LeaderFest: NHS Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy

The NHS Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy (TVWLA) is a local delivery partner of the NHS Leadership Academy. The team builds on a track record of proven success and are passionate about developing leaders at all levels. Through their extensive relationships with local stakeholders, they deliver creative and effective solutions to local challenges that are both relevant and innovative.

The Cynergy team were brought in to deliver TVWLA’s latest event, creating a ‘space’ for leaders to reflect and collaborate, exchange ideas, consider challenges and discuss solutions.

Key aims for the event were as follows:

  • To provide delegates with tools, connections and motivation to resolve real issues they are facing across the system to help affect real change for patients, service users and citizens.
  • To create an immersive, experiential, motivating and innovative experience for delegates.
  • To offer delegates the time to hear thought leadership on collaboration and connect with those who can help make real change and tools to do so.
  • To focus on integration of care pathways and sustainability.

The event therefore needed to create an environment that fostered creative thinking and action and ensured TVWLA was seen as both a provider and enabler of thought leadership.

In terms of desired outcome, by bringing together a representative section of the leadership community, these leaders would then benefit from increased collaboration, increased awareness of shared agenda and practice, and ultimately, real improvements in health and care.

Cynergy understood that TVWLA wanted to create an innovative and immersive event that would be different from previous initiatives delivered to their region. With a specialty in creative and strategic event design and delivery for the public sector, Cynergy were able to draw on experiences of previous events, as well as to think of new and innovative ideas to offer value for money and impact to the audience.

With regard to plenary content and speakers, we worked as a design team to develop a programme for the event with the aim of creating a seamless and energising flow to the day. We also liaised with the speakers prior to the event to facilitate and guide so that they were aligned with the theme and message of the day, and to ensure they had all logistical requirements and materials needed to deliver their session.

We also supported the client with the design and implementation of a communications plan. The team ensured all communication platforms were covered, including social media and TVWLA website, as well as bespoke communications directly associated with the event, including invitations, reminders and joining instructions.

Particular focus was on creating an interactive community zone in which delegates could continue their learning outside of the main session and get involved in different activities. A dedicated area was therefore created with different interactive spaces to provide opportunities to gain further insight, network and reflect. Using our NLP expertise we were able to design a blend of activities which would appeal to different preferences and learning styles:

  • The ‘Ask and Offer’ stand: Delegates could volunteer their support or ask for help on a specific topic.
  • Personal pledge station: Delegates could pledge their actions for the coming year.
  • Graffiti walls: Delegates were able to share their thoughts, ideas and questions.
  • Random acts of kindness: Option to select and act to take back to their organisation and spread kindness.
  • Collaborative corner: This was a poster wall showcasing partner organisations’ projects.
  • Memory lane: A showreel of video highlights from over the years.

Networking was also key to encouraging collaboration, connections and starting conversations. We provided a number of ideas to support and facilitate delegates networking and the following techniques were implemented to do so:

  • Business cards: Bespoke business cards created for each individual (name, role, organisation and contact details).
  • Online community: We utilised our event app to connect with other delegates and speakers through the online community feature.
  • WhatsApp: A WhatsApp group was created to start conversations before, during and after the event for those who opted to join in.

Our dedicated website and mobile app was also utilised to manage bookings, house resources and offer a high level of interactivity on the day – such as live poll questions, interactive agenda and community networking.

On the day, the Cynergy team worked to ensure everything went as planned and flowed seamlessly throughout the course of the event programme. From registration, speaker briefing, venue and supplier liaison, onsite filming and editing, to programme and delegate management – we had it covered, ensuring the client could network with their delegates and enjoy their day.

TVWLA were clear that they wanted to deliver an event centred around ‘communities’, to provide an opportunity for leaders to come together to reflect and learn from one another – as a catalyst to help people make things happen within their existing and new communities.

Following evaluation of an emoji survey to collect feedback, it was clear the event was incredibly successful in connecting leaders across and throughout communities, with 97% of delegates reported feeling excited, intrigued, happy and inspired. Attendees also stated that the event had provoked new thoughts about how to develop community assets and expressed feeling energised as a result of the day.

Through our collaboration, TVWLA achieved their desired outcomes as their delegates left with better connections and greater insight into how they can make real improvements to health and care within communities.