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The last two (and a bit…) years have been incredibly pressurized for us all – I know I don’t need to tell you that. And right now, giving ourselves and our teams the opportunity to take time out and reflect, share experiences, and connect is more vital than ever.

Which is why The Big Conversation has come along at exactly the right time.

The Big Conversation logo - with tag line "Unlocking everyone's power to improve health and care"

If you haven’t heard about it already, The Big Conversation is a two-day, free virtual event being held 11 – 12 May, bringing people from health and care together for a range of interactive discussions, workshops, and presentations. It aims to give a space, time and environment where people can share experiences, do some learning, connect with colleagues and of course hear from some great speakers. People can choose how much or how little time they attend for – they can join for just one session or stay for the whole time.

It’s going to be a great couple of days, and the more people that come along, the richer the discussions will be, the greater the connections and the better the learning. Come along and bring some colleagues!

But here’s the conundrum…

We all know that taking time to reflect, learn and develop is something we should be doing, but there’s often something else that gets in the way – that report that needs finished, that meeting that just popped in the diary, that presentation that needs written, you know how it goes.

It’s as if we can’t seem to give ourselves the permission to take that time out.

I was considering this problem the other day and was reminded that it was in fact St Benedict who observed more than 1400 years ago that “It is easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission.” – a phrase that we often hear in the world of quality improvement.

But it seems this ethos doesn’t always work in practice.

As improvement leaders in Q, we need to encourage our teams to give themselves permission to step out of whirlwind day-to-day lives and nurture their own development.

But of course, every improver will know that just giving permission isn’t good enough. We must craft an environment in which teams and individuals are fully supported and empowered to act and sometimes it’s just the little things that make all the difference, such as:

  • Supporting people to find cover if they want to attend an event/course/networking session
  • Joining a conference on a laptop in the tea room so that anyone can join in when they’re on a break
  • Setting aside dedicated time in a team meeting to share learning or reflect on experiences

So, with that in mind, I’ll turn back to The Big Conversation. It promises to be a fantastic couple of days, with National Improvement Awards, open conversations, practical, skills-based workshops, good practice showcases and of course a line-up of wonderful speakers.

So come along, bring your teams with you – give yourselves permission!

To find out more, just visit

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