The knowledge and know-how about how to make the change work are retained in the network that created them, not in the technical solution that arises. You cannot roll-out a network. It is like picking up a jigsaw to move it to another table. Some clusters might stick together but mostly it breaks up, falls apart and you may even lose important pieces in the carpet!
Our identity is inevitably shaped by our history. The changes we have been through to arrive where we are now determine our form in the world. They also determine how we make sense of our environment and react to new situations. This self referencing behaviour is one of our ‘Big Five’ and is entirely consistent with a view of organisations as living things.
John Atkinson introducing The Big Five during his session on Whole Systems Change with NHS Transformathon. (Available from The Edge)
The reason we don’t truly become Change Makers is that we don’t want to. We really want to preserve things as they are, right up until the moment that they inevitably die.
Missed John Atkinson on NHS Transformathon ? Or want to watch again? Here it is…
Exploring how change really happens in human systems and why so many of the models, methods and mindsets we rely on don’t always deliver the results we are seeking. By considering how our current models have arisen and then comparing them with alternatives, John Atkinson and guests will identify opportunities to adapt our approaches. This will challenge traditional views on ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ change in order to allow us to think about how we can foster change across the whole system.
I wrote this piece in September 2013 after the UK parliament had voted not to support missile strikes on Syria following the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. I reread it again this morning. With sadness, I feel it stands rereading, the fundamentals are no different and we are no different in our response to them. We are simply now witnessing on a vast and tragic scale the failure to address them. I hope we can find our way through this together to build somewhere better for us all.
In our normal lives these rules may be quite evident or quite deeply hidden, even unconscious. What are the rules that allow us to weave our way along a crowded rush-hour pavement without repeated collisions and accidents? What is our response to people who don’t follow these rules?
Passive resistance and passive aggression seem to be ‘go to’ phrases in the NHS. I’m coming across them repeatedly. Almost invariably it is because the people we want to make the change haven’t been properly involved in designing what we’re trying to do. People aren’t by nature difficult and obstructive.
We are all familiar with cultural change programmes. Sadly most of them are more like ‘Culture Change Pogroms’. They ask people to conform or go. If you don’t fit the new norm there is no place for you. Shape up or ship out.
The goal of politics should be to discover what we are collectively capable of, but has become power itself. Policy is simply being presented, it does not represent the will of society.
If you just slash the Public Sector budget without changing the circumstances in which it operates you just make a large bureaucracy even more ineffective and you’ll be unlikely to realise the saving.
The Bhutan model is based in the culture history and tradition of Bhutan. We can learn from them but we cannot reproduce it. If we want to make Britain a country that places happiness above economic growth we will need to do this in a very British way. The first step would be coming to a collective view that this is something really wanted to do and were prepared to ride the initial suffering needed to achieve it.
How often is it that we design a strategy, or propose a policy, that we know is good, valuable and what our organisation needs? We work hard to persuade others, convince them that this is where we are going, this is what our future must look like, if we are to be a success, survive even.
What now are the ‘new commons’? What is it that we wish to invest in for the good of us all for the future? Things that might enable our places to grow and flourish. I would suggest the most important hasn’t changed from the Greeks through the renaissance to the Victorians. That is the capacity to hold an intelligent and considered social discourse.
I am in a bubble where time and the wider world have gone and all that matters is the synthesis of a body, a boat and a paddle. The bubble pops as I touch the bank to go home. Suddenly I’m tired, I ache and my leg is a pain to get out the flat boat. But just as time stops when I paddle, the time on the water stays with me all day. And I smile and long for my next return to the pursuit of perfect paddling.