The end of a journey ?

The other day I walked out of meeting and the person I was with turned and said to me “Wow. who was that in there? Where did you learn all of that!” .. they were commenting on the way that I had been in the meeting and that I was much more confident than I was this time last year and that I seemed to have changed the way I work.  I have to admit to smiling and saying “That was Mary Seacole!”

Of course what I meant was that the change in me and in particular the confidence is all due to the NHS Leadership Academy’s Mary Seacole Programme .. which, over the past year, I have been utterly tearing my hair out over !!! It was a huge amount of work and at times I questioned both my intelligence and sanity, and I wholeheartedly thank my fab husband, Nick, for not only providing support but also tech help when my assignments were too big to send !!!! There can really be no doubt that Seacole has made a huge difference to the way I approach things and it has helped me immensely. I have found that with greater understanding around leadership and how it fits into my role I have gained greater confidence, courage, compassion, creativity and inspiration.

This week I was really very chuffed indeed to graduate from the Mary Seacole Programme,  it was wonderful to sit beside my fellow students and hear what they have done “since Seacole finished” and to collect my certificate.  Of course there was also the inevitable question – “What next?” …. I am not sure, but I do know that the more I learn the better I can be and the bigger difference I can make.  So even though the Mary Seacole Programme has well and truly ended now I’m pretty sure my journey has just started.

Screenshot 2015-03-15 19.52.20

Evaluating #SeacoleProg

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will have read my blog post a few months back “What do you think?”  As part of my NHS Leadership Academy Seacole Programme we had to develop an initiative and this blog was part of the consultation into my initiative.  My initiative was “to support the sharing of evidence in #WeNurses discussions” The initiative so far has involved:

We have a long way to go still, its all very early days, and there are further plans afoot.  However because I made this project part of my NHS Leadership course I have to evaluate it now!! Which is where I need your help please.

I want to keep the evaluation simple, as I know you are all really busy so just three questions:



How are you finding using #EBP?






What do you think went well with the implementation of #EBP?




How do you think we can improve the sharing of evidence during #WeNurses Twitter discussions?



Thank you all so much for your help in the development of this project – I hope that we will be able to develop it further in the coming months.

What do you think?

For the last couple of months I have been working away on my NHS Leadership Academy Seacole Programme Leadership Initiative – which is all around evidence sharing on Twitter and during Twitter discussions.  Through chatting and discussing this with some of you lovely people out there I have found that there is a need to create a few short, shareable and social media friendly resources that will help with evidence sharing.  Here is an infographic that I have put together, I have had some initial feedback from the lovely “We” chat hosts but wanted to see what others though before we post it on the WeCommunities web site as a resource.

I would be really grateful if you would please let me know what you think? Is it clear? Is it accurate? Is it useful? Please post your thoughts via the comments, be kind but please be honest.

evidence final


Halfway there

I can’t believe that I am now over halfway through the NHS Leadership Academy Seacole Programme ! Time really does fly and what at the start of the programme seemed insurmountable (particularly the 12 hours of study a week) now seems commonplace.  I have learnt so much but can also see I still have such a long way to go.

Last weeks tutorial was a great opportunity to reflect with my fellow students about what we have found useful so far and apply the theory we have been reading about to practice. One of the biggest realisations during this reflection for me is that not all theory fits practice (yes I know no great revelation there!) and that this is ok! Sometimes the theory is useful in practice, sometimes it isn’t, sometimes it’s partially useful and sometimes it leads to more thinking. I wrote a blog a few weeks back about being a square peg and I found out last week that it’s quite normal to be a square peg …. Phew !

mspWe also took some time out to discuss our leadership initiatives – which I have to admit to be struggling with of late. I feel that with my leadership initiative I have opened up a real can of worms! Each line of inquiry has lead to more thinking and realisation that more will need to be done – I have found myself loosing focus on the exact task in hand ! Talking about my initiative with my fellow students has really refocused me and it is now clear what I need to do – I even came home and created a focused mind map and pinned it on my wall so I can remain focused.  There is no doubt that my initiative is just the start of the journey and it will grow and develop as momentum grows but it’s important to not bite off more than I can chew and to have a realistic goal in sight.

So six months in and I have to ask myself the question “Is the Seacole Programme worthwhile?” There can be no doubt that it’s hard work, that it makes me tear my hair out at times, that the essays are the bane of my life BUT what I am learning is of enormous value and it is giving me the confidence and skills to lead.

