One of the biggest barriers to change is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of feedback, fear of failure .. the list goes on. People and organisations are often fearful of change, and yet the type of change we need, that some of us crave, is systems change. In order to do that we need to change our culture which is probably the biggest change of all.
But why do we need cultural change?
I attend many meetings that talk about “service user involvement”. I’ve had countless conversations with providers and commissioners of services where the language is one of them and us. I have even heard providers state “but they don’t know what we have to put up with” and “why should we respect them when they don’t respect our service?”. Conversely, I heard some pretty ripe language used by those accessing services when talking about providers and Local Authorities.
If we genuinely want better outcomes for ourselves and others, if we want to improve services, if we want to get better value for money and if we genuinely want to save lives, then surely we need to work together. And to do that we need to change the way that we perceive each other, the way that we treat each other and the way that we speak to one another. We need to start to have faith and trust in each other and that is cultural change.
” Culture change is a term used in public policy making that emphasizes the influence of cultural capital on individual and community behavior.”
Cultural change means transforming the way that we think as individuals, organisations and authorities. We need to start to recognise our collective strengths and assets and learn how to deploy them for best affect. We need to put aside our differences, our ego’s and discard any negative belief’s or preconceptions that we my hold about each other. Our normal needs to be one of collaboration and openness were a set of values and principles guide us and were the normal is people with lived experience are at the heart of everything that the system does, and not the exception.
It won’t be easy, that fear and trust will be stretched to the limits, and yes at times it will be really uncomfortable. This is especially true when we consider that the place to start this change is with ourselves. We need to start by questioning our own beliefs and preconceptions, and start searching for the strengths in others, regardless of who they are. That takes honesty and courage, something that we are well versed with in the world of recovery.
But if we hold true to a purpose of saving lives and recognise that the only way we are going to do that is through change, then we can do it. I know that it is possible, we only have to look at some of the work that is being done around the country with the Fulfilling Lives initiative and especially with the Expert Citizens in Stoke.