An interesting breakthrough moment happened for one of my clients this week. I thought I would share some of it with you (while maintaining confidentiality obviously).
She and her team work closely with young men in custody. Their job essentially is youth engagement and preparation for release. A problem occurred with the team’s contract renewal, resulting in a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety among team members. I asked my client what she wanted to focus on in our session. She said she wanted to explore how she could provide them with reassurance about their jobs and the ongoing work they all did, as she was sure that the issue would get resolved.
I rephrased the question somewhat, and asked again, what she ‘really’ wanted. I followed up by asking what she was really hoping for, what a successful outcome would be, what that would mean for the young men in prison, and what learning opportunities might be created. The more she played with and examined the dilemma that she and her team faced, the more she started to see it from the point of view of their client base.
Her stream of consciousness went something like this. “The young men in custody experience uncertainty and anxiety every day, so perhaps her team could learn something from them. But that would require them to display some vulnerability to the young men, to share the fact that they are experiencing concerns. Is that allowed? Is that professional? Perhaps it would be good for them to see that people ‘on the outside’, and who are employed, are also experiencing volatility and a feeling of lack of control around their lives. Perhaps it would be empowering to be asked about how they have developed strategies for coping in difficult situations. After all, she knows that some of the young men she has worked with have remarkable resilience, are street-wise, know how to negotiate, have developed qualities like patience and tolerance.”Continue reading →
This blog has been copied from a blog written by Jack Merritt on The Exceptionals, an organisation that helps businesses employ ex-offenders by connecting them with relevant organisations who provide training, recruitment and ongoing support.
“Sometimes when we talk about prisoners and prison, we forget that we’re talking about people. These are parents, siblings, children.” – Baillie Aaron, Spark Inside Founder and CEO
Spark Inside Founder Baillie Aaron: ‘Why we need to rethink England’s prison system.”
“Spark Inside’s work is vital and unique. It is the global pioneer in offering life coaching to young people in prison, enabling those facing the most significant life obstacles to have more fulfilling, purpose-driven futures. Spark Inside provides that rare antidote in today’s complex criminal justice climate: hope.” – Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP, Member of Parliament for Tottenham
According to Spark Inside, prison doesn’t work, because it isn’t effective in reducing crime. Although 97% of prisoners say they want to leave crime behind, 49% will go on to reoffend within one year. This figure increases to 65% for 15-18 year olds. Spark Inside wants to see people leaving prison break this cycle of reoffending. Founded by Baillie Aaron in 2012, Spark Inside aims to bring about a criminal justice system which prioritises rehabilitation.
How do they plan on doing this? Through two innovative and effective coaching interventions.
“I believe this passionately: that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it.” ~ Ken Robinson
We live in a world that favours conformity over diversity, despite the fact that no two people are the same. I guess we do this because it seems easier. How could we build a health system, prison system or education system individually tailored to the needs of each and every person who passes through it? That would be impossible wouldn’t it? Well, yes, at the overall organization and administration level that is undoubtedly true, but what about at the point of delivery? Is it really impossible to see each recipient of education, health care or custodial reform as individuals, with different needs and unique histories?
Enjoy this immensely funny, but deadly serious, talk by Sir Ken Robinson, as he warns against the dangers of an education system that favours compliance over individuality, standardisation over creativity.
We need curiosity for learning and for human growth. Intelligence is not simply measured by how many facts you know, but about asking great questions, being endlessly curious and making, breaking and re-creating neural connections, constantly, even into old age. A great education system will provoke, stimulate, challenge and harness people’s innate curiosity.
Creativity is being stifled in far too many of our education regimes around the world. It is, after all, what drives human evolution and cultural development. It is what has made our society what it is today. We are the beneficiaries of our audacious and creative ancestors who dared to dream big, gifting us our transport systems, our medicines, our computers and communication networks, our architecture and our libraries of information. Who will deliver the next generation of dreams?
Unfortunately, and too often, our systems drive cultures of compliance, which ignore the value of the individual in favour of the ‘hollow success’ of the system. Hollow, because no system can be deemed successful, unless the people it is intended to serve are thriving and benefiting from how it is being run. We treat education like an industrial process which can be tweaked and tuned till it is operating like a well-oiled machine. But education is a about humans, individual people, and not about the system.
It does not have to be this way. The countries of northern Europe have been daring to do things differently for some time. Robinson, in his talk, points out that Finland has no standardisation in its schools. They individualise learning, attribute high status to the teaching profession and have no pupil drop-out rate. The Finns are regarded as having one of, if not, the best education system in the world, yet their pupils do not start school until the age of 7, and are not obsessed with exams and standards. Pupils do not sit any formal exams until the age of 16. And it is not only in education that they lead the way. Finland and Sweden can measure the number of under-18s that it hands out custodial sentences to each year on the fingers of one hand. They prefer to deal with young offenders individually by providing treatment, rehabilitation and support, rather than throwing them into the criminal justice system, where they become a statistic and are much more likely to re-offend after release.
Like the rare flowering seen in Death Valley after occasional rainfall, dormant talent can
be reinvigorated. We just need to create the right climate and conditions, and focus on nurturing individual creativity and curiosity. Leaders in education, and in all of our major institutions responsible for harnessing young people’s talent, need to practise less command and control and more climate control.
About the author: Louis Collins enables people to operate more successfully. You may be struggling to implement corporate strategy, you may want to get more productivity out of yourself or your teams but don’t know where to start, or you may not be having as effective conversations as you could be. I will work with you to enable you to formulate more effective ways of leading, to raise awareness of blockers to successful ways of working, and ultimately to help you and your managers to lead more successfully.
Could your organisation benefit from raising the leadership skills of its people? Would you, or members of your management team, benefit from exploring ways to make significant improvements in personal and/or collective effectiveness and productivity? Coaching around the rich field of leadership will help provide the edge that you are seeking in 2015. Coaching has been proven to directly impact the bottom line. Simply drop me your contact details on the Contact Us page and I will be delighted to have an initial discussion.