Square peg

peg1I am over halfway through the NHS Leadership Mary Seacole Programme and I have to say that whilst I am enjoying the learning and finding it very interesting I am becoming increasingly aware that what I do does not fit neatly into the programme and learning.  I find that I have to think beyond what is being presented to us and build upon it.  I feel very much like the proverbial square peg trying to fit into the round hole!


t2The recent workshop day was a great day but only really served to increase my feelings square peggishness (real word?)  The 6 dimensions of organisational climate were discussed at length throughout the day and I spent a lot of the day feeling frustrated and perplexed.  It wasn’t until I sat down on a one to one basis with one of the facilitators that it actually started to make sense.  She was very patient with me and we discussed the model and ideas surrounding it and we both came to the conclusion that I don’t fit and neither does my leadership initiative  … however we also concluded that this is ok ! It’s perfectly fine to be a square peg and my leadership initiative in all its square piggishness (yes that made up word again!) is still a valuable initiative that can make a difference.  We spent a large chunk of the lunch break brainstorming (for which I am eternally grateful) and came up with a square hole for my square peg.

So having missed most of lunch this is a neat version what we came up with:


I am not sure how much sense it will make to you but being the type of person that thinks in pictures it has helped me make sense of what we are being taught and where I fit.

failMy leadership initiative is to bring more evidence into the #nursecommunity and to develop a system to recognise, collate and measure the evidence that is already out there and being shared. One of my key concerns with Twitter and Twitter discussions of late is that a lot of information is being shared but where is the valuable evidence based stuff that will enhance our practice.  I worry that Twitter chats will soon be dismissed as just inane twitter chatter and want to ensure that what is being shared is not only evidence based but also that we can prove this. Will my leadership initiative work? I don’t know is the honest answer! Being in a space such as social media there really is no precedent so we just have to try it out and see what happens!! However there are several stumbling blocks to me using this as my leadership initiative – I have no formal leadership position, there is  no formal team, WeNurses as an organisation sits outside the traditional definition of the organisation and WeNurses though works closely with NHS & healthcare organisations is not part of them.  Whilst this is not a huge problem in terms of the project itself it becomes problematic when trying to apply the models and frameworks that we are exploring through the Mary Seacole Programme…… square peg!!

peg2I am not sure that having chiselled away at this round hole that my square peg of an initiative will fit neatly however what I have learnt is that the important thing is the learning that is taking place.  I have gained so much so far from the leadership programme and it has given me the confidence to question the norms and to move forward in a constructive and inclusive manner.  My measure of success here is not how round I can make my peg or how square I can make the Mary Seacole Programmmes round hole but my leadership initiative and whether I can lead this small but subtle change xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx in the way we share on Twitter.

A short and sweet #SeacoleProg update

I am not quite sure where time goes, it certainly seems to be running away with me lately! I have been meaning to take some time to reflect following the NHS Leadership Mary Seacole Programme tutorial I attended some two weeks back now and it seems that I am only just getting around to it.

digital leaderBefore the tutorial I had to admit to struggling with some of the concepts a little bit (which you can read about in my last Seacole programme blog “Here are the warts” ) so I was somewhat apprehensive going into the tutorial. However the day was a great opportunity to catch up, see how my fellow Seacolers were getting on and hear about their challenges. We took some time in the day to share each others leadership initiatives, as we are now reaching a point whereby we need to set our leadership initiatives in stone as we will be writing about our hopes and plans in our next essay. It was a fab opportunity to hear about the great things that others have planned and the challenges they face and also it was great to get some perspective on my own leadership initiative and how I can use the concepts and theories we have been learning about to underpin it.

officeI came away from the day feeling like “I can do this” and have even since applied lean principles (yes I am starting to get it now!) to my home office – I am now a lean (but not mean) tweeting machine ! But applying lean principles to my little office space is not my leadership initiative … As however impressed my one and only actual work colleague – the cat – is with this I feel my leadership initiative should involve more people than me and said cat!

spookyI am still processing my thoughts on my leadership initiative and have a meet up with a fellow student next week where I am hoping we can listen to each other and brainstorm some practicalities. I have quite a firm idea on what my leadership initiative will be and I am hoping that I will be able to use all that I have learnt so far to make it not only a success in terms of the Seacole Programme but also a worthwhile and valuable initiative. I am still a little unsure as to the size of my initiative and feel i need to make it more realistic and start small so whilst I am working out the exact whys and wherefores I will keep it between me and the cat! But please watch this space as I will share as soon as me and the cat are ready!


