Wednesday, 18 April 2012
The development of respectful language is one way of engaging an entire community of practice in cultural change. The purpose is not to identify ‘good’ or ‘bad’ words in order to define correct terminology once and for all. It is about a shared authority, in this context, leadership activity may be viewed as conversations between individuals from different groups to increase awareness of different experience.
Five things I learned from this research:
1. Community: ‘A community of practice’ can be defined as a willing association of professionals, a diverse group working across institutions. There is a danger in the assumption that marginalised groups exist outside these typical social networks. Therefore working with a community approach makes entitlement clear – stating an expected sense belonging. A statement against the segregation, that can fragment groups and threaten relationships within communities.
2. Respect: is a demonstration of empathy, a mindful and proactive activity. Empathy requires intentional thinking, the recognition that other people’s feelings and circumstances are separate from our own, and a willingness to act appropriately in response to these. Respectful language, therefore, begins with an intention to respond to what others actually want. Showing respect does not involve benevolence or guess work, or simply giving we what we are comfortable with having identified a need – it is a conversation.
3. Reflection for action: Stereotypes tend to fit with our existing worldview, so addressing our own thinking requires an external – participation in a different experience. An understanding of our learning may secure a better judgement, but in conversations with others we gain different insights, feelings and perspectives that could lead to different understanding.
4. Leadership: requires confidence, helping others learn is a generous act, as a Leader a teacher is acting to prove their own worth but enabling others to grow theirs.
5. Professionalism: is about collective ideas, the co-construction of knowledge and the development of joint purpose. This is achieved through the process of creating a common language, one that reflects and affirms shared principles and equal humanity.
These findings demonstrate the asset-mapping of a worldwide community of practice and these ideas the gifts of professionals who gave their time so generously. Our conversations taught me we belonged to the same web of activity, a network of people who care deeply enough to express their commitment through daily activity that helps secure change to make shared vision a reality.
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
The language we use to talk about issues of equity is such an important consideration when seeking to achieve an inclusive culture. Certain words we use exemplify prejudiced thinking that is oppressive to some, and if left unchallenged can lead to discrimination without thought. Where people can articulate their thinking clearly, they will be better able to speak about inequality, and therefore avoid voicing ideas are harmful.
Striving towards more equitable outcomes for everyone is as much about cultural change as it is about a legal entitlement. Starting with the most vulnerable, with a duty to support those who face disadvantage currently, positive change should be desirable for all. Importantly though, the most vulnerable need to be the first beneficiaries, otherwise change may not redress disadvantage imposed on the least advantaged. Putting into place practice to raise equity comes with a duty to practice proportionate intervention or support, the argument is that the greater the level of disadvantage the greater the level of intervention that is needed to secure fair entitlement (Chapman, 2011). From this perspective, deliberately choosing to use certain terms may be a timely intervention that is effective but requires few resources as it is inspired by the desire for social justice through the practice of co-production. Where people are able to talk about fairness more confidently in daily conversations, and where they value other people’s contribution, more equal outcomes will emerge from a different culture for everybody.
How can we inspire change for honouring equity?
Education for All – Where does equity fit in education and who is ‘All’?
Professionals rarely make conscious choices that lead to exclusion, but there are systems or mechanisms that maintains dominance for certain groups. ‘It is a positive upward spiral rewarding those who match expectations and excluding those who may wish to lead differently… dismantles this cosy picture by pointing out the negative side of community’ (Lumby with Coleman, 2007, p 41). There is therefore a duty within mainstream provision such as education to ensure every child benefits equally from shared experience. As UNICEF Director Anthony Lake’s vision illustrates: “the idea that development investment must target those in greatest need. People are coming to understand equity, not only as a moral requirement but also as a practical imperative, providing the most effective way to reach the most vulnerable,” (UNICEF Focus on innovation and equity conference, 4 May 2011).
