“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
On Tuesday, CanCERN sent a letter to the Chair of the Earthquake Commission Board requesting that the Chief Executive be replaced with someone more capable of doing the job at hand. A copy of the letter can be read HERE and the appendix report outlining examples of systemic failings can be seen HERE.
The response from EQC Board Chair, Michael Wintringham can be read HERE.
This is not a step the membership took lightly. We have met regularly with people from the EQC Executive since November 2010 – the purpose of the meetings being to bring the resident’s priority questions and concerns to EQC so they could tailor their communications to the needs of the resident. Over the last 2 years we have discussed with EQC ways to make the communications more effective – face to face contact, hard copy information, the use of different media tools when processing the written word became too difficult. We also discussed the type of information necessary – the steps in the process, clarification of confusing messages, time-frames and reasons for delays, etc.
Most of what we learned from EQC was reported to you through the newsletter. Some of what we learned gave us insight into the complex world of decision-making but did little to address the concerns of residents in a way that has made sense to residents. Never have we underestimated the scale of the job EQC has had. However, the EQC Chief Executive has now had more than 2 years to ensure the ‘customer’s’ needs are a central focus of the operation and it has not happened yet.
You will note there are many things missing from the appendix report – things to do with land, drilling, insurers, apportionment, etc. We made a conscious decision about every example we used and wanted to ensure those we used were the sole responsibility of EQC as opposed to being a result of an uncomfortable interface between EQC and other decision makers.
Michael Wintringham notes in his response above that EQC believes it has put things in place to ‘improve direct customer communications’ and is in fact establishing a Customer Advocacy Group. Unfortunately CanCERN does not have terribly much faith in this process because EQC has failed to hear that although they are communicating information, it is not the right information delivered in the right way. After 2 years of offering up the solutions, and seeing no real changes that would give people confidence to trust EQC’s information we cannot see how another version of this exercise will lead to better information. We are left with few options that would bring about the change that the community requires.
What is interesting to note is that most EQC presentations in recent Green Zone meetings have started with the question, “who here does not have a problem with EQC?” followed up with an admission that EQC has not been good communicators. When even their own staff admit to communication failures, I believe Mr Wintringham is misguided in believing we are talking about dated issues.
Other groups concerned with resident issues have come out in support of our letter and report and we thank them for it. You can read the media release from TC3 Residents (Facebook Group) here which rightly points out that the issues start at the top but definitely are entrenched throughout the organisation’s management. Avonside Blog also wades into the debate here.
It is a terrible shame that the EQC Board have failed to recognize the human cost of the systemic failings and the fact that their attempts to improve their customer focus have not hit the mark with the customers themselves. Questions must now be raised about the suitability of the performance measures being used in post Canterbury earthquakes.
We will keep you informed of our response.
Brian and Leanne