Sunday, 1 December 2013

Michael Smull on One Page Profiles

Michael Smull speaking in Texas
Michael Smull sent out the following message to people on the Learning Community for Person Centred Practices general mailing list today, he's given permission for us to share it.

"In our efforts to support people in have lives of their own choosing within their communities we have developed an array of practices, skills, and tools. Notable among them are 1 page profiles.  They are both powerful and remarkably useful.  They have made significant differences in the lives of people and have been a critical part of making positive changes in practices.  One page profiles are not meant to be a complete picture of a person, rather they are a snapshot that introduces the reader to the person, outlines what matters most to that person and gives the top tips for support.  Part of their power is in their brevity and that, done well, they are visually attractive.  They are a powerful “tool” in changing how people are perceived and supported.  But they are not powerful simply because they exist but because of their impact.  People who use services, their families, and those who support them have given us story after story about how they have helped in their efforts.  For some people part of what was powerful was the learning that that takes place in development.  For many others it is how effective they are in introducing someone and advocating for them. 

A test for something being person centered is that it works for humans.  If it just works for disability it is clinical.  When we apply this test for 1 page profiles we see that can be helpful in a variety of human circumstances.  My 1 page profile as a trainer (on the learning community’s website) is very helpful for those asking me to do training.  With teams, I have facilitated a process for them to develop 1 page profiles on each other and team members find that they are then more effective in working together.
There are so many stories about the efficacy of 1 page profiles from so many places that I find it difficult that anyone paying attention can criticize them as ineffective. This is not to say that they cannot be poorly done or badly used.  They are a means not an end. They are not a “magic bullet”, they are not the only thing that needs to be done to change practices, but they are key part of what I teach and coach.   Criticism of those done badly or done just to be “trendy” is justified and useful.  Broad criticism flies in the face of the reality of their impact.  But that criticism has occurred. The criticism I have seen suggests that we are promoting  one page profiles as an end.  Yet if you read the stories associated with the profiles you see that it is how it was used not just that it exists.
Because 1 page profiles are being criticized we need more stories.  If you could take a few moments and share your learning it would be very helpful.  Clearly we want stories that illustrate the breadth and power of their use.  But, because we are learning community, we also want stories that illustrate your learning in what was required to make them useful.
Thank you.