Slippin' and slidin'...but always forwards

Published in Features on 15 Feb 2023

Michelle Drumm, Communications and Content Manager at Iriss, reflects on the partnership of change  – and how the first slips or slides help us move forward. 

I’m not an avid fan of either, and much prefer a historical or gritty crime documentary to reality contests, but when it’s airing I often just can’t help nosing into Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing on Ice to see how the contestants are fairing. There’s a real energy and entertainment about learning to dance – the stumbles along the way, but more importantly, the achievements of those performing. It’s all pretty addictive to watch. And I’m sure I’m not on my own, that many of you have been bound by the spell of Strictly to some degree.

I was at an event recently where Strictly came up in the context of a culture and service change. Fife Council had changed up the way it did community social work (hear more about this) and made the analogy of learning to dance on Strictly with their process of change. It basically involved trying stuff, being brave and persevering, stumbling at times (and perhaps even falling over!), but getting up and going again. The result for Fife was a new way of working that was tried out and adjusted, but eventually saw the lives of people improved in the local community.

Don’t you think that we all slip and slide our way forwards in work and life? That’s just the way of it when you’re trying new things out and willing to learn and develop. When there’s high workloads, expectations, processes or paperwork to contend with you can lose rhythm and momentum. Considering any sort of improvement or change can just be an added pressure. 

But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming or scary. It can be a positive (even fun!) and exploratory process, with space to imagine, shape and realise things you want to be better. The Iriss innovation process model sets this out very simply. 

Iriss is seeking partners to make effective practice happen in social work and social care.  Find out more.