and speaks to everyone who works in the organisation. It helps build a culture of confidence and pride in what an organisation is setting out to do. A good strategic plan includes ‘stretch goals’, helping an organisation to push itself to achieve more than seems possible. It inspires people who work for the organisation to contribute to achieving goals because they believe in them.

For each of the activities we identify in the strategic plan, we develop key performance indicators, essentially targets that we want to reach in a certain timeframe. We measure our performance against these targets, which tells us how we’re tracking and whether our strategic plan is working.