Monday, September 19, 2016
Health and social care integration in Kirklees
We have worked to develop collaborative leadership across health and social care systems in a number of localities. In Kirklees we were asked to support the creation of a integrated mental health commissioning system as an exemplar from which the whole system could learn.
What did we do
A very senior group of leaders worked together over a number of sessions to develop a shared set of principles and goal – and a series of practitioner workshops began to flesh out what this would mean for front line services. Recognising that success would depend on the strength of relationships between staff in different organisations, we designed and delivered a ‘Skills for Systems Leadership Programme’ for the public health, social care and CCG senior teams – agreeing key health outcomes and providing the skills and techniques that enabled cross-organisational teams to develop shared approaches to changing behaviour and tackling long-standing problems.
The programme built a strong network of organisations and individual leaders, a shared understanding of systems pressures and agreement about the way forward. The work included providing individual coaching and support to key leaders, facilitation and team coaching sessions for top managers and partnerships. The final stage of the programme was to create a dramatic ‘future scenario’ event for fifty or so participants including the voluntary and community sector, from which partner organisations developed a set of principles to guide future shared direction.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Not waving, but drowning… in data? Managing data and Social Impact Bonds
This is the third blog in the series that summarises key points in a speech I delivered at the 2016 Social Investing and Corporate Social Responsibility Forum, held at Meiji University in Tokyo. Here, I reflect on the following issue:
- What data do the various Social Impact Bond (SIB) players need to collect, and how do they analyse and use the information?
The importance of data
SIBs are outcomes-focussed. In the first blog of this series, I wrote about outcome metrics, and I think it’s sufficiently appreciated that outcome measurement is critical to the successful of SIBs. It is also widely reported that the ‘data burden’ of SIBs can be considerable. Our first interim evaluation report of the Essex County Council SIB, for example, pointed out that “information and reporting requirements of the SIB have felt onerous for all partners”.
While outcomes are vital, SIBs require more than outcome data to work. If stakeholders are not careful, they may find themselves in a position of expending disproportionate amounts of time and resources in collecting, analysing and reporting data.
We should not, however, simply accept this at face value as a ‘fact’ of SIBs. If we are to take the outcomes-focussed principle to its logical conclusion, then we must surely also be clear about the desired outcomes for data collection and its use. Starting with this helps streamline data collection and use, ensuring that we know why we are collecting certain types of data, and how we are going to use them.
As SIBs involve multiple players, each must develop clarity about data for their specific needs. In addition, the different players need to work together to minimise duplication and ensure that information is shared and that there are systems in place to support collaborative interpretation and scrutiny.
Shared approaches to data categorisation and collection
Different though SIB stakeholders may be, their approaches to data categorisation and collection is surprisingly similar.
When categorising data there are particular ‘headings’ that data relate to. Data can be categorised as regular performance management data, process data, impact data, and cost-benefit data. This points to the fact that delivering a SIB effectively requires parties to monitor ongoing operational matters; constantly assess and review the implementation of the intervention(s); ascertain the degree of which implementation may be leading to the desired outcomes; and assurance that transactions represent good value for money.
Indeed, different SIB players often collect and/or require similar, if not identical, data. This immediately alerts us to the fact that the various players need to work collaboratively to ensure they do not duplicate efforts; share data where relevant; and streamline processes to reduce the overall burden of collecting, analysing and reporting data. Not doing so can lead to unintended additional costs for all parties, as our second Essex SIB interim evaluation report has shown.
Different stakeholders use data differently
While data required can be identical across the various players, the use of the same data can be quite different.
Outcome payers scrutinise data as part of due diligence, which can be heightened in the case of SIBs. They need to show that they have undergone robust scrutiny of the data to justify paying out to investors. They also look at data from the point of view of assessing performance against the original business case for the SIB, and to see how the SIB way of doing things compare with more conventional ways of commissioning services.
Service providers look at the data in terms of understanding the effectiveness of implementation and the efficacy of the intervention. This may be particularly true if they are not delivering a strongly evidence-based intervention, and/or if their intervention is flexible and adaptive. In addition, service providers will wish to be clear about the true cost of delivering a service under a SIB model and how it compares with other ways of ‘selling’ services. They may be interested in ‘going to market’ more widely through a SIB model, and such information is therefore crucial in helping to price appropriately and competitively. Needless to say, most if not all service providers have a strong focus on outcomes for their service users.
