Tag Archives: Principles

Principles of working with risk

Groucho Marx said “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them, well… I have others.” In this video I outline a number of principles of best practice when we are working with risk.


Use the following link to also access a free training webinar which introduces my simple 5-step process to risk decision-making, which also form the core modules of the Positive Risk-Taking Membership Site:


Podcast Episode 077: What is recovery?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2‘Recovery’ can simply be described as to regain, get back or restore something which has been lost, but in health and social care services we don’t tend to go for the simple and straight forward, particularly when confused and complicated are on offer.

I fully support the concept of recovery, as it was originally identified by service users, but I despair at how easily those in power feel able to misappropriate good ideas to dress up their otherwise complex demands. Now I tend to see recovery as something designed by service users, hijacked by commissioners, managers and politicians, and crashed by practitioners.

In this episode I explore how a uniquely personal and individual concept of great merit and purpose has become subsumed into the corporate world of strategic direction, and subsequently lost in translation. The original pioneers foretold in warnings of how the concept will lose its power when it becomes systematised, but the world of bureaucracy is not known for heeding warnings, particularly if they don’t appeal to the perpetual need to homogenise the individual experience.

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



“You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town.” [Anne Lamott].

Podcast Episode 076: What is solution focused therapy?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Solution Focused Therapy has been established in the US since the early 1970’s, but didn’t make an impact in Europe until the mid to late 1980’s.

The approach is largely attributed to Steve de Shazer, and has garnered considerable favour with the attibution of ‘Brief’ in front of its title. Many clients and practitioners alike favour the specific focus on finding solutions through brief interactions and short term interventions. In my work presenting a strengths approach I have often encountered practitioners asking ‘isn’t this a bit like Brief Solution Focused Therapy?’

In this episode I examine the strengths credentials of this approach, with reference to its underlying core principles, the therapeutic roles of clients and practitioners, and its therapeutic approach underpinned by specific lines of inquiry. Discover the secrets of the ‘miracle question’.

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



“Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.” [Niels Bohr].

Podcast Episode 073: What is appreciative inquiry?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2AI is more frequently known as Artificial intelligence, but in the context of organisational change I am focusing this episode on Appreciative Inquiry. But, apart from the simple assumption of showing some appreciation to another person, what is it?

David Cooperrider and colleagues have claimed this to be a uniquely strengths-based approach to the leadership and management of organisational change; and also that strengths-based management may just be the management innovation of our time!

However, the concept of change does not sit easily with everyone; for one thing, it can give the impression that there is never enough time to implement some seriously good ideas before the next management initiative is passed down.

In this episode I outline the strengths credentials of Appreciative Inquiry, its 4-dimensional cycle, as well as the 5 principles and 6 essential conditions for it to occur. It may require skilled facilitation by a trained practitioner, but it also offers all of us a positive language to adopt and apply to our own thinking about the organisations we presently inhabit.

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



“A well designed system filled with ordinary but well-trained people can still achieve consistently high performance; whereas a badly designed system can make a genius look like an idiot.” [Pfeffer and Sutton].

Podcast Episode 051: World Class institutions

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In this episode a couple of recent newspaper articles reflect on the malaise of the management culture in two UK world class institutions… the NHS and BBC.

Damning reports into the culture of management in the NHS are being withheld until after the imminent general election, where the description of the sturcture is described as ‘totally shocking’ and ‘not fit for purpose’. Could this be the very structure that was re-structured against previous manifesto promises by the Tory led government initiative?

Meanwhile, over at the BBC it would appear that investigative journalists who blow the whistle on previous BBC celebs for child abuse scandals, are themselves demoted and sidelined, while the bullies are promoted! Great institutions are created from lofty principles and values, but it would appear that by a process of evolution the management function gradually grows into a misguided sense of its own self-importance.

Bureaucracy becomes top heavy, unmanageable, and filled with overpaid people who have little understanding or connection with the true heart of the enterprise. There is no simple solution to a malignacy decades in the incubation; but we must continue to respect our world class institutions for their founding principles and uphold their core values as theur main purpose.

