Category Archives: Positive Risk-Taking

Risk Aversion or Risk-Taking?

Positive Risk-Taking logo

We all work with risk; we all have to make risk decisions, and sometimes those decisions involve the challenge of taking risks. Part of overcoming the challenges resides in our awareness of our own mindset in relation to risk. I have a simple 5-step approach to helping me make the challenging decisions… in work as well as in life.

Click on the following link to access a free webinar that provides 40+ minutes of training in the challenges risk can present, and an introduction to my 5-step approach:

https://app.webinarjam.net/register/21360/99e6026a97

This webinar condenses 30+ years of my experience working in and alongside health and social care services, and 60+ publications around the subject. Risk is something we should embrace from a positive perspective, and this webinar develops this mindset.

Positive Risk-Taking & Dementia-Friendly Communities

JRF screenshotThe increasing incidence of dementia, and profile it is gaining in the public imagination, means that this is a condition that none of us can ignore. What role might a strengths approach have to play in the way we view people living with dementia? It is all too easy to see the negatives and deficits around someone living with dementia, and to remain oblivious to their capabilities and potential, as well as the supportive resources they have around them. Just because you have a particular label doesn’t mean you have lost all capacity to dream and desire a reasonable quality of life for yourself, as determined by you, not imposed on you by others. However, the so-called ‘community’ can become a progressively challenging place as cognitive capabilities decline.

‘Positive risk-taking’ is a concept well established by the Practice Based Evidence consultancy, and it applies equally to the risks a person living with dementia may wish to take, and to all of us who live in, work in and develop communities. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation commissioned a piece of work from a collaboration of Practice Based Evidence and the Mental Health Foundation to investigate how the concept of positive risk-taking may apply to the government initiative of developing dementia-friendly communities. The think piece is explored in the published ‘Viewpoint’ at the following link:

http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/how-can-positive-risk-taking-help-build-dementia-friendly-communities

“Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they’re all individuals and they’re all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.” [Carey Mulligan].

Check out ‘Still Alice’ as a great portrayal of the tragic descent into dementia, and the impact on a wider family as well as the person living with the condition.

 

Podcast Episode 091: Positive Risk-Taking in practice

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2It’s one thing to have a great idea but another entirely to put it successfully into practice, particularly if it is about delivering on difficult and challenging decisions. What does it take to put positive risk-taking into practice with clarity and confidence?

This was a concept I developed in 1994 and have been refining and implementing with so many people in the intervening years. Everyone wants to feel like they do good risk-taking practice, but when examined closely there are a plethora of obstacles to be overcome in the process.

In this episode I outline a list of 14 essential ingredients for putting positive risk-taking into practice. A combination of shared understanding by individuals, teams and organisation management is a good starting point; but that is often difficult enough to achieve. I outline the value of strengths-based practice for underpinning good risk-taking decisions, as well as consensus in teams, adequate training, supervision and support, and the application of checklists and tools I designed specifically for the purpose.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/091-positive-risk-taking-in/id867043694?i=359052989&mt=2

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” [Tony Robbins].

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” [Denis Waitley].

Podcast Episode 090: Implementing great work

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2A good idea is about 10 percent of the effort, it’s the implementation and hard work that makes up the bulk of the effort. But how do we go about identifying and implementing good ideas? What can we use to help us deliver great work?

In the case of a Strengths Approach and Positive Risk-Taking, two of my signature ways of working, I have developed specific practice development tools to help not just identify the ideas but just as importantly put them into practice.

In this episode I outline the Practice Based Evidence evaluation and implementation tools I use in my team development work to put these two particular concepts into practice. These are practice-based tools to be owned and used by frontline staff and teams; these are definitely not managerial tools with a top-down need to audit. There comes a moment when you need to stop revving up the car and shove it into gear (David Maloney), and these tools are part of the gear mechanism not the braking system!

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/090-implementing-great-work/id867043694?i=359052990&mt=2

“When you translate a dream into reality, it’s never a full implementation. It is easier to dream than to do.” [Shai Agassi].

