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Martin Plackard’s week: Monday


Blog headlines

  • Social care to become lifestyle brand
    16 April 2020

    Social care is to get a new brand identity as the government seeks to reverse the perception that it is the poor relation of the NHS.

  • Blithering Covid-19 bulletin plays vital role
    2 April 2020

    To fill a gap in the market for timely and relevant Covid-19 information, Martin Plackard, director of global crisis communications at NHS Blithering introduces his latest initiative to reach out to stakeholders during the outbreak.

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

  • Nothing left to shift: fears grow over NHS paradigm supply
    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Tuesday
    7 February 2020

    The second in our series of privileged insights to the working life of Martin Plackard, the NHS’s most gifted communicator

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Monday
    30 January 2020

    First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

  • A quick guide to quick guides
    24 January 2020

    Few of us have time for long documents that take ages to read or a lot of expertise to put together. That’s where quick guides come in.

  • Towards people and impact
    17 January 2020

    This week the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advertised for a head of engagement and belonging. Such titles can be controversial – but not for Martin Plackard, whose CV features a number of leadership roles in the fields of impact, euphemism management and talent delivery.

  • National log-in reset will change everything
    9 January 2020

    This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced a £40m investment to make it easier to log-in to NHS computers. It’s a laudable aim, akin to fitting a keyless entry system to a Ford Anglia to make it go faster.

  • Martin Plackard’s top tips for making a difference in 2020
    3 January 2020

    NHS Blithering’s Martin Plackard MBE was recognised in the new year honours list for services to strategic communications and meaningful engagement. Here he gives his top tips for others who hope to make a very real difference to people, communities and their own career prospects in 2020.

  • My amazing Twitter year – by Matt Hancock
    20 December 2019

    It's been a fantastic year on social media for the secretary of state for health and the other thing. Here it is in very nearly his own words

  • Sustainability and transformation parties: mandatory guidance
    5 December 2019

    As Christmas fast approaches, system leaders are getting ready for so-called sustainability and transformation parties, the highlight of the year for those who enjoy kinky integration with strangers.

  • All the latest health policy news from the general **** campaign
    29 November 2019

    Because purdah is still in force, this week’s **** has been heavily redacted. Here are the main parties’ plans for government as set out in their manifestos. A full unexpurgated version can be obtained from **** Party HQ.

  • New outfit more splendidly integrated than ever
    21 November 2019

    The emperor has announced plans for yet another new outfit, amid claims that this one will be even more splendid than the last.

  • Purdah – guidance for professionals
    15 November 2019

    After Christmas and the HSJ Awards, purdah is Martin Plackard’s favourite time of year.

  • Tools honoured in Blithering awards
    8 November 2019

    The Blithering Celebrating Success Awards are always eagerly anticipated. Every November, they recognise the commitment and dedication of people who put other people at the heart of everything they do before going the extra mile in their shoes. They also reflect the passionate belief of the organisers, Spume Media, in an awards-led approach to healthcare improvement science.

  • Provisional findings of the interim report
    31 October 2019

    The programme delivery group at One Blithering, the emergent NHS Blithering integrated care system, has published an interim report containing the provisional findings of a year-long strategic review.

  • Toast
    25 October 2019

    "The biggest complaint about the NHS which is beloved by everyone is about the food, and the biggest complaint about the food is about the lack of toast.”

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Martin Plackard’s week: Monday

First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

A fabulous day out

To Bev Heaver’s Fabulously Easy Change unconference. It certainly lives up to its billing as the unevent of the year.

We start with an ice-breaker called the biscuit game where everybody has to role-play their favourite biscuit. Then there’s a rapid co-production huddle where we get to co-agree the agenda for the day.

After a break for coffee and pastries, Bev hands out copies of the agenda, then tells everyone to screw them up and throw them like snowballs at an imaginary target representing old power.

Without the agenda to box us in we can unleash our thinkfulness, after which anything is possible, she explains. We spend the next hour or so in a discussion about how being unleashed makes us feel and how great it is to be part of the conversation we’re having.

Then we break for a networking buffet lunch with two long, slow-moving queues which help delegates to form meaningful relationships, discover their common purpose, and share visions and values while they wait for chicken goujons and spicy Quorn bites.

Later Bev asks us to write our personal statements, then one person from each table (the “statementor”) makes a pledge and Bev asks everyone else to sign up to it. We all sign up – it’s a powerful moment.

My pledge to “make February a month of development and sustainable personal growth” is well received by my table. We share our own growth stories and agree to aim for consensus wherever possible.

We are working collaboratively, Bev says, which is one of her seven signifiers of a successful leader, along with storytelling, challenging norms, going beyond structures, boundaries and rules, embarking on journeys, bringing others along with you, and celebrating success.

Bev ends the day with an inspirational unpresentation where the slides appear to be in no particular order and have no “content” in the conventional sense. Under a slide with the word “bliss” in huge cartoon letters is a crudely drawn stick figure with a questionmark above its head.

“Passion is no longer enough. We need to lead with bliss,” Bev says, repeating the line a few times to let it sink in. “Blissful unknowledge,” she says, “is the key to successful, continuous change.” Bev is right: we should make it part of everyone’s job.

Finally we are asked to “be the change we want to see” by joining in with a rendition of Rod Stewart’s timeless song Sailing. Bev encourages us to forget what our colleagues will think when they see it on Youtube, put our hands in the air and sway gently as we sing. Several people are weeping before the first chorus.

The evaluation form has “Tell us what you really think!” written in crayon. Bev asks us to draw a biscuit – different to the one we chose at the start of the day. I draw a garibaldi. It just feels right.

I leave the event feeling more empowered than ever to raise awareness of the potential of transformational thought-leadership. I am almost ready to start making very small changes at scale.

Loose change editor: Julian Patterson  


Anonymous says:
Jan 31, 2020 08:38 AM

As always excellent insight into NHS leadership and management. As a student of NHS leadership and management this insightful blog has given me some fab ideas for my future assessed presentation - 'implementation of the safety huddle to tease out and drill down to a problem, in a non threatening way'.

Anonymous says:
Feb 11, 2020 10:49 AM

I absolutely love these Blogs. This one had me guffawing. Reminds me of W1A (BBC parody of itself)