As recently as 2012, Cisco Visual Networking futurist Dave Evans predicted that by 2020 he’d be out of a job because everyone would have the tools to predict the future themselves.
“We are amassing unprecedented amounts of data,” he said. “New image and video analysis algorithms and tools will unlock this rich source of data, creating unprecedented insight. Cloud-based tools will allow anyone to mine the data and perform what-if analysis, even using it to predict the future.”
Maybe not quite yet…
This is the time of year when I use this blog to talk about Penn-Mar’s future, to “predict” what we can expect to happen in the New Year.
Technology, and the insights we can gain from it, are unquestionably impacting decision-making for us and most organizations. Our challenge is determining how we use it to innovate our services.
Essentially we’re in the people business; so we can’t innovate our way out of relationships, either with our team members or the people with disabilities we serve.
But we can use experiences, insights and data to help us envision the outcomes we’re seeking. And what you will see unfolding this year at Penn-Mar was in the imagining stages back in 2014.
That’s when we established an internal workgroup to brainstorm what the future could look like at Penn-Mar. We latched on to the catchy phrase “2020 Vision” which helped us to focus on actions that would make us the provider, employer and investment of choice.
Well the future is now – 2020 — and I am pleased to report that most of the goals we had in our sites have either been accomplished or are in the process of implementation.
Using the tools at our disposal to predict and shape our future, 2020 will be a tactical year of stabilizing and fortifying the strategic process we have already put in place.
Last year was a whirlwind of activity. I described it as “unbelievable” (in a good way) in my December blog citing the incredible “change” all around us, literally.
Earlier that spring we had acquired Change, Inc., a Westminster non-profit providing many of the same supports as Penn-Mar. I’m happy to report that on January 1 that merger was legally finalized. Our priority going forward is the full integration of our cultures to truly become One Penn-Mar as an organization and in the communities we serve.
Over the years we predicted a time when all of our Pennsylvania operations would be consolidated under one roof and that, too, is about to happen.
Both buildings formerly housing our Pennsylvania services are now sold so this year we will begin concentrating in earnest on moving all our PA services to the Penn-Mar North Far Hills Learning Center where we will build-out the remaining 16,000 s.f. of space to incorporate more training, program and conference areas.
Much of our 2020 Vision had to do with changing our models of service, heading towards full inclusion as we help people with disabilities become more independent in the community. But the challenge of attracting and retaining the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who can make this happen continues to loom large.
I have to say that for the first time in my long career in human services, I believe it is more difficult for us to satisfy the needs of our team members than it is to satisfy the people we support.
So this is an area where we are intent on being one of the first to solve this intractable problem with more than just talk. The investment in our Career Ladders credentialing program has been a huge step in the right direction, providing our DSPs with additional knowledge, skills and compensation.
It is imperative that we continue advocating our legislators in both Pennsylvania and Maryland to increase compensation for this essential workforce. Unfortunately, I can predict that in 2020 this battle will not be going away but I assure you it is one we are not willing to stop fighting.
So we’ll continue to do what leaders do: lead. And as leaders in our field, we can reasonably predict a hopeful future by continually being catalysts for change.