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You might have noticed Q was particularly buzzing with power and energy last week with lots of events and activities. A good point to reflect on why it’s radiating and how we can all help it shine more brightly over the months and years ahead.

As we explored last week at our whole community event, Q is a powerful idea.

As we explored last week at our whole community event, Q is a powerful idea.

Q is the idea that we should seek a more joined up approach to improvement across the UK. It’s the idea that we should pool our talents and energy and spend less time reinventing wheels. That we should challenge ourselves and each other to collaborate in new ways, and think at every turn how we can involve and pass on what we’re learning to those beyond Q. Q is the idea that if we do these things, then improvement can have a bigger impact.

This powerful idea – developed through the co-design phase with our 231 founding members -has carried us a long way over the last year. Over 2000 people have now gathered around it.

But let’s be honest, it’s an idea that’s only just starting to be realised.

There are more and more stories coming through of people finding new and quicker ways to make progress or finding fresh reserves of resilience and enthusiasm thanks to Q being around.

We have some encouraging stats about the value people say they get from the connections and learning opportunities they’ve come to through Q. There are more and more stories coming through of people finding new and quicker ways to make progress or finding fresh reserves of resilience and enthusiasm thanks to Q being around.

While the early signs are good, the power lies with the community and its supporters to take this so much further.

The power a community holds is different to the formal authority and dedicated resources designed to make things happen in hierarchies. The power base of Q consists of:

  • The accumulated individual talents and energy of those individuals involved. Last week’s community event provided ways for many members to share their work. And that wasn’t the only thing going on last week. Q members dug deep into experience based co-design in a Q visit to Northumbria. At the Patient First conference, 24 Q members were chosen to present or chair. This activity up on stage and through formal events is only the tip of the iceberg – as more members find the opportunity and confidence to share, we’ll see  the phenomenal talents in the community becoming more visible.
  • The power of connection. The point of Q is that it’s far more than the sum of its individual parts. At the Q community event, Will Warburton used the plenary session to reflect on the power of connection, that enables us to boost what we can each achieve. This is about “power not as finite, to be won and lost, or fought over, but power as infinite, as what’s created when we act purposefully together, when we teach, listen and learn, when we give each other new energy through a kind word, new insight through a constructive challenge; when we bring together what’s fragmented.”
  • Collective power centres. Much of the value generated through Q will be through organic connections between individuals – critical to shifting culture and building skills but often invisible ‘from above’. We can also create centres of energy through pooling our collective insight on a larger scale. The Q Lab is a great example of that and it ripples well beyond the boundaries of Q. For example, As part of the lab project on peer support they are about the launch a large scale survey to GPs and people providing and using peer support services to understand the different priorities people have when deciding to use and referring to peer support. This is about pooling not just what we know as a community, but using our connections to get much wider insight.
  • Power in the wider system. The friends and allies we work with are helping us not just boost Q as a community, but do this in a way that’s linked into, and in turn influences, the wider system.   We now have formal country partners in all four UK countries and Q is becoming embedded in each part of England through the AHSNs. Q draws credibility and power from being community designed and led – but it’s also able to challenge and support the system to change precisely because it is sponsored by organisations with formal leadership responsibilities for improvement.

So, Q may ‘just’ be a voluntary community of individuals, but we shouldn’t underestimate the power it can have. To really fly over the coming months and years, we should cultivate the many small and bigger ways that Q can boost the work of individual members and their organisations, while also benefitting the whole. And use Q’s organic, cross-boundary connections ina way that mesh effectively with the formal structures we work in.


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