When the BBC run yet another story about the abuse of people in care, it begs the question: how come we are so habituated to not speaking out?

I was discussing with a colleague the outline of a session I am running for the OD Network Europe Conference this week, which is being hosted by Roffey Park, where I also happen to work. Without going into details (I will post separately about that), the comment that struck me was this:

“This is another example of the normalisation of not speaking out.”

If you watch the programme (and yes it is hard viewing) from a human systems perspective, where we seek to understand the relational and systemic conditions that create the fertile ground for things to be hidden and undiscussable, there are several examples of people actually having the courage to speak out, and the battles they face to be both heard and believed.

As someone who works in the fields of Organisational Development (OD), change and leadership development, it is striking how all three seem relatively ‘off camera’ when programmes such as this air. Yes, there is normally a hat tip to the need for leadership of a particular type, or the need for change, and that happens briefly in the last ten minutes of this programme. But a serious, deep conversation? One that talks about the responsibilities of connecting leadership through multiple organisations? One that honestly opens the debate around what is and is not possible through simply replacing senior figures or more regulation?

Regulation on its own does not solve systemic issues of this type, something that Roy Lilley regularly and powerfully argues, and as a closing thought, it is telling that the care home in the Panorama investigation had been investigated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) six times in under two years. Inspection and regulation are not enough – if they were, there would not be a need for programmes like this.