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” [Conrad Hilton].

Podcast Episode 072: Provocative Propositions

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2The strengths approach shares many values, principles and practices with other well known approaches, one of which is Appreciative Inquiry.

During a conversation planning for a workshop presentation at a conference the question of establishing a ‘provocative proposition’ arose… a concept closely integrated into the practice of Appreciative Inquiry.

In this episode I establish my statement as: ‘Positive risk-taking will transform the relationship of individuals and organisations to risk forever!’ I then test out this statement against the eight criteria for a good provocative proposition. See whether you agree, and more importantly, learn a little more about how positive risk-taking should be implemented to maximum effect.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/072-provocative-propositions/id867043694?i=350141736&mt=2

“When someone sets out to be controversial or provocative or shocking as an end in itself, I don’t think that’s a noble goal.” [Rob Bell].

Targeted training

Working-with-StrengthsIn health and social care services we have a long tradition of adopting a scatter-gun approach to staff training. Perhaps this is why staff members often feel negative about mandatory training initiatives, or feel that provision is often made as a knee-jerk response to something going wrong. More generous feedback emerges from events that individual’s have personally chosen to attend, but these often have little positive ripple effect out into the team they are part of… if you weren’t there you simply aren’t going to know much about it.

The Practice Based Evidence initiative has long tried to establish a strengths approach to training, as well as to working with service users. The essence is to get all team members to provide a baseline evaluation of the good and not so good practice in their team, against a series of positive statements of best practice that should be relevant to the way they work. Hence, several Practice Based Evidence tools were devised to address different types of teams and different person-centred approaches to working.

In the case of one of the Newham Community Mental Health Teams in 2006 an honest anonymised evaluation of team practice helped to identify the priorities for a subsequent 5-day programme tailored to their needs. This example illustrates how a practice development approach to training initiatives can respond to the needs identified by practitioners themselves, impact on the practice of a whole team, and engage people more in the process of change. This is how a strengths approach can apply as much to team development as it should do for working with service users.

More recently, in 2014/15, a programme of work with North East London NHS Foundation Trust acute care services focused on the place of positive risk-taking in relation to the work of crisis assessment and home treatment teams, including the teams for adult and older adults services. The programme commenced with team-based training workshops in order to focus in on relevant current clinical material and practices. It was followed up some 6-9 months later with in-service conversational semi-structured interviews of 28 staff, and a further number of Practice Based Evidence designed for purpose evaluation tools. The final reporting is a means of identifying positive practice, as well as giving staff a means for identifying what they can and need to change in order to improve the implementation of best practice.

“Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.” [Ann Voskamp].

Podcast Episode 052: Transformation

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We shouldn’t be happy just being critics; do so with constructive responses, so you are always being helpful in your role of criticising others. I have been a critic of the management culture in general in recent episodes of this show, but also need to stand up and be counted in my response alongside my criticism.

I have chosen a process of transformation of my own recent work, particularly positive risk-taking and risk decision-making, to align it more with the needs of more senior managers and business leaders. These are people who are continually making high risk decisions, but in my experience in health and social care they commission me to work with their practitioners and teams, but don’t take part in any of the work. It is my intention to refocus my work through the EPIC Program of online marketing and coaching, into a transformation statement directed to my new ideal client avatar through a new webinar that can lead some people through strategy sessions into my signature programme.

It is my intention to offer a high degree of transformation for senior people experiencing difficulties or fears in relation to their decision-making. Michelle Mone is a lingerie tycoon who has recently publicly spoken about her daily fears about these decisions, despite being a very successful entrepreneur, so Michelle helps me to identify the type of people I would ideally want to be working with.

Steve realised he misread the idea of a Google Hangout when nobody turned up to the venue he booked!
Steve realised he misread the idea of a Google Hangout when nobody turned up to the venue he booked!

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/052-transformation/id867043694?i=338824801&mt=2

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” [Erica Jong].

