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The Delphi Brand... (By John Richmond)

Posted in: Core Values, Delphi tribe by Emma Knape on 12 February 2015
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I have been having conversations about the delphi brand this week and it has got me thinking about how we can get it across to people.

I would say it is fairly easy for us within the organisation to say - it's our core values: simples. But really those core values reflect a lot of stuff for us that is both shared and personal. So this week I am going to talk about creativity from my perspective.

It was really important at the start of delphi for this to be fun (at least most of the time) and a core belief I have is that there is no deep, underlying reason that it can't be, if you see what I mean. The job we do is serious, it is important, it is risky both to ourselves and our patients but really for all that we can enjoy and cherish what we do as being fulfilling, stimulating and saying something important about what we believe as individuals in this society. I don't think any of us would be doing this if it were not because we thought: that 'mainstream' work did not speak as loudly to our sense of the importance of fairness in society; that the stigma that our patients endure is simply not right and says more about those dishing it out than it does about those that receive it; and, that there must be a better way to carry on. The better way to carry on is recognising that we are all in this together and it would be better to be having fun than being miserably serious.

So, that's one aspect of creativity for me but another has a philosophical dimension (rather than political). Creativity needs space to thrive, it is impossible when bogged down in the minutiae of performance management frameworks, risk assessments and CQC domains. However, it is not a thing that can be just let loose with no structure at all. Paradoxically, creativity needs boundaries to really give it wings. We have those boundaries in our frameworks, our risk assessments and our CQC domains and we have to be completely on top of them but realise that they are the servants of creativity rather than the killers of creativity they can become. We need to keep clearly in mind that we have those things there to create a space within which we can be creative without having to worry about the things that they take care of.  

I think I need an example: music. Being creative in music without boundaries would result in music even less formed than 'throbbing gristle' (check it out if you don't know it), it would be just noise, in fact it would be what surrounds us all the time, unless we happen to be deaf: just noise. For music to really work - even in the context of modern jazz as that is a situation where the rules are bent rather than thrown away - you need a structure of notes and scales and specific relationships between keys that follow an expected format that people listening can understand and either be comforted by, or surprised by. It doesn't work without rules. Modern art, as another example, is the same, it doesn't work unless there are rules to be broken in the first place. So, my point again, is that for creativity you need rules. In our business, we have loads of rules, so we can be really creative!

Actually, that last one might not have been specifically philosophical whereas this one is, I think. It is to do with free will. There are lots of philosophical writings around the theme of whether there is free will or not. It seems to me, at the moment, that when you look at this (and I am relying on a cursory view of a few major ideas) that this question is really interesting but may be unanswerable, or may only be answerable as a belief we hold as individuals (i.e. we believe we have free will). And creativity is a bit like that as well as I believe that there isn't really anything new to say or do: we're people, we interact and have relationships, we live, we die, we can be happy , we can be sad etc. etc.. So we may think we are doing something new or groundbreaking but more likely it has been done somewhere, sometime by countless others. But the fascinating thing is, that for all that, it is you that is doing it this time, in this place, in your way, uniquely in the style that broadcasts both your strengths and your weaknesses. Our lives, I believe, are fundamentally creative whether we acknowledge that or not, embrace it or shun it. Personally I choose to believe I am embracing creativity, and would wish that for you, your patients and everyone you know - why not?