The antidote to exhaustion is not rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness. Brother David Steindl-Rast
My time in the UK has come to an end. I’ve spent the last 14 days running for the right train on the Underground and hiking up flights of stairs and spinning street maps endlessly. I’ve eaten edamame beans in Birmingham and sipped tea in Coventry. I’ve even laid under the weak sunshine on the pebble beach at Brighton.
I’ve met with social activists; innovators and change makers; policy writers and service providers. I’ve joined teams of people creating Compassion Pods and learning how to listen with enormous curiosity. I’ve ‘hacked’ with people drumming up solutions for social change. I’ve leaned into conversations about how we design systems that unleash creativity and powerful innovation in healthcare and I’ve scribbled notes while others talked me through the possible trajectories for people living in England over 60 years of age.
Through all of this two things are standing out as the clear and undeniably simple and powerful threads : we have designed a system that is making us sick and there is a lot of energy for creating something better.
In the pursuit of efficiency we have designed a system that is wasteful, mechanistic and de-humanising. While we were busy getting lean we forgot about our great big need for connection and belonging. But like every system there are these delightful pockets of positive deviance.
Q: How do we find our way off the conveyor belt and back into a world that makes sense ?
A: Collaborate with curiosity and compassion.
I’m thankful to Andy Bradley for reminding me that we need rapid progress. This idea of working with a sense of urgency came up again and again. Not the frantic, let’s keep running until our shift is over or the spinning of words to write a policy by a tight deadline. A new type of urgency. An urgency that was summed up so succinctly at the Hacking for Social Change day facilitated by Jackie Lynton : Act Now.
There is a growing desire from frontline staff to be set free to create the change they were trained to deliver. Perhaps if we give them the data they require, clear the “priority thickets”, encourage them to set their own audacious goal and we curate the right collaborative teams, we will get somewhere quickly. This is working for People Powered Health Care and is a model that we could explore more widely in Australia.
A day spent in Birmingham with Jackie Lynton at the #HackingSocialChange event left me with no doubt that when you put the right people in the room and give them an opportunity to innovate around problems that are meaningful to them they light a fire for change. This is the way we change the system.
Today I’m dreaming big as I take a weekend break in Dublin. Monday we head to New York where I’m focusing on the patient experience; how we work out loud; and how to thrive in life and work. Perhaps a walk in Central Park ?