Do what you say on your tin

Canadian Falls 3Are you taking the risk? It is something we all do, but why do we confuse and complicate it by our lackadaisical use of language? We take risks in order to gain something for ourselves, and occasionally others. We weigh up the options available to us, and make a decision based on what we compute to be the most beneficial course of action. It is called positive risk-taking not because we are trying to find a ‘positive risk’ (whatever that is), but because we are taking the risk in order to achieve a positive outcome (the gain or benefit). So, the word positive is about the outcome not about the risk! I am also not talking about ‘positive risk management’, which sounds too general and like unnecessary window-dressing of a process more often seen as negative or risk-averse. The word positive is being added to risk-taking, in my context, in order to bring some clarity and specific detail to your thinking.

We revere risk-takers in the worlds of sport, entertainment and business, tending to attribute degrees of awe to their decision-making and achievements. Do you think Ayrton Senna planned his route, speed and overtaking manoeuvres around the race-track because he thought the risk would be nice? Does Warren Buffett make his financial decisions based on a spin of his favourite coin? It is more than likely that both of these people employed complex ways of weighing up the pros and cons of choices facing them, sometimes with careful thought and consideration, and sometimes distilling a lifetime of experience into a split second. So do we, in our own personal circumstances.

Risk Decision-MakingSo, next time you are leaning on a bar deciding whether to have that extra Babycham, remember that positive risk-taking is weighing up the pros and cons of your particular set of circumstances at that time. Whereas the positive risk is simply the chance that they might taste better the more you have; and the positive risk management is the hope that those around you will help you home instead of tying you to a lamp-post at the end of the night. These concepts mean different things, so be clear when you use language, only positive risk-taking is thoughtful and considered. But… what do you think?

http://www.pavpub.com/risk-decision-making/

“Words are how people think. When you misuse words, you diminish your ability to think clearly and truthfully.” [Margaret Heffernan].

Podcast Episode 043: Suicide Risk [2]

IMAG1511What role does positive risk-taking have to play when someone is experiencing and expressing serious suicidal thoughts? Firstly, we have a duty to take such expressions very seriously, but the language of suicide risk can often appear overwhelming to others, and generate great fears of what might be.

Do we respond in a way that manages the other person, manages the situation, and ultimately takes over through assuming control over and for the person? Do we really take that step backwards, and give ourselves whatever time is available to listen to the person and help them explore their options in a supported relationship? We cannot eliminate risk, but do we become overwhelmed by a fear of engaging in the real conversation?

There is no such thing as a risk-free option, and in this episode I outline a case example from my own practice that illustrates how positive risk-taking was put in place through listening and acting on what the individual has to say, identifying alternatives, and exploring strengths and potential protective factors alongside the serious expression of risk.

For the full content of this episode click on the links for iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/043-suicide-risk-2/id867043694?i=333467695&mt=2

“If it wasn’t for the possibility of suicide I would have killed myself a long time ago.” [Unknown source].

Podcast Episode 042: Suicide Risk (Interview case example)

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2This episode is an interview with Satsanga (Lawrence Borish) reflecting on a case example of Alice, who he worked with whilst on a family counselling placement in his Masters Degree Social Work training in the US back in 1968. The placement was focused on cultural awareness, and the specific referral emerged through neighbourly concern for a woman whose behaviour and appearance was deteriorating. However, on engaging Alice, Satsanga discusses how, as a young inexperienced social worker, he is suddenly presented with an expression of suicidal ideas.

How we respond to these immediate circumstances can have a heavy bearing on the future life of another person. The interview explores issues of engagement of trusting working relationships, working with instinct, exploration of genuine alternatives to suicide, genuine collaboration between a person and a worker… all of which are important components of the process of ‘positive risk-taking’. The discussion raises thoughts about how we are supported, or not, to make difficult decisions; and could a decision-making process from a bygone era remain relevant today?

For the full content of this episode click on iTunes or Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/042-suicide-risk/id867043694?i=331833222&mt=2