Here are the warts!

When I first set out on the NHS Leadership Mary Seacole programme I wanted to blog about it warts and all … so far I have managed to post a few blogs but mostly positive stuff all in all …. This blog has a few warts I am afraid and I wanted to get them off my chest before I go to my next tutorial, which is tomorrow.  So here goes:

I have to admit to having a bit of a post Christmas dip.  I had an incredibly busy pre Christmas period and fell a little behind with my learning something which I wasn’t too worried about thinking I would be able to catch up over the Christmas break. Well Christmas came and went in a flurry of gifts, relatives and turkey and the catch up just didn’t happen.  In early January I made a concerted effort to get up to date and I managed to regain the ground I had lost, which at the time I felt very relieved about …..however then I hit what I now refer to as “the lean and flow wall” !! Lean and flow is a concept that is totally alien to me and not only is it totally alien but also the terminology seemed to just bamboozle me. I have though learnt this much:

This isn’t lean


And this isn’t flow:



Now matter how much I read and re-read and even re-read again I just don’t get it.  So this week I finally gave in and admitted that I just don’t know and in a moment of desperation (as I could see myself getting further and further behind) I posted a cry for help on my tutor group forum.  I am very glad I did as I then immediately relaxed and left lean and flow and moved on (thinking I will return to it and re read again after I have got some help) This story has a happy interim ending as I was so pleased when two people answered my post and now I have a bit of extra reading and am in contact with someone who gets it … that’s got to be good, hasn’t it ?!!

There is no doubt that I am still behind and that I still don’t really get lean and flow but I am feeling like it is less of a mountain to climb now.  I am hoping that with our tutor group meet up tomorrow I will come away feeling even more positive and re energised.

There is certainly a lesson to be had here though and it is that you can’t know or understand everything and it’s ok to ask for help at times.  Its also ok to “not get” something, we all have our strengths and weaknesses …. However my aim is that by my next Seacole Programme update blog I have a little more of clue about lean and flow!


inchargeagainMid December saw the second round of #InCharge of WeNurses – for four days four people took charge of the WeNurses Twitter account.  We had trialled this previously in September and it worked very well so we decided to give it a go again.  We haven’t quite reached the stage of allowing anyone to take charge as yet so the #InCharge process was by special invitation only still.  This time we had @STMHnurserahs a student mental health nurse, @DGFoord Director of Quality & Clinical Governance at a Clinical Commissioning Group, @uhcw_inf_con The Infection Control Team from University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and  @HoJane a Urology Nurse Specialist. Each person brought their own unique view of nursing to their tweets and brought a great perspective but what each person had in common was their passion for nursing and this certainly shone through. Some really brilliant ideas were shared and fabulous discussions were held, each #InCharge tweeter was wonderful…. Even down to the sharing of kitten and puppy pictures!  However with all this tweeting being done for WeNurses I did find myself with the rare gift of time on my hands! At first I really couldn’t figure out what to do, I wrapped a few Christmas gifts and sat back and relaxed for a bit.. then rather inevitably I found myself doing something.

essayHaving had a rather hectic end of November / beginning of December I have to admit to getting quite behind with the Mary Seacole NHS Leadership Programme work and it was all I could do to get my 1st assignment report out on time.  With the slowing down of my life mainly due to the #InCharge InChargers (yes I know this is a dubious made up type of word, but nevertheless it’s very fitting) I was not only able to catch up a little but also to reflect on my #SeacoleProg journey so far.

timeOne of the major concerns the first time our tutor group met was time.  Many people identified one of their fears as not having enough time to devote to the programme.  There is no doubt that time has been a major challenge since the programme started but I have found that I have ‘made time’ – I am really not sure how I have achieved this, but a little bit here and a little bit there seems to have worked and I have found that completing each section has not been too much of a hardship.  One thing I did not account for though was the dissemination and adaptation of all this information to not only my own practice but also in relation to my own behaviours.  I have found myself on a bit of an emotional roller coaster as I have assessed and analysed not only myself but also a project very close to my heart #WeNurses and the #NurseCommunity.

