What can you learn from the disruptive innovators?
It’s impossible to live in Scotland just now and not experience the impact of being told all the things you can’t do if we vote for independence. Undoubtedly there are a variety of responses to this and the polls would suggest relentless negativity is perhaps having a perverse effect than that desired. But there is no doubt it creates a sense of burden, a weariness, an undermining worry that could feed the poverty of hope we see in so many of our isolated communities. The Independence referendum is tapping in to the call for change I see in so much of my work and a campaign that fosters a sense of helplessness can’t fail to have an impact.
The diversity of work I do in organisations and in health and social care and the people I work with make my life hugely interesting. And what I notice too is there are threads that join them all. The threads mainly are about how do we reach for more humanity in our work, how do we bring our values and work with integrity, how do we effect change as although we know the system is broken but it just feels too big. It’s probably at the core of all the conversations I have.
These are big questions and the danger of feeling something is too big is that we just set it aside. We put it off, we tell ourselves it can’t be done, we distance ourselves from those who think it can. We are flattened by the elephant rather than able to find ways to eat it. But history tells us we do evolve, we adapt to small changes all the time and even the big ones often awaken untapped resources and potential. But still it can be scary-what if we fail being a common question-especially in blame cultures.
Even if we haven’t heard the quote that “each system is perfectly designed to create the outcomes it produces” we know in our hearts that doing more of the same or indeed just trying harder (being sat on by the elephant?) is never going to be enough. But the sense of the scale of the challenge can stop us having the confidence to try even something small.
What I also see every day however are those who do create something new, who challenge the system to see another perspective, who see solutions in other places and aren’t too scared to give them a go. I heard the phrase disruptive innovation this week and it’s stayed with me. Many of those third sector organisations I work with have started as disruptive innovators, the people who are outside of the system but see a fresh perspective and approach that enables change to happen. I see those with lived experience bring their innovation and experience to shift a system from inertia. I see the mavericks within systems go around them and find new approaches that improve the outcomes for all.
In many ways social media is a disruptive innovation in health and social care. Seeing organisations like Patient Opinion and now CareOpinion putting influence into the hands of those who use the service, NHS Changeday emerge though social media and create a social movement, blogging communities like the breast cancer one I belong to being a global force for change, twitter connecting and empowering ; these are all exciting shifts we need to tap into.
Maybe the most important thing we can all do is listen to the disruptive innovators, learn from them and understand that we each of us have influence and not be afraid to use it.
Reasons to be mindful
This is an outstanding time in my country, with the possibility of constitutional change creating huge tensions and excitement too. My plea is that all sides of the argument treat people who live here with respect and sensitivity and listen to the call for change in our communities, that is cultural as much as its political. Whoever listens and responds to that, gets my vote.