Social investors, from our experience, tend to look at data with an eye on what can be improved. They are always looking at how they may redirect resources, adjust inputs and the approach to give it the best chance of success. After all, payment is linked to success. They also look at the data to assess return on investment, and how it compares with other forms of investment, and also how it compares with their investments in other SIBs.
Evaluators, of course, look at the bigger picture in terms of what the impact of the SIB has been and whether it adds values, over and above the operational concerns of individual SIB players. This is where I would encourage evaluators of SIBs to place emphasis on understanding the impact of the SIB, as opposed to the impact of the intervention per se. There is a real gap in our collective knowledge base in terms of how and whether SIBs add value; and whether particular models of SIBs may be more or less effective in different contexts, policy areas, or target groups.
Just as SIBs are focussed on outcomes, the exercise of collecting and analysing data for a SIB should equally be outcomes-focussed. Many commentators have noted that SIBs can be overly complex, and data requirement is often part of this complexity. Equally, commentators have pointed out that in order for SIBs to flourish and to achieve the desired degree of spread and scale, it is vital for us to work together to find ways of simplifying and streamlining core SIB components so as to reduce transaction costs.
There will always be a degree of bespoke tailoring required in specific contexts, but there are core generic components that may be simplified or made consistent. The information collection and reporting requirement seems to be one of these ‘design features’ of SIBs, using the terminology from Bridges Ventures, that may be amenable to this, thereby contributing towards reducing the transaction costs of SIBs.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Japan in Spring: the budding potential for Social Impact Bonds
I was flattered to have been invited back to Japan in April to speak at the 2016 Social Investing and Corporate Social Responsibility Forum, held at Meiji University in Tokyo. Japanese colleagues specifically asked me to touch on the following issues:
- How do the various Social Impact Bond (SIB) players identify and structure outcome metrics?
- Can you structure outcome metrics in a way that is not motivated directly by budgetary savings but by social wellbeing?
- What data do the various SIB players need to collect, and how do they analyse and use the information?
- What are some lessons that OPM have learned from evaluating SIBs?
This is the first, in a series of blogs, summarising some of my key messages.
How do the various SIB players identify and structure outcome metrics?
There are a number of factors to consider when identifying metrics for SIB-funded programmes. However, this is an art not a science and it should support – not obscure – the achievement of meaningful outcomes.
The ‘3 Ms’
I work to three key principles called the ‘3 Ms’, namely, metrics should be:
a) While SIBs are focused on outcomes, for contracting purposes, the duration of SIBs has to work for the outcomes payers, social investors and service providers. Hence, metrics are usually some form of intermediate or proxy indicators. There should be a compelling rationale to believe that if these intermediate/proxy outcomes are generated, then it is plausible that the longer term desired outcomes are likely to be achieved.
b) Metrics should be easily interpretable. What does it mean if an indicator goes up, stays the same, or comes down? Take ‘reporting of crime’ as an example; if crime reporting goes up, is it because there is more crime (which is bad) or is it because people are getting better at reporting crime (which is good)?
a) Can the outcome be measured consistently and robustly? Where it is not already collected routinely, what are the resource implications for collecting the data, and are there tools and processes for collecting the data well.
b) Do we have the systems in place to support good measurement?
As SIBs are based on the ability to pay for stated outcomes, there needs to be some mechanism for pricing those outcomes. It is common to find outcomes being priced based on some projected savings resulting from those outcomes being achieved, but outcome pricing does not always have to stem from budgetary savings.
Roles in identifying and structuring outcome metrics
Social investors, outcome payers, service providers and intermediaries are all very diverse and have different motivations, so it can be hard to generalise. Crudely speaking, their roles and significance of their roles can vary depending on the type of SIB.
Outside of the UK, individually-negotiated SIBs are most common. This type of SIB means that the outcome payers often work very closely with service providers and sometimes with the help of external intermediaries to help them define and structure outcome metrics.
In the UK, we similarly have individually-negotiated SIBs (for example, the Essex SIB that OPM has been evaluating). However, UK is unique because we have many SIBs developed through an Impact Bond Fund model (e.g. the Innovation Fund, Fair Chance Fund, Youth Engagement Fund). Under this model, government departments (as outcomes payers) spent a lot of time analysing data and came up with what is known as a ‘rate card’ that specifies the different outcomes that the government is interested in, how the outcomes should be measured, and the maximum price that the government will pay for each outcome.
