Tag Archives: business development

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].

Podcast Episode 058: Working with Strengths Checklist

Working-with-StrengthsHow do we go about building a picture of our strengths, and those of others? We don’t usually greet each other by enquiring what we are no good at, or what we have recently screwed up; yet we also do not naturally and consistently search deeply for those inner-most strengths and natural talents.

Listen to any conversation between people who have met for the first time, at a conference for example, and they explore what defines each other in a the positive sense of ‘what do you do?’ or ‘what are your specific interests in the subject of the conference?’ We should never make the big decisions based on the negative of weaknesses, we should build it on the drives and motivations, the dreams and aspirations.

In this episode I outline an 8-point checklist as prompts for building up a picture of our strengths. These are our resources, from within us and around us, so we should be devoting more time to identifying them and making best use of them. Ultimately it is our strengths that best equip us to manage our problems and weaknesses. Off the top of your head what would you identify as your best qualities and strengths? Then keep adding to that initial picture over time.

Fir 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/058-working-strengths-checklist/id867043694?i=341592555&mt=2

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” [Napoleon Hill].

Targets, what targets?

Person-centred (2009)
Person-centred (2009)

How can we make more effective use of targets as a means of developing best practice? Perhaps a more pertinent question is: ‘Can we make effective use of targets at all?’

Nothing drains passion more effectively than constant demands for information to meet apparent targets, asked without consultation or explanation, and with no meaningful returns in the form of useful feedback. Auditing everything has become an industry – but to satisfy what? The function of co-ordinating care, specifically the Care Programme Approach (CPA), has become a focus for quantitative returns that seemingly have little to do with the quality of the working relationships and everything to do with numbers and signatures. As many service users, carers and practitioners will testify, presence at a meeting and signing a form does not necessarily reflect influence, involvement or even truthful agreement with the documented outcomes. Yet, the bureaucratic process keeps requiring the numbers with no apparent reciprocal benefits for practitioners and teams.

I wouldn’t argue against the need for auditing practice; but it does appear from conversations with many practitioners that there are widely differing perceptions about priorities between the management of services and the deliverers of services. Anecdotal sources suggest that most practitioners feel they only receive feedback from audit sources when things go wrong, and that good practice is not confirmed or highlighted when it happens. If practitioners, service users and carers were asked to define the parameters of what needs to be audited, there would be some disagreements between them but the priorities would probably look a lot different from what currently occurs. Most people in the real world are concerned about relationship-building in order to support people to be more self-reliant through identifying and working with their own strengths. Audit needs to be of practice and for practice, with a focus on sustaining current good practice. But that would only put an awful lot of middle management and auditors out of a job, for their focus is ‘change’ for its own sake; as long as the merry-go-round keeps moving they will have a purpose.

See ‘The Art of Coordinating Care’ publication for a detailed framework on delivering a service user-focused, strengths-based, bureaucracy-busting approach to real practice. It has been developed as a reflection of what good practice looks like, but will challenge all practitioners to step up to the mark to deliver values-based personalised services based on working with people’s strengths. Failure to do this leads to the alternative… the more usual current situation of an over-regulated system driven by the need to satisfy the politicians and public that if anything goes wrong ‘it will never happen again’. What the current system can ensure will never happen again is the enjoyment and creativity fuelled by the passion of people who want to make a positive contribution to service users lives.

Feel free to add your own comment about any issues raised above.

“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?” [Frank Herbert].

Podcast Episode 056: Leaders & Great Groups [2]

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_1In this episode I continue my focus on one of my favourite business books ‘Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration’ by Warren Bennis & Patricia Biederman. I am interested in their take home lessons final chapter, drawing conclusions about great leadership and great teams from six in-depth case studies.

I use three of my own favourite experiences of being a part of teams that have made significant achievements in their own local ways, both as a personal reflection and as an illustration of the 15 messages identified in the book. Five further messages are explored in this episode, in addition to the five messages in episode 55 and a final five messages in the next episode. I reflect on the excitement of starting from scratch in helping to develop a new idea, and how great groups feel like they are on a mission, and develop a sense of separateness from all the other services around them.

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/056-leaders-great-groups-2/id867043694?i=341592553&mt=2

“Find people who share your values, and you will conquer the world together.” [John Ratzenberger].

Podcast Episode 054: Focus on Leadership

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Is good leadership the antidote to a poor management culture? It is too simplistic a premise, as what is really needed for supporting the implementation of best practice is good leadership coupled with good management.

The two do not produce good results if working in opposition! It is one thing to have a good vision of where a business or service should be aiming to go, but the what & why questions of leadership need to be complemented by the how & when questions of management. In this episode a number of quotes from recognised management and leadership gurus are explored; and seven characteristics of good leadership are identified.

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/054-focus-on-leadership/id867043694?i=340049504&mt=2

“Hell, there are no rules here ~ we’re trying to accomplish something.” [Thomas A Edison].

Playing with numbers

I am often mindful of the need to criticize the quality of leadership and management in health and social care services; particularly the obsession with numbers, the tick-box mentality, and the blind faith placed in targets for driving change and daily practice across services. I am surely not a lone voice in this critique, but is it valid or just a reaction against the sound of the pips squeaking?

I do believe that an absence of targets or defined outcomes, and a failure to establish high standards for provision of services only leads to inconsistencies between practitioners and teams… what is often referred to as a postcode lottery. Service users don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of either stressed out practitioners fearful of constant criticism, or laid-back practitioners doing their own thing. Audit and regulation have a place, but surely they need to be clearly joined up to practice, not existing in a vacuum somewhat disconnected from the realities within which good practice has to operate.

