Tuesday, 14 April 2015

disruptive innovation versus grassroots activism

"Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors."

Today I came upon a tweet that contained a link to a post by the  Scottish Recovery Network Director on Patient Opinion where he said: "Patient Opinion is also, I would argue, a great example of disruptive innovation".  Comparing it to Wikipedia.

I didn't agree with this statement and entered into a twitter dialogue with the protagonists, including the CEO of Patient Opinion.  Here is a flavour of our interaction:



I didn't like the inference that I was disruptive but had no innovation.  It seemed disrespectful, patronising and untrue.  I don't particularly like the term "disruptive innovation" and prefer "grassroots activism".  Because I have been a grassroots community development worker since 1980.  Working with others to set up projects in communities, underpinned by a philosophy of empowerment and lifelong learning.

It wasn't about agitating, rather it was about local people leading and setting up projects in response to demand or need.  More recently, in the last few years, I have had to become an activist and campaigner in mental health matters because of human rights abuse in psychiatric settings, perpetrated on my son.  Although Patient Opinion was a useful space to have a voice, it did not help with my cause.  I had to do the work myself.

Which consisted of raising complaints and keeping on doing so, then taking the complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, in all 30 months of complaining, before there was any justice.  My complaint upheld.  Unreasonable treatment.  Human rights abuse.  A locked seclusion room in a psychiatric ward with no toilet or drinking water, light switch outside.  Locked in for hours in the dark, unobserved.

To compare Patient Opinion with Wikipedia is a large stretch of the imagination.  The former has a few paid workers.  The latter has many volunteers, globally, in a community who spend many, many hours keeping the massive information resource updated.  I have a Wiki log-in and have posted on pages myself.  It is a complex network that in my opinion does not in any way resemble the work of Patient Opinion.

Here is my comment in response to the SRN Director's piece, still being moderated:


There are many people working at the grassroots to bring about a paradigm shift in psychiatry and in general health services, so that people are treated like human beings and there is an end to systemic bullying and abusive cultures.  Patient Opinion is a useful resource but it is the people at the sharp end, feeling the pain, meeting the cost and having to cut their coats accordingly that are the real innovators and change agents.

In my opinion.

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