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Strengthening Leadership

The ability to innovate is vital for the future success of NHS organisations and health systems, as the demand on services continues to grow and resources become increasingly constrained. There is an urgency to improve the health and healthcare of service users at a greater scale and pace than ever before, which requires a new approach to leading change and innovation.

The challenge for Governing Bodies and Boards nationally, regionally and locally is to build and sustain a strong, pervasive commitment for change throughout the NHS, liberating the energy and creativity of NHS staff and service users. This Practical Guide to strengthening leadership and accountability for innovation, has been created to support Governing Bodies and Boards of NHS provider organisations in that challenge. It represents the synthesis of information captured through a task and finish group of NHS and industry leadership, plus interviews, workshops and events with over 100 chief executives and board members from across the provider system. Their insights have been combined with national and international evidence on innovation and leadership. Leadership is a key component to creating, supporting and sustaining the adoption and diffusion of innovation, such that it becomes hard-wired into the daily working lives of every member of staff. The aim of this Guide is not to provide a “one size fits all” answer, but to provide Chief Executives and Boards with some views, case studies and processes that work elsewhere, both in the NHS and other sectors.

The Guide is intended to be used as a resource around which a Board development programme can be built. It identifies three key components that drive innovation adoption and diffusion; and presents a range of evidence, case studies and questions that Boards can consider, and build their own approaches, that reflect their mission, values and vision. The Guide also includes the following in its Appendix:

  • Two videos: a ‘talking heads’, in which some leaders express their key drivers for success, and a ‘visual narrative’ that will act as a framework for Boards to shape their discussions
  • Detailed examples of case studies
  • A detailed Literature Review which references the source data outlined in the evidence “one pagers”

NHS Boards will be at different points on their innovation development journey, and will have different approaches to Board development. Therefore this Practical Guide is intended to provide Boards with a set of resources and tools comprising research, insights, questions and case studies around which an agenda can be framed. The Guide sets out three “plug-and-play” modules covering the identified components which can be used to run Board workshops on leadership and accountability in innovation. The material has been designed so that the modules can be used separately or together. The Guide is split into two sections:

  • The main section is designed to provide a framework that informs and inspires Chief Executives and Boards, and to help identify the areas they need to consider further in developing their approach to innovation, adoption and diffusion.
  • The Appendix section of the Guide contains much more detailed information on the Case Studies, the Visual Narrative resource and the detailed Literature Review. These can be selected to go into more depth on any of the topics and give great examples of how innovation has been encouraged, adopted and adapted via a patient, leadership, or delivery-centric approach.

You can access the Guide here: strengthening Leadership.pptx



Other relevant initiatives 

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Road map link

Innovation Compass link