I could easily have chosen more than seven. But I was thinking along the lines of the ‘seven wonders.’ Please do free to comment with an eight, ninth etc…
Anyway, here are what I think are the seven most common mistakes organisations make on public involvement.
1. ‘A lack of heart and soul:’ Not embracing public involvement in their mission, aims, values. This is a bit like marrying for money rather than love. It won’t last.
2. ‘The poor shepherds:’ CEOs and their top team not embodying public involvement values in their leadership. If they don’t do it and talk about it as part of their story about the organisation then there’s little chance the flock will follow.
3. ‘Bound and gagged:’ Not giving public involvement a voice at the Board table. Seriously, would you do this to any other function – finance, communications etc? So why do it to that part of the organisation which earths you in the community you are working with.
4. ‘Show you mean business:’ So many organisations make public involvement the responsibility of your communications team. You might think that’s a logical move but it rarely works. If anything PPI is about accountability. So make it a direct responsibility of the CEO or COO particularly in the early days. This would also send a strong signal to others that you mean business.
5. ‘Resource.’ Do it right. Spend the money. It’s the organisational equivalent of investing in a healthy body. And what did your mum say: a healthy body makes a healthy mind. Or something like that. Perhaps pay that eminent professor a bit less instead if the bills really are hard to pay. Always pay your PPI reps.
6. ‘Support, support, support.’ ‘We rightly spend much effort and resource on helping staff get on in our organisation. But we expect those who freely give us their insight as patients and the public to either ‘sink or swim.’ Agree a development plan with them to help them to get to know you and your needs. And vice versa.
7. ‘Learning through partnership:’ now you’ve created public involvement in your organisation don’t let it become isolated. Encourage its involvement and a discourse across the organisation. From such partnerships much learning will emerge, the organisation will stay true to its moral purpose and the results will soon show themselves.
Wrote this quickly whole waiting for my car to be repaired. And may well polish it later.