Leadership coach and facilitator I blog about people in organisations, health and social care, higher education, housing and public services.Director of Dean Knight Partnership and Co-Founder of The Open Channel
delighted to welcome you to the latest edition of The Open Channel Newsletter.
The Open Channel is a venture borne out of a passion
for supporting change and our belief in the strength of people and
organisations. Janet Dean and Steve Loraine are senior practitioners in public
sector service delivery and work collaboratively with private sector, voluntary
and community organisations. Do contact us to find out how we can assist you to manage your
Led by Janet Dean and Steve Loraine, two
highly respected and experienced independent public service advisers, The Open
Channel has a fresh and highly cost-effective approach to helping you lead and
manage change. We understand the challenges you face and appreciate the
financial constraints you cope with.
Our approach is based on the view that people and
organisations are inherently strong and capable and that supporting your strengths
in times of change is a particularly positive and a more sustainable way to
lead and manage.
If you are a public body, private service provider,
voluntary and community organisation or social enterprise, you will find the
services we offer just right for your needs.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
report on our Leadership Development Programme for a County Fire and
Rescue Service, where we are using a mixture of executive coaching, action learning and strengths models to develop
the leadership capacity of the Service.
how we use the SOAR strategic
planning model to assist clients to create appreciative strategies and how this
powerful approach to planning can benefit your organisation.
publication of the Joseph Rowntree Report on Creating a Dementia Friendly York, The Open Channel is partnering
with AESOP Consortium to offer Accelerated
Learning Programmes on this topic.
offer some reflections on recent experience in helping a local authority review
its approach to performance management
We have been
working with a County Fire & Rescue Service for a number of months,
supporting a team of senior managers in their leadership development as the
Service navigates the inevitable and challenging consequences of public
services reform and resource cuts.
Our work has
involved a series of individual executive coaching sessions and strengths
profiling feedback; personal development action planning; action learning group
sessions and senior leadership event.
coaching sessions have been set in the context of the demands senior managers
face in leading complex change and how a team of managers can work
collaboratively, supporting each other to achieve individual and mutual goals.
the learning set sessions have provided a group setting where the collective
talents and strengths of the team are brought to bear on shaping and leading
individual and group sessions took place, another element was added - the
Strengthscope profiling tool. This is a powerful model that provides
individuals with a high quality report accurately identifying their top seven
strengths in a work setting. With this knowledge, the leaders optimise their
strengths through the activities they carry out in their own functions and in
combination across corporate, strategic projects.
from the managers about the value of the coaching has been highly positive and
their managers, i.e. the Service’s Principal Officers, have commented on the
productive change that both the coaching and action learning have made to the strategic
outcomes the team is achieving.
Service also used the Strengthscope profiles to assist it in making decisions
about the reallocation of functions and strategic roles to each manager during
a recent service re-alignment. This is the first time we’ve seen the model used
in this way to help guide a leadership team in the alignment of its members’
strengths and the Service’s activities. We will encourage the service to share
their learning from this innovation when they are ready.
For many years now SWOT has been a popular strategic planning tool for teams
and organisations. This model has provided structure and focus to future
planning conversations in organisations across all sectors. What’s noticeable
though about the model and how it’s used is that, whilst at first sight it’s a
50/50 split between negative/positive elements, in practice we find that the
conversations tend to focus overly on the negative elements, i.e. weaknesses
and threats and less on the positive elements, i.e. strengths and
opportunities. So much so that the proportion of the conversations was towards 75/25%
negative/positive, concentrating on problems and deficits, tending to drain
energy and lacking a compelling preferred future.
Now there is an alternative; SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations
and Results). SOAR is a strategic planning framework with an approach that
focuses on strengths and seeks to understand the whole system by including the
voices of all the relevant stakeholders.
Focusing on strengths means that SOAR conversations centre on what an
organisation is doing right, what skills could be enhanced and what is
compelling to all of those who have a stake in the organisation’s success (and
not just its leaders). Also, when you use SOAR, you needn’t abandon SWOT,
because SOAR and SWOT have a ‘both/and’ relationship, i.e. SOAR leverages the
strengths and opportunities from SWOT as a foundation and then adds Aspirations
and Results – the critical connection between our imagination and the innovation
We have used SOAR with Boards of Trustees, leadership teams, divisional
teams and strategic partnerships. When people use SOARthey see the ‘whole’ and their part in delivering the vision. This is how
SOAR creates greater alignment and energy to move quickly to implement strategies.
For more stories about SOAR and how to use it to create and deliver your
strategies, then contact Steve
Dementia Without Walls Project Report Published
Following a year- long
action research project, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its report ‘Creating
a Dementia Friendly York’ this month. Led by Janet Crampton of AESOP
Consortium and Janet Dean of The Open
Channel, the report was co-authored by AESOP Director Ruth Eley.
Whilst using York as a
Case Study, the report draws examples from across the UK and the world to make
the case for a dementia friendly approach. Janet Dean’s contribution in
developing the Four Cornerstones Model which uses Place, People, Resources and
Networks as a way of understanding what communities need to do, can be applied
To help local authorities
and their community partners across the public sector and in business, culture
and the voluntary and community sectors to make fast progress in making
dementia friendly communities a reality, AESOP and The Open Channel has
developed an Accelerated Learning
Programme for senior decision makers. Over the course of six months, participants
can combine their own experience with practice from outside and use the Four
Cornerstones to develop their local action plans.
At the moment, the
Accelerated Learning Programme is being offered to interested pilot authorities
who need only fund part of the cost. Please contact Janet Dean if you would like to be
considered for the Programme.
PERFORMANCE REVIEW – PROCESS OR PEOPLE?
has been working on a project for a London Borough advising on Performance
Management in Housing and Social Care. Here she reflects on the conversations
she has had with staff at all levels in the organisation.
‘When you ask people what Performance
Management means to them, there are as many answers as there are people – no
wonder it’s hard to find a way of making it meaningful.Some people think immediately of systems –
data in, information out at best. But there is seldom one system; if there are
many, they often don’t speak to one another, and if you put in bad data, bad
information will come out.
Some people talk about process – who
collects what, where it goes, how it is communicated and understood. It is not
uncommon to find that processes don’t wire round the whole system, they may go
so far and fizzle out. People at the sharp end who are inputting data,
sometimes don’t recognise it when it is presented at the top. It’s hard in this
case to get everybody to buy into the process.
Others emphasise the culture – are
people interested in performance, do they want to improve, and are they
genuinely trying to work across the organisation to make it happen. How are
service users and the public involved, can they influence performance directly?
Are elected members interested in the same issues as people delivering services,
and do they all want what customers want?
My feeling is that data and even
information (i.e. analysed data) are not going to help without knowledge – this
comes when we communicate what is happening, and understand it in the same way.
But even then we can find ourselves in the same loop. Improved performance
comes from wisdom, learning from our practice, doing more of what is good, what
is going well, so that we do less of what is going wrong.
In our experience people often start
with what’s going wrong – at The Open Channel, our emphasis on strengths means
that we will ask you what is good and help you to understand how to make it
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE OPEN CHANNEL
You can keep up to the minute with The Open Channel through
our blogs and Twitter feeds. We engage with our clients and stakeholders at
@janetdean and @steveloraine and via Linked-in. Check out the links in this
newsletter, visit our blogs or add us to your favourites’ lists via www.theopenchannel.co.uk