But something had really struck me on this NHS Leadership Academy development programme in Leeds. I think it was the second evening of the nursing and midwifery senior operational leaders programme when I began to play back some of the things that had happened in the previous 48 hours.
I’d got about an hour between the end of the day and having some dinner, so had decided to work off some biscuits on the treadmill next door. I find running sometimes helps me play the day over and process what’s happened. As I ran – I reflected on the fact that just 48 hours previously, a group of 38 nurses and midwives had come together and taken a virtual leap into the unknown. The programme got going pretty quickly and after just 45 minutes, one group looked at how the profession had changed (and how it had stayed the same) over the last 50 years, while another group tried to work out the best way to resolve a couple of sensitive people management matters. But I don’t think it was this that had struck me.
What struck me was the smaller impact group of seven I worked with during the four day programme, and had spent most of the second day with. On the first day, these seven participants had formed their group as much by accident than anything else. None of them knew each other; they had quite different life experiences, professional paths and aspirations. Yet just 48 hours later, there was a palpable level of commitment, support and generosity that this group were showing each other. They were absolutely invested in the success of each other, and thinking collectively about what they, as a group, could do to support each of the other members with what they were trying to achieve – or think about. Different people needed different things – this was playing out as well, and everyone had something to offer.
So on the one hand, there was a very supportive and developmental process playing out. However what I also noticed was that they were the first to think carefully about the return on investment for their organisations and the NHS more broadly. As a result, each participant in my impact group made two pledges to the rest of the group. They pledged about a commitment in the following week, and something more long range which they also committed to attempt to do. The likelihood of success of the pledges wasn’t the point, it was more about the group commitment, and the determination to use the programme as a platform from which they could make positive changes in the service.
As always, the challenge will be for this group to keep the momentum going – they have named themselves, ‘the exceptional impact group’.
I think I agree.