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To followership and beyond


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Friday, 29 March 2019

To followership and beyond

After the success of her last blog on thinkfulness, we asked Bev Heaver to share her thoughts on other aspects of the exciting world of change. Bev is head of disruptive horizon scanning and new futures curation at the Mod Institute. Here she unpacks some of the key resources that we all need to carry with us on our change journeys.


At Mod we don’t have a management hierarchy but a fluid leadership matrix which values not just leaders but also the many followers every organisation depends on to do "work".

The NHS needs to develop more follower-leaders (not to be confused with lead followers) who set the strategic direction for followership at locality, place and system level. We need a director of following on every board. They are every bit as vital as the director or strategy or the head of feedback and experience.

Don’t wait for permission to be passive and compliant. It’s everyone’s business to drift unquestioningly in the direction of everyone else. Make it part of everything you do.

Tip: Why not start your own Followership Academy (FA)? Better still, wait for someone else to start one.


I was at an amazing unconference the other day listening to an inspirational untalk about pulling power to the foreground. It made me realise how many times I’ve been guilty of backgrounding my own power recently.

Change agency is power. We have it individually or we share it collectively through superconnectors like me. When one of us gets more powerful, we all do.

Power makes a positive difference. It mobilises ideas and people. The word power looks great on slides and infographics. It literally empowers people. Just say it slowly in a low voice in front of the mirror a few times and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m still disappointed when someone asks “What can you do with it?” or “Will it help me get a pay rise?” These are old power questions in a new power world. They go straight on the park board.


We all know how to listen but how many of us actually do it? I know I don’t!

It’s not enough to “hear” or “understand”, sometimes you literally need to put yourself in someone else’s ears.

At our Through Their Ears active listening workshops we model better hearing behaviours by asking delegates to make cardboard replicas of their neighbours’ ears which they have to wear for the rest of the day. It’s a great way to discover your wells of empathy and compassion. There’s a prize for the most lifelike ears.


To make large scale change happen we need less of some things and more of others. We need to challenge old thinking and embrace new sprint-thinking, break old rules and make new paradigms, tear down structures and build self-sustaining ecosystems in their place.

The w-word must never get in our way. You should never have to ask “why” change is so important in an age of disruption. As I wrote recently in my blog, the Five Quadrants of Paradox, disruption is the new normal – and vice versa.  Disnormality is your ally. Embrace it.

Pointful travel

Change is constantly evolving, which is why we are on an endless journey of change with no beginning, middle or discernible point. Only you have the power to make it pointful.

Without the continual drive for change, the transformation we envision would disappear from our imaginations, and change agents would have no option but to stop telling their stories and describing their feelings and go back to their meaningless, transactional, activity based “jobs”.

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

New futures editor: NHS Networks


Anonymous says:
Mar 29, 2019 08:54 AM

Brilliant, sounds like the ideal vehicle to take forward the bullies charter so close to much of NHS 'leadership'

Anonymous says:
Apr 05, 2019 12:18 PM

As Judge Judy says, put on your listening ears! Very few do ....

Will Smith
Will Smith says:
May 29, 2020 01:10 PM

Enjoyed reading the blog above, really explains everything in detail, the blog is very interesting and effective. Thank you and good luck for the upcoming blogs.

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Anonymous says:
May 29, 2020 01:20 PM


Will Smith
Will Smith says:
May 29, 2020 01:23 PM

nice blog