Tag Archives: Positive risk-taking

Risk and Leadership

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

What role does leadership play in good practice regarding how we work with risk? Leadership is often lacking, and management is all too often to the fore where considerations of risk are concerned in health and social care agencies. In this scenario fear and back-covering hold the attention, while good practice is presented as an unconvincing façade. Managers strangely play down any questions about excessive bureaucracy while still demanding all the paperwork is completed as the primary target. If something goes wrong it is the paperwork that gets sole attention, and real practice considerations are relegated to a place somewhere to the right of obscurity.

‘Good paperwork is a sign of good practice’ becomes the convenient smokescreen. This would be true if there was less management and more supportive leadership, as the need for paperwork would be put into perspective: as the essential minimum to support good practice not to hinder it. Good tools are a range of checklists and formats that have been shaped by good practice, and thus they are able to guide and prompt firstly, and capture good practice as a secondary function.

The Risk Decision-Making publication is the update of 17 years of working with individual practitioners and teams across countless organisations, both from within the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health initially and through the Practice Based Evidence consultancy since 2001. The tools and guidance are informed by what we know from the national and international research, but more significantly through the practice based evidence of hundreds of practitioners across all disciplines and service sectors. Most importantly, this publication refocuses the attention on risk as everyone’s business; so it is structured throughout to address issues from the perspective of individual’s, teams and the leadership & management of organisations. Whatever systems your leaders have bought or put into place there is still a role for guidance on best practice, so look no further.

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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