Tag Archives: green loans

Implementation is difficult:Trying to be green but all faces are red


I heard on ABC national radio this morning that there are a lot of people upset with the Australian government “Green Loans” scheme and its “gross maladministration” including the work of around 10,000 assessors being disrupted or non-existent.

The scheme was designed to give an opportunity to home owners to “green” their houses through reducing energy, water and other use, and is implemented through a trained assessor seeing what needs to be done and providing recommendations to the homeowner, that can then be used to access interest-free loans up to AUS$10,000.

It is certainly a marketing success story, with a reported 205,000 assessments booked in by the end of January. So much interest in helping the environment and homeowners taking responsibility for their homes to reduce ongoing emissions and waste is something to be celebrated?

The problem is in implementation, and that comes back to people and human resources. On the surface it is that the IT systems for processing assessment bookings that are not working, a centralized call centre that is blocked and worst of all, potentially 10,000 trained assessors who can’t get work because of these problems and may not have long-term work because the scheme is such a debacle.

However, proper planning and analysis of resources and systems required most likely could have prevented many of these problems. The nature of climate change and all things green is almost completely politicized now, which makes rational and careful planning for good ideas more difficult. But given the bad publicity that this good idea now has, quelle cost?

And, what is the solution? If I was asked by the Minister to provide a plan for this scheme, these are the questions I would be posing that have direct HR relevance:

To estimate the quality and quantity of assessors required, how long does each assessment take to do, including initial contact with the homeowner, the visit, the report-writing and communication with the homeowner?

    • What skills does the assessor require?
    • What skills and abilities are we recruiting for and which ones will we provide through training?
    • How long will it take to recruit, train and accredit assessors?
    • How will we manage the assessors and ensure quality of work?
  • What is the upper limit of numbers of homeowners that can have an assessment, given how much funding there is for interest subsidy, money and time for assessments and other administration? That is, what is the bucket of funding available and how far can we stretch it?
  • What timeline will be required to get enough assessors trained and other aspects of the process in place to be ready to start doing assessments?
  • What contingency plans need to be put in place for workers in case:
    • Homeowners do not take up the offer in numbers expected, or;
    • Homeowners DO take up the offer in numbers expected?
  • What communication process will be in place between homeowners, assessors and managers of the process?

These are just some areas that one would hope would have been investigated in the early planning stages. The issue of how long things take to do is one of my favorite hobby horses as my observations make me think that very little work is done on figuring this out.  This is part of the delusions that we often have about work – what we think we should be doing and what we are actually doing.

I designed and ran a training program for around 80-100 clinical nurse managers in Ireland about 8 years ago now and was astounded at what I found out about their work.

The purpose of the program was to teach them to better motivate and manage nurses, in an effort to stem the flow of nurses leaving the health system. As part of the introduction to the program, I asked them some questions about what they spent their time doing and what they thought they should be doing.

My intention was to show them that instead of doing the clinical work themselves (this is what I thought I would find), they could delegate, coach, motivate others to do this, and this is what they should be doing.

Imagine my surprise at the results about what clinical nurse managers actually spent their time doing:

  • Paperwork -100% reported this
  • Staff shortages 85% reported this
  • Maintenance -70% reported this – unblocking toilets and changing light bulbs!

It’s amazing how the world reveals itself to you when you ask!!

For more information about Green Loans, see http://www.environment.gov.au/greenloans/

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