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Have needed to be quiet this week because I gave myself something of a fright last week with where I ended up on my ‘Justice for LB’ post.  Having floated the idea of some sort of post-education IPSEA-type website – without, I regret to say, having done enough thinking-through – I now feel it’s incumbent on me to follow it up.  However, like Christopher Robin’s parent’s grandfather’s sailor, I’m more than a bit stumped as to where to begin.

Starting from what I know seems the only possibility, and fragments of database design have been rolling around my brain, but I realise that’s putting the cart before the horse.  I’d need to do a big listening project before I could get anywhere near having a reasonable working template of the overall design of what’s needed, much less start putting the detail in.  Perhaps putting some design ideas down on paper – even if it’s only for someone else to shred as inappropriate or unworkable – might be a possibility.  If nothing else, it might let me brain-dump out ideas that are likely to be more of a hindrance than a help, and which, at the moment, are making me feel that my best option is a precipitate retreat into the deepest, most inaccessible foxhole I can find, before I can be accused of going on in Alan B’stard style: “… if <someone> is needed to save Britain, then I am humbly… HUMBLY… prepared to put myself forward.”

The New Statesman, of course, had in spades what is needed from a true leader.  “Self-confidence” says a (probably confidently self-styled) business guru, “is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows.”  So a leader among leaders will be supremely self-confident, right?  Too right.

Hear ye the the words of the Lord – or at any rate the good knight – Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, whose blog is part of the national Blog archive at the British Library, whose provider members in learning disability are top, and who hath, moreover, a Plan (Capitalised but with no capital – that will have to come from social funding).  Hear ye the words of the Plan, which shall be callèd ‘Bubb’s Challenge’ before the face of all peoples, which hath been inscribed for time and eternity, not on mere tablets of stone, but on the back of a breakfast.  For lo, the Joint Improvement Programme of Winterbourne hath been utterly overthrown, and its deadlines are as lines dead in the water, (despite having been missed and/or overshot) and there hath been weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  Yet verily, the nations may be comforted, saith the Bubb, for his Plan is entirely doable and hath been accepted by person or persons unspecified. And yea, buildings will be invested in and ten year contracts commissioned and <needle-screech across recording of celestial music>.

Seriously, go and read it for yourself.  It’s quite eye-poppingly, stomach-churningly un-self-aware, unaware of the situation of the people unto whom it is proposed that the Plan (as writ on the Holy Bacon Rasher) will be done, and equally unaware of the previous failures of precisely the solutions the Plan appears to be proposing.  Read the comments, and weep.

At one point, the Almighty Bubb pronounces on former attempts to ‘solve’ the learning disability ‘problem’ “… in the 80s when it was determined that all mental health asylums be closed and people cared for in the community. A patchy programme but one everyone now knows was exactly right.”  Exactly right?  Exactly right?  It was the right idea, but I have a fistful of as-yet-unpublished Schoolroom Centre stories that say the programme in its patchiness was light-years from exactly right.   Its rightness extended no further than my great-grandmother’s dictum that ‘patch upon patch is better’n holes’.  If it had been exactly right, we wouldn’t now have over 3000 people incarcerated in ATUs.  It was shabby, penny-pinching, secondhand and second-rate.  ‘Patchy’ barely covers it.

After a thorough blasting from people who actually know what they are talking about, His Bubbliness came clean and admitted that far from having a Plan, he and his angelic fellow-chiefs ‘are at the early stages of scoping the remit of the steering group’.  Which sounds less like coming clean than an attempt to soft-soap.

The Americans have a delightfully vulgar phrase which means ‘to use flattering or high-flown language in an attempt to deceive’: blowing smoke up somebody’s ass.  In the Plan’s case, there seems to have been something similar going on, but with bubbles.  Or Bubbles.  Alas, I fear this bubble was pricked before it was fully blown.  And so, good night, good knight.

For bubble-pricking and otherwise cutting down to size, another guru-ish website, Businessballs, recommends asking:

  • ‘What is your evidence (for what you have said or claimed)?’
  • ‘Whom have you consulted about this?’
  • ‘How did you go about looking for alternative solutions?’
  • ‘How have you measured (whatever you say is a problem)?’
  • ‘How will you measure the true effectiveness of your solution if you implement it?’
  • ‘What can you say about different solutions that have worked in other situations?’

I shall go and put questions to myself and others until I’ve come up with some reasonable answers about the website.  Please feel free to pitch in any that you think I ought to be considering.  Thank you.