There are now SIBs that are developed by service providers and sometimes intermediaries. In these cases, the service provider or intermediary led the development of the outcome metrics. For service providers, it is usually because they have a long history of delivering a specific intervention and have been measuring its effectiveness in a particular way.
Structuring outcome metrics and payment
Crudely speaking, this is done at the individual level or at the group level. At the individual level, outcomes are specified for the individual participant/beneficiary. It may be one outcome per participant, or could be a series of outcomes for that person. This is the approach used in the Impact Bond Fund SIBs. In the first round of the Innovation Fund, the rate card issued by the UK Department for Work and Pensions specified that one of the desired outcomes was ‘improved behaviour at school’. This outcome was to be measured by ‘letter from teacher’. The achievement of this outcome for the pupil triggers a payment of up to £800.
In comparison a group-level approach can be structured in two ways. First, you focus solely at the intervention group and define the number or the percentage within that group that needs to demonstrate the outcome. This is the approach used in Germany’s SIB which specified that at least 20 individuals out of the group of 100+ must experience the outcome for payment to be triggered.
Alternatively, you can compare the intervention group against a control group. In these scenarios, there are often thresholds set for outcome levels. For example, the Peterborough SIB structured its outcome metrics in a way that supported two different payment triggers. The first is when an intervention cohort demonstrates at least 10% reduction in reoffending compared with the control group. If this condition is not met, a second way for triggering payment is if all three intended cohorts have an average reduction in reoffending of at least 7.5%.
It strikes me that while the principles underpinning outcome metric selection are clear, the act of identifying and structuring them in support of SIBs is as much an art as it is a science. There is no single approach that works in all cases. I think it is important that we do not get lost in the technicalities and forget about what is really important. Instead, we must always keep a clear eye on outcomes and make sure that we identify and structure metrics in a way that supports meaningful achievement of those outcomes.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Systems Leadership in Complex Cities
How OPM recently worked with Vietnamese civil servants to explore the role of systems leadership in complex city challenges.
With a population centre of more than 10 million people, London is the UK’s one and only megacity. Whilst the city plays a dominant global role, there is no doubting that its sheer volume of people, communities and businesses creates unique social, economic and environmental challenges.
Much of OPM’s change and transformation work seeks to address complex and uncertain situations like these through systems leadership thinking.
This sort of leadership has been defined as “the collaborative leadership of a network of people in different places and at different levels of the system creating a shared endeavour and cooperating to make a significant change.”
Systems leadership will therefore be crucial in meeting the challenges of megacities, and so we were delighted to host a delegation of planning and investment civil servants from Vietnam earlier this month to explore the role of systems leadership in the context of complex city challenges.
The event, organised in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s business school, explored systems leadership through a case study on 9 Elms. 9 Elms is a key regeneration initiative in the centre of London that will create among other things, 18,000 new homes; 25,000 new jobs; 2 new tube stations and a new linear park.
Whilst the regeneration efforts will contribute to local economic growth, there are already concerns around a lack of affordable housing, the long term viability of local independent businesses and the balance between commercial and civic space.
After learning more about systems leadership, the delegates were tasked with identifying the potential problems that may arise as the project progresses and the systems leadership skills and behaviours that would be required to overcome these problems.
The feedback from each group was remarkably similar. The project’s success will require the cultivating of positive and honest relationships between partners across the public and private sector, while the tension between profitability and creating a pleasant living environment will have to be managed sensitively throughout the process. Those involved in leading the regeneration efforts will also need to be brave enough to confront difficult conversations when interests conflict or risk stalling the progress of the project.
For more information on OPM’s experiences around systems leadership, you can download our recent paper, “Systems Leadership: A view from the bridge.”
Monday, June 15, 2015
OPM features heavily in influential new Systems Leadership paper
The Leadership Centre‘s role is to create the space for senior managers and politicians from across the public sector to think about the ambitions they have for their communities and how they can achieve them in order to fundamentally transform their localities for the better. It is made up of leadership experts with experience in politics, central and local government and the wider public and private sectors.
Its most recent publication, ‘The Art of Change Making’, is a collection of theories, approaches, tools and techniques for understanding the complex interactions between people and organisations and how to intervene to create meaningful change. These are used by current practitioners in developing systems leadership.
