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The geeky bit: Making 7,500 contributions make sense

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Phase one of our online Change Challenge campaign resulted in a list of 10 barriers and 11 building blocks for bottom-up change. Each and every one of them was defined directly from the 7,500+ contributions of the people who took part. Here’s how we did it.

We assembled two independent research teams - one from NursingTimes’ sister title HSJ and one from Clever Together.

They worked separately, coordinated by a steering group made up of leaders from both organisations.

To analyse the words and votes of the crowd, the teams deployed a research method developed by Clever Together and enabled through our technology, inspired by what the research trade calls a ‘grounded theory approach’.

The Clever Together team reviewed the first 4,000 contributions, looking for frequently occurring themes with regard to where in the process of change, people say they get blocked. In doing so, they identified seven common ‘barriers to change’. They then looked for frequently occurring themes that point to what’s needed to support bottom-up change.

This revealed 16 common ‘building blocks’. 

The steering group then presented these potential barriers and building blocks to the HSJ analysis team, who tested their validity by trying to ‘code’ the ideas within the first 5,000 contributions.

This second analysis revealed that the ideas falling into two of the barriers should be further divided into subsets. For example, the project management theme was separated into (a) selecting and funding projects and (b) managing projects.

Likewise, the analysis revealed that some of the building blocks could be merged (e.g. collaboration inside and between organisations into peer collaboration). Ultimately, the HSJ team suggested there were 11 common barriers and 13 building blocks.

The Clever Together and HSJ teams iterated this process as the data continued to flow in from the online workshop.  To ensure validity of the data both within each analysis team and also between the two, the process allowed for the teams to work both separately and together, so that they can challenge each other’s analyses.

Once all the data were analysed the two teams arrived at the same conclusions regarding the crowd’s perceived existence of 10 barriers and 11 building blocks.

Clever Together then re-analysed the most supported contributions within each theme, both the barriers and building blocks, to enhance the draft definitions. The themes and definitions were presented to an extended steering group, consisting of former front line staff and the ‘Horizons Team’ from NHS England’s Improving Quality unit.

Two workshops later, the definitions were either accepted or refined, based upon the direct quotes of those who took part in the online workshop.

Although the analysis process was intensive and complex, our technology and methods enabled us to focus the energy and efforts of both teams on the work that really mattered. Imagine the months of work it would have taken to develop the same insight by running face to face workshops and collating 7,500 post-it notes.

Voices from the front line have been heard, now we have to act. The Change Challenge reopened on Tuesday 10th February and we are now are inviting everyone to share their ideas and examples of how we can overcome the barriers and better use the building blocks to create bottom-up change.

Peter Thomond is director of Clever Together


Visit the Clever Together website to get involved

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