Creating change – deconstructing and reconstructing theory and practice for equity
Exploring multiple childhoods for equity
For instance, pretending to use a wheelchair, or wearing goggles, is a poor way of finding out how disabled people live within the communities that treat the as scroungers. Therefore, intentional action taken by a professional community must also take account of real lives of people using their organisations to be effective in matching the direct needs of those accessing provision. Whilst the bigger picture may be overwhelming to some, honouring equity in context may be best understood as involving people at risk of marginalisation as partners in meaningful change. This will require actual conversation so that daily practice is changed to reflect the ebb and flow of ideas that surface with each opportunity for dialogue. Ultimately, taking the time to change our language may be the best way to change culture, and the values with our communities, as dialogue deepens a sense of belonging for potentially alienated individuals. Traditional ways of doing things can alienate without thought as inequitable practice dehumanises whole groups subject to unfair treatment. While communities are becoming both more mobile and diverse, moving away from ‘them’ and ‘us’ to a model of multiple identities for people always changing in the modern world. Theories may need to be re-evaluated to adjust, moving away from age appropriated or linear and incremental learning models towards a more holistic approach, or journey, allowing stage development to respond to context, culture and background for every learner.
Examining silence and privilege for equity
How do we ensure that people from disadvantaged groups develop an equal sense of entitlement? Unfortunately, social hierarchy will indicate which groups are likely to face less favourable conditions. Where wealth and deprivation exist cheek by jowl, an awareness of the level of local disparity is imperative in order to inform subtle reframing an appropriately focused strategy to help everyone gain autonomy with respect. The use of humour is a powerful example: teasing or laughing at others hurts "hey fish-slice!" directed repeatedly at the person with no fingers will cut deep, they may laugh once or twice, but after a few years the joke wear thin and imposes conditional pressure on the relationship. Used positively however it may help contradict self-deprecation for example when someone is feeling hopeless saying “of course you will change the world” may make the laugh and lighten the mood. Alternatively, it may be used to emphasise direction to help stimulate compassion towards those less advantaged “yes now you have all the power, but how does your friend feel?”.
Equity in an increasingly contested environment
Ethical activity, such as choosing respectful language, is one way in which moral principle is put into practice in the interest of all individuals, because words that are used without understanding have no meaning. With this view, ethical thinking may be best understood as an imperative to reach greater equity by applying the principle of equality of consideration, ie moving beyond the achievement of ‘same treatment’ or ‘equality of opportunity’ towards and ‘equality of interest’ where individuality is celebrated. For the practitioner this has wider implications than to provide adjustment to the phrasing within weekly planning and daily activity, it involves the questioning of ways of expressing deeply held ideas: belief, talent, luck or faith. In this sense choosing how to speak involves understanding much broader theories and ethical concepts – a strategic dimension. Furthermore, by increasingly focusing on the phrases that succeed in promoting fairness, practitioners may unlock increasing inspirational attitudes within in the culture within their organisation. In the long term this may help secure a better environment for everyone, as even where negative pressures cannot be alleviated, people may develop a spirit of resilience that helps recover from harm in ways that strengthen.
To be continued …
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Diversity & Capacity Development
Every worker should be entitled to a degree of freedom to participate in a variety of activities that facilitates their learning and enhances their personal growth. Foremost, the opportunity to learn from other people is vital for the development of the new skills and different ideas that create more equitable cultures. Furthermore, without social interaction there is a risk that people become isolated, and this will impact negatively on their learning and mental health. Creating a variety of opportunities for meaningful relationships can maximise individual growth leading to personal identity and shared professional knowledge. Preferably these relationships need to be bonding - across the organisation, but also bridging - with partners from different organisations (Putnam. R. 2003). It is easy to confuse access to learning activities with the need for all workers to join in. While good practice demands that preparation anticipates for diversity in order to enable access, inclusive activity should also respond to the emerging needs arising from the shared activity. In other words, Inclusive practice demands a flexible attitude that accommodates to the needs of both the individual and the group during learning activity. The issue is not about what is a right or wrong way of doing things, but about moving practice on while sharing an experience that develops greater understanding.
