Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 25, 2013

Santa’s list by @jasonleitch

A new year’s resolution

Christmas wish

What would you like for Christmas? A Playstation 4? An Xbox One? maybe you’re unselfish and you’d like something for society, more houses for the homeless, less poverty or even less climate change.

I’ve thought what I’d like for Christmas and I have come to a strange conclusion and one that I’m not sure Santa can deliver. I’ve decided I want better leaders.

But what does better look like?

I had the privilege of attending the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Annual National Forum in the US last week and I was at the CEO and Senior Leader’s Day. IHI launched their latest White Paper. It’s called High-impact Leadership, Improve Care, Improve the Health of the Population and Reduce Costs. You can find it here. 1

IHI publish their key learning in White Papers and I commend them to you. you can find the whole set here. This new one on leadership is particularly valuable and I can’t do it justice here but one section may be helpful and caught my eye.It describes what ‘better’ might look like and  lists five high-impact behaviours described as ‘what leaders do to make a difference’.

1) Person-centredness – be consistently person-centered in word and deed. High Impact Leaders

2) Front Line Engagement – be a regular authentic presence at the frontline and a visible champion of improvement

3) Relentless Focus – remain focused on the vision and strategy

4) Transparency – require transparency about results, progress, aims and defects

5) Boundarilessness – encourage and practice systems thinking and collaboration across boundaries

I hope you agree these behaviours, done reliably and at scale will make a difference. in my view, one behaviour is the foundation for all the others.

Flipping Healthcare

Maureen Bisognano, the CEO of IHI, opened the Forum with a Keynote lecture about ‘flipping’ healthcare.

Maureen IHI

She talked principally about behaviour number one – person-centredness. Without which none of the others are possible. She talked of moving from ‘what’s the matter with you?’ to ‘what matters to you?’.  Maureen used as one of her examples the work of Jen Rodgers in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.  Jen.JasonJen was nurse of the year in Scotland a few weeks ago and has been one of the drivers behind two innovations in children’s services in Glasgow – the morning staff huddle and the ‘what matters to me?’ posters.

Every child and teenager admitted to Yorkhill is given a piece of paper and crayons or pens and is asked to complete a ‘what matters to me’ poster. The kids and parents love it, they write about nurses, food, toys, sleeping and pets. They rarely ask that we ‘cure’ them or make sure they get their drugs on time. They take clinical excellence for granted, what matters is care and compassion. Remarkably often they also write about the welfare of the staff, already understanding at such a young age that happy staff equals better care.

Christmas wish, New Year’s resolution

So this Christmas I want better leaders, at every level of the healthcare system and I think the five behaviours above are a good start.

Jason Leitch

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

Our Christmas blogger is @jasonleitch (Professor Jason Leitch) Clinical Director, The Quality Unit, Scottish Government


1 Swensen S, Pugh M, McMullan C, Kabcenell A. High-Impact Leadership: Improve Care, Improve the Health of Populations, and Reduce Costs. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2013. (Available at


  1. […] Jason Leitch in Santa’s list on the Ayrshirehealth blog came up with a surprising thing to put on his Christmas list: better […]

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