Thursday, March 14, 2019
Location: Manchester University (The Barnes Wallis Room)
Elizabeth Bradbury, Director AQuA welcomed Matthew Syed on behalf of the event partners ADASS, AQuA, NHS NW Leadership Academy and MIAA.
Matthew Syed is an author, journalist and broadcaster he explores the psychology of high performance and was keen to enter a vigorous dialogue with the audience.
He was the British No1 in table tennis for 10 years. He put his success down to a few things. He argues that traditionally we think about success in terms of talent and genetics but he believes that ordinary people can be extraordinary. There are covert ingredients which he believes are:
- Having a great coach to get you into the right mindset with access to high quality learning experiences
- Both collaborating and using healthy competition to enable you to be the best. This can really galvanise and enable people to aspire to continually improve.
- Leadership really matters a lot. Learning from role models and growth mindset leaders.
He conceptualises success as a journey and believes high performance essentially comes from having a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.
Talent isn’t irrelevant but you need more than that to be a success. With other ingredients, discipline, practice and constant self- evaluation you can get even better at what you do. This enables people to improve and learn from their mistakes. There is now a growing body of evidence of this through tracking the behaviours of people with a growth mindset.
Aviation is a growth mindset instititution.
- They know they are smart
- They know they have good systems in place
- They don’t believe they are perfect
- And they learn from their mistakes and improve.
The open reporting of near misses in the aviation industry means that through statistical analysis of the data you can avert an incident before it even happens. This is what then drives improvement.
Health and social care has a fixed mindset culture.
The most ‘dangerous’ people have a fixed mindset and they are also smart. They are brilliant at sustaining the organisation that is. True expertise is finding out what we don’t know as quickly as possible. Not maintaining what we do know. Growth mindset is about liberating talent. The challenge is to shift from a fixed mindset culture to a growth mindset culture.
The message to leaders is to create cultures that create growth mindsets. Senior leaders are the cultural architects.
Exploring the culture that perpetuates blame
Future patients/clients are harmed in predictable ways. When you examine the cause of an incident you find there are a number of different factors that have contributed to the error and yet the blame usually lands with a person.
Baby P is an example where individuals and not the system were blamed. If you are part of a culture where you escalate the mistakes to social workers then you get unintended consequences. In this case social workers left the profession and those that stayed managed the perceived risk they felt by being more prepared to take children away from families. In the years that followed baby P, the number of children killed at the hands of their parents increased as the interventions of social workers were focused in the wrong areas. Matthew believes that you cannot extract accountability for honest mistakes. Attacking professionals is not the answer.
In the post event rationalisation following baby P no-one took risks – they covered their backs. He urges everyone to always take time to think strategically about why something has gone wrong.
If you put people with different views and experiences in the same room they solve problems more effectively and come up with better strategy. This approach can change the culture and how rapidly you innovate. A lot of innovation happens through this trial and error learning.
The outsider perspective
Connecting luggage with wheels. Who would have thought something so obvious to us now was initially viewed as something so strange no-one would see the benefits?
Immigrants have an outsider role in innovation because they are across different cultures. We need to think as outsiders. When you are inside a paradigm you make superficial changes. When you are outside a paradigm you can make fundamental changes. The people who are going to survive in the world are those who think differently across specialities. People are fixed on their expertise instead of seeing things differently.
Matthew answered questions from the floor
How do you create the space to innovate when there is no time to think how to do things differently?
Matthew believes there is indeed a cost to innovating but the cost of not innovating is even higher.
How can we fundamentally think differently about recruitment so we do things differently?
Matthew argues that it is important to get an outsider perspective and to reverse assumptions. So what would a taxi firm with no cars look like supported by advanced technology? – Uber. Multiple different lenses are required to help solve problems and recruiting for difference would help with this
How do we deliver standardised care and also innovate?
Matthew believes there are two different types of standardisation. A standardised system that everyone uses and standardisation based on best practice established through historical learning. But best practice should be evolving and be seen as the best so far. Unfortunately deviations from best practice in medicine have often delivered worse not better care.
To finish with the So What? What does this all mean for you as a leader?
- Solutions can be simple – marginal gains can make a massive difference
- It is so important to not stop being curious
- Take risks and be bold.
- Strategies need to work in practice
- More space to think