Creating a culture for all to learn, grown and develop in

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator

Those of you that follow our blogs regularly will have noticed an absence of singing and chorus related blogs from me! For those of you new to our blog site I have been singing and a member of Spinnaker Chorus for nearly 10 years, and it’s an inspiring part of my life. Last weekend we attended the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) Convention along with 25 other choruses from around the UK.

After the dust settled following an exciting event filled with great singing and fun, I started to reflect on how, as a chorus, we have grown and developed and how much more confident and able we are as individual singers who take responsibility for learning our new songs. But it hasn’t always been like this. When I joined there was only the one audition when you joined. Then about five years ago a new audition process was introduced for every new song we learnt, by the then musical director (MD). The purpose of this was that each member would learn each new song and then send in a recording or audition for the section leader to listen to and confirm that we were singing the right notes and words. As a competing ‘a capella’ chorus who sing in four sections (bass, baritone, lead and tenor), we are constantly striving to improve. The process is called passing your ‘pink sequin’. At the time this was introduced there was a lot of anxiety about the change; having to sing on our own and manage the recording process, let alone listening to your own voice before sending the recording onto your section leader! But the MD stayed strong with her expectations. Then 3 years ago the current MD built on this process by introducing a time limit of 8 weeks to pass the ‘pink sequin’. So essentially, we were learning a new song every 8-12 weeks. This meant we have built up our repertoire of new and exciting songs in a short period of time.

Then in July this year a visiting coach from the USA challenged us to learn a new song for convention, only 12 weeks away (we normally start learning this song at least 6 month ahead of time). Gone were the excuses and instead a healthy competition started for everyone to take responsibility to get on and learn. I myself who have never passed the ‘pink sequin’ on the first attempt strove to learn this quickly despite a busy work schedule and was thrilled when I passed on the first attempt. As a chorus we achieved 100% pass rate in 6 weeks. Quite an achievement.

So, what has this to do with nursing and healthcare? Well I believe what I have witnessed has been the changing of a culture where learning and taking individual responsibility for team Spinnaker is now the norm. I see a lot of analogies between my experience and that of the Inspire Improvement Fellows who are striving to lead and develop caring, safe and effective cultures where people grow and flourish. Culture change takes time and requires facilitative leaders who are prepared to work in collaboration with their teams and trust that they will do their jobs. There is a process for allowing people to learn, grow and develop alongside a variety of creative learning opportunities – one size doesn’t fit all. And above all there is fun and joy as the norm in all we do.

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