Welcome to the second issue of The Edge. We have had such a fantastic response to the first issue with nearly 4000 subscribers and visits by people from over 59 countries! In response to your feedback, we have slightly reduced the number of curated articles and built on the length and nature of the accompanying comments that we post alongside each of the articles. We will develop this over time, and hope to see more of you submitting your links to articles and pieces that would be of interest to other health and care activists, along with your own comments, insight and questions. The Edge will continue to grow and evolve with your feedback and support, so please do keep it coming by contacting us.

In this second issue of The Edge, I will be focussing on the topic of ‘Social movement thinking: a set of ideas whose time has come for change in health and care?’

“When we talk of social change, we talk about movements, a word that suggests vast groups of people walking together, leaving one way behind and travelling in another” (Rebecca Solnit)

The second “classics” section contains extensive resources for applying social movement thinking to improve health and care services. Across our sector globally, we have seen a massive growth in improvement programmes and projects, as leaders recognise that the way we deliver services at present isn’t going to achieve the results we need for the future. Many of these projects and programmes have delivered impressive results but on their own, projects and programmes are unlikely to deliver the far-reaching changes required to transform the health and care system. In addition to changing care delivery processes and structures, we need some new and additional thinking and practice. One of the biggest gaps is in our understanding of motivation for undertaking improvement activities; how do we move our focus from people who “have to” change to people who “want to” change? How can we create change efforts that surge with energy, that are an unstoppable force for positive change? How do we mobilise all the people who could and should contribute to our change efforts: people who use services, their carers and families, partners in the wider community, our entire health and care workforce, the leadership community?

A social movements perspective may help us to think about our transformation efforts in a new light, offering fresh but complementary approaches to existing improvement thinking and practice. In addition to the extrinsic drivers of the programmatic approach to change, social movement thinking is about connecting with peoples’ core values and motivations and mobilising their own internal energies and drivers for change. This is underpinned by evidence from the change management field that people change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings. Read through the links in the classics section and consider these questions:

  1. What learning and inspiration can you take from social movement leaders to help you in your role as an agent of change in health and care?
  2. How could you attract the attention of the people you want to mobilise for action?
  3. Who are the people who are currently disconnected that you want to unite in order to achieve your goals for change? How can you build a sense of “us” with them?

Given the significant challenges facing our health and care systems (and us as change activists) perhaps social movement thinking is a set of ideas for the health and care system whose time has finally come.

As a final note, I’d like to urge you all to sign-up to our forthcoming webinar, in conjunction with NHS Confederation. Thought Diversity: what does it mean for us? will be held on Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 15.00-16.30 GMT. The webinar is an opportunity to develop a new lens for health and care becoming more intentional about leveraging diversity of thought to spur practical and grounded change. Thought diversity has potential to contribute to the key challenges facing the NHS, in light of the NHS Five Year Forward View for leaders and frontline staff. The webinar will give participants the opportunity to reflect deeply on their own mind set for innovation and change, exploring the practical implications that individuals and organisations need to take to make thought diversity happen. I really look forward to joining with as many of you as possible on 3rd December.