It is important that participation is given at least the same weight as contribution in order to ensure an ownership of knowledge that can lead to the development of professional identity. So, facilitating personal growth these days requires more than the delivery of facts. The development of individuals has a moral and social dimension, in which both facilitators and participants have a role. Each need to create a climate of mutual respect to foster the acceptance required in a tolerant society. Values, however, tend to be determined by individual preference and personal perspective. A culture that treats people fairly will therefore accept different ways of seeing things in order to allow enough flexibility for different values to be celebrated equally. Where practice is flexible, people are not expected to agree or conform to rigid ideas. Instead, people are encouraged to voice their own ideas or to respectfully challenge the existing practice that poses constraint to different beliefs.
This can start by approaching difference from a capacity perspective, and looking at contribution in a positive way. This approach also underpins personal growth and reflective practice.
Personal Capacity Development Inventory:
Gifts of the head. (Things I know something about and would enjoy talking about with others, for example: marketing, artwork, movies, birds…).
Gifts of the hands. (Things or skills I know how to do and would like to share with others, for example: carpentry, sports, cooking…).
Gifts of the heart. (things I care deeply about, for example: protection of the environment, conservation and animal survival, civic life, human rights…)
(Kreztmann & McKnight, ABCD Institute at Northwestern, 2010)
Personal capacity inventories carried out to identify people’s strengths will never harm individuals in the way other skills audits or incapacity forms can. Focusing on what people have to offer not only makes good business sense, but is also profoundly more respectful and therefore aligns with ethical commitment. Finding new ways of working may also help disrupt the systemic marginalisation caused by involuntary stereotype and prejudice.
Written for Equal Approach - http://www.equalapproach.com/
© L M Chapman – EQuality Training - 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
You are probably holding your breath, as we all are, to see what this new time of change may bring. We've noticed a drop in business since March. However we’ve put our energies to good use and have used the precious time positively. Personally, whilst the adjustment was tough, I've gained a huge amount from spending time on my my MA. Going back to school was tough, but the benefits are paying off. New insights, ideas, and understanding are bringing fresh ideas and richness to conferences and training rooms.
I was delighted that Education for Social Justice, written with John West-Burham, had a very positive review in Aspire Magazine.
Secondly, our work has been mentioned in government documents. The work of DCATCH was evaluated, and there were a number of comments on the role of the consultants. Proof if need be of the effectiveness of our Inclusion Quality Standards tool. Changes are noticeable in the training room too, with practitioners commenting on the difference the tool has made to their practice.
Finally, A different perspective on Equality, our new book is a long awaited companion to our basic courses in Equality & Diversity and Disability Equality. This book is a real achievement in terms of synthesis. It is short, more of a learning tool than a text, so easier to dip into - a must for the busy practitioner. It will, we hope, provide a robust and challenging resource for many in years to come. The preview edition is available at a discount for a short time (See our website or Blurb).
" This is an excellent handbook. As a set of training resources it is carefully separated into different units: workshop tasks, political and cultural contexts, case studies. As a whole it deals with the global and institutional context of equality/inequality in a easy to understand and pro-active."
Please do keep in touch and feel free share our news with your friends and colleagues.
With all our thanks for productive days.
Have happy days
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Too many children in the UK continue to fail to reach their fullest potential. We know that the gap is growing between those who thrive and those who do not. In addition, the implications of disadvantage compound and deepen over time: a disadvantaged infant is far more likely than her privileged peers to endure hardship later in life in terms of health, emotional, social and economic wellbeing. Wellbeing and creativity has always been of great concern to all those involved with children. Teachers know it promotes participation, social interaction and ultimately it gets results. However, with wider pressures arising from society, there is a fear that current pressures will affect young people negatively. In view this, and recent research, young people’s happiness needs to be taken much more seriously to enable children’s creativity. Practice already incorporates all the elements that support wellbeing. However, The Every Child Matters agenda now requires that schools be more explicit in how they address creativity and wellbeing for the benefit of each child.
The programme helps practitioners to understand the ideas underlying recent theory, guidance and legislation. Will help practitioners develop more effectively as professionals, and will increase best practice without adding to their workload.
