It’s particularly dangerous letting doctors out of hospitals. By the time we get to registrar level, we’re rather like sad little lab rats. We know that the outside world exists, we’ve heard that it’s quite nice, but we’ve never actually been there for any significant length of time. We also exhibit similar levels of institutionalisation. We regard change as hard, find shifting the route through the maze away from our preferred path difficult and would much rather just ‘keep our heads down and get on with it, thanks’.
Something I had also never really considered is that there’s a terror in a blank diary. Days and weeks with not a lot to do is quite bewildering for your average lab rat, so the urge is to find things to fill the time. It was this ‘might as well give it a go’ attitude that lead me to wander into Gov Camp Cymru last October, and when I discovered that some of the miscreants I enjoyed meeting there were organising a One Team Gov day in Wales, I couldn’t resist signing up.
Based on seven very simple principles, One Team Gov aims to promote conversation, connections and other really good words starting with C to make government services better for the citizens they serve. Coming from a sector where fax machines are still regularly used and a bit of wifi is a technological wonder, I really think this is something I could get behind, even if the potential for application of ‘agile’ ways of thinking to lumbering behemoths like the current health service seem a world and several miracles away (although my intense research has pointed me toward the belief that agile can be pretty well described as the model for improvement but with computers… I’m sure Andy will put me right there).
I think my favourite session of the day was where we shared ideas we’d had. Gwylim discussed creating low-cost cycle routes, we thought about how you could arrange community car sharing (50 named drivers on an insurance policy?), ‘trip advisor for conferences’ (do you need to bring a cardigan?), there was a bold suggestion that we ban Excel for most purposes and build proper data stores for all those lists and tables, and that we limit powerpoint to five slides. Bizarrely, none of these seemed too crazy to try.
It is difficult to be in a room full of inspiring people without being inspired in turn, and the challenge of completing ‘microactions’ fed off of this feeling perfectly. Microactions are small things that seem insignificant on their own, but the theory is that if there are enough of them a big change will happen. It’s also easy. Making the pledge to say ‘hello’ to people as you walk around the building, or saying ‘no’ to the meeting that you know you don’t need to be in doesn’t take a lot of courage, time or willpower.
So ask yourself: What could I do today? Tomorrow? Next Thursday? Then do it. Change really is rather easy after all, it just needs tiny steps in the right direction.