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Monday, 26 September 2011

Risks to take, Efforts to make

I have the opportunity to be at the Help the Hospices conference in Bournemouth, UK, that has the theme of Widening Horizons. See details of coverage at http://www.helpthehospices.org.uk/welcome/ or via twitter feed at #WideningHorizons. The theme for me yesterday was that there risks to take and efforts to make in order to take the services we want to deliver forward.
In the early afternoon Kate Heaps and Sarah-Jane Mills showed the the sheer hard work required to back collaboration with other providers to develop services in a coordinated way in Greenwich and Lincolnshire respectively. All that went on whilst they were keeping the day to day services running, involving the teams at their organization's in all that was going on to make the quality of the service to patients better. My guess is they were no alone - they took the opportunity to tell us about their journey's. The point is that there is a short term cost, and a medium term business risk to even a pretty certain long term bet that these changes will improve services and redistribute resources in an effective way. Is there a way to learn to do this better? Would market freedoms help?
The last plenary of the day was given by Tim Harford, (see twitter @timharfod) an economist by 'trade', and a good thinker who encouraged us to consider in all the complexities of life, the power of taking small bets on our business ideas in the likelyhood that most would fail. It is the use we make of our failures Tim argues, that create the likelihood of success. The bets he said could be small; I suspect Kate and Sarah-Jane felt theirs were large; and I believe these will come off.
It is the notion of risk taking at an individual level that has been stimulated by these examples. As a manager do we have the sense of freedom to make a choice to back an individual who comes to our door with the next idea for us to bet on? If the idea does not come off - can we share the learning or do we just file the experience away? It may be that in the sharing the idea can be refined into something new that is a success.
The next question then is what is success? That can be another blog - or two - in the meantime there's more small bets to think about today.

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