Six Accelerators of Complex Change
There is an urgent need for rapid change in Healthcare. Rapid change often feels elusive, but it is possible and what a beautiful thing it is when it does happen. While researching complex change programmes a couple of years ago I found some common features when change is rapid.
The six accelerators were:
- Create a Quest: Quests are essential in complex change, they are visions with an emotional connection, something that really matters for those involved and for which there is a challenging path to achieve. I.e. it’s worth the struggle. Without the emotional connection with an outcome that matters, the quest becomes someone else’s and therefore much less appealing.
- Eradicate the Film extras: Film extras are the people in movies that we don’t have any relationship with, we don’t care about them nor what’s important to them. Essentially, the teams involved need healthy relationships, and they need to respect the views and trust each other if they are to collectively make changes. There shouldn’t be people involved for whom the team doesn’t know well enough and treat as a film extra.
- Create your own Guinness Book of Records: I loved the Guinness Book of Records when I was young, it had both the hard data and the narrative stories that made them come alive. Achievements, records and goals are significant when accelerating change, celebrating the successes on the way to something much more significant generates lots of positive momentum. Creating your own metrics, trajectories, intermediate targets to achieve, tracking these and wrapping personal stories around them to make the story of the journey to the quest makes it feel more achievable through smaller steps.
- Conduct the Orchestra; Conductors are a really crucial part of really great music, but they don’t actually play any music. What they do is support and coach the musicians, provide a framework and rhythm, and facilitate the interpretation of the music. They ensure that all elements come together in a way that makes the sum of the parts much greater as a whole. Their complete focus is on an outcome, without favouring individual parts. You need people who focus on the quest but behave as if they are independent of all the tribes and parties involved.
- Behave like Apaches; – surprisingly their social structures have almost no hierarchal power and were a very devolved society. They did have cultural leaders, Nant’an’s, who led by example, but they had no command or control power. Although distributed into small independent groups, individuals could choose what they wanted to do, a clear way of life where everyone had a view, and they achieved things through collaboration and open discussion. This made them very difficult to negotiate with and made them incredibly good at adapting and responding to emerging situations. Devolving and trusting teams to self-organise and adapt without hierarchy, responding to people leading by example is powerful. In all the programmes I observed, this happened within the context of a strategic objective agreed in hierarchy, but delivered by a group of people who took or assumed devolved responsibility.
- Plan like an Olympic Sailor: The skill of a successful Olympic sailor is being able to respond to changing situations, sure they plan ahead of any race. However, they don’t stick to the plan rigidly. Instead, they continually respond to the changes in wind and water currents. Most of their preparations are around the development of likely scenario’s and how to respond to these.
Warning: These are much easier for me to write down and you to remember than they are to do, but the effort is worth it. I have stories from people who have made them happen and in many cases, were astonished at what happened.
These six accelerators are derived from the research and enablers that sparked this blog a couple of years ago.