Quality Leaders Forum: Focus on Simple Rules for Driving Change

“The secret of success is not to foresee the future. It is to build a system that is able to prosper in any of the foreseeable futures.” 

These wise words appeared on the opening slide of the presentation of Helen Bevan, chief transformation officer of NHS Horizons in the United Kingdom and the featured speaker at UHF’s fourth Quality Leaders Forum, held on December 1, 2021. A change leader in the British National Health Service (NHS) for the past 24 years, Ms. Bevan shared her insights and experience on how health care organizations can achieve quality transformations, including how to build systems to improve health during these extremely challenging times.

She suggested that every organization seeking to improve quality should start with a set of simple rules: a set of underlying principles or ways of thinking that every person can easily grasp and translate into action. “Simple rules lead to intelligent behavior, while complex rules often lead to dumb and primitive behavior,” she said. She gave several examples of simple rules developed by the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic, including deferring to science experts and being kind. 

Ms. Bevan also described seven simple rules she developed for health care leaders: 
1)    Define a shared purpose
2)    Root transformation efforts in a sense of belonging
3)    Predict and prevent
4)    Support people to build their agency
5)    Embrace contradictions and tensions
6)    Unleash learning as a power for transformation
7)    Make small-scale changes within a large scale 

Regarding rule number four, Ms. Bevan noted that rather than “empowering” staff—a top-down approach—leaders should help staff find their own agency to make choices on improving care and acting on those choices.

Her full power-point presentation can be viewed here.

The Quality Leaders Forum includes alumni from the UHF/GNYHA Clinical Quality Fellowship Program and honorees from UHF’s Tribute to Excellence in Health Care. Members are invited to network and discuss current issues in health care quality with nationally recognized quality leaders and to pursue opportunities for sharing best practices.

Past Forum summaries can be found here. The next Forum will be held on April 14, 2022. 

UHF is grateful to Elaine and David Gould, whose generosity supports the Quality Leaders Forum.

Jan. 19, 2022
Quality Institute