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Making a difference?

The NHS, most public services and indeed many other organisations are living through and undergoing change of one sort or another, which is largely driven by financial, political, social or technological needs.

In the speech that Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, made on April 1 said:

“Today we face new challenges, and will need new solutions – while holding on to the vital gains of the past.”

It is not surprising to note how frequently the words ‘innovation’ and ‘different’ are used in the media and elsewhere with the expectation that doing something new or different will make a positive difference in work that needs to be done.

In the same speech Simon Stevens went on to say;

“ … I agree with MIT’s Eric Brynholfsson and Andy McAfee that, ‘the best way to accelerate progress is to increase our capacity to test out new combinations of ideas.’ Inevitably some of them won’t work out, and there’ll be criticism and honest disagreement along the way.”

 Now I know Simon Stevens was thinking about large strategic, systems-led solutions but even those start with one person having an idea, sharing it, debating it and testing it out before anything happens.

One of the strategies being used by Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit (GMCSU) is through the work of a newly appointed Innovation Advocate, to encourage colleagues from anywhere in the organisation to think of different ways of doing or improving things. Or to come up with something completely new that will add value to the work of the organisation or its customers.

An innovation hub is being established at GMCSU so that all ideas can be considered, discussed and may be progressed and implemented – quickly if a simple idea, or if more complex, a business case may need to be developed before the idea is submitted for approval.

So how do you make sure that individual ideas are heard and used in your organisation? Do you have specific strategies to enable this to happen or particular times or events that encourage ideas to flow? Or is it as simple as really listening to a colleague as you work together and take further any ideas that arise?

I think it is worth reflecting in any organisation, and particularly now in the NHS, about how individuals are enabled to voice and share ideas and views on doing things differently or trying something new.

On a smaller, individual scale I do believe we can all make a difference in how we interact and react with each other, the public and anyone we come into contact with professionally or personally.

I started working in the public service of education, driven by the desire to make a difference to others. I’m now working part-time in the NHS with GMCSU as a Business Advisor/Lay member and that same desire drives me.

This drive is something I have seen from the many people I have worked with over the years in different public, voluntary and some private organisations and it is clearly apparent in the work of my current GMCSU colleagues who are making a difference directly and indirectly to the lives of others.

If you ever doubt your individual power to make a difference consider this quote by American, Christine Todd Whitman:

Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”

And to end on a more positive note a quote by John F Kennedy

One person can make a difference and every person should try.”

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