The programme supports a collaborative approach to teamwork, by helping practitioners think about the development of relationship that enhance shared responsibility and cooperation within organisations and between agencies. The programme will also help professionals think about ways of evaluating impact and celebrating success.
Wellbeing and creativity: a programme overview
This conference delivers information and insights that are essential to all who work with children. What’s more, Equality Training’s renowned style of sound professionalism blended with equal helpings of challenge and fun makes for effective, enjoyable training days that achieve your objectives.
· Understand the definition of wellbeing and its impact on creativity.
· Evaluate the impact of strategies to improve wellbeing and creativity on participation and behaviour.
· Explore ways of raising aspiration through relationships, engagement and creative activity.
· Think about strategies the enhance happiness for children and adults.
· Make a positive difference to the life chances of all children in settings.
What people have said about our workshops on wellbeing and creativity:
“The day was a positive starting point, we still need to grasp the significance of our roles and potential to make a difference. I am very grateful for your energetic, intelligent and hard to hear issues.”
“It helped me understand the long-term impact of wellbeing, the importance of praising effort, and challenging our practice. I’ll be more aware of what’s important to the children I work with, not just what’s important from my perspective.”
“I gained clarity on the definitions that make up wellbeing, so I feel more comfortable in practice as a result. I have a better understanding of the issues, and I have gained confidence.”
Friday, 19 February 2010
In order to explain more clearly the central themes of new equalities legislation, core purpose and culture change, this report explores the relationship between the learning organisation concept and the Investors in People indicators. It should provide the reader with ideas about the changes needed and a way of achieving them within the current organisational activity. It will help define the role of the facilitator as a strategic partner in business development.
Everyone can make a positive contribution to their organisation, by improving their own and their teams performance, therefore enhancing people’s learning experience can increase shared effectiveness in reaching organisational objectives.
Investment in people’s development needs to benefit all members of the organisation equally. Only by providing a suitable range of learning opportunities at all levels can shared capacity grow to reach joint goals effectively.
Social change presents a challenge to all organisations, as they strive to respond to ongoing community demands by continuously improving their understanding of clients needs in order to reach their own business objectives. The complexity of factors affecting organisational culture can often feel confusing to professionals trying to reach a variety of goals while coping with the tension caused by their complexity. Learning activity, such as training or research, can facilitate an easier response to change by helping people adapt their more practice effectively, while different strategies for improvement may also contribute to key business objectives. Learning is important at all levels, and people’s career development should ideally provide with them with the skills needed to contribute to organisation, but also their own development particularly in times of high workforce mobility.
This report aims to cover the following points in order to help explain key aspects of learning:
- Illustrate the concept of ‘the learning organisation’ using the Investors in People framework and indicators.
- Identify key ideas useful in developing learning opportunities more equally across the workforce.
The aim of this document is to clarify the increasingly strategic role of training managers and external providers, and identify key themes in legislation and guidance that describe the concept of the learning organisation. These ideas will help individuals identify the key levers that impact most on culture and those strategic activities that will enhance the achievement of core purpose. Findings have been summarised and grouped under the following headings:
Culture Change. Strategic and leadership capacity.Learning and empowerment.Career management.Evaluation and Contribution to business .
In all organisations, there is a need for continual transformation as community needs change and business objectives adapt in response. Ideally, business plans should align with the vision laid out in legislation and guidance, as improving organisational performance will be easier if it is also improves internal culture and has a positive impact on wider social concerns. Therefore, complying to the guidance is not enough, a commitment to developing practice that is ethical is needed to insure core purpose also improves communities..
The increase in the rate of change has required a very different approach to learning. Today every job requires an increasing level of specification due to the growing complexity of knowledge required to do them effectively. This has made ‘learning to learn’ a central teaching problem of our time to which understanding learning as a personal experience is a key. Involving the learner in understanding learning is critical, as they need to be able to identify their own goals and be capable of managing their own development activities.
