Over the last 2 weeks I’ve been having lots of conversations about strategy and impact.
One of the good things about being new is that you can ask those ‘what if’ questions, ‘what if we could do this or be better at that?’, that we don’t always have space for when our jobs and ‘do to list’ have become overly established.
I’m a big thinker, a dreamer. But the most important thing for me is about impact and making a difference. On a good day, I get up in the morning to make one (on a bad day, I just get up to make a cup of tea). It might be in the very small things such as, the dignity and respect I show people in everyday life – a smile or being that friendly face that has the power to change someone’s day. Or to major things like increasing the impact we have on the health and well-being on the nation!
Small or huge both are vital and being able to identity and measure our impact is key. Before we can measure the impact we have, I believe, we need to have an inner and external dialogue to establish what it is we believe in and what it is we want to achieve.
For me personally, that inner dialogue and sense of purpose was formed most when I was working in South Africa for 3 years with farm-workers’ and street children in my 20’s and following that working in partnership with the YMCA to design and deliver community leadership training in the UK.
The discourse that was formed in me then can be summed up in the Southern African Philosophy of Abunto, ‘I need you to be the best that you can be, so that I can be the best I can be. I need you to be you, so I can be me.’
For me this is the foundation of personal responsibility in high performance, teamwork, empowering leadership and measuring impact. Once you’ve identified what difference you want to make in the world and why, creating your own personal theory of change, then you can set about working with others to do that and measuring what difference you actually make.
Measuring impact requires external dialogue. Sometimes formal and structured in the form of surveys, spreadsheets, data and hard numbers; more often also in stories, conversations, observations and case studies.
Both demonstrate change, and the good thing is, if they don’t then we know the activity didn’t lead to the outcome and impact we thought. So then we can change/improve the activity or even the strategy.
Those ‘what if’ conversations I’ve been having at the Association in the last 2 weeks have been about early intervention approaches; about the desire for closer strategic thinking with NHS Trusts; about thinking beyond the traditional ‘four walls of the hospital’; and about building on the continued successes of NHS70.
So with thoughts of making an impact in mind, I would like to signpost you to 3 things:
I will finish with the words of Anne Frank, ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’
Ellie Orton, Chief Exec, The Association of NHS Charities