everestIt’s no secret that I have never really seen myself as a leader but some of the things I have learnt through my journey and via the start of the Mary Seacole programme have shown me that we each at certain points in our careers and lives meet leadership challenges and that you do not need any formal authority in order to step up to these challenges. The recognition of my own leadership challenge and the skills I need to develop in order to meet it have totally overwhelmed me over the last few weeks.  By really looking .. And I mean really looking … At what I do and where WeNurses is and the challenges that the #NurseCommunity face I have felt fear in the very core of my sole! WeNurses is growing and growing and with followers and tweets are doubling every 6 months. Questions like what if I am not up to it? What if I fail? And what if I find myself unable to cope? Have crossed my mind more than a few times in the past weeks. And the compounding factor being that this is social media and however much we plan it is like we are climbing Everest for the very first time so we really have no idea what to expect.

digital leaderI guess this means that all of this leadership learning is working as it’s making me think and plan. Yes the future scares me … it scares me because I am passionate and because I care.  I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know where social media and healthcare is going but I do know that in order to make the most of it we need a new type of leader – a digital leader in healthcare.  This type of leader is emerging regardless of hierarchy, regardless of geography and regardless of no formal authority.  People are stepping up to leadership challenges and facing them head on.  I count myself very lucky to be part of this and am glad that not only do I have the support to do this but also that I am being given the skills.


As I head from one busy week into another busy week not only do I find myself looking forward to Christmas and a bit of a rest but I also find myself reflecting on the past week.

This week has been spent mostly with my head buried in my computer but on Thursday my faithful laptop was left at home as I headed off to a day long workshop as part of the NHS Leadership Mary Seacole Programme.  It was a fun day but a day of boxes, of being put into boxes and of being a little rebellious against the boxes.

boxesSome of our pre workshop work was to complete some questionnaires one of which looked at our learning styles.  With my learning style putting me in the “Converging” box meaning I prefer to learn by solving problems and finding solutions, I am very much a “do-er”and that I am apparently happier with the technical issues rather than social issues (being in social media and being a nurse both of which are inherently social I was pretty sure I didn’t agree with this last point at all!)  As the day went on we actually got to stand in our boxes, in a grid marked out on the floor we stood in the box that applied to us and we got see where everyone else in our group was.

box3During the lunch break we sat in smaller groups and I sat with a group of people I didn’t really know and one of them asked about the work I do in social media so I explained.  Everyone was very enthusiastic but as we were going back in to the workshop one person, in a very nice way, suggested that as I was far removed from frontline nursing and how could I really know what it is like and how could I know the challenges front line nurses face. Unfortunately there was no time to explain that actually, I am a nurse, I am still a nurse, not only do I still nurse on the frontline but also even if I didn’t I would still be a nurse.  I have to admit to feeling quite cross as I sat down … it felt like I had been put into another box.

Later on in the day our facilitator was explaining a model to us  –it looked like this:


box2A BOX !!! The more he explained that if we are in tune to our self (self awareness) in the first box the more this effects the other boxes.  Well I think I must have been boxed out as the more I looked at it the more I didn’t get it … the picture just wasn’t right.  As the facilitator drew to a close he asked everyone how they felt about the model, so I raised my hand and said “This may sound a little odd but the shape of it is making me uncomfortable!” The people in the room laughed a little but by this point I was feeling more than a little rebellious so I carried on and explained that I really had no idea what he was talking about until I realised that actually the model was the wrong shape.  In a model where one action has impact on others a box only serves to confuse people ….. well the facilitator changed the shape of the box to a circle with self awareness in the middle and suddenly it all started to make sense.

Feeling a little braver and having firmly rebelled against boxes I started to look at the rest of the day a little differently and started to apply some social media and nursing thinking to the day.  In social media and nursing the individual is king.  It’s all about the person, it’s all about being centred on one person at one point I time.  Seeing the individual and not the box they are in.  As I looked beyond boxes that afternoon I started to see that leaders come in all shapes and sizes, they come from all backgrounds, they have a variety of skills – some are noisy and forthright and some are quiet and shy but each person has their own qualities to bring.  One of the great things about the NHS Leadership Programme is that it is bringing all of these people together and it’s giving them the tools and support to empower them to lead. It was a great day and I certainly learnt a lot not only about models, theories and frameworks but also about the people in my group.  However I am not so sure about boxes.  I don’t like being put in one at all! I like to keep things simple and just be individually and uniquely me.