OPM features heavily in the paper. The document can be downloaded by clicking on the image below:
Quotes from OPM’s Principal in Local Services Sue Goss can be found on pages 199, 205-206 and 130, OPM Associate Paul Tarplett on pages 4, 117, 120, 186, 209, 211-212 and 217, Matt Gott on pages 2, 50, 71 and Liz Goold on pages 57, 93, 147 and 245.
Sue Goss has also published a short paper on the subject, Systems Leadership: A View from the Bridge, a personal account of what has been learned from working with leaders collaborating across organisations to achieve difficult outcomes with shrinking resources since 2010.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Systems leadership – now we need to bank the learning…
As the election campaigns kick off I’ve been looking back over the past five years and wondering what will happen over the next five.
Since 2010, most of my work has been supporting systems leadership – working with leaders who are collaborating across organisations to achieve difficult outcomes with shrinking resources. And despite (or because of?) the financial challenges, something very exciting has begun to happen. Health and social care are beginning to integrate. Sub-regional and regional partnerships are driving economic growth and creating jobs. Organisations are sharing services and sharing assets. We are learning very practical things about how to change complex systems and leaders are emerging with the confidence, generosity and foresight to work collaboratively. Organisational boundaries are becoming more open, and more porous. We are even developing a robust evidence base about how systems work, and effective practice in how to develop system leadership skills; through interactive and creative programmes.
But we have yet, in most areas, to see results. We are perhaps on the cusp (my experience teaches me that it will take another five years for the learning to spread), for new ways of working to become mainstream, for obstacles to be overcome, and confidence to grow. In the few places like Manchester, where real change is now visible – they’ve been collaborating for decades.
What usually happens when government’s change, is that all the previous projects are pulled up by the roots – initiatives are abandoned (old thinking), training and support agencies are shut down (‘bonfire of the quangos’), leadership programmes are abandoned (waste), and the civil servants who have learnt the most move on (‘need for fresh blood’). Old concepts have to be renamed – ‘total place’ becomes ‘community budgets’ – LSPs become health and wellbeing boards and Local Economic Partnerships. After about two years, something very similar to what went before is painfully restarted, often minus the learning, and new initiatives spring up that resemble the old ones, although couched in new language.
Between 2015 and 2020, for whoever wins the election, there will be no realistic alternative to collaborative working across systems, no viable way to deliver health and social care without integration, and no sensible approach to jobs that doesn’t work across the whole local and regional economy. New communities cannot be created unless transport, housing, leisure and the environment are linked. Mental health problems or obesity, for example, can’t be tackled unless local government, health and communities work together. This time, with money tight and crises looming, we can’t afford to lose two years.
Which is why it’s so important not to lose the learning from systems leadership, and why across public services we need to bank, and share, the experience of the past five years – both good and bad. We need to involve chief executives, senior managers, politicians, community leaders, clinicians and professionals as well as HR and OD specialists, so that we can mainstream innovative approaches, learn from mistakes, and don’t have to return to ‘year zero’.
There have been excellent publications produced by the Leadership Centre for Local Government and by the Virtual Staff College. My contribution is a short paper, Systems Leadership: A View from the Bridge, which is a very personal account of what I have been learning and how to make systems leadership work in practical terms. The paper has been shared widely with OD and HR colleagues and I hope it can form the basis of a wider conversation, so that the next five years can build on the discoveries of the last five.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Systems Leadership: A view from the bridge
Across the public and third sectors, we are beginning to accept a new way of thinking about the leadership required, applying the theory of ‘systems thinking’ to the practical reality of trying to achieve complex change. For both practitioners in OD, leadership development and for leaders themselves, there is an important opportunity now to exchange learning about how to lead well in these difficult times.
This paper is a personal account from OPM’s Sue Goss on how to make systems leadership work in practical terms. It is not simply about toolkits and ‘hot tips’ – there is a need for new theory to help explain what is happening, as well as carefully observed learning from practice. The paper has been shared widely with OD and HR colleagues and we hope it can form the basis of a wider conversation, so that the next five years can build on the discoveries of the last five.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Learning from Systems Leadership – what role for OD and HR leaders? Reflections on OPM-PPMA joint summit
Last month, OPM hosted a summit, along with the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA), to explore the latest learning about ‘systems leadership’ and its implications for the role and practice of OD/HR leaders and practitioners.
