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When first invited to develop Q, we could have used the available funding to run a new large scale training course, but decided early on to take a much broader view of capability building. We were led by our founding members, and the experts that advised us, to think about learning as a process that was systemic, and interwoven for our members with the daily practice of making change. Being capable is linked to issues of identity, context, confidence and connectedness. We have development offers and resources available for members within Q, but we came to realise that all aspects of what it means to join and be part of Q can support learning for individual members and – in some cases – the system more widely.

Why did we commission this work? Well, the ongoing design of Q is a live example of learning while doing. Research informs what we do at every stage, but this has mostly happened as part of the fast-moving, social, often messy process of co-design. We’ve relied on our friends and members to filter and make sense of what’s most likely to be useful.

By more systematically reviewing relevant theories, we are challenging and refining the provisional conclusions we came to about what is most likely to help people doing improvement. Where we discover our approach is consistent with evidence about how people learn and improve, this work helps us – and individual members – articulate the rationale for investing time and resources in Q.

The team at NHS Horizon has produced a report capturing different learning theories for you to apply in your own improvement work.