Thursday, 3 August 2017

Slow to blame and quick to learn

I recently wrote an article – published in the July/August edition of Professional Social Work - with Trevor Dale, a former British Airways pilot, about what social work can learn from civil aviation’s human factors approach to safety.
Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to find that the article rehearses many of the arguments which I regularly put forward here. Just like civil aviation, child protection social work is a safety critical activity. Its practitioners require effective ways of learning from failures and mistakes so that they can slowly and progressively build safer services.

I was quite pleased with a little text box that the Professional Social Work editor suggested we include in the article and in particular with its first bullet point: 

“When things go wrong, be slow to blame and quick to learn”.

That could be a moral not just for social work and child protection but for life in general.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Smoke and mirrors

Ofsted has found that Reading Council’s children’s services continue to be ‘inadequate’.

Instead of trying to find out why Reading’s services are ‘inadequate’ – in other words doing some tough analysis to discover what needs to be put right - there now seems to be a preoccupation with outsourcing and revising governance structures.

I say this to Reading Council and their collaborators. You don’t make excellent services in committee rooms and board rooms and you don’t deliver high quality and safety by concentrating on who owns or controls what. You can only deliver excellent complex services by helping the people who deliver them to understand what they need to do to satisfy the needs of service users.

That involves moving the focus from the top of the organisation to the bottom, from the board room to the frontline. Forget the smoke and mirrors; concentrate on the knitting.