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The Art Of Making Things Happen

The Art of Making Things Happen

As we move into a new year, many organisations will be looking at the year ahead and recognising a
need for transformational change. Yet the story that gets told over and over again is that the
majority of change projects either don’t succeed or fizzle out through a lack of leadership or ability
to overcome the tendency to inertia. Here is a success story using new techniques that could point
the way forward if you are looking at a programme of change this year.

We have been using a combination of viral change, storytelling and dialogic organisational
development (OD) to create social change in the Leeds health and social care system. In fact we have
been calling it not Organisational Development (OD) but System Development (SD) because the wok
is across a number of organisations. The richness of a viral change approach is the way it taps into
the power of informal networks and distributed leadership. The majority of conversations in
organisations happen in the informal space which Leandro Herrero suggests is the most powerful
channel. The stories that get told and retold are the ones that influence behaviour.

A different approach to OD is emerging which works from a changed mindset to the traditional plan
based approach – that organisations are networks of relationships and conversations and you
change organisations by changing the conversations. The role of a leader is to be the change agent
that creates conditions from which good outcomes emerge, and then to amplify those changes that
are in the desired direction. It involves nourishing connections because that is where the surprises
will come from – people coming up with solutions together that would not have been thought of

The work in Leeds started with listening to people in their own environment and seeing the patterns
in their relationships. Then we hosted a number of events for mixed groups from the different
partners in the health and social care system – Health Trusts, the City Council, Clinical Commissioning
Group (CCG), the charitable sector and private care homes. In each event we connected people – to
each other and to the vision for Leeds (The people who are the poorest will improve their health the
fastest). We created a container for them to bring their real selves and change perceptions, inspire
each other with their stories and begin to see what they could do together. Greater possibilities
were created when different people were included in the conversations, new connections made or
old relations reframed. Now different choices are being made daily at work given the new social
realities that emerged during the events. And the pipework of relationships across the various
organisations becomes the channels through which work gets done.

It’s an inspiring story to start a year with, and at Levati, we’re looking forward to meeting and
helping to support people and organisations looking to facilitate real change both personally and
professionally on the coming months.

Frances and David

The Levati Team

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