Through learning we become able to do something we were never able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend out capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. (Senge, 2009 Pg. 13)
With regard to culture, institutional design has a role: it needs to be decentralised, team-based and organic in structure, as these are preferable to hierarchical, formalised structures. Design fosters the teamwork, which facilitates relationships, the social element that helps people learn and improves their performance.
Here the learning organisation is defined as one that not only facilitates the learning of all its participants but, importantly, ‘continuously transforms itself’, reaching the alignment between personal career progression and organisational development.
The role of culture has become better understood in facilitating learning. It is one that enables the orchestrated movement that integrates the different elements of team learning to reach the organisation’s objectives.
The concept of a learning organisation is useful to describe its character: A “learning organisation” - an organisation that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. (Senge 2006:15)
The principles underpinning Investors in People standards is useful to explain the underpinning strategy:Plan – develop strategies to improve the performance of the organisation.Do – take action to improve the performance of the organisation.Review – measure the impact on the performance of the organisation. In turn the indicators can be used as a benchmarking tool for assessing how successful the organisation is in achieving a culture of continuous development.
Defining the Learning organisation
People’s learning is central to defining purpose, identifying objectives, determining strategy and achieving goals. Learning helps people understand that what they learn in the short term will add to their capacity to respond to ongoing change in the long term.
As the first Investors in People (IiP) indicator states: ‘A strategy for improving the performance of the organisation is clearly defined and understood’. If workplace culture does not value learning then enabling the change required to make this a reality becomes part of strategic goals. This will moves the role of Learning and Development to a leadership level, and it requires an ability for system thinking.
Put differently, systems thinking views the organisation as an integrated task-orientated structure characterised by a small core centre and alliances that is unified and co-ordinated. Learning activity can facilitate greater integration as it takes place across institutional boundaries and carries responsibility for the communication of values and vision.
Learning activity is planned to achieve the organisation’s objectives (IiP Indicator 2), as The Lamb inquiry highlights: “There needs to be a strategic approach to the development and deployment of staff with the right skills.” (Pg. 4)
Enhancing learning opportunities of every individual needs to be part of the organisations’ core purpose and therefore the place of learning within the structure of management will impact on professional development, otherwise difficulties created by hierarchy and organisation design can push people to look for jobs elsewhere. As research shows evidence links exist between effective people management practices and business success.
Management strategies need to be designed to maximise potential (IiP Indicator 3), people at all levels are involved in activities and encouraged to contribute ideas to improve their own and other people’s performance.
Increasing volumes of regulations govern employment matters, and these have an impact on the strategies developed to create an increasingly inclusive environment. As guidance highlights there is a need to enable better learning partnerships between all stakeholders to promote diversity, increase collaboration and respond to need through innovation.
Activities that deliver on organisational purpose can also enhance learning where the opportunity is taken to share what is learned across all levels of the business. Developing ways of working that support full participation and fairer access to learning opportunities is important to all organisations, culture change can be used effectively to create movement in a shared direction.
It is important to view leadership as a capacity that can be learnt. Not a grade or title, but an ability to communicate knowledge and skills in ways that are clearly defined and behave in ways that shows that capabilities to manage are achieved through development.
The responsibility for finding learning opportunities is agreed and understood (IiP Indicator 4). Learning function has to support this different approach to leadership, moving away from one of control, to one less top-down which requires more responsibility in innovation at all levels and where people can give examples of how they have been enabled to create changes to improve team performance.
We can all develop these leadership qualities if only we get exposure to appropriate career experiences and training in the relevant skills. Moreover, these leadership qualities can be learned and applied at every level of the organisation.
The Equity Report highlights the need for leadership development at all levels: “Holistic government in particular places cannot be imposed top-down from a distance. If frameworks for co-operation are to be effective, they need to be more than lists of externally imposed priorities... Joined-up working must create room for personal initiative and creativity.” (pg. 32)
The importance of adapting to context, by developing collaborative approaches across departments and organisations and with the need to gain a deep understanding of the external environment as the key internal features. However this necessitates a great deal of autonomy, which in some cases will mean people need to learn the self-direction that comes with empowerment (IiP indicator 5).
