The key resource in 2020 for the delivery of healthcare to populations around the world is… people, friends, colleagues; human beings that we need to work with day in and day out to keep ‘the show on the road’, and we didn’t even need a drum roll!

A crisis tells us this; facts tell us this; our own planning for the future tells us this. The most valuable asset to the healthcare systems of the world are the people that work at every level within them.

Organisations with ‘Digital at the Core’ require new thinking to create the right roles and the right environments for success, but still the principle for successful (and unsuccessful) change even in times of crisis is the engagement of people.

In the last couple of months I have read a great deal about the roles that are needed to create agility in any (every) organisation. The more I have tried to build my knowledge and plans the more I have come to believe that the most important element to create success is actually the way that roles interact with each other in an organisation. Our ability to work together will be the way we deliver healthcare to the populations of the world in 2030. The ‘wicked problem’ we need to fix by 2030 is how we facilitate collaboration without ego. Ways of working with a patient focus that removes the need for organisational risk and reward and concentrates on the creation of a caring, safe and efficient health eco-system with the patient in mind for every change we look to make.

When we look at the current crisis point across the world there are two clarion calls, one is ‘we need help’ and the other is ‘here is some help why don’t you take it’. The engagement of people to work towards the single-minded goal we all have is important at this juncture in the global campaign to survive.

The way roles work together is as important as the roles themselves, their actions and their attributes. If we get the roles and the ‘garden fence’, (the place where we meet to interact) right then we have a foundation to build on that will create the environment for success. Our people are what improves the ‘batting average’ of an agile-digital organisation – How to use the right people and skills to be first to the century, or even better how to create the eco-system for partnerships that deliver is the key healthcare leadership question for the next decade at least.

An organisations people help to create commodity avoidance – newly defined digital organisations need to ensure that they don’t become an organisation simply delivering a commodity. If they do then all they have to compete on is price which means the bottom line is all that can be innovated on to achieve growth which has to have an ultimate dire end to it. What happens when you get to the top of the rollercoaster, you go down, and on the way down you pick up a speed that offers a thrilling ride, but a ride that has to end! The types of people in your organisation and how they work together can ensure that the rollercoaster is a never-ending journey to the moon and beyond, a never-ending story of progressively better health and care and wellness that circles upwards and around your consumer, the patient.

Organisations of all sorts find themselves no longer ‘selling’ products, we are now selling services and experiences – the revenue model has changed, and whilst these sentences feel somewhat focused on private sector and profit driven exercises, by a small tweaking they can and do apply to the public health and care sector as well.

We are all now competing for time and attention of ‘customers’ and we need a new word for customers, how about ‘Experience Explorers’? Not so sure but for the purposes of getting this discussion going lets try it today, lets perceive that patients in health care are looking for the right experience to get better, suddenly it does make some sense.

Between 10 to 20 percent of the resource in your organisation really wants to deliver today! Or, word it differently, only 20 percent of your organisation really wants to deliver today.

Jeremy Scrivens (Appreciative futurist and researcher based in Australia)

That doesn’t mean others don’t want to be part of the journey, want to be successful and make a difference, but at best only 20% of the people you work with can see the route to creating a delivery focused value for the people willing to pay for it. That my dear friends is why lean, agile, bi-modal and the two engine model are so very hard to create, because you have to grow the understanding beyond the willing and ready 20% and out into the full width of the organisation for it to become the fleet of foot team you know it can be and that it needs to be.

Is it what ‘critical friend’ was invented for?

In times of crisis we find that the the number of engaged does increase but not exponentially as one would think. The distraction factor due to the sheer volume of what is going on elsewhere in life, in the community and with solutions to problems can make even the engaged less effective but more hard working!

How do we play to the Body Mind and Soul types of roles as a single leadership structure?

Never has it been harder to lead a team and appeal to every type, nor has it ever been more necessary. The desire to become frictionless is described every day and yet – it is a paradox! Organisations don’t want friction but as a leader we are taught to run towards it, embrace conflict and understand how to get the most from it, how to turn it into a catalyst for positive change!

Building the much valued and sought-after Growth Mindset in an Agile world should be easier, but nurturing a growth mindset right now is hard, growth to where is what the back of the mind yells back every time you try to nudge it forward. A growth mindset requires you and me to build a new focus, and that is hard to understand in the current ever-changing environment.

There are new definitions of leadership types making a difference in so many organisations today.

 New badges of honour that we need to negotiate to build the right response teams across our organisations even across the health and care and wellness system. Each leadership type has an impact on the Social Architecture of the ‘firm’ otherwise known as the culture. Some of the new badges are just that though new badges for ‘always there’ types, but its still worth revisiting them just to check we know what we are working with as we try to create a sense of collaboration.

