March 06, 2019
Last week I spent a thoroughly enjoyable day in London attending the NHS Organisational Development (OD) conference at The Barbican Centre. This is an annual event – now in its sixth year – where OD practitioners across the NHS congregate to share thoughts and ideas with their peers.
As the digital agency behind the design and build of the DoOD mobile app, I was delighted that we were invited to contribute to a morning workshop called ‘Doing OD in a digital world’. This topic overlaps with the broader initiative around digital transformation in the NHS.
The workshop was chaired by Kathryn Atkinson, Head of Workforce Development at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust. To my surprise, I was introduced to the assembled group by Kathryn as her ‘digital wizard’. This raised the stakes. When it came to my turn to speak, I had to admit to being something of an interloper – I was neither an NHS employee nor OD practitioner (or a wizard for that matter). I did however cover a handful of relevant NHS digital projects we had produced that enabled some of the principles of OD – increased efficiency through a change of process or culture.
The Measuring Up web application we produced in 2017 was presented as a salient example. By combining creative thinking with digital technology (and data) we developed an online platform that enables managers within the NHS to compare Electronic Staff Records (ESR) data with that of the local population to better inform recruitment policy. It’s a project that demonstrates how digital innovation can save time and resources for the NHS and drive efficiency. The app also bagged Cite two Drum Award nominations in 2018.
The afternoon keynote speech was by renowned international OD expert, Mee Yan Cheung Judge. Her presentation focused on strategies and recommendations for OD practitioners drawn from her experiences across the globe. She challenged the room around questions such as when is something OD and when is it not? What opportunities are there to build our (OD) influence? Do we need to narrow our field of practise to deliver the best results?
What was interesting as an outsider was the positive energy in the auditorium. There was a real sense of purpose and a passion for the subject – those present clearly believe Organisational Development is a vital component of running the NHS more efficiently. Following the Academy Awards earlier in the week, DoOD statuettes were given out at conference close by Paul Taylor-Pitt and Karen Dumain – both looking splendid in their sparkly shoes!
The day concluded with cake – OD in the NHS is celebrating its 6th birthday – and further conversation.