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



“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.” [Honore de Balzac].

Podcast Episode 038: Strengths Focused Teams

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Good teamworking, as with so many things, is easily stated and claimed, but not always so easily evidenced. Bringing people together under the name of a specific ‘team’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they function as a true team.

From a strengths perspective, Steve Morgan offers a taxonomy of strengths focused teams… looking at three different levels in relation to the degree of strengths thinking and working that are incorporated into routine teamworking. He further develops the analysis of teamworking through outlining six principles of strengths-based teams… adapted from the original strengths principles focused on how we work with service users or clients.

It is recognised that in any given team there will be individuals who function at different levels in relation to strengths-based principles and practice; however, the extensive Gallup organisation research invites us to improve our overall effectiveness and value by focusing more in a strengths way of working.

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



“With an enthusiastic team you can achieve almost anything.” [Tahir Shah].

Podcast Episode 027: Identifying values

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2What are values?

This episode highlights the importance of reflecting on these largely unseen influences on everything we think, we do, we decide, they inform our core beliefs, they are the sum of who we are. Nothing more than that! So, if they have such a significant influence we would be well advised to be more aware of what they are.

They come dressed up in almost endless lists of good words, but this episode argues for spending more time examining the impact they have on the ways we behave and act in particular situations. Steve Morgan poses a series of questions to help us explore our underlying values, offering examples from his own experiences by way of illustration.

Core personal and corporate values are contrasted, and examples are identified of where conflicting values can contribute to better decisions, or even disasters. As a strengths approach, the examination of values is one way of demonstrating how we are putting genuine person-centred practice into action.

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



“Living in a way that reflects one’s values is not just about what you do, it is also about how you do things.” [Deborah Day].

Podcast Episode 024: Not for profit

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2How often do we stop and reflect on our values and principles? Not often enough, despite the fact they influence who we are, what we think, what we decide, and how we present to the world around us.

It can often take a sudden message or event that sharply challenges our values that triggers that very reflection on our personal standpoint. One such message recently encountered in the UK Observer Sunday newspaper was an article examining the gulf between the wealth and focus of private equity firms increasingly owning and running social care services for our most vulnerable people in society. The senior personnel and owners/shareholders are on astronomic salaries and dividends, and by contrast, many of the workers are forced to provide the work for less than a minimum wage.

If we examine the NHS Constitution we can be forgiven if we ask the question ‘what price are we now placing on compassion and care?’ Meanwhile, the politicians of all persuasions seem equally complicit in the neglect of fundamental values-based practice, more concerned not to offend the powerful in their pursuit of value-for-money (aka greed and inequality). Our most vulnerable and needy in society should never become pawns in the game of profit, but the slow creeping takeover by private equity of the ownership of social care is making care and compassion commodities to be exploited.

To hear the full episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):



“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” [Dwight D Eisenhower].

Podcast Episode 017: Sue Jugon Interview Part 1

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2An interview with Sue Jugon exploring the influences on her practice as a mental health nurse, team and service manager. Looking at the early influences of growing up in a farming background, and coming into nursing from initial experiences within learning disability services.

A strong emphasis emerges about taking opportunities to have a go at things, without being constrained by the possibilities of failure. Sue is a person for whom working with the most vulnerable people is a life-long passion, and her career path has never deviated from the values and principles that remain focused on the needs of the most vulnerable.

She also talks about her own continuing aspirations, and a natural talent for exploring the playing of different musical instruments. Above all else, it is the love of her children that keeps her focused on who she is, and continues to bring out the best of a dedicated person.

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



Podcast Episode 007: Satsanga Interview

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2An interview with Satsanga (Lawrence Borish) about his life in Social Work, exploring his values and reflections on the role that a strengths approach has played in the way he engages with people. He also reflects on some of the barriers he has encountered to other people thinking and working in this way.

For the full content of this interview go to the following links to iTunes (or to Stitcher Radio or Sound Cloud):