Sometimes being so active online is a challenge – the amount of information that is thrown at me in various media is huge and it’s difficult to keep focussed and sift out those things I need to remember in a way that is more than passing interest. This specific blog is to help me to do that – to focus in on two things that I think are important that have struck me over the last week; the first is the parable of the blobs and squares and the second is the importance of young people and hope (my blog also includes paperclips!)
The Parable of the Blobs and Squares
The parable of the blobs and squares was brought to me through the fabulous #leaders4leeds and specifically @smclrk . It really made me think about the concept of institutionalisation and how we treat and care for patients as well as how we resolve issues and consult with communities. By institutionalisation, in this context, I mean we force, through absence of choice, people who come into contact with our services to behave in a particular way. As a result they are less likely to choose or adopt any other approach or behaviour – as a result we may fail to capitalise on their knowledge, expertise and creativity.
You can watch the short video that explains about blobs and squares here: http://vimeo.com/42332617
You see when I am a patient I’m quite blobby; I don’t like to be processed like a sausage and I suspect that because of what I know and what I do for a living I feel quite blobby to the people who help me too. It’s not unusual for a nurse or doctor who doesn’t know me to quite quickly ask me ‘can I ask what you ‘do’?’ – I suspect despite my best efforts to conform I can be quite challenging and blobby.
But then our systems are often set up to be very square and sometimes when I’m at work I’m square too. We are often forced into designing processes that feel inflexible to the receiver; my clinic appointments often feel like this but conversely I have been responsible for clinics too and sometimes it feel impossible to do anything else other than design them as processes and in the way we do.
The parable of the blobs and squares points to different way to try to resolve the problems we face – that is co-production. The concept includes employing more ‘blobby’ people who can work across the interface between the square organisation and those people who have the needs that we need to meet – known also as boundary spanners. So, for example, I wonder if clinics would look the same for patients with long term conditions like diabetes if we were to co-design them with patients…… I for one would be lobbying for perhaps more group orientated and social spaces. When I think back to the time I got my pump although my lovely Diabetes Specialist Nurse went through all the technical parts of learning to use the pump I would have loved to meet someone who was already a pump user. My only contact with those people has been online on Twitter. I see this as a real missed opportunity to build expertise amongst patient and perhaps more resilience and less dependence.
I recommend the Parable of the Blobs and Squares to you.
My second major thought this week is the importance of ‘hope’. It feels like there is negative pressure across the whole system at the moment – sometimes so much so that it feels scary. Hope makes it possible to lead and to see a vision of how things can be better and is vital if we are to cope with the challenges we all face.
Hope can come from unexpected places or at unexpected times but I see a pattern emerging for me and how I might be able to stay focussed on building hope. You may recall from my previous blog about the Florence Nightingale Foundation Conference how I was struck by @ruthcarnall who talked about emerging leaders and how we had a responsibility to help them to grow and lead? This week I also witnessed a young person who shone hope across nursing – Molly Case’s poem ‘Nursing the Nation’ at the RCN Congress 2013 had ‘hope’ written all over it.
I also found another group of inspiring young leaders this week who again gave me great hope. Have you heard of the #StC Paperclip challenge? You can read about it here:
This is a brilliant and brave idea led by a group of nurses that again gave me optimism and hope. Watch the video and be inspired!
My son also gives me hope. He is young dedicated and passionate about what he does. He doesn’t get everything right but then I didn’t either and I had to learn to be the best I could be – in fact I’m still learning actively!
So I can see sparkling and shining lights of hope in the system and they are often linked to young people. I am going to make sure I give as much help and support to young people in our system as I can; they need the chance to make a difference and the confidence to challenge the status quo. I will be trying to support and mentor as many of them as I can!
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars” Martin Luther King Jnr
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” Barack Obama