It was a great opportunity to exchange the emerging learning about this challenging but exciting approach to leadership thinking and practice and explore the OD and HR questions it raises. With over 60 participants from across local government and health, it is clear that many in the OD and HR community see the need for this too.
Sue Goss shares her thoughts alongside panellists (from left to right)
Kerry Furness, Debbie Sorkin and Liz Goold
Why this event?
Systems Leadership – an approach to leading across organisational, sector, professional boundaries at different levels and places – offers the kind of collaborative and collective leadership that will be increasingly needed to handle many of the complex ‘wicked’ issues facing public services, like integrating services or preventing ill-health that cannot be resolved by acting alone. This approach, by its nature, can also challenge existing models of leadership, cultural norms, working methods and workforce skills. OD and HR professionals can bring a lot to these challenges. They also need to be at the centre of this wider conversation and emerging practice at different levels – from supporting leadership at community level through to equipping senior leaders to effect whole systems change – as well as modelling systems leadership themselves.
With a growing body of research and practice in systems leadership and as we approach an election, OPM and PPMA saw this summit as a timely opportunity to take stock and ask – how might OD and HR professionals apply this emerging learning to equip our organisations, localities and communities for an even more challenging future? And what might this mean for their role and practice?
The day itself
Debbie Sorkin, the National Director of Systems Leadership at the Leadership Centre joined the panel with Liz Goold and Sue Goss from OPM and Kerry Furness, the OD lead for PPMA – all bringing a rich mix of experience and expertise in systems leadership thinking, development and practice in public services, as well as OD. The summit involved stories and input, small group and plenary conversations and an Open Space session.
What are we learning about systems leadership?
We explored lessons from research and practice ‘in the field’, along with participants’ own experience. Debbie spoke of many incidences of real progress being made in Local Vision places and NHS Pioneers, as part of the national Systems Leadership programme, for example, Wakefield, Wiltshire, and North West London. She shared factors that have helped systems change and leadership to flourish, for example:
- Being willing to cede organisational goals in service of a collective ambition;
- Going wider than you originally thought – involving people in communities – as that’s often where the energy and creativity lies;
- Not being bound up with formal roles – willingness to experiment and take risks;
- The crucial importance of shared purpose and strong/honest relationships to weather the storms; and
- Having a coaching and support network.
Further learning about the difference that systems leadership can make will also be made available through an evaluation of the Local Vision pilots that is currently underway, commissioned by the Leadership Centre – so watch this space.
Sue Goss shared stories from her experience as a ‘system enabler’, including a vivid account of her work with one integrated health and social care board where there was much ‘dancing around’ the partnership table, avoiding the difficult conversations which then escalated into conflicts. For Sue, the systems leadership perspective here means, “informal meetings, having honest, difficult conversations, careful design of formal meetings, making sure the right people are in the room – talking to those who are not – getting the right work done in advance, and understanding each other’s perspectives. Some of the most important meetings happen in Costa Coffee”.
This approach may mean re-focusing attention on where the differences are, not just where there is consensus. It sees conflict as useful – if it is creative – rather than being used to avoid the difficult issues. At the same time, this disturbance can cause much anxiety which needs to be acknowledged and held to enable creative, courageous thinking and wise action without minimising the scale of the challenge.
Many OD practitioners (including myself) will see this as familiar territory but what systems leadership offers, is the opportunity to move OD thinking and practice out onto a much wider, cross- organisational, cross-cultural, cross-sector and cross-systems canvas. Several commented on the day that this challenged their own mind-sets and models of OD. As one participant commented, “what shift do I need to make in my own model of OD? How do I practise and model systems leadership as an OD practitioner?”.
Mindsets and behaviours needed
This led into a conversation about the mind-sets, behaviours and skills needed by systems leaders. Drawing on international research and practice, the model below illustrates different inter-related dimensions of systems leadership – with improving social outcomes at its heart. Above all, it emphasises that systems leadership is a mind-set or approach, rather than a set of technical skills or competencies. The Virtual Staff College has commissioned a helpful synthesis paper outlining this model further.
Sue Goss also shared a draft paper from her practitioner experience that develops these dimensions further, which will be circulated more widely shortly. Reference was also made to related research on the ‘21st Public Servant’ carried out by INLOGOV and the University of Birmingham.
