Seeking the approaches that enable faster change in the complex world of health and social care
Genuine change in health and social care is complex, unpredictable, time consuming and very difficult to achieve. As outlined in a previous post on Sprinting, sprints are an approach that embraces the characteristics of complex change and can be very valuable approach in your armoury and key to accelerating change.
A Sprint can be described as an exercise that brings together a group of people (sprint team) with the right capabilities to undertake the delivery of an output(s) in a defined period of time, usually 1 or 2 weeks.
The concept of sprinting comes from the software industry and is encapsulated within Agile Project Management. The approach is based on a number of key principles designed to reduce development time and cost, and develop better software. In developing sprinting within health and social care, we have adapted the key Agile Manifesto principles from the agile movement for Health and Social Care and the current iteration of the adapted underpinning principles are:
These have wider application, but when relating to a sprint these principles are important to ensure that the focus remains on people, being flexible and production of a working output within the timescale.
The software industry has since taken the concept and embedded detailed processes and methodologies, which for me, seems counter to the ’embracing complexity’ approach that saw its birth. Indeed, experience of using the approach clearly demonstrates that the ability to improvise within the constraints of the key principles is required, wrapping this into a methodology would have been unhelpful and have lead to changing the environment to match the methodology rather than embracing and working with the complexity. To illustrate how this improvisation is important and how it responds to the environment, I will outline a number of examples and situations.
From the adaption of the concept outlined above, it is clear that there is no single way in which to approach sprints and whilst I and my colleagues have learnt a lot through trial and error, there is still much to learn. Many people I’ve introduced to the approach, although skeptical initially, have really started to embrace and adapt the approach, but not the 4 principles, as the acceleration benefits have been evident.
It is clear from the sprints I’ve undertaken and seen that they really do accelerate change in a complex world, to do this, however they do need to be adapted to meet the specific circumstances, but they always stay true to the key principles.
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