Something happened this week that I am ever so proud of. It is actually quite a small step – just like the first pawn you move at the beginning of a chess game, but it feels significant all the same.
Last Friday, I was in a meeting with two colleagues. We were talking through our latest thinking about a really important issue – how we implement the significant NHS changes in our city. The three of us have talked about this issue again and again since last summer and there have been countless other conversations with different players. Today – well now in fact, as I write – the Chief Execs of all the main players were meeting – and it was our job to form a narrative and proposal for what they needed to commit to. We needed to make coherent sense of months of re-iterating conversations, and the uncertainty of not knowing what will finally transpire at a national level.
During the course of the conversations, we shared the tensions we were experiencing. Especially the fact that people seem to want ‘a plan’ but we were concerned about a blueprint approach that is defined in advance by only one partner. I kept talking about journeys and getting people to own the local purpose, rather than just do what government says. I am sure fellow students of Systems will recognise where all this was coming from.
Anyway, as we talked I started doodling – well that is what it looked like to the other two – in fact I was sketching out an Influence Diagram on the basis of all the things we were saying needed to be in place. That evening I got home and used the diagramming software to draw it up. Here it is (if you click on it you should be able to read it ok):
I sent it to the two others, explained a little about what an influence diagram is and said it was my way of clarifying what we had been saying. It worked, they both found it more useful than a set of notes or a list of all the components we had mentioned. What is more it is in the presentation that those Chief Execs are looking at this evening – along with proposals for a process of ‘engagement’ for partners to work together to form the new arrangements (could not quite build in the words joint learning or inquiry!). I wonder how it all went down.
Like I say, one small step – even if it was taken alongside like-minded colleagues.