Saturday, 27 July 2013

Processing people?

I guess its possible to turn just about any form of human interaction into a process or to describe it in process terms? After all, all a process is is an effort to deconstruct and make sense of a complex set of interacting variables and put them in some sort of order so they can be replicated. It’s reductionist - I doubt anyone would deny that - my interest today though is in reconstruction.

This morning Kate and I spent some time Skyping from on opposite sides of the planet. Our focus was to provide support to one another, to share understanding and to enhance completely separate coaching and team development journeys each is on. 

The coaching and organisational development books probably say what we found in considerably fancier ways. Forgive us if what comes next is nothing new. These felt like precious discoveries this morning. 
Process or paradigm descriptions proliferate in social care. Many have had significant impact in changing the lives of people in receipt of support and that has to be a good thing. Right? Agreed. Nothing to argue with there.

We have both spent part of our working life dedicated to teaching process - deconstructing “the way” to do something and then reconstructing it so others can learn, emulate and reproduce or in other words “do it”. Coaching, person centred planning, strengths based supervision, solution focussed team meetings.... blah blah blah.... all offer some such examples.

Once process is taught  and understood there are people who seem to really “get it”. They breath life into it and there’s something fundamentally awesome in their delivery and impact. Everyone can see it. No-one can name it. Others just “do it”.   Watching them work is like looking at a body without life. It’s profoundly uncomfortable.
Whatever it is that one person can do that the other can’t  it is superordinate and grappling an understanding of it seems urgent. Let me tell you why.
There’s not one of the processes listed above that are not in someway configured to alleviate human discomfort, confusion or bring relief to real life situation. Connect with people in any of these processes and fairly quickly you bump up against some kind of pain. A considerable amount of it comes from human interaction, other people or the lack of them in someone’s life and thoughts. 
That’s a scary life truism. It is pretty terrifying in the context of human services. What else are we about? Who’d know that knowing we are in the people business we’d be so tuned out to the internal life of our people and the dynamics that go between them.  Who’d have guessed that we’d spend so much time teaching process without really understanding the “life the body needs to make it live”.
We have decided to start to write, to start to put words around the “life” and not the process, to think about whether it’s possible to deconstruct that instead of process. We want to try to find names for it, ways to share it and ways to come to understand and apply it better in human services. Why? Because human services need humanity to be what they set out to be.  

Our human service system will be eternally indebted to some incredible process thinkers for their contribution to improving the lives of people we serve and those who work beside us. It’s time to take it up a notch now. If we are in the people business isn't it obvious? I can’t believe I have missed it with this level of clarity until now. If we are in the people business surely it’s time to explore and understand the nature of people?

This thinking belongs to no-one and everyone. It’s ours and its yours. This isn’t a two person thought piece. We need as much help as we can get. Share your thoughts. Everyone of those is precious too.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

An Orenda moment

I know it's cheesy.... but..... I've thought a lot about what use I might put the blog to. It feels like I should write something erudite and change the world that way and I probably or at least possibly will. Maybe you will too?

Then again if you've known me for a while you'll know I had an aspiration to open a virtual museum. The museum of ordinary moments.... They were intended to capture the inspiration in the ordinary. Simple stories captured from ordinary life that hold life in them. Anyway it didn't come to much. I didn't have the self discipline  or maybe the time to write them. Whatever.....

Today I found myself thinking about what a hard week it was last week. The pervasive theme was striving to meet demands that will always outstrip capacity... such is the day to day reality of leadership in social care. It's Sunday. I started doing the loop, mentally preparing all the doing I am going to need to do from Monday. I can never remember it all and even if I write it down, by Tuesday it's already getting the better of me. Maybe I need to go on a time management course?

I don't think so. Look at what's happening here. I am trying to wind up one job and start a new business. I might have difficulty juggling all the balls, but juggling I am and both are getting my full attention. If any part of my life is getting short changed its the people indoors....I am working on it and that's another story!

So it's not busyness that's the problem here, its not capability and its not even really capacity. I am finding space to do better than what needs to be done. The real issue is where I put my attention and the discipline to focus where it matters.

So, turn down the lights, start the orchestra and lift the curtains on an Orenda moment.

Orenda means the power within people to make change in the world and in themselves...... lets see where that takes us....

Last week, in the week I just described as "hard", I was called at lunchtime to present myself to the forum of people we support. The forum didn't exist 6 years ago and it's had its' up and downs. I was invited because it's the last time they will convene whilst I am there and they wanted to say goodbye and good luck. They had thought about the occasion, they had some words and had bought me flowers. I stood at the front and said how proud I was of their journey, what a massive difference it makes to hear their voice and how the organisation's strength rests in their courage to speak for themselves and others. No compromise. That was what we agreed and I left and went back down to my office to be busy.....

An hour later E (the Chair) headed toward my door, her walking frame masking nothing of the determination with which she intended to reach me. D followed closely behind on his stick similarly fuelled with purpose and and a real fire in his belly. They arrived at my door. It's existence proved no barrier, instead they bowled right on by and took their place in the chairs we preserve for all sorts of formal business related busyness. It looked like I was "for it" and I waited pensively to find out what other bit of busyness I had not settled, sorted or resolved.

I waited. I waited more. I discovered their mission was to claim some time.... they came to demand some time,  just time. There was no shape to it, no purpose in it, no ask, no complaint, no jobs, no nothing. All they wanted, all they took, was a little time. It was close on silent or maybe there were some words but what I noticed was the ask was simple. It was to be connected in warmth and regard. Just a little spot to let the sun shine, to enjoy each other's company, to reflect and to just be.  They brought that to me. They gave it to me.

Wasn't that what I was always there for? When did the busyness become the habit? I hardly know, but what saw is that they chose to come, they shaped the space, they didn't see the door. They chose to take my time and gift it back to me.

That's my Orenda thought for today. I don't even know who did what in this story to make the difference to whom. I think its mere detail. Moving forward I am going to try to use this space to write more moments, when I see them.

You should do that too. I will make a space here, if you send me what you saw.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Study Visits

Fantastic study visit to Arduin in Netherlands last week, more about the learning to come. Thoughts include "outcomes are not a monitoring exercise" and creating social businesses takes enterprise....

If I was going to be supported, its them I would want to support me. Not least because I could choose a doing kind of life and I am a doing sort of person... well most of the time anyway.

Whilst you wait for the more learned parts of my learning here's a short story that reminds us why resting on tour matters. I will be back with the real lessons soon....

Post Script to a Study Visit......

I went for that massage I had planned on Saturday afternoon. The masseuse said “do you want me to massage you lightly”, I said “no, pummel me with a brick”. ......She did..... apparently.

My friend Valerie and I shared a session and Valerie said it was pure comedy. This woman was belting me and poking me in the back with her elbows and I was face down snoring like a pig. 

All I remember is.....” I would like an absolute and unrelenting pummelling” please and then “excuse me madam, excuse me madam”.... as she tried to wake me up. She came close to having to douse me with ice cold water and shove me off the massage couch..... I think....

I hope the massage was good.... It cost a bit that little snoozette......
I hope I learned a lot in Holland. I need to rest a bit to find out........