HBR, Q Health & The Tensions of Change

Pritpal S Tamber

August 15, 2018

The need to share experiential knowledge and applaud one former CEO for doing that through 'six tensions'

First and foremost, I’m excited to read the mini-blog from Matthew Bell, formerly of Shared Lives South West. Matt joined the organisation as CEO with the idea of bringing a more ‘participative’ approach to its running, effectively distributing control through the organisation, rather than being top-down. It would have been a great example of what we at Beyond Systems are advocating for – a way of working based on parity, trust, and an equal voice for all.

It didn’t work out and over the next few weeks and months Matthew will share six ‘tensions’ that surfaced in trying to change an organisation.

The fact that Matthew is sharing his experience is significant. It’s clear that top-down systems that create a them-and-us between themselves and the people they’re supposed to be serving is not working. But proposing a new model and trying to make it happen is very, very hard – especially when we’ve all been trained to believe that systems are managed top-down, that’s just how things are.

Where is this kind of experiential knowledge routinely shared? In response to my last post, a reader commented, “What is needed is the equivalent of HBR in health care – a journal largely written by and about practitioners.” HBR is Harvard Business Review. Perhaps that’s the answer. A media brand that is respected and is able to share the realities of work, effectively through case studies.

It’s with that in mind that our re-grouping continues. Earlier this week, I met with Beyond Systems’ organiser, Elizabeth Slade, and we kicked about what we might do next. We’re clear we want to pursue what this brand might do. And it’s also clear that we may need some financial support to develop our thinking.

On financial support, we continue to face the realities of trying to raise funding through grants. We don’t have the right vehicle because, as previously mentioned, mine and Liz’s companies do not have an ‘asset lock’. And so, although there is interest in our perspective and what we’re thinking about building, our lack of ‘the right vehicle’ may simply scupper us.

That’s stuff we need to discuss with the Steering Group, which is what we’re about to do.

Of course, you may be wondering why we need to establish a media brand when Matthew was able to find a home for this thoughts? Perhaps that home, Q Health, is meeting the need. It’s not. It’s meeting a need – to foster continuous and sustainable improvement in health and care – but that’s radically different to advocating for new ways of working based on parity, trust and an equal voice for all. That, in our view, needs a home.

Pritpal S Tamber

I’m a doctor who trained as a medical editor and publisher and now researches and consults on the link between community power and health equity. My interest in community power started when I was the Physician Editor of TEDMED and is explained in My Perspective. I also work as a freelance medical editor and publisher for organisations that want to write high-quality articles and a strategy for their publishing and promotion. Find out more on my About page.

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