Five Year Strategy: Transformation Programme

We have recently been drawing upon our vast staff culture, values & behaviour change experience to work with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to engage staff and wider stakeholders with their new Five Year Strategy.

The Trust serves a population of approximately 444,000 residents across Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancashire and South Cumbria, and comprises Blackpool Victoria Hospital which is a large busy acute hospital and two smaller community hospitals. 

The Trust is also responsible for the provision of Community services to a large geographical area, and employs more than 6,000 staff. This was therefore a complex engagement challenge within an organisation that identified as having a limiting staff culture, further added to by the fact that the Chief Executive was an interim role at the time of launching the strategy, and some of the seven work programmes that made up the strategy required ambitious transformation.

Our sector knowledge meant that, when presented with the Trust’s case for change we were able to quickly develop an engagement strategy to bring the transformation process to life in a way that communicated to staff (and motivated them by) a financially and clinically sustainable future.

In this case, we became the Trust’s partner in the Five Year Strategy replacing McKinsey, who had supported the Trust in assessing its current performance, and ensured all-important clinical engagement in the 6-month strategy development process, with task-and-finish working groups being led by senior clinicians from across the Trust.

So why did we start at the beginning, with ‘S’ (Stimulate)? Because we know that 70%
of large-scale improvement programmes fail*.

Key reasons for this have been identified as failure to launch and failure to scale, and so it was these aspects (moving from diagnostics, increased capacity) that formed the basis of our SCAN approach and allowed us to create an overarching blueprint for leading the day-to-day and long-term change.

Having worked with the client to define the vision and goal for an engagement campaign, it became clear a staged approach was required. We built this approach based on the famous saying that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ (Peter Drucker). Rather than create a campaign that engages staff with the strategy per se, we created engagement solutions to build an organisational culture that would enable the strategy.

Our first challenge was to raise awareness amongst staff of the Five Year Strategy – answering pre-empted questions such as ‘what is it?’, ‘why do we need it?’ and ‘how do we know it will work?’.

Having put the foundation of understanding in place, we then needed to call staff to action in relation to the strategy’s work programmes, with a focus on how they could make a difference as part of their ‘day job’.

Once a significant internal culture shift has taken place, external engagement will be undertaken so that staff and patients alike have a shared understanding of the Trust’s vision.

It also became apparent that there was a need for increased visibility of all board members which became a key part of the campaign, beginning with a board buy-in workshop.

Other ‘stimulate’ solutions included a discovery phase and continuous online survey (over 250 responses so far).

The ‘cultivate’ solutions involved:

  • design of a dedicated sub-brand and strapline for the campaign, based on the Trust’s successful external facing brand, but with a clear message to staff  – ‘together we can’.
  • launch of a microsite as an easy-tonavigate hub for all resources and communications relating to the strategy.
  • easy-read printed and online publications to reinforce key messages, such as the Strategy on a Page
  • separate motion graphics aimed at an allstaff and leadership audience (click here to view) - viewed by over 300 staff so far
  • social media activity, with dedicated hashtag

We needed to bring the strategy to life for staff at every level, and ensure that they understood how it will affect them and what they can do to support it.


We have been working with Cynergy on the launch of our new Trust strategy, ranging from to stakeholder engagement. I find Cynergy extremely passionate, energised and agile in their approach to the provision of excellent support ensuring organisational ownership and that a legacy is left with our own internal team, sharing their approach, methods and mediums.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Cynergy to anyone considering engaging a specialist communications and engagement team, they have ensured an inclusive and flexible approach at all times and we wouldn't have progressed as quickly without them.

Nicky Ingham, Executive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development

Our ‘activate’ solutions aimed to create a ‘done with’ rather than ‘done to’ feel to implementation of the strategy, and included:

  • Trust-wide roadshows attended by over 400 staff so far
  • Monthly Exec-led campaigns to highlight the different work programmes, and personal commitment behind them
  • Organisational development opportunities refreshed to better align with the Five Year Strategy
  •  Visual environment work


We needed to create opportunities for story-telling which forms the basis of the Experience-based co-design (EBCD) approach designed for and within the NHS. This effective qualitative approach focuses on staff experience and emotions, rather than attitudes and opinions, to empower staff to identify improvements and make changes. Bringing staff together to prioritise and define key actions leads to clearly demonstrable results, so a benefit-driven method to market the roadshows was key at this stage of the campaign.

The project and its evaluation are ongoing. Feedback so far is positive, and we believe that keeping the momentum, and keeping messages fresh yet consistent has been key to the success of this campaign.

Although often these campaigns create an increase in staff awareness and understanding that is tangible in the workplace and can be captured colloquially, it is vital (particularly within the public sector) that a more detailed impact assessment is undertaken to allow both Cynergy and more importantly the client team to clearly demonstrate ROI in line with the Trust’s vision.