It’s all about you

Mark Moody, chief executive of Change Grow Live

Change Grow Live wants its new strategy to come from staff and service users, says Mark Moody. Read the full article in DDN Magazine.

I hate the word brand – it’s more about personality.’ Mark Moody, chief executive of Change Grow Live is explaining the thought behind the charity’s new strategy. You might think we are notorious for being business-like, he says, but we haven’t been too good at telling our story, ‘describing who we really are’. Launching a new strategy right now is a ‘deliberate and real’ attempt to express the organisation’s values.

As chief executive for two and a half years, Moody had ‘a fair idea’ about some things he wanted to do. But more than 20 years in the sector, initially as a frontline worker, taught him that any new strategy had to come from the people who would be affected. ‘The principle is not to do things to people, but do things with people,’ he says. ‘If you don’t pay attention to what people want, you will fail.’

With 3,500 staff and 75,000 service users, this was going to be a major undertaking. A series of events were attended by more than 1,000 staff and hundreds of service users. ‘We looked at what’s good and bad about the organisation and the values came out of it,’ he says. His role ‘became almost administrative’ as the strategy was written by staff and service users – ‘The way we came up with it is illustrative of the way we work.’

One of the organisation’s perceived strengths was the quality of its staff and one of the main dislikes was ‘bureaucracy’. Where things like CQC should be ‘a force for good’, the strategy meetings highlighted a mindset of managing risk rather than meeting need, says Moody. The ‘well-intentioned but flawed’ national drug treatment monitoring system (NDTMS) was seen as ‘a giant data set that’s recording more stuff about a person with a substance misuse problem than a person with cancer’.

We need to make the whole thing about people, not numbers, he says. Service users wanted to be seen ‘as a person with a problem, rather than a problem on legs’. The refreshed strategy and values would involve everything and everybody across Change Grow Live’s many and varied projects and services, especially service users.

‘I’m passionate about service user involvement,’ says Moody, who relies on feedback from an active service user council. ‘The feelings and needs of our service users influence how our services are run,’ he says, while acknowledging that service user involvement doesn’t have ‘the teeth it needs’.

‘We’re in the middle of a public health disaster with drug-related deaths,’ he says. They’re called hard to engage people, but they’re not – it’s the services that are hard to engage with.’ He wants to reach the people ‘in the middle’ of their crisis and not just those who have come out the other side of treatment. The new strategy will depend on strong partnerships – internally, with service users, and across the sector. He says that Change Grow Live’s ‘story’ must involve local authorities, commissioners and everyone they work with, including service-user led organisations like Red Rose Recovery and Build on Belief, who are a vital part of the commissioning process – ‘otherwise we would be robbing the community’.

Moody believes his role as chief executive should be about creating conditions for getting answers. ‘I joined this organisation as a frontline worker and am no more likely to have a good idea now than then,’ he says. ‘Today there are potentially thousands of workers who have better ideas than I do – it’s in my self-interest to listen.’

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