Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Do you like cheesecake?

I love it. All soft and lemony, with a spoonful of chilled crème fraîche, served up on a warm summer’s day. The best cheesecake recipe I know is from the culinary angel and goddess of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson. Ah the sheer joy of watching her at work as she creates food heaven.

Can I ask you something… at this point, are you sharing my feelings? Do you feel the joy? Will you be logging on to get her recipe? Somehow I doubt it. I have a reason for asking you these questions as you will see.

I made the acquaintance of a senior nursing manager some years back, and he had just returned from a six-week training programme in California. He was wide-eyed and fired up over new management techniques he’d learned about that would revolutionise nursing care on his hospital wards – his words, not mine. A few weeks later when I saw him again he was sad and confused, as his nursing team showed no interest in the techniques, and he could not understand it. “It’s all so wonderful and they just can’t see it” he said. However, he was the one who couldn’t ‘see it’.

While he was out in sunny California enjoying a great life experience, his team were living their same old lives, working under the cold winter clouds of South of London, dealing with sick patients and their families, working to tight budgetary constraints, and under the weight of ever-increasing paperwork. His exposition of the great things he had discovered were meaningless to his team, and nobody could get interested in his ‘brave new vision’.

One of the things we learn in the academic world is that a concept cannot live in a vacuum. It must touch, and be touched by the world around it if it is to ‘live’ and add value. Connections must be made, and we call this ‘application’. This is what the nursing manager apparently failed to understand. He was so motivated by what he had experienced that he stopped thinking about the world in which his team lived. There was no connection between what had motivated him and what was needed to motivate his team. He had failed at the application stage.

Would you or I ever make such a mistake and sacrifice such an opportunity? It’s possible. Experienced people get things wrong just as inexperienced people do, which is why study is so valuable to us all, as it reminds us to think, re-think and re-evaluate critically what we see and experience, even in familiar areas of our lives. It reminds us that we live in different worlds which must be connected to facilitate the sharing of concepts if those concepts are to work.

An example in the business world can be seen when a new restaurant comes to town. The owners know that their love of food – their concept knowledge - is not enough. They step out of the vacuum and on to the pavement. They hand out samples of their food to local people to make that all-important connection. To make the concept ‘live’ and add value. The motivation is passed on and the public are subsequently more likely to book tables.

So if you ever see me standing in front of ECBM handing out samples of cheesecake, you will know why. Find out more about study programmes at ECBM.

Graham Harman-Baker

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