Systems Leadership: Exceptional leadership for exceptional times,
Virtual Staff College 2013
Many recognised that OD and HR leaders/practitioners also needed to model, integrate and feel confident with these different dimensions, if they are to be (and be seen as) systems leaders themselves. As one participant commented, “we need to up our game”. Others recognised this approach also surfaced dilemmas and tensions between contradictory paradigms and competing demands that needed to be navigated “what happens when system leadership thinking – emergent, distributed, complex – hits up against more structured/conventional expectations of OD? How do we deal with the tension between complexity, collaborative working & accountability?”.
So, how might these mind-sets and behaviours be nurtured and developed?
Different examples were shared by colleagues of developing, promoting and influencing systems leadership including national place-based programmes, local joint commissioning leadership programmes (see Kerry Furness’s article in the Municipal Journal for more info), in-house workshops for senior leaders and action learning sets, engaging politicians with public health professionals and supporting community-level action with parish councils. Creating the conditions for these to happen often involved exercising systems leadership, as well as using the key principles in their design. For example, the national ‘Leadership for Change’ programme, where I am co-Residential Facilitator, is run by Virtual Staff College as part of a systems leadership alliance, including Public Health England, The Leadership Centre, NHS Leadership Academy. Design principles involve:
- Senior leaders (e.g. local government, public health, CCGs, Third Sector) learning together from the same locality – through ‘place teams’ rather than just as individuals;
- Effecting change, as well as deepening learning by experimenting and working on live systems leadership challenges in-between sessions, in their locality, supported by a place team coach; and
- Creating synergies and connections with leaders from across different sectors. A Third Sector programme participant commented on the value and power of developing fresh perspectives, challenging assumptions (her own and others) and developing new relationships that were unlikely to happen otherwise – and how different this was to other leadership programmes that often just involved individual leaders from the same sector.
Key questions for exploration – Open Space
The conversations generated a number of themes and questions, some of which we explored further in an Open Space session. These included:
- The big Why? Who or what is this ultimately in service of? – How do citizens, communities, patients remain at the centre? Is this about re-distribution of power, social good, behaviour change? To what extent does it point to larger social questions e.g. democracy? How might we see systems leadership as part of creating a social movement for change?
- Creating a narrative for systems leadership and our role in it – How might we find innovative ways of telling a story of the impact of this kind of approach and the added value we can bring, often in unseen ways? How might these stories speak to/engage others, e.g. politicians? How might ‘the business case’ be framed in a different way? (i.e. can we afford not to, given where we are heading?). The evaluation of Local Vision pilots may be helpful here.
- How to build capacity/take systems leadership forward from an OD/HR perspective? – Are current leadership programmes enough/fit for purpose? What other approaches might we take informed by systems leadership principles? How do we develop our own understanding and practice as systems leaders? What can good OD thinking and practice also bring to the table?
- Engaging with senior leadership – How do we help them create the right conditions for promoting/modelling systems leadership – and what if they’re not? What crucial conversations do we need to have?
- The role of politicians in systems leadership – How do we engage with them meaningfully?
- Do we know what is already happening in our own organisations/what else is going on out there? This led to one group mapping out what was already happening in relation to systems leadership nationally – as a basis for building on existing or making new connections rather than duplicating and building a LinkedIn group for participants – all part of systems leadership!
The next cohort of the Leadership for Change programme will be running in June/July 2015.
Do we know what is already happening in our own organisations?
What else is going on out there?
Taking systems leadership forward
Some useful pointers for taking systems leadership forward from an OD/HR perspective from the Open Space session included:
- Don’t try and do it top down or organisation wide all at once – go where someone has a problem where it might help to move things forward – go where the energy is;
- Help identify values and behaviours and ‘simple rules’ with a more systems focus;
- Find some energy or friendly faces and just have a go – start small and use what you have;
- Break away from the ‘usual suspects’ – use cross slice working bringing the right skills together – knitting together different perspectives-use informal networks;
- Upskill OD/HR business partners in key skills to facilitate systems leadership activity and offer those services more;
- Develop your own narrative from this experience that speaks to those you are seeking to connect with/mobilise;
- Engage senior leaders – be prepared to have the difficult conversation;
- Involve politicians from the start and all the way through, not just ‘reporting back to’ at the end. Engage in creating a shared story with them; and
- Probably best not to give it a label – just approach the work/problem using the principles.