The ever-growing chasm between person-centred practice and business-focused managerialism does little to promote a culture of organizational collaboration that may encourage a more engaging form of audit and regulation across services. My solution would be to eliminate most of the current audit requirements imposed on practitioners and teams, particularly that which they experience as wholly time-consuming and unhelpful. So far so good, say the practitioners amongst you; please do share your thoughts, but read on before you do…

Over the last 12 years, through the Practice Based Evidence initiative, I have been developing tools designed specifically for use by practitioners and teams. These tools have flexible uses: personal reflection, individual supervision, team development and team evaluation. Used diligently they should be able to provide a host of qualitative and quantitative data, which in turn should offer useful feedback to practitioners and teams for practice development purposes.

Updated Risk Resource (2013)
Updated Risk Resource (2013)

The Risk Decision-Making publication includes examples of these tools, and a specific example of data emerging from their use in a specific organization to help identify good practice and priorities for further development.

So, the sting in this tail is that practitioners and teams need to own the processes of audit and regulation if they are to reflect and develop good practice. For those auditors and managers fearful of losing their jobs if Practice Based Evidence emerged as the norm, you could always make use of the data to tick your boxes; better still, you could prioritise your time more effectively by getting in and alongside practitioners and teams to support a quality revolution. You might then be in a stronger position to challenge and inform the thinking of the inter-galactic warlords from distant planets a.k.a. commissioners, Department of Health, Care Quality Commission.

Podcast Episode 050: Who is management for?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2It can be argued that over several decades the function of management has morphed from the role of supporting the essential development of a business into a role of managers running the business for their own primary gain.

Recognised management academic gurus have identified the dangers of management for management sake, and the way it can block the functioning of the frontline workers. This has been my experience throughout many structured interviews with frontline clinicians in health and social care services in the UK. Managers need to reconnect with the primary business of its business. The excellent managers contribute significantly to developing staff to identify and make best use of their strengths. Good management is a talent in its own right, but the majority of what constitutes management can frustrate and block creativity, and largely ignore the vital strengths.

To hear 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/050-who-is-management-for/id867043694?i=337535026&mt=2

“Most of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to get their work done.” [Peter F Drucker].

“There is nothing so useless as that doing efficiently that which does not need doing at all.” [Peter F Drucker].

Podcast Episode 048: Team Strengths Assessment

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We all work in teams from time-to-time but how much do we really focus on identifying and developing the individual talents of the workers, and the overall strengths of good team-working?

A team is a group of people coming together for a common purpose or goal, and often it is the challenges and difficulties that define the work of the team that will most influence its outlook in terms of development. All too often teams and services look on training and developing the areas of weakness, to the detriment of boosting and exploiting areas of success into areas of excellence.

In this episode I outline my categorisation of teams in relation to the degree in which they relate to, identify, and work with strengths, and the Team Strengths Assessment tool that I developed in the early 2000’s to support this area of practice development. Examples of three types of mental health teams are referred to as examples where these tools have been used.

To access 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/048-team-strengths-assessment/id867043694?i=336480841&mt=2

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” [Margaret Mead].

 

Podcast Episode 040: Light Camera Action

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2The turn of the year is the time when many people set the resolutions, that quickly become forgotten, or are a repeat of the ones set previous years. This is not the best way to make meaningful changes in your personal or business life.

Planning and goal-setting can be an invaluable component of successful change and sustaining achievements, but it requires thought and focus if it is to be followed through with any genuine intent. As an example of an excellent process for goal planning Michael Hyatt has an influential programme ‘5 days to your best year ever’, but this type of process doesn’t always have to apply to the turn of the year.

In this episode I outline a 5-stage process to setting those SMART goals, from personal belief and reflection through to specific goals, actions and the all-important need to review… keep on your own case if you want to make best use of the idea of planning and goal-setting. This episode asks you to focus goals broadly across your life, so they need to be personal as well as business oriented.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/040-light-camera-action/id867043694?i=328856579&mt=2

“Never mistake motion for action.” [Ernest Hemingway].

Working with Strengths

Working-with-StrengthsAt a strategic level we are continually expanding the language, but essentially using new words and phrases to say the same thing… recovery, personalisation, self-directed support, person-centred planning, re-ablement/re-enablement. Nobody can seriously disagree with the premise that service users should be given a voice in order to say what they need and want, to reflect on how best to meet their wishes and aspirations, to exercise choice and feel supported in their decision-making. However, there is often a gap between what we are saying we are doing as services, and what service users are experiencing on the receiving end. The distance between strategic vision and practical reality rarely conforms to anyone’s idea of close proximity.

This is where the Strengths Approach or Working with Strengths come into their own… call it what you will, but we need some way of translating the big picture into something that is clearly understood and able to be delivered by workers with service users (and carers). We can talk about journeys all day long, but unless you can walk it unaided then we need a vehicle, a route map, a travel guide or companion… a means of travelling that journey. The Strengths Approach sets out a clear statement of values and principles to guide and support good practice; it provides fit-for-purpose tools and the necessary guidance on flexible use of such tools; and it sets out practice-based policy statements that help to tie-in the organisation – team – practitioner levels to an agreement on what we are doing to support people to experience the rhetoric of person-centred services in reality.

Check out my 2014 publication ‘Working with Strengths…’ for the full story, complete with ideas and tools to support the implementation of best practice.