Tag: experience

Hitting the targets – missing the point

Once again this week I will be spending my time responding to service specifications through a procurement portal.  It’s good that there are still tenders to respond to, but….

What I write in response to their questions doesn’t give me the opportunity to talk about the really important stuff, the life-changing opportunities and the amazing journey that some people will make.

Every day I hear remarkable stories from staff about the achievements of the people they work with, the overwhelming barriers they face and the challenges they have overcome.

And every month I read the reports to the commissioners about the targets they set us and how we have achieved them.  As I read these reports I see nothing about individual’s triumphs,   –largely because this information is not measured as a target.

Yet when I do tell people about the difficult circumstances that some of our clients are in, and how we have helped them everyone agrees it’s the right thing to do, it’s needed and often changes lives – will these experiences ever change services?

We know loads of stuff

The term commissioning comes from shipbuilding, and it feels to me that often we are treated as an empty vessel. The reality is that we are packed to the rafters with experience, knowledge, skills and understanding from all sorts of perspectives – community based organisations usually are.

Trust is a great thing

The thing that makes us able to help people, is because we can listen to them, often we have been where they are, sometime live in the same places and most importantly we can see many perspectives, we are here because of our life experience.  Someone recently said to me “The best guides in life are those that are just a few steps ahead of you” – that is how we see ourselves in relation to our clients. We need to be trusted to work in ways we know best.

We will find the way – see you there.

Where it starts to become uneasy is when the path is set, the route is determined and the road to a target is specified.  In our sector, there is a well known route – it’s called the Patient Pathway and many many hours have been spent designing it, mostly by people who are never going to walk down it.

People can do even greater things

About 95% of the time spent by people working in communities is on negotiating the hoops that have been set down, in order to get to a target.

Negotiating services and systems is a job in itself; how to find what you want, where you want it and how you want it would be much easier if the road to the target was simple, the signs were clear and perhaps designed by those who use it.

Community/voluntary organisations, social enterprises, Community Interest Companies know loads of things, we don’t want to be responders, we need to be specifiers – then maybe targets will become more relevant to the point.



Skills in Birmingham

There has been an interesting conversation this week  about what it is that employers value when recruiting staff  With the Birmingham and Solihull LEP meeting at the end of the month to discuss what skills the people of Birmingham need, Nick Booth from Podnosh, has tried to gather the views of people from across the city to see what they feel is currently missing in his blog piece below;


Read Nick’s article here


Views are sought from local organisations from across different sectors, each describing their interactions with the percieved skills (or lack of them) in the local area and also commenting on what they think is needed to make sure that Birmingham, and it’s people, is ready for the future.


Karl Binder, from Adhere left his views on the site, amongst others, while Gateway’s Chief Executive, Vicki Fitzgerald also commented on the debate by saying, “As a training provider and accredited delivery agent for qualifications, people often think we value qualifications above all else. This isn’t true, in fact the opposite is the case. We employ over 60 people that we have recruited for their experience, mostly of life, family, barriers, prejudice and often overcoming the most difficult of circumstances. Their experience is nothing without genuine commitment, passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing and it’s these values that we would recruit for.


Often qualifications mean exclusion for many rather than inclusion.I often see them as a hoop people have to jump through in order to do things that really matter. For me, while others were doing their degrees or their masters, I was learning about real life and real people and it taught me a huge amount.


We work mostly with the NHS and professional qualifications are necessary in most cases (my dentist for example!) Unlike many other sectors the qualifications rarely change and this can mean a job for life, but it also can mean that you never get to employ people who see the world from different perspectives – always valuing skills and qualifications over experience and values makes for a very insular organisation


So what do you think?


Are the skills that people are learning useful in today’s world? What skills, and when, should we be looking for when employing staff and does experience and ‘life-skills’ make you stand out more than qualifications?