The last point is a helpful one, as it may be more important to integrate and apply the underlying principles in everyday practice rather than get too hung up on a label. Developing a shared narrative of these principles and finding practical ways of applying them, would help with that. As Debbie remarked, “OD and HR people in local government and health need to develop their own narrative of systems leadership and see themselves as central to it”.
We also see many synergies with principles underpinning more contemporary approaches in OD and change, which could enrich and deepen systems leadership work. Likewise, with community capacity-building work. OPM has been exploring these synergies with PPMA members recently, as part of some action research, which you can read out about in this article from the Municipal Journal. We see a real benefit in OD practitioners, systems leaders and those involved in community engagement bringing these principles together – as part of a shared narrative and practice.
As indicated before, systems leadership is more of a mindset and approach than a list of tools and techniques. By its very nature, it helps to widen your lens – or indeed, apply different lenses, wherever you are in the system. It means connecting with the disconnected, going beyond the ‘usual suspects’ or traditional networks, getting multiple perspectives into the room, having the right conversations, thinking beyond the individual ‘hero leader’ and organisational boundaries and paying attention to the relationships and patterns between. It will constantly ask, ‘who or what is this service of?’ – keeping citizens, communities and patients at the centre. It is not by any means the ‘silver bullet’ and does not intend to discount or replace other forms of leadership or management – but it may well challenge them. If basic management processes are not in place, then arguably, a systems leadership approach will struggle to add value – but on their own, they are not enough.
This approach to thinking and leading across multiple systems can be challenging all round, including for the OD/HR system(s) itself but given the difficult times we face, this approach does seem very relevant and in need of attention and support. OD and HR leaders and practitioners have a key role to play here and need the appropriate support and development themselves.
Action and feedback
“Very thought provoking and energising event, met some useful contacts for follow up sessions that I now want to do locally and also useful to promote our regional plans for an OD Systems network”.
“I thought the panel part of the session with the practical examples was really valuable – and hearing the different experiences on the ground”.
“This event supported the bringing together skills at comparable levels across numerous organisations which allowed for productive debate and sharing”.
From the conversations and feedback at the event and since, it’s clear it has stimulated thinking and connections and supported a clearer sense (belief even?) of the central role that OD/HR has to play in systems leadership – as well as the courage and confidence to give it a go. From the individual commitments made on the ‘commitment tree’ at the end (see flip-chart notes) and feedback received, it’s clear there is a lot of energy and momentum to do just that in different localities, as well as in individuals’ own practice.
The Commitment Tree
Follow-up – support and next steps
- PPMA want to build on the energy and interest in the room for developing communities of practice and connections with other OD/HR networks across sectors. Based on feedback after the event, Kerry Furness will be contacting PPMA regional chairs about the possibility of repeating similar events in regions. Please get in touch with Kerry or your regional chairs if you are interested and with any further ideas you have;
- OPM and the Leadership Centre are available as a resource for those who want any further support in taking systems leadership forward (see contacts below);
- Following feedback, there is a desire to explore themes and practical examples/methods in greater depth. For example, a joint event is now currently being explored for OD/HR practitioners with NHS Employers around health and social care integration and what OD and systems leadership can offer, in particular the cultural implications;
- Connect with each other – a contact list from the event will be made available and use the LinkedIn group being set up!;
- The Leadership Centre is currently developing a workbook, The art of Change Making, that will offer an important resource and will be available shortly;
- Sue Goss’s draft paper, Systems leadership – A view from the bridge, is also a resource from a practitioner perspective. She will be writing a blog on this shortly – so watch this space;
- Share this write-up and the resources attached with your networks to share learning, stimulate interest and build connections; and
- Ultimately this means us all taking responsibility for creating spaces for individual and collective reflection on practice- and giving systems leadership a go, wherever you are in the system.
This event was a collaborative endeavour between PPMA, OPM and the Leadership Centre and we sought to exercise systems leadership ourselves by drawing on our respective networks and creating the conditions for conversation and connections to support learning and change – and we hope this will continue and spread. We are all keen to hear your own stories of how you are influencing, developing and modelling systems leadership wherever you are, the steps you are taking, however small, what you are learning, what changes are happening – and let’s see where the energy takes us!
