Project name: co-creating the Leeds Way – transformation through staff engagement

Objectives: to kick-start a new, positive culture that can sustain positive performance

When Julian Hartley joined Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTHT) as its new CEO, it was clear that his arrival needed to be different. Staff had previously felt disengaged and lacked trust in their senior leadership team. The table below summaries how the Trust described the product of our first four months of work with them:


The need for big change: We helped Julian to design a big entrance

We supported the design and delivery of a letter, from Julian to 1,000 leaders across the Trust, asking for their frank feedback on what the big issues were and what needed to be done.

We analysed the responses to these letters to reveal that staff did not share a clear articulation of:

  • where they were going – LTHT’s broader sense of purpose and vision, it’s “why”;
  • how they were expected to behave – with those they work with and those they serve;
  • what they must do – clear objectives and how everyone plays their part.

Staff were pulling in different directions, not addressing poor behaviour and not celebrating successes. Julian sought to address this through a new approach to staff engagement.

We helped Julian to mark his arrival with a radically different approach to engaging with staff

We designed a physical event for 400 staff (top leaders and a cross-section of staff) for Julian to share his insights from the responses to his letter and to share and launch his plan – to co-create “The Leeds Way”.

We used our crowdsourcing technology in the room (instead of post-it notes and posters) to capture everyone’s views from table discussions revolving around three questions:

  1. Where could the Trust be if we got everything right – a new vision?
  2. What behaviour should we expected from all staff (and not tolerate)?
  3. What needs to be stopped, started or done differently to achieve our new emerging vision?

We then invited them to act as ambassadors to get their staff involved in an online version of this physical event. The event acted as a launch pad for three online workshops to gather the collective insight of both staff and stakeholders and to test the emerging “Leeds Way”, as a new strategic framework.

We helped to embed the results

In this case, we focused upon:

  • supporting and coaching HR to bring the values framework to life through key touch points of their employee lifecycle and leadership development; and
  • training teams locally to use and embed our methods as an integrated part of their broader improvement methodology (i.e. the “Virginia Mason” approach that was entering the NHS market place at the time).

LTHT has since delivered over 150 internal online workshops to help bring staff to the centre of change and save millions. Our methods were placed as central to the Trust winning awards for its transformation in staff engagement and for helping to improve broader clinical performance.

Key insight

Culture change is possible, it needs time and consistency. The “graph of glory” as it’s affectionately known in Leeds, shows the impact of our work on the Hospitals over time.