We have reached the milestone of ten issues of The Edge. In just eight months, The Edge has attracted 21,000 users. Three quarters of them are from the English National Health Service but others are from more than 100 countries globally.
The Edge is a response to the way in which the world of change is changing. Even five years ago, we would not have envisaged a platform like The Edge. We set it up so that change activists in health and care could connect around some of the latest thinking and practice in transformational change.
How that word is changing. At the recent 13th annual Change Management Conference in New York, Kinthi Sturtevant of IBM highlighted that they rarely see (large scale) two, three or four year change projects anymore. Now it’s 30-60-90 day change projects. I recently attended LabWorks 2015, a yearly event that brings together innovation teams and labs from around the world that are using design thinking for public service innovation. This is a fast growing movement. Design practice is becoming a mainstream way of engaging with citizens and collaboratively tackling governmental problems. It is also about repositioning change thinking and practice at the edge of organisations so that we can respond at speed, learning from, and collaborating with, the rest of the world.
Another big, related theme at the leading edge of change is the shift from change programmes to change platforms. This has appeared as a frequent topic in The Edge and was the focus of my recent “Edge Talk”: Scrap the programme – this is an era for change platforms. In our increasingly volatile and fast moving environment, leaders are recognising that large scale change programmes driven from the top of the organisation, with multiple, complex workstreams are rarely delivering the outcomes they seek. They are questioning the over focus on process in many programme and project management approaches. There is an alternative. Across the world, people are showing that if they are given the tools to connect and the freedom to create, they will produce outstanding results with an astonishing level of energy and creativity. Change platforms are being established at a quickening rate, in health and care and beyond. A great example is the change platform that the charity Oxfam unveiled recently. The team that brings you The Edge (the Horizons group within NHS Improving Quality) no longer works through change programmes. We only work with platforms.
So hold on to your hats as the velocity of change accelerates. Let’s embrace the inevitable and build the leadership skills, connections, tools and knowledge base for big change in health and care. As Gary Hamel says, we need to focus on the mindsets, motivation, methods and migration of change as much as on strategic ambition. I hope that The Edge and the community that supports it will continue to grow and fulfil its potential in helping to transform the health and care system.