It’s hard to believe it is over two years now since I “jumped ship” and set up my own company. I had worked for 30 years in the public sector and had a good job. So, what made me do it?
I was working for Coventry City Council and passionate about the evolving personalisation agenda in social care and health – giving people more choice and control and a better quality of life. As an employee, I had created the Coventry Outcomes Journey Game for John Bolton (our then Director). This was a board game reflecting Coventry’s continuing journey towards an outcomes-focused approach to the provision of social care. I have always been creative but, in my experience, opportunities to be creative in local government are few and far between – so I was in my element!
We ran a national conference in Coventry and it was heavily over-subscribed as John Bolton (who subsequently went on to head up the “Putting People First” agenda in London) was recognised as a forward thinker in this area. At our workshop I was thrilled to see 40 senior managers from across the country using the tool I had created to learn about Coventry’s experience, ask questions and debate in a really lively session. I deliberately watched those who were initially sceptical. After all, we had called the session “Shaping services for the future – moving towards outcomes” – we had not advertised the novel way in which we would be addressing the subject!
There was one guy in particular who was initially leaning back in his seat and clearly wondering whether he had chosen the right workshop. A throw of the dice and suddenly he was involved in a rather heated discussion about commissioning – and a bit later he was even laughing and having fun! A room full of people, a relaxed, happy atmosphere, in-depth discussions, learning from each other, networking…..engaging!
An exciting period followed – flying up to Glasgow and winning the ASCC (Association of Social Care Communicators) Campaign Award – the game was judged to be the best example of getting a key message across in an innovative way – and then receiving a similar employee award in Coventry.
But, for me, the genie was out of the bottle. My key drivers all came together – personalisation, wanting to make a difference, seeing the power of innovative, “brain-friendly” approaches to learning…..
I wanted to develop a tool that was really well researched and in-depth, embracing all the key issues around personalisation. I saw very clearly that such a major change was only going to become a reality if people felt that their concerns were listened to, if tensions between competing policies were recognised and explored, if they were given the scope to relax and be open and honest, work together and try more creative approaches. They needed to see how this change affected others… empathise…keep things simple and jargon-free…
The Whose Shoes? concept started to take shape……. and Nutshell Communications Ltd was born.