Access All Areas

In today’s NHS, leaders are faced with a myriad of challenges - providing high quality, safe effective services; integrating services to enable the most appropriate care closer to home and reducing health inequalities across the nation - all this whilst reducing costs at a time of austerity.

Over the years, private and public sector leaders have found that leadership has become considerably more complex when faced with economic turbulence, intense competition and an increasingly diverse range of stakeholder needs. Alongside this, there was a great interest from NHS leaders in working with and learning from the private sector and unlocking some of the tips and tricks behind their commercial success, yet there were no interventions existing that offered this opportunity.

It had therefore never been more important or timely to offer the unique chance for leaders to see, first hand, how different organisations in a different sector address the challenges facing them daily as a matter of course, and how more importantly, the emphasis is always on putting the customer/patient first. Together with the NHS North West Leadership Academy, we decided to look at what intervention we could design that allowed lessons to be learnt from corporate counterparts and how this learning could be translated back into the healthcare system.

The result of this was the design and the delivery of the Access All Areas programme, created to offer member organisations the opportunity to experience an exciting and innovative intervention, unique to the North West region. The programme gave participants the opportunity to work closely with the heads of some of the country’s leading commercial organisations and discover the key to their success.

Extensive research was done to understand which potential host organisations would be fit for purpose and would maximise the learning opportunities for the individual participants on the programme, as well as understanding the key topics and themes that can be pulled out and explored, then related back to challenges within the healthcare system. We used the Channel 4 programme, ‘Undercover Boss’ to tap into existing successful organisations and understand which CEOs would be willing to engage with NHS leaders of their own accord and help share their knowledge with the healthcare system.

The host organisations were chosen as each had a strong culture running throughout their entire organisation. The first was DHL who were highly accomplished at developing people and ran a successful internal development programme in which all staff were encouraged to participate in. Fairline Yachts were well known for their lean working and streamline processes, as well as adapting quickly and efficiently to change. Isuzu Trucks customer service went above and beyond what is usually expected, supplying customers with personal letters and private contact details for 24/7 service, as well as offering flexible working for women in the workplace, allowing them to balance work life with family life with ease.

Pre-event engagement and recruitment was designed around filming snippets of video footage from the host CEOs, enticing potential participants to join the programme and learn more about the hosts and their strategies. Each host had very different leadership styles, so it was important to show this throughout the recruitment process in order to be appealing to different learning types that may be interested in joining the programme. Take a look at the video here to hear from Kevin Gaskell, CEO at Fairline Yachts to hear his thoughts.

“Every patient who is admitted to the hospital is going to receive a welcome letter from myself. I was particularly struck by Nikki’s approach to supporting women in the workplace, with her family friendly and flexible working approaches.”

Programme Participant

A three-day roadshow was designed which included three site visits to host organisation headquarters, inclusive of guided tours around the site and allocated time for group discussion with the CEO themselves. This provided the opportunity for them to see it for themselves, touch it, feel it and ask questions, giving them lots of inspiration and food for thought as to how they could implement the learning back in their own organisations. The logistics for the roadshow were coordinated to maximise the learning opportunities during the travel time between locations, offering a chance for reflection and further discussion between the group.

Supplementary to the roadshows, a development log was also designed and provided to each participant in advance, allowing them to start their learning journey and outline the hopes and expectations they had for the programme, as well as what they wanted to achieve from it.

The log also contained a workbook, which prompted the participants to fill in during the programme with challenging questions to really make them think about their learning and what their new approach and action points would be after the programme, but also a journal section, designed to allow them to record thoughts and reflections personal to them so that when they revisited this after the programme, the power of these reflections could transport them back to when they recorded them, reawakening those feelings and embedding the learning.

Activate solutions included:

  • Programme concept and design
  • Speaker liaison
  • Full pre-event logistical organisation
  • Three day onsite delivery
  • Design and production of all materials
  • Videography and production
  • Design and development of dedicated online development portal
  • Post event reporting and analytics

In order to spread and embed the learning, we continued to engage with participants through an e-shot campaign, which linked to a dedicated online portal where we hosted several further learning development materials. Post event reflections and evaluation were captured through video, allowing for a montage to be created and shared on the portal, these can be seen on the video here.

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