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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Play, Creativity and Impact

Are you and your colleagues or employees fully engaged at work? Are you continually in a position where you have the right challenges that employ your skills, stretch them and cause you to want to develop further? Are there creative opportunities for you to contribute and develop ideas or innovations? If the answer is no, you might find this illuminating.

If you are an employer and are not sure how to maximise the potential of your employees then here is a video that might give some food for thought.
With thanks to 99% - Behance.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The enterprising path to peace?

Stef Wertheimer

Next month I am going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the sites associated with the life and ministry of Jesus. What though of contemporary sites of hope and vision for peace in the places that I will visit?

This week-end, thinking about this, I realised that I did know of one. When studying with David Cooperrider, co-originator of Appreciative Inquiry, he was explaining to us the concept of 'appreciative intelligence', the ability to see 'the mighty oak in the acorn'.  To illustrate this he told us the story of Stef Wertheimer.

David had been giving a lecture at the Arison School of Management in Israel. He raised questions of where peace was to come from. From the military? From governments? From religious leaders? All he felt were unlikely. He argued that the world of business could be 'the most important ground and force for peace'. Though at that point he said hadn't any examples to back up his thesis!

After the lecture, David was approached by a businessman, Stef Wertheimer, who invited him to go the next day to see this thesis in action. 

On a once barren hilltop, Wertheimer has created the Tefen industrial park surrounded by beautiful homes and neighbourhoods. As well making money, attention is paid to the social, educational and cultural life of the community that lives there. Wertheimer describes it as a 'capitalist kibbutz'. David told us:  'The whole park is based on the principle of co-existence, Arab and Jewish living together, going into business together, building schools and museums together, and dramatically transforming entrenched conflicts into collaborative energies for economic empowerment, development and peace'. 

Three more industrial parks have been set up in Israel and work is well underway to develop these parks in Turkey and Jordan as well. The Palestinian Authority are positively disposed though plans to develop sites there have had to be put on hold for the moment. The fuller story is told in 'The Tefen Model Book' and can be found at:

In the book Stef Wertheimer gives his thinking behind the inspiration: 'Our survival in this region depends, ultimately, on the resolution of current conflicts. Alongside the security issues there must, however, be a road map for economic development, for industrialization, for job creation and for export production. Only by increasing the income levels of all countries in the region, will we begin to reduce the immense friction of disparities between neighboring countries and between the Middle East and the developed nations. While the Middle East produces 60% of the world's oil, it manufactures just 2% of the world's goods. With high levels of unemployment in the Arab countries and a rapidly increasing young population, there is a desperate need to generate meaningful employment opportunities and the hope for a better future.

For me, the term “Middle East” has no real meaning. Rather, I see two areas separated by their ownership of oil resources, whereby those of us without oil are the eastern Mediterranean countries that formed the old “Levant”. Among the “non-oil” countries are those that would choose to compete on world markets and seek economic independence such as Jordan, Turkey, Israel and, potentially, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Successful advancement along this path can lead the countries of our region towards the creation of a thriving economy, towards a work ethic based on reason and responsibility and towards the achievement of peaceful coexistence between like-minded neighbors.

Recent history in other regions of the world has shown that the deep-rooted conflicts of the past can be overcome by investing in the creation of a prosperous future. We can learn much from the success stories of European integration through the development of joint economic interests and of the achievement of economic prosperity through the development of export markets in countries such as Singapore, Ireland and South Korea. These models must be copied by those of us who choose economic and social freedom and peace - those who embrace the goal of being part of the European economy and of the free world.'

Perhaps the Tefen Model, as well as a vital path to peace, has something else to show us

The growing wave of protest about the austerity we are all having to embrace because of the misdeeds of financiers, signals a growing desire for more responsible ways to create wealth. Does the Tefen Model of collaborative enterprise, where profit is created and some of it invested in the  development of quality, healthy communities, show us a more humane version of wealth creation?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Values and standards - why Ward Sisters matter

The news reports about the Care Quality Commission findings on the care of elderly patients made for grim listening this morning. Their conclusions about what made the difference between good and poor practice identified the quality of leadership and staff attitudes, rather than resources.

It reminded me of a time in my life when I worked with vulnerable, elderly people as nursing assistant for six months. It was 1973, I was nineteen and taking a gap year from my social work degree. My experience chimes with the CQC's conclusion about the importance of leadership.

The Lancaster Moor Hospital was then a 2000 bed psychiatric hospital, almost a small town in its own right with shops and a Post Office.  Over the years my family were involved in the hospital, at times as staff (my Nan and Mum) and sometimes as patients (Great-grandparents and two Aunts).

It had dozens of wards. At the far end of the hospital were the 'back wards' and it was to one of these that I was sent.

Ward 22  had been newly re-furbished and rather daringly, the male and female wards shared a common day room. The patients were elderly men and women with severe dementia conditions.

Presiding over the wards was the senior Ward Sister. A tall imposing presence, immaculate and with a scathing way with words for the young and thoughtless. The first part of her working life had been in the mills and she had that brilliant ability to lip read and to enunciate her words with her lips so clearly that everyone could lipread what she was saying from a distance of twenty yards. She did not need to shout.

The end of my first day saw me walking home in tears. How was I ever going to cope with people in such a complete state of mental and physical disintegration? How was I going to cope with all the shit and urine without vomiting every day?

By the end of the week I was an old hand, able to change filthy bedding in the early morning, wash the excrement off the ladies, wash hands thoroughly, feed them breakfast and then sit down to enjoy my own breakfast break without a qualm.

So what wrought the transformation? Without doubt a growing appreciation on my part of the uncompromising values of that Ward Sister about how the women patients were to be cared for. All patients were to be treated with dignity. With such good standards expected as a norm, I was also given the background of each patient, so that I was able imagine their past and look for signs of it in the present. As a result, what had at first seemed irksome and distressing, became part of a satisfying sense of achievement.

Key practical arrangements that I remember:
- at mealtimes, every member of staff, including the Sister and Charge Nurse, helped to feed those that needed such help;
- the atmosphere was kept cheerful and light, we bantered, sang and even danced with patients;
- it was seen as important that we had time to sit and talk with people, listening to stories of their past and a daily routine was established that allowed this;
- no-one was to be 'toileted' in the dayroom in front of the other patients. If there were any 'accidents' in the day room, portable screens were to be erected around the person;
- teeth did not remain in jars at the side of the patients' bed!

It would have been so easy for high standards never to have been established on those 'back wards'. Doctors rarely came except when there were acute episodes, nor were there many visitors. But the staff on the wards were proud of their work, there was an excellent spirit and good relationships between the staff on that ward. 

My mum was the first Volunteer Co-ordinator appointed by the hospital. She remembers that a formal, measured quality of care across the hospital was established later that decade. One initiative that emerged from that was the recruiting of volunteers to come in to help with feeding patients. 

I wonder what sense of professional satisfaction is being felt by those nurses whose wards came out badly in the CQC report today? What has caused them to lose sight of the values that motivated them to come into nursing in the first place? I hope someone is going to provide them with a proper opportunity to design the right kind of care for their patients. Care that is worthy of their profession and most importantly worthy of the people they serve.