I spend two hours driving through beautiful Welsh countryside to attend a conference on modernising services. It appears there is much work to be done on the ground. The first speaker from the Welsh government declares the need to take a “helicopter view” of the situation. I struggle to work out why he couldn’t just say a wide, whole system or all-encompassing view. Perhaps using the helicopter analogy gives us the opportunity to push out a passenger we didn’t like.
A day spent with management consultants turns out to be far more positive than I ever thought it would. I can’t help but notice the morale of my local authority colleagues is at an all-time low and some seek to disengage from the enlightenment process that the consultants are taking us through. By the end I am a “born again” manager ready to be “consciously effective”. But the final plenary reveals there are to be seven more sessions. The fact that I feel that I’m already the end product they’re looking for doesn’t seem to go down well with the facilitators, and indicates that I am apparently “closed to illumination” – something that will be explored further on day three. My colleagues look even more demoralised now.
At a meeting with my NHS colleagues a senior manager suggests that we all take a “helicopter view”. I wonder if phraseology is handed down like this all the time. I imagine that UK government use the phrase first and it’s soon picked up by the Welsh assembly. Next to take up the baton are local managers, where presumably it ends as most frontline staff know better than to talk such nonsense.
I stay at home today to look after my daughter who is ill.
I need to talk to my staff about some changes we are trying to achieve in the service area. I expected some resistance but most of the comments from staff suggest that we should have made the changes some time ago. One issue doesn’t go as well. We get stuck in the detail of a handful of cases, which don’t reflect most service users. The potential development for the service area feels like it’s slipping away from me.
Then it comes to me like a flashing light: “If we want to improve the service we need to take a helicopter view” I make a note to reward myself with a pint every time I hear a member of staff use the phrase in the future.