Leadership and Equality Past research highlights the need for all employees to be engaged in work that develops their potential, as their contribution to organisation objectives is equally important irrespective of role. This means inequality need addressing to create fairer opportunities for progression and this often requires questioning the ‘norms and policies’ within organisations. Teaching practice, therefore, seeks to develop people through a personalised programme, where people can take control of their learning process (IiP indicator 6).
Learning strategies are understood as deliberate plans of action to reach specific goals, within which intrinsic motivation allows personal control and responsibility of learning . This means equipping learners with the skills to plan direction and enhance their own leaning experience learning self-managed activity. The importance of Continuous Professional Development in career management to reach the alignment between personal and organisations growth. Developing the capabilities of people can be seen as developing value to employers, and developing personal life purpose and mission.
The direct implication of this approach is that people will need to take responsibility, and be reflective about their current practice so that they can identify ways of developing their own understanding further.
Fay (1987) views reflection as a critical process moving three stages of enlightenment, empowerment and emancipation towards overcoming the forces that constrain practitioners from realising desirable practice.
Each level represents a level of learning: Enlightenment (understanding)Understanding why things have come to be as they are in terms of frustrating self’s realisation of desirable practice.Empowerment Creating the necessary conditions within self whereby action to realise desirable practice can be undertaken. Emancipation (transformation)A stable shift in practice congruent with the realisation of desirable practice(Johns 2004, pg. 8)
The time for reflection that CPD allows may not lead people in doing anything different - instead it may enable them to view what they do in a different way. In terms of skill development, experience and practice, the need for CPD is even more critical in the present economy because security no longer lies in the job or organisation but in the skills, knowledge and experience that we have within ourselves.
As the IiP Indicator 8 suggests, making CPD opportunities possible requires is both an act of public recognition and a respect for individual learning.
Learning and Empowerment
Managers need to be able to ensure that people’s learning needs are met through appropriate activities so that they develop effectively (IiP indicator 7).The skills for future success as coming from developing a learning capacity that unlocks people’s knowledge and creativity enabling continuous improvement and innovation. This vertical transfer, where one subject area acts as a basis for another, helps people develop their own capacity to adapt between and within jobs. Strategies for promoting learning, therefore, need a range sufficient to satisfy the learning needs of everyone in order to create the choice that allows personal control over career management.
Intervention is also required to promote learning at all levels, and will no longer simply be left to the good intentions of managers who feel well disposed to take people issues seriously (Pg. 7). Reid et al (2004) state that when managing learning, practitioners may need to decide whether to intervene through direct training intervention, workshop or conference, or create wider ranging learning opportunities within working activity in order to increase the natural learning process indirectly in working practice. Creating opportunities for reflection within working practice for example: “Newman (1994) commented that to view the world from a different perspective requires a paradigm shift which incorporates the old paradigm and transforms it. In transcending our own boundaries … we have to move beyond these boundaries and embrace new ideas and new language.” (Johns 2004) As relationships support an interactive process, people learn about each other and modify their behaviour accordingly by imitating others, the latter will have a better impact on both culture and personal growth. Therefore increasingly, professionals will need to act as change agents in targeting specific aspects of organisational culture in order to equip their authority for the challenges ahead (Reid et al 2004: Pg. 11). Added to which, practitioners will need to understand the business and its challenges and be able to translate business strategies into their human resource implications (Pg. 15). “Research recognised the need to develop high-level political influencing skills: the ability to make things happen by understanding the informal system, and bring about change without formal authority. Strategic thinking is needed at all levels, so that people can understand the implications of change and work in partnership with the organisation to deliver strategic solutions” (Holbeche 1999). Reid et al (2004) “Off-the-job learning/training requires reinforcement at the workplace: the attitude of the superior and the culture of the organisation are both powerful influences in determining whether learning is likely to be transferred to the working situation… Other observers have suggested that cultural variations explain the differences in organisations’ ability to innovate.” (Pg. 80)People need to be able to explain and quantify how development strategies have improved the performance of the organisations, therefore measuring impact on performance is important to inform future planning and justify investment (IiP Indicator 9). In theory investing in people’s learning makes common sense, but the positive difference it makes to reaching objectives more effectively needs proof.
