Hunger for Inspiration

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think this offers us some powerful, but largely ignored, clues as to how we should design our enterprise development services.  We need to offer a service that helps people to seek, find and, crucially, act on their inspiration.

Their inspiration – not our policy goals.

Their inspiration – not ‘our’ desire to get ‘them’ off benefits or back into work.

Their inspiration – not our idea of ‘opportunities’ designed to meet employer demands.

Because the reality is that MOST enterprise development services are not designed to inspire.  They are designed to teach people how to commoditise themselves.  How to ‘fit in’ with the needs of the economy.

Take a good, honest look at your services.  Are they really designed to develop the users agenda – or to channel them into ours?

Perhaps this is why we are continually engaging ‘inspirational’ speakers in the false hope that we can somehow put back into our service a missing essence.  An essence that will always be missing until we change the assumptions around which our enteprise services are built.

The cornerstone of a service based on the hunger for inspiration would be a relationship in which users can be open and honest about their hopes and aspirations.  A relationship, not a workshop, or a series of workshops or advice.  A relationship.

A relationship that recognises that development takes time.  That it will feature highs and lows, lapses and relapses.

Because it is only in a relationship, characterised by compassion, competence, respect, belief, optimism, commitment and skill that people will be open and honest about their hopes and dreams and start to get in touch with what inspires them.  It is only in such a supportive relationship that people will really dare to dream and act.  It is I believe only through a relationship that people can really find inspiration and the resources for transformation.

  • So how would we market such a service?
  • Where would we find clients?
  • How would we pay for it?
  • Who would manage it?
  • What might we expect from it in terms of outputs and value for money?

But the big question that always gets asked here is about affordability.  A genuinely personalised service.  Delivered primarily through 121 conversations – isn’t that ridiculously expensive?  Well no its not.  The numbers stack up well in comparison to competing services.

The real challenge here is changing the mindset of service suppliers and commissioners.  Helping them to recognise that our communities are not full of the feckless and ignorant who need to be fixed.

They are full of people seeking inspiration and the power to act effectively on it.

Full of people who would love to become the kind of person that they know they could be.

As soon as we start designing our services around these assumptions we might get some much more positive results.



  1. Phil Kirby says:

    I don’t get the “affordability” argument. It’s as daft as the guy who loses his car keys in the street and looks for them under the lamp because that’s where the light is! If something doesn’t work then what’s the point of throwing money at it because it’s affordable? You are right, it’s about time the commissioners stopped wasting money on the usual suspects and invested in relationships. I don’t think it’s the cheapest option, but it is the only approach that has a chance of working.

    • When you look at the economics Phil it actually does stack up very well – especially as there is very little capital spend. No (more) buildings required.

      The real costs of not doing it are unfortunately hidden. Lack of hope promotes hate – and that is one expensive sucker to have rampant in the community.

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