Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Written by: Clare Armstrong, Academy Project Manager, the ALLIANCE

As December marks the half-way point in Clare's secondment to the Academy, she reflects on the change this year has brought.

Living with persistent change and uncertainty is something that everyone is familiar with. Whether we are starting a new job or moving houses, we are all navigating futures that are never quite in focus.

I joined the ALLIANCE on a six-month post in September 2017, as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream programme. The scheme places graduates in six different jobs (mostly in government), which means near constant job changes for four years.

Having just completed roles in Newcastle and London, I arrived at the Academy with little more than an office address, a description of my role, and a long list of questions. With the only consistency in 2017 being inconsistency, it seemed appropriate that I arrived during the ALLIANCE’s year of ‘change’. A year where we focused on celebrating improvements in health and social care and pushed for even more.

It was refreshing to be part of a team which is pushing for true transformation, not just incremental change. In hopping between different posts, I could sometimes sense change fatigue setting in amongst myself and colleagues. So, it was good to be reminded that transformation was achievable, and that the outcomes would be worth the wait.

Tolerating huge levels of uncertainty and change is a challenge for third sector organisations as much as for individuals. And this is especially true during times of massive upheaval brought on by events such as Brexit. Worn down by constant waves, it is easy to develop a sort of transformation whiplash, and wish things would just stay the same. We shouldn’t blame people for being wary of transformation, when previous change has not lived up to the hype.

Not all change is created equal, and change for change’s sake does nothing but disorientate and demoralise the people involved. In the case of change we can control, its sustainability will come from empowered communities proactively coming together. And in the case of change we can’t control, our response should be to give people tools to ride the unexpected waves. Otherwise we are expecting them to stand in front of tsunamis with an only an umbrella.

As 2017 ends, it is important to celebrate positive changes, and not to let the bad news wear us down. And that will be the first resolution on my New Years list.