There was an odd frisson of excitement and foreboding as the members of Newport Pagnellshire’s Vanguard Innovation Majestum filed into committee room five. Deirdre Trusell was already present and deep in conversation with a, hang about, I recognize that face, guest speaker. An unfamiliar (familiar) face added to the tension. Like a whippet, Deirdre was on her feet:
“Thank you all for coming to this hush hush meeting. I got the overnight train back from Quality 2015, such is the importance of this extra-ordinary, highly confidential, majestum gathering. I think it’s fair to say that yesterday’s conference was akin to a Damascus moment. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been fools. We have been dinosaurs. For sheer, sublime brass neck you cannot beat the NHS innovation movers and shakers. Here at Newport Pagnellshire, we are so far behind the times, I’m ashamed to call myself a vanguard. In fact, Vanguardship is so March 2015. It is as relevant as powdered egg. The future, the blue sky, lies in exnovation. To push the envelope, to viral our quality, we need to exnovate…”
“Exnovate. You may think you’re listening to Deirdre Trusell. I’m here to tell you you’re listening to Deirdre Exnovator, the Nemesis of innovation. And if you want to earn your exnovator badges, you’ll need to think and move fast. How can we innovate, if we haven’t exnovated first. Clear out the crap of your thinking. Exnovate the rubbish into oblivion…..”
“So, exnovation is a pre innovation strategum?”
“In a nutshell Bob. You may have already noticed a new face at the majestum this morning. A new face, but I hope, a familiar face. I’ve not been letting the grass grow under my feet, I’ve already appointed our Exnovation Communications Exnovator. You may know him from one of the 1980s classic sitcoms. Let me introduce you to Arthur Bostrum……”
“Thank you Deidre. Good moaning. I was pissing by the civic center and saw the posters for your virile quality and I knew, I wanted to be a prat of your committitty…”
“Thank you Arthur. More from you later. I know your contributions will be invaluable. I can see the penny hasn’t fully dropped yet. I have seen the future and the future is exnovation. First and foremost, we’ll never have to innovate again. We can see out our careers resting on our six figure, exnovated laurels. We never have to do anything ever again beyond the occassionaly light spring cleaning.
But better still, exnovation opens the doors to a revolution. We now have carte Blanche to make up entirely new words. Brand new, innovative words. Think where that might take us. We dropped a clanger. We managed to get shot of two thirds of our service users (Scoobydinks?) to New South Wales but we still called their new homes, assessment and treatment units. A big mistake. Arthur?”
“I don’t understand. Arsessment and twatment units?”
“Exactly Arthur. You’re on message. I know I’ve delivered a bombshell this morning and you need time to absorb my bomb. I’m asking you, my proud band of exnovators, to go away, have a coffee and exnovate all your old ideas. We’ll reconvene in two hours to flagpole the pompostiums. Just remember. In is ex. Ex is in.
Oh, and by the way, my first deliberation is to exnovate the letter B and replace it with the letter C. Bob – sorry, Coc, your P45 is on your desk. Off you all go then. Arthur. Martinis?”
Who’d have thought it! Seems like Steven is on board with Tory party message.
Before I left for work yesterday, I asked the support worker to give me a hand reassembling the lawn mower. Four hands and eyes being better than two, we’d put it back together in less than five minutes.
Knowing how kind most of the support workers are and that their idea of support stretches way beyond their job description, I left explicit instructions that I didn’t want the lawn cut – I would do it when I get home today.
I phoned Steven last night and asked him what he’d been doing:
“Hard work. Massive hard work. Cut the lawn mower with the grass and listened to all the Blur songs”.
Mr Cameron. We are now officially a hard working family. We belong. Please recognize us.
I was reading a review of last week’s ADDASS conference and the reviewer remarked that the most potent aspect of the conference, the parts that had the most impact were the real stories from real service users and their families. This shouldn’t surprise me – I am always hearing about the power of storytelling; the real life narrative from the expert by experience.
I’m in two minds about this. Sure, plonk me in a room where the two speakers are a senior bod from the Department of Health, powerpointing to the point of powerlessness on the latest rise in DoL’s figures and Mr E from the Bournwood case talking about H’s time in the hospital, and I know which speaker is going to speak to me. I know, when I tell the Get Steven Home story at conferences, that I will look around the audience during the narrative and see people crying, laughing, raging – i.e. the story has impacted. They have experienced an emotional reaction, probably because the story is about and told by, two human beings. We are not a case study.
What does my other mind have to say though? Our story has been in the public domain for nearly five years now, so I wonder if it has any relevance to today. Does a story told at an event really impact on the day to day practices of the people in the field? I am aware that there I am, a human being telling a human story about a vulnerable human being who had his human rights breached after being caught up in an inhuman system. People may be shocked hearing the story today but will it still be around when they are doing a best interests assessment next Thursday? I hope so.
Earlier this year a weird thing happened. I was asked to tell the story at a very large conference. I had quite a long slot and I asked the organiser if I could use the last five minutes to talk about LBBill. He agreed. However, when it came to the end of the story, someone put their hand up and asked – “Please tell the story about the logs”. I chuckled thinking “I’m taking requests now”. Later, it reminded me that I don’t own our story and that’s okay. But for a split second I felt like Donny Osmond trying to plug his new techno country and western album and all the audience wants to hear is Puppy Love.
I guess this is a call out for opinions/experiences. Are stories that powerful? It’s one thing to be moved upon hearing the story but does it have any lasting impact? Should it? It’s one event in one person’s life that is being narrated. And after a while, does the real human story enter a space where it is heard as a story but Is held in a peculiar fiction, mythical memory.By the way, I hope this doesn’t sound ungrateful and I’m also not looking for affirmation. But I am genuinely interested in whether stories are as powerful as the commentators often proclaim.