If you would like to connect with us and build on this momentum, please contact:
The Leadership Centre: email@example.com
 ‘Leadership across organisational and geopolitical boundaries, beyond individual professional disciplines within a range of organisational and stakeholder cultures often without managerial control (or formal /professional authority). The intention is to effect change for positive social benefit across multiple interacting and intersecting systems’ Systems Leadership: Exceptional Leadership in Exceptional times, Virtual Staff College (2013)
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Learning from Systems Leadership: What role for OD and HR leaders?
How is systems leadership enabling innovation and transformational change across public services, localities and communities? How can systems leadership be best developed and what does this mean for the role of OD and HR leaders?
The public sector faces major challenges that need strong collective leadership operating across local systems, rather than within single organisations. We’ve seen several good examples of this over the last decade, particularly through a number of ‘whole systems’ experiments and pilots – from Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs), to Total Place, to the more recent Local Vision Systems Leadership pilots sponsored by a powerful coalition of health and local government leadership bodies.
As we learn from these experiments, new leadership theory and practice is emerging around ‘Systems Leadership’ development to support public service organisations working in complex and multi-agency settings. Organisation development (OD) and HR professionals are naturally well placed to support this and need to be at the centre of this wider conversation and emerging practice – from supporting leadership at community level through to equipping senior leaders to effect whole systems change.
With this in mind and as we approach an election, it is important to take stock and apply the emerging learning in systems leadership to equip our organisations, localities and communities for an even more challenging future.
At this special joint summit, PPMA and OPM will bring together learning from the most recent experiments to do just that and to give the chance for you to connect with other senior OD and HR professionals. We’ll be exploring what this learning might mean for your role and how you might be at the forefront of this challenging but exciting shift in leadership development and practice.
Spaces are limited, so don’t miss out.
What we’ll cover
- Lessons in supporting systems change and systems leadership – including emerging systems leadership research.
- Practical learning about the skills and qualities needed for systems leadership – and how they are best developed, drawing on evidence from experiential national leadership programmes and ‘learning-in-action’ within and across organisations and localities.
- An exploration of the role of HR and OD professionals in supporting senior leaders to acquire these skills and the cultural and workforce implications this raises, alongside the evidence from experiential national leadership programmes about how to develop ‘learning-in-action’ within and across organisations and localities.
- An opportunity to explore what this means for the OD and HR community in going forward.
- Debbie Sorkin, National Director for Systems Leadership, Leadership Centre
- Sue Goss, Principal, OPM and system enabler for current Local Vision experiments
- Liz Goold, Senior OD Fellow, OPM and facilitator on a number of national systems leadership development programmes
- Kerry Furness, OD lead, PPMA and OD Manager, Norfolk County Council
This is a free event and the limited spaces will be offered on a first come, first served basis. If you’re interested in attending, please email Rosie Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Refreshments and lunch will be provided and if you have any special access or dietary requirements, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate them.
If you have any questions, please get get in touch with Rosie Keefe at email@example.com or on 020 7239 7816.
For more information about PPMA go to www.ppma.org.uk
For more information about OPM go to www.opm.co.uk
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Evaluation of the Leading Integrated System Level Change Programme
The Advancing Quality Alliance (AQuA) is a membership organisation supporting NHS commissioners, providers and their partners. In April 2014, AQuA began delivery of a new support programme ‘Leading Integrated System Level Change 2014/15’.
The programme involves a series of master classes on large-scale change and complex adaptive system theory and distributed leadership. It also includes the Integrated Care Fellowship Programme and International Exchange Programme. Paul Plsek and The King’s Fund are working in partnership with AQuA to deliver the programme. Bespoke coaching support is also available as a draw-down offer.
The programme is aimed at senior leaders from health and social care organisations, who have authority to take decisions and influence change within their organisations and across the local health and social care system. The participating economies are: Central Manchester, Bolton, Wigan, East Cheshire, Trafford, Oldham and Pennine / East Lancashire. Wirral initially joined the programme, but have currently withdrawn from engagement.
In May 2014 OPM was commissioned to undertake an independent evaluation of the Leading Integrated System Level Change programme. The aims of the evaluation are to provide an understanding of how the programme supports large scale system change, and to explore the transferability of the model to other system level reforms. The evaluation also aims to explore the value added by the International Exchange Programme and the AQuA Fellowship. AQuA will use the external feedback to shape the programme and demonstrate its impact.
This report presents the emerging findings at an interim stage of the evaluation.