Credible Activist: The leader that wants to see, feel, smell and hear change, not tomorrow but right now. ‘What do you mean we need to go through governance first’ would tend to be the high note of their clarion call. We need ‘do it’ people in every team and the current crisis is no better a time to consider whether the right governance is in place but there is a need for some governance or anarchy will take over. Listen but apply a small pause to the credible activist in you or your team.

Compliance Manager: The leader that needs an answer from all parties before taking the leap of faith needed to just do. The role that will keep us straight, keep us in the black and keep the wolves from the door when something goes wrong. But also the role that can be too slow, the health systems of the world are told to take no risk, to do no harm and to be compliant, but, to find the innovations that will lead us to a new normal some risks will need to be taken and therefore deploying this person in the right way is crucial for collaboration to be fruitful.

Culture and Change Champion: The leader or team member who can see how the organisation needs to change and wants to lead the change by example will help the team become the model of agility that they so desire, but, they may not want to stop there, the next type of change will also be in their mind and constant change, whilst it can be inevitable, does need a pause button every so often.

Analyst Designer and Interpreter: The role will often be someone who does not want to be bothered with the strategy or the bigger picture but when you are ready to get down to the detail of interpreting what is needed they will be your person and won’t stop until they have delivered. The caution needed with this role is they can have tunnel vision sometimes and need their chin pulling up to ensure they have that agility throughout the process to see the width of the picture, the original and changing reason for the delivery. But in my experience they will be a loyal resource to the cause once they are bought in and a good sceptical friend to and for change.

Total Rewards Steward: A magpie for new but an obsessive once they latch on to it. The resource or behaviour  can be stolen by shiny things but will ensure that whatever they lead on they will deliver and will bring maximum rewards to as many as possible.  I believe this role is key for some projects as it keeps going when others would give up. When they believe and can clearly see something is right, they don’t give up trying to convince everyone that they can change the world.

Technology and Media Integrator: The person that shares the love they have, the team has and the art of the possible can bring. A hard role to get right as we are all often protective of our successes and need to understand how the promotion of the work we do can generate acceptance, enthusiasm and a new outlook. Success breeds success if people know about it.  This role done well will have the skills to share successes and lessons and acquire them in return. The champion of the blueprint and the connoisseur of collaboration and a role I have had by my side on the three most successful occasions in my career thus far.

Human Capital Curator: This role is someone who can take a team of competent individuals who can deliver and through empowerment and understanding that allowance for failure they can see the same team rise to be a team who are knocking your door down with ideas, and the want to work to differently and challenge what was there norm.  this role is definitely an enabler for change and transformation.

Collaborative Sense Maker: Anyone who has seen me present or read much from me before knows that this is my passion. The ‘death’ of the expert and the rise of the people who make sense through collaboration, through bringing minds together and co-creating the route to tomorrow.

Collaboration for me is how we, humankind, will still be here in years to come. The eco-challenge set out to us by Greta Stromberg and others can only be achieved through collaboration like we have not seen before, but, we can also see the application of this mindset, this type of person in all that we do. The next innovation idea you have, share it with someone that isn’t the usual person you would share with and watch it evolve in a new way, that’s collaborative sense making live!

Wisdom at Scale: This is a great chair in any organisation, Linda Pollard at NHS Leeds is this role personified. The beauty of someone doing this role well is that they never stop learning and more importantly listening, to swoop in at the right moment apply that wisdom from scale and bring whatever is require to the room, sensibility, rationale, nuclear thinking, organisations need a great person in this role to change and be different and mostly importantly to empower leaders and then protect what they are going after.

All these roles or ways of working for a leader are new takes on soft skills. Sometimes they are just a new badge for something we know already but when you can pull them altogether like this you can see what is needed and where the gaps are in your team or organisation. We need these new ways of thinking about skill sets, not for titles and job descriptions but to set our organisations apart from the next and to create a new platform of resource and skill them up to create a new way of thinking in concert with each other:

Symphonic thinking, Creativity, Empathy, Collaboration, Innovation First…

These skills are how we augment new technology into the delivery of the softest solutions needed in healthcare, they are how we will bring ethics to AI and transform the automation starting point or healthcare. Moving away from just looking at platforms as technology and seeing a platform approach being applied to the skills we need is just as important as getting the new technology right.

We need to change the current education model and move away from the  regimentation of our approaches, every problem is a multi-disciplinary problem and we need to bring our collaboration to the fore front to achieve the most.

According to Jeremy Scrivens (an amazing leader and researcher in the creation of the social workspace based out of Australia) research only 13% of the global workforce finds true meaning in their work and they are engaged intrinsically from the heart not the head. But now more than ever before the workforce is engaged to collaborate for social good from the inside out. As leaders trying to make change happen in the right way cane we find a way to harness this? Most managers and leaders (most of us) have been taught engagement skills that can work, we know how to ‘play nice’ so lets turn that into a collaboration starting point.



Thanks to Stephen Watkins for the ‘Garden Fence’ theory which I love and also to the ever wonderful Jeremy Scrivens whose work is truly an inspiration.