Thanks again for the feedback on last week’s blog; there are a couple of points that I want to pick up just before we get stuck into the blog proper for this week. Once again, please keep the feedback coming!
One of the tools outlined in Module Four of Lead to Succeed to support and facilitate change is “using the resistance”. This means giving people a chance to air their views and providing time for them to “come around” because change can be daunting initially. However, both of these rely on your openness to change in the first place and sometimes that can be tricky. If you look back at the blog a couple of weeks ago, “Requires Improvement to Outstanding”, the first conversation Pam had was with the manager, which is why awareness of our perspective is so important which is something we cover in the CPD Day “Self Management”.
Furthermore, when giving people a chance to air their views, we must be aware of the people who are perhaps less keen to air their views and not assume their silence is acceptance or commitment to the proposed changes. You will of course know who those people are because you know your team…
So, let’s move on to the last two strategies from Module Four, Problem-Solving Circles and Learning, both of which have proven extremely valuable in the sessions we have facilitated and I wanted to take a moment to share some of the examples. The Grey Matter Learning ethos is Know, Understand and Do – attending is the easy bit, it is the learning you take away and what you do with that learning which makes the difference to your service and the people you support.
If attending is thus the easy bit (though we do appreciate the level of effort that goes into getting to the session in the first place – organising rotas, covering shifts and organising the funding etc), then why go to all that trouble and not do something with it? Of course, receiving the certificate at the end of Module Five is great, but the learning you take away is so much more important.
The most common feedback about Lead to Succeed is the sharing of experience with fellow managers and leaders from other settings; the opportunity to learn from what they have done and knowing “we are all in the same boat” is sometimes very reassuring. But this is one of the most powerful elements of learning; someone in a similar situation has overcome a challenge you are facing and has potentially done so successfully – this is exactly the kind of learning that needs sharing!
There is a slide in Module Four which contains many different forms of learning and “training” is only one of them. For example, one of the books I always recommend is Neil Eastwood’s “Saving Social Care” which contains a wealth of knowledge and useful stuff for £12 from Amazon and an investment of a few hours’ reading time. Look out for the “box interview”; it is so simple to do and very effective.
If you think back to the CQC Outstanding blog post from a couple of weeks ago, one of the things that stood out for me was the mindset of an outstanding provider [according to CQC] was “there is always room for improvement”. It means there is always an opportunity to learn and find something out, as long as we are open to the possibility. Therefore, the learning method is not the important part because there are so many different ways of learning; the learning and putting it into practice is the part that counts, the bit that impacts on our service and hopefully the lives of the people we support.
This is why the action plans in Lead to Succeed are so vital; they are an opportunity to capture the ideas that you have in the session and provide a framework for implementation and reflection. Some managers have shared how they have used their action plans to demonstrate to CQC evidence for the 5th key question…is the service Well Led?
Ultimately, learning comes in many forms but the critical element is that we apply it in practice and then measure its impact, not just to demonstrate to CQC, but also to evidence our progress and to make any appropriate tweaks as we go.
Problem-Solving Circles (sometimes known as Problem-Solving Groups)
When I was first introduced to Problem-Solving Circles, I have to say I was slightly sceptical. However, having facilitated a number of them in Modules Two and Four, I have witnessed their power first-hand and grown to really appreciate them for the useful tool they really are. Ideas that other managers have shared, things that I have learnt along the way that are free, straightforward and impactful are always useful and Problem-Solving Circles tick all three boxes. Briefly, they work like this:
2 minutes of the problem – ideally, you need a facilitator so the problem-sharer does not get interrupted and sticks to time(ish) – everyone else just listens at this point
1 minute of clarification – questions from the people in the room to really understand the problem, which the problem sharer can respond to.
2 minutes of ideas and suggestions – the problem-sharer remains silent at this point and just notes down the ideas. I like to count up the ideas and generally ask for a bit of feedback afterwards along the lines of: “That’s new”, “I’ve tried this idea”, “This is different”, etc.
My experience with Problem Solving Circles has shown me that five minutes can have a huge impact, even when the challenge at first can seem insurmountable.
One of the great by-products of using a problem-solving circle is everyone getting involved in the solution, particularly when we are talking about change and doing things differently. If the whole team is part of the solution, everything moves that much smoother; I only wish I had found out about problem-solving circles sooner, I know I could have put them to good use on many occasions.
You will have seen in earlier posts one of my sayings: “nobody has a monopoly on good ideas” and a problem-solving circle is a great way to uncover something you may not have thought of. Getting input from the whole team is a way to capture ideas from the frontline which may be obvious to frontline staff but not so obvious to leaders and managers; the key is being open to both the possibility and to any suggestions.
CQC Outstanding providers have a culture that is open and willing to learn in order to contribute to continuous improvement, so look out for ideas from the team and encourage them to come up with ideas. You might not be able to do everything they think of, but you might just find a real nugget of awesomeness that facilitates transformational change.