“Optimistic and naive of a utopian future”, these were the words used to describe me at a meeting I attended recently. It wasn’t said in a positive frame, but as I have reflected on this over the last number of weeks I have come to see this as actually a compliment, let me tell you why.
My name is Dominic Cushnan, and in this short blog, I would like to share with you why I am excited about joining Helen Sanderson and the Wellbeing Teams as one of their advisors.
What I consider to be my most significant achievements, have come about from serendipitous moments. I joined an advertising agency as ‘Technical Director’ in my early 20’s, while I enjoyed this role my passion was to run my own company. So I resigned ready to set up an Augmented and Virtual Reality company, that same week I met the grandfather of VR, Dr Furness. It was a sign that this was the right decision and that led to many amazing and beautiful projects that were ahead of their time. That same feeling I had that week is the same adrenaline feeling that I now have with what will be possible when it comes to collaborating with Helen and her team.
I had the privilege of meeting Helen Sanderson in my first couple of weeks of joining the NHS. It was on a somewhat nerve-racking team bonding day and not only was I impressed with her facilitation of the day, but how one of Helen’s exercises was to create Appreciation Books for each other. I still have mine, and it has a lovely coffee stain as I fondly look at it occasionally, the words uplifting especially after a difficult week.
It is incredible how even then it was clear that all everyone wanted, was to belong. Marcus Aurelius in his books “Mediations” describes humans as, ‘inherently social creatures who must participate in the life of their communities’. Any meaningful work that we do should fulfil that need to be social. I also believe this to be true.
The last few years have been an adventure of personal growth and discovery. The most helpful being, that I have found frameworks for some of my thinking, and joined tribes.
Before joining the NHS, I ran a technology company for close to a decade, that focused on cool tools: computer vision, virtual reality, brainwave devices and motion capture. Clients included large ad agencies and research projects, and we also found a niche in the construction industry for Augmented Reality (AR) and how it could be used to demonstrate construction sites. As a proponent of open source technologies and communities, we worked with open source AR and added to the open Virtual Reality project.
For the last number of years, I have designed and facilitated many ‘hackathons’, open space events and design weekends. All have a core of engaging diverse audiences in fun, fast paces, ideation and solution building. What wonders await us when we apply these techniques to well-being teams and use these same open spaces and design weekends to truly make a difference.
It is exciting that Helen and I have connected to discuss disruptive models. We have been inspired by many of the same authors and I am looking forward to exploring the use of technology and different business models to support deliver Wellbeing Teams. In a world of decentralisation and putting the power in crowds, the ‘New Power’ way of thinking and working will give us the ability to test means of supporting communities. The goal? Having new power values and new power models.
(new power values image https://hbr.org/resources/images/article_assets/2014/11/R1412B_B1.png )
There are growing signals across the world that point to a need, and appetite, to work differently when it comes to organisations both in the public and private sector. All organisations need to have a sense of purpose. A letter that connected with me this year was the Black Rock CEO Annual Letter 2018. They currently have $1.7 trillion in active funds so what they have to say should make us stop and think. “Many individuals across the world are facing a combination of low rates, low wage growth,” says Larry Fink CEO of Black Rock. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Blackrock offers these questions:
What role does our company play in the community?
How are we managing our impact on the environment?
Are we working to create a diverse workforce?
Are we adapting to technological change?
Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world?
Are we using behavioural finance and other tools to prepare workers for retirement, so that they invest in a way that will help them achieve their goals?
At the moment my huge task is looking at how we can use Artificial Intelligence to transform the NHS, firstly AI for diagnostics but from a whole systems perspective. The opportunities that lie ahead of us if we enable both the workforce and those who deliver care is enormous. Yet we need to also think about the good that it brings our communities be they big or small. I am looking forward to all the challenges and the journey ahead.
The world is fast changing yet we have the power if we are brave enough to shape it into a society we are all proud.