About Me

My photo
Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The A Team: making cherries, not war.

I was alarmed to get an email this week from my new friends in Australia alerting me to the strange appearance of ‘APOS’ in some of my correspondence.  Emails from my new tablet pc tend to replace apostrophes with APOS, which makes for strange reading.  Thinking this was a potential piece of advantaged thinking they were missing, my friends investigated further. What they found was that APOS is a popular acronym for ‘A Piece of Shit’.  Thankfully, they concluded that this was not the kind of greeting likely to come from an advantaged thinker – although I had hoped they would have suggested ‘A Positive Original Solution’ as an alternative. I’m left wondering what all the other people who have received my emails have thought. That tablet pc has clearly been taking the APOS.

I’m writing this on the way home from South Wales, hailstones spitting outside, the skies cement-grey, lightening on the line delaying my train.  Travelling to Wales is always an emotional trek for me through the strange weather of my youth, the memories of people and places where I lost and found too many talents to mention.  On arrival, I’m hurrying down Swansea high street, dashing past ripped-up pavements and Xmas posters promising festive cheer among suspicious looking names with too much make up, to reach the heart of inspiration in the city: the offices of Gwalia, our brilliant partners in South Wales. 

My wonderful host for today’s visit tells me some fantastic stories from her recent trip to India, and introduces me to the role of the Mahout, the people who look after Indian elephant sanctuaries. A Mahout works on a 1-1 basis with an elephant through an intensive relationship.  This is where some of the elephants who have gone a bit wild and caused havoc, or otherwise been rejected and depressed, end up – being cared for in a nurturing environment.  I reflect that the elephants of South India are getting a better deal than some of the young people we lock away in institutions of support and rehabilitation, who would get better outcomes with a sanctuary and a 1-1 Mahout. 

Which reminds me - on the topic of locking away - what actually happened to the rehabilitation revolution?  What justice have we achieved to make the criminal system work for those involved in it? Maybe we need to spend a little more time with our European partners to find out how to make a revolution happen.

After the elephants (great title for a book), Gwalia relay one of those annoying incidents where, at an external meeting, someone claimed – quite falsely – that Foyers ‘cherry pick’, despite the countless reports and accreditation evidence to the opposite.  The world take note: Foyers are not cherry pickers, they are cherry makers. Cherry picking is just a lazy accusation to avoid thinking about why services in our sector can’t open talent for all young people, and to avoid understanding how Foyers achieve positive outcomes through more creative approaches.

Cherry picking and cherry making leads me back to talent. We want to develop services that can spot and develop talent, not because they will cherry pick in an exclusive way, but because they will bother to work with and ‘make’ something from the potential others don’t recognise.  Open Talent dismisses the quite appalling rhetoric of ‘complex needs’, because it is about the more important stuff of goals, complex challenging goals that are the real drivers for life and future opportunity.  Every service should be a talent maker. Don’t diss the cherries!

Just imagine if our current set of ‘complex need’ expert policy and decision makers ran X Factor, and travelled around the country in a CompleX Needs bus, in pursuit of people with the biggest problems and deficits to disadvantage. Think you’ve got the CompleX Needs factor? We’ll warehouse you in a service to spot what you are not good at and what’s wrong with you, then help you cope with your problems until you aren’t complex enough for us to support anymore. No inspirational coach or mentor to develop your talent; no opportunity to take risks and learn through opportunities; no contract or agent to promote you. It’s no laughing matter.  This is what we are reduced to: a complex needs disadvantaged arms race, while the rest of the advantaged thinking world gets on with spotting and developing the talents that we allow to go to waste. There’s nothing complex about complex needs. It just needs to be voted out. It’s a no from me, Gary…

As for the rest of the meeting…Well…watch this space... If you have a problem, if complex needs can’t help, and if you’re in South Wales, maybe you can hire….  the Gwalia A Team, advantaged thinkers opening  talent in a community near you in 2012.  I love it when a plan comes together!

I have never been so excited about Wales since my parents first took me to Pembrokeshire with a bucket and spade when I was 8.

Meanwhile, my now doubly delayed train reminds me why the A Team drove a van.   Howling mad Falconer will, eventually, be back in the office…

No comments:

Post a Comment