Have you ever been invited to an event or a party by a friend or colleague, and for some reason, you were reluctant to attend? You were told it might be a good opportunity, and you believed it could be; yet you were hesitant and unsure. Should you, or shouldn’t you? It was your decision to make.
This is how my journey began when seeking support for our late son, Eric. Our Paediatrician had recommend that we contact our infant development agency and while I knew it was a good idea, and probably necessary, I still wasn’t sure what to do.
In due course, I made the call and our relationship began. At first, we exchanged pleasantries and basic information, eventually expanding to more intimate conversation, deepening our connection and trust.
It didn’t take long for me to ask questions about the manner in which supports and services were structured and delivered. Living through the experience, some things didn’t seem practical or make sense.
You see, systems people have historically created systems of support, without asking or taking into consideration, the ideas of the support recipient.
How can we bring the perspectives together, to find common ground, balance and ultimately, continuous improvement?
As I began my work in family leadership, one of my earliest mentors had advised, “Ask families what they want. If you provide what they want, they will get involved and participate because it will be meaningful for them.” This was my first lesson into design thinking and creating service and support based on the voice of families, the users of service; at the same time, taking into consideration, professional expertise.
The key is to strengthen what is working on both ends, to uncover common ground and find a balance that provides positive outcomes based on both parent and professional experience. This equalizes and balances the power among all involved, fostering shared leadership, collective decision-making, and united responsibility, and strengthening empathy by helping others feel into the situation of others.
That’s why I like to offer my “In a Family’s Shoes” workshop as a starting point. By providing an opportunity of what it is like to go through life-altering change, the participants feel the experience, first-hand, eliciting empathy and a greater appreciation of the situation.
What I have also noticed is that the role-play evolves differently every time, representing the diversity and individuality of people and families. Follow-up debriefs and discussion and insight provokes rich insight and learning.
My most recent offering was at a leadership conference for early learning professionals. Leaders of any sort are a critical audience, for leadership is all about inspiring others, which in my opinion, begins with empathy. And I believe it’s empathy for the users of service, as well as for the professionals, the service providers.
I am pleased to be working with organizations toward transformational change, co-designed by families and professionals. By understanding the experience of both the user of service as well as the provider of service, we learn from the knowledge and experience that lie along both of their paths. Recognizing that family is the constant in one’s life, while the service systems and personnel within those systems fluctuate, engaging the voice of families, continually learning and reorganizing based on to what people say is important, will guide the ongoing effort to improve.
Finding ways to include the expertise of families and co-develop solutions – aligning the paths, is a model for equal voice and innovation.
“You asked and we listened, and based on that, this is what we have created.”
Please contact me to inquire about offering “In a Family’s Shoes” at your organization. Let’s uncover fresh ideas today!