Why the orchestra can still play on without a conductor

30 January 2015

I was recently told a story about the conductor of a large orchestra who wanted to illustrate that he was pivotal to its success. So on one performance he started the orchestra off and then put down his baton. He expected that the various sections would lose time with each other and the performance would fall apart. However, it was faultless. All the sections knew what to do, when to start, when to stop with the right tempo and the crescendo at the end. The orchestra was still able to play on.

In my current role I have seen some great things happen such as the growing capability of the trust’s information team, the dedication of operational staff, the openness for change and last, but most definitely not least, the desire to ensure all patients are treated in the right place, right time with the care and dignity we would want for own family.

I am about to leave the trust and was saying goodbye to some colleagues yesterday on a ward and jokingly said: “This is the closest I’ve come to a patient in seven years”. The truth is that I spend the majority of my time out meeting staff to understand what it is that my team and I can do differently to help them improve the care they deliver to patients.

I have realised that we all play a part in this. A simple case in point is a consultant asking for information on readmission rates. You may think it is inconsequential, but if this information wasn’t available how could we begin to look at ways in which to improve. Sometimes I worry that the information we present is not being used, or even looked at, but then in passing I hear someone talking about a piece of intelligence that has come from our team and I can see why we do the work.

Just as the conductor of that orchestra realised, we have to recognise that each department within the organisation needs to work together to deliver great performance. So if you are working in an information department don’t just sit behind your desk. Go and spend an hour of your week meeting people. You never know who you might bump into, what you might talk about but all great ideas start from humble beginnings.

Chris Green