Trouble-shooting Persistent Problems
Many remote Aboriginal settlements’ most pressing need is for professional staff with truly relevant skills, which might include organisational problem solving, and community development skills. Trouble-shooters are common enough in the commercial world, where a failing company will often bring in somebody who specialises in turning companies around using methods beyond laying off staff. Real community development skills are less common.
Seeking Wrong Skills
In recent years, most remote settlements, often with Govt or NGO oversight, have advertised for and selected a reliable steady worker with good administrative skills, bureaucratically competent, and is able to get on with the locals. Interviews will generally concentrate on reliability and long-term durability, and appearances would suggest beginning a steady job, expecting to maintain existing systems, and make incremental improvements.
Then, when they begin their work, many will walk into a full-blown crisis, and not know where to begin, or how to function under such adverse circumstances. Records could be randomised and scattered, with many missing. Computers could be obsolete and malfunctioning. Existing staff could be worn out, confused and demoralised. Governing councils could be locked into a resigned, defeatist attitude after years of non-improvement. Many locals could be sitting around aimlessly, having switched off because nothing is happening. For steady workers, this is a very steep learning curve, which many CEOs never ultimately master.
Problem solvers are a different category of people, capable of intense focus, and with the experience and wisdom to effect solutions. This means they need to:
- work compatibly with existing functional systems, which must be kept running;
- effect immediate changes that reduce, and not add to any existing crises or create further disruptions;
- maintain systems in a highly functioning state for long-term results;
- effect solutions that others can work with in future repair jobs.
All repairs must be effected in real-time, in the middle of crises, while keeping things running and steadily improving. Problem solvers are not usually long-term people, often preferring to solve a problem and then move on elsewhere and do likewise.
Such people are unlikely to be the type of person sought for, and should precede a steady, long term worker, who can maintain repaired systems, while the trouble-shooter moves keeps working through issues, and then moves on to the next challenge elsewhere.
Recycling Successful ex-CEOs and Coordinators for Training and Supervision
Many people have moved into the industry, made a good go at their job for a few years, and moved on, often back to mainstream, where pay and conditions are more favourable. There needs to be a way for skilled, competent people who are a proven asset, to be able to persist or rejoin the industry, and adopt training and supervisory functions, focused on training local people for ever-greater responsibilities.