Building Capacity and Capability

Building Capacity and Capability

Methods that involve building capacity and capability enable development ranging from focused skills to broader development at personal and organisation level or provision of focused dedicated resource.

Five methods or levers have been identified in this category and are summarised below.


The effectiveness of these methods will vary depending on context, but key strengths of methods which build capacity and capability include: 

  • Sustainable approach as it supports skills for both current and future adoption/spread activities[i]
  • Supports broader workforce development
  • Potential to support adoption across the system, not just in relation to one product/category
  • Can influence culture of innovation, and be effectively used in tandem with peer networks to share learning across workforce[ii]
  • May also support implementation science and innovation pipeline/development of improvement practices[iii]
  • Ability to share practices and develop peer to peer support

However, there will be limitations to these methods which may include:

  • Additional challenges in demonstrating and evidencing link between methods and spread
  • Challenges in releasing staff to participate[iv]
  • Impact may be crowded out by other priorities if implemented alone

Methods and levers

National skills and coaching development programmes

Programme to support selected individuals e.g. ‘innovation or improvement fellows’ to spread their innovation, staff to develop entrepreneurial skills; or coaching ‘academy’ approaches. Examples include the:

Dedicated resource provision

Direct provision of central or regional expert staff or funds to support frontline with adoption – often project management or specialist finance, or implementation and improvement expertise, usually temporary provision. Examples include the:

Broad education / personal development

Provision of training and broader development to increase capacity of local staff to support development and adoption of innovation and improvement. Examples include:

Innovation / improvement specific-capacity building

Provision of training to increase capacity to adopt specific interventions. May be provided by industry or specific company but also centrally co-funded or funded. Examples include:

Learning systems

Systematic use of learning to review, inform and improve care and services. Examples include:

Practical considerations for use

Method or LeverStage of development *Audience and scale **Resources neededTimeframe
National skills and coaching development programmesFrom ideation to spreadNational, regional or local  Support from national programmes1-3 years
Dedicated resource provision  SpreadLocalDedicated support and expertise to engage and embed with local systems1-2 years
Broad education / personal developmentIdeation to spreadUsually localResources and expertise to deliver training; and to release staff to engageVariable
Innovation / improvement specific-capacity buildingPrototype/testing or spreadNational, regional or local. Targeted by clinical specialtyIf centrally co-funded or funded, resource and expertise to fund training and resources to release staff to engageVariable
Learning systemsIdeation to spreadUsually localSystem wide engagement, embed as the usual way of working1-3 years and ongoing

* Stages of intervention development – Ideation, Proof of concept, Prototype/Testing, Spread

** Audience and scale – national/regional/local, targeted by clinical speciality / product/ problem

[i] The Health Foundation. The Spread Challenge: How to support the successful uptake of innovations and improvements in health care. Available from:

[ii] Sibley A, Ziemann A, Robens S, Scarbrough H, Turvey S. Review of spread and adoption approaches across the AHSN Network. Available from:

[iii] RAND Europe. Galvanising the NHS to adopt innovation. Available from:

[iv] Department of Health. Innovation, Health and Wealth: Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS. Available from: