What is your role at Q?
I’m Q’s Insight Manager. I support projects that draw out experience and learning across the community. For example, I work with Q Lab UK to use insights from a topic and help others to tap into this learning. I also support our evaluation work – helping us to understand how things are working now, and how we can improve to achieve impact.
What do you enjoy most about working with the Q community?
It’s the Q members I speak to and engage with! It’s incredibly rewarding. They never cease to amaze me, inspire me and challenge me. The commitment, openness and vulnerability that members bring to the spaces that we convene: I’m just in awe of that.
You presented at this year’s international forum in Gothenburg, how did that go?
I presented with colleagues from NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI). We shared our learning on the latest Q Lab UK project, which is about bringing together improvement and digital expertise and capability. Q is partnering with the NHS on digital health and care to deliver both Q Lab UK and this year’s Q Exchange. Our partnership is ultimately about aligning the worlds of digital and improvement – it recognises that improvements in care are very likely to have a digital component.
The presentation was a real partnership piece with Breid O’Brien and Donna Clements, from NHSEI and Penny Pereira (although Penny couldn’t join us in Sweden sadly). It was so nice to reflect together in person on what we’ve been hearing, what we’ve taken from the work and how it fits into the bigger picture.
There are huge opportunities in bringing people together to collaborate, and to remove hierarchies to explore different assumptions.
We talked about how the learning wasn’t necessarily unique – it can apply to any piece of work where you’re trying to improve capability and deliver an improvement project. But there are specific things to think about when you’re implementing technology-enabled change. For example, we spoke about the importance of a facilitation role to help bridge diverse project teams when working on digital change. There are huge opportunities in bringing people together to collaborate, and to remove hierarchies to explore different assumptions. The bridging role doesn’t have to be someone with improvement expertise, but they perform this role very well. It was great to see many of our themes being echoed elsewhere at the conference.
Were you nervous about presenting to such a big audience?
It’s not my happy place, presenting. I do research and evaluation – I prefer to sit behind a desk, reading things and asking other people questions! But I can’t do justice to what I hear, and share learning that I’m inspired by, without getting out of my area of comfort and presenting. I did enjoy it though.
What insights or new ideas did you pick up at Forum?
There were some inspiring keynotes at the conference. There was a nice metaphor that stayed with me about potholes and fallen trees. The idea is that we have a workforce that are like Lamborghinis, but they’re being asked to drive on roads with potholes and fallen trees. To fulfil the car’s potential, we need to fix the potholes and fallen trees.
I think focusing on individual wellbeing and experience of work is important if you really want to change your systems.
But there is also something about fixing ourselves – making sure you have fuel to keep the car on the road. I think focusing on individual wellbeing and experience of work is important if you really want to change your systems. There were lots of important reminders about how we can do this. I want to spread the word on ‘single tasking’, and scheduling ‘do nothing’ time (I’m going to use single tasking as my excuse for not being better at Tweeting at events!).
What did you enjoy most about being back at an in-person event?
It was great bumping into members. I’m lucky that I spend a lot of time working with the community, so it makes it easier to spot someone in real life.
There was a real buzz. It was delightful actually to be in a room with other people who really, really want to be there and who are energised like you. There are lots of advantages of meeting online. But I think there is more purposeful engagement in person because you have to engage in what’s happening in the room and be present.
Do you have any advice for members stepping back into in-person events and making those connections?
I think it depends on your experience over the last two years. A lot of Q members have been working in different health care settings, surrounded by people in real life. And then other people, like me, spent a lot of time sitting behind a computer screen.
You get something different from an in-person event.
If you’re feeling worried about being surrounded by people, remember there are other people who may be anxious too, that we enjoyed meeting together before and that you get something different from an in-person event. I’d also suggest prepping ahead to make the most of it: decide what sessions you’ll go to and look up Q members who will be there.
What are you working on at the moment, and can the community get involved?
There’s ongoing work with NHSEI around the digital theme. And we’ve also got an exciting new project building on the insight work we did last year on the topic of backlogs. We’re specifically looking at how members are using data to address issues of inequality and backlogs. We’re also trying a new action learning-based approach to create a safe space for members to explore and draw out learning.
Hopefully we’ll be able to share and discuss some of our insight work at our annual community event this October. I really value spaces like this to meet members and get inspired. So make sure you save the date – registration will open very soon.