Letting go of habit and tradition – constructive rebellion?

Change leaders know that to succeed, they have to enable people to let go of what has been.  This feels scary, and to do this, we sometimes turn to alternative role models.  This can in turn feel really risky for leaders.

In positive deviance, change is created by finding what already works and spreading it.  Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino thinks of “positive deviants” as successful non-conformists.  Her “aha” moment came when she saw a recipe book that challenged the rules of Italian cooking and asked – “why is it that we always cook that dish in this way?”  The book contained recipes such as “the crunchy part of lasagne” that made more of the best bits! Continue reading

Professor Gareth Morgan’s insights into sustainable change

Professor Gareth Morgan was the key note speaker at the celebration of 15 years of the Consulting and Coaching for Change progamme, jointly run by Said Business School, University of Oxford, and HEC Paris.  Now part of the faculty of the programme, his book, Images of Organization, was required reading for all cohorts.  I was part of cohort 2!

Gareth picked up the topic of achieving sustainability through large scale change, which followed on from work done in the morning.  He reminded us of the 15% principle – how to tackle the 15% of things that are most important to strategy and which can be done – not the 85% of ideas that can’t be carried through.  We discussed key themes from complexity science and “Field” theory.  His point was that there is no such thing as a discrete, autonomous actor, entity or organisation.  If we are to tackle big issues such as the changing climate, stakeholders with their “fields” of experience and relationships need to be brought together at a local level to solve problems that underlie the big environmental issues.  They will be able to impact their local system. Continue reading

Improving health and social care systems – are we forgetting something?

I’m writing this as a patient, parent, potential service user and change professional.  I  wonder anxiously what impact the latest round of NHS and social care reform will deliver, against the current political background.

My biggest anxiety is, will I and my friends and family be understood and actually helped, when we interact with the health and social care system?  Can professionals change their behaviour, and win time with patients, to understand and help them help themselves? Continue reading

Leveraging the right “kind” of positive deviance?

Awareness of the term “positive deviance” is rising, as a way of solving tough problems by finding what already works.  It’s been the topic of seminars for health leaders.  It’s been frequently mentioned by Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer, NHS England, as part of a repertoire of approaches to front-line change, and by Jo Bibby in her Health Foundation Blog.  It is the subject of a slide show by Bob Sutton, and gets a brief mention as a possible new option in a recent article about the limitations of quality improvement projects in the NHS by Prof Mary Dixon Woods and Graham P Martin.

There is, however, no available comparison of the various interpretations and applications of “positive deviance,” and some authors mix up the various conceptual frameworks.  This article aims to put this right, and offer tips to leaders for implementation. Continue reading

A checklist for engaging people

Many change models, Hidden Insights included, stress the need for engaging people in change early on.  To do this, we need their active co-operation, and involvement, often in focus groups, large-scale events such as Open Space or World Cafe or just in conversations.  But you’ve got to get them to turn up in a positive frame of mind, ideally ready to volunteer to get involved….

Here’s a checklist, based on experience of implementing successful employee and community projects.  Its parent comes from the successful MRSA reduction project in the USA, recorded in the book, Inviting Everyone, Healing Healthcare Through Positive Deviance, by Arvind Singhal, Prucia Bruscell and Curt Lindberg.  We’ve added some learning of our own. Continue reading

Positive deviants and heroes – two versions of the same thing?

Everyday heroes in a hostile world

There has been a lively twitter conversation about a fascinating interview with Philip Zimbardo, Stanford professor emeritus and author of “the Lucifer Effect“.  He explains that society may condition good people to do bad things, such as join gangs and participate in violence.  This has been demonstrated in his “prison” experiment, and in the famous “electric shock” experiments of Stanley Milgram.  If you put good people in a bad environment, they will do bad things.  Philip helps people learn to be ordinary heroes.

Heroes as positive deviants?

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Human management, Hidden Insights and the British Psychological Society

We’re delighted to be sharing a platform with Dr Joanna Wilde on 3rd June at the British Psychological Society’s training centre in London.  We are running a CPD-accredited workshop for practitioners, to demonstrate a practical, evidence-based approach to human management and leadership. Continue reading

More with less? Serious fun at Accent Group

  • “A really good day”
  • “Bang on the brief”
  • “A great chance to mix and have my say”

We were delighted to be asked by Accent Group, the housing association, to facilitate their Eastern Region staff awayday.  We are already working with them, as part of a group of organisations in Cambridgeshire, which is using Hidden Insights as a means of improvinDSCN2299g relationships with, and building resilience in tenants.  This project has also been a great way of starting collaborative projects across organisations – Accent and Fenland District Council are sharing resources in Wisbech.  Using Hidden Insights thinking has attracted more than four times the usual attendance at resident events, again conducted in collaboration with the Ferry Project, Cambridgeshire County Council and Making Money Count. Continue reading

Converging ideas about leadership and the front-line

A trend is emerging that is challenging the top-down, “big everything” way of working: first Steve Hilton’s book, “More Human”, about sustainable and humane ways of managing nearly everything, from food to education, adamantly advocates the benefits of things at human scale, and of collaboration.  Hilary Devey, of Dragon’s Den fame, hosted a programme, “Running the Shop”, on Channel 4, which shows that staff do have good ideas and know what their customers want, and can make quick improvements in business performance if allowed to implement their ideas.  Lastly, at a more intellectual level, the recent Oxford Praxis Forum Stimulus Workshop, and celebration of the 50 years of management studies at Oxford both stressed the  need for senior management to act as stewards rather than drivers, to get their staff engaged in taking responsibility for making things better for customers, patients and service users in a fast-moving and complex world. Continue reading