Career Management Measuring the impact of change first requires an understanding of current culture as well as an appreciation of positive tension required to get to a proposed vision. This means managers can quantify the level of investment and how it has improved the performance of the organisations in order to justify the investment.
The following model is useful to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies discussed above:Level 1: Reaction of learners to content and methods. (people can describe how the activity is experienced and how it may impact on their performance) Level 2: learning attained during the training period. (people can describe how they can apply it to their role) Level 3: job behaviour in the work environment. (people can describe how learning has improved their performance)Level 4: effect on the learner’s department. (people can describe how learning will improve meeting team objectives)Level 5: has the training affected the ultimate well-being of the organisation, for example, profitability or survival? (people can describe how learning will improve the performance of the organisation) (Reid 2004 pg. 201)Evaluation and contribution
Findings:Literature suggests that the concept of the learning organisation could be a useful concept for those involved in creating culture change as it places learning within strategic activity. The key findings suggests that ‘Learning to learn’ has become is important for personal growth and organisational development, and underpin the key features of the levers that enable objectives to be met in response to community needs. These organisations share the following characteristics:
A public commitment to the learning of every individual; (people across children’s services are participating in learning activity)Creating a learning partnership with all stakeholders; (different departments and community groups are sharing learning opportunities)Centring all management processes on the enhancement of human potential; (strategic dialogue includes inquiry and reflection)Operating in a culture of continuous improvement, development and growth. (informal conversations share learning experience and describe changes in attitude)(West-Burnham and O’Sullivan, 1998:46)
Unfortunately, despite increasing opportunity to enhance human capital, the creation of social capital has not received equal recognition. Yet social capital is a key lever, increasing opportunities for working relationships is where difference can be made as it will enable people to learn together and apply their shared experience to improve performance. Despite training intervention, the relationships that support team learning across the organisation are not always valued or developed through policy. And the learning dilemma remains that “we learn best from experience but we never really experience the consequences of many of our most important decisions”. System thinking is seeing through the detail complexity to the underlying structures generating change, “what we most need are ways to know what is important, and what is not” in order to identify the key areas in which new understanding can bring about change most effectively (pp 125).
For organisations employing consultants this has implications in terms of outsourcing and the external practitioners role and contribution to the business. Partnership in strategy development seems to contribute most to the development of change in organisational culture as outlined above. There are certain benefits of working with consultants, specifically those working across agencies and within other organisations. In terms of knowledge: specialisms allow a depth of understanding that is not always available in-house due to the daily immersion in the subject and having to apply it across different organisations. Consultants may be in a position to gain a good perspective on system thinking, and can compare practice which may be useful in tackling the variation that exists between organisations and different organisations across communities.
References: Gardner H (1993) Multiple Intelligences, The Theory in Practice Basic BooksHarrison, R, (2009) Learning and Development, London: CIPDHolbeche, L. (1999) Aligning Human Resources and Business Strategy, Butterworth-HeinemannJohns, C. (2004) Becoming a reflective practitioner. Blackwell Publishing:OxfordMegginson, D. and Whitaker, V. (2003) Continuing Professional Development London:CIPDPedlar, M, Burgoyne, J. and Boydell, T. (1997) The Learning Company: A Strategy for Sustainable Development (second edition), Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Reid, M. Barrington, H. Brown, M (2004) Human Resource Development, Beyond training intervention, London:CIPD Robinson K (2009) The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Allen Lane Senge, P. (2006)The Fifth Discipline, The art & practice of the learning organisation, London:Random HouseTaylor, S. (2002) People Resourcing, London: CIPDWest-Burnham, J. & Coates, M. (2005) Personalizing Learning, Transforming Education for Every Child, Network Educational PressWest-Burnham, J. and O’Sullivan, F. (1999) Leadership and Professional Development in Schools, Throwbridge:Times PressWhittington, R. (2001)What is Strategy - and does it matter? London:Cenage Learning Publishing