This five minute film offers some fundamental learning to the NHS and the wider health and care system. Look beyond some of the “business” language used in the film and focus on the basic principles. It compares “change management to change leadership”.

In the NHS, we mostly do “change management”. This is about implementing change in a way that pushes it along and keeps it under control.  Personally, I have a big problem with the term “change management” and I hardly ever use it.  From my experience as a change agent in the healthcare system, I don’t believe that change is something we can “manage” through mechanistic, rational programmes in order to deliver the results we need.

Kotter describes “change leadership” as something fundamentally different. It is about mobilising masses of people who engage because they believe in the bigger vision of what the change is trying to achieve. They take part because they “want to” not “have to”.  Change in this context can get out of control but it leads to bigger leaps and faster change.

We aren’t going to implement all the potential gains of The Five Year Forward View if we stick with change management. Change management is too risk averse and too slow. Yet as Kotter says, almost nobody is very good at change leadership. Time to invest in some serious change leadership capability.