Everyone always refers to 3 being the magic number but we (Dan & Rachel) believe it is actually 2!

Over 6 years ago when we first met, we both felt committed to making a difference in the organisation where we worked- beyond fulfilling our day jobs, we had greater dreams for what could be achieved with a different outlook, a new approach. Starting from the premise that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the work they do, we added thoughts into a big ‘improvement pot of ideas’, discussed them, added our opinions, each added a bit of our character into the idea, and so 15s30m was born!

It sounds like it was simple, but there was (and still is) a vital ingredient here…..it took two of us.

I (Rachel) am a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Bradford Hospitals and I (Dan) am a Transformation Manager at TeleTracking International, but we both found each other with our common interest of quality improvement. This mix of Clinician and Manager, different backgrounds, male and female, two minds, two hearts, together with a mutual love for tea has been key to the success of 15s30m.  Our different life and work experiences are a strength, enabling each other to ‘see it from the other side’, enabling us to construct a breadth and depth of storytelling which appealed to colleagues whatever their position in the organisation.

Once we found the common purpose and decided to launch 15s30m as a social movement, this is where the magic happened. Any change agents undertaking the NHS Horizons school for change will soon discover how helpful it is to find a kindred spirit to maximise the changes you’re after. It can be very daunting when trying to implement/encourage a change at work on your own, it can be lonely, and easy to put it to the bottom of the ‘to do’ pile.  The work stops when you stop, and kickstarting that work upon your return from leave can be like starting at square one again. If you’re doing it on your own its easy to give up, feel disheartened….but with two..well for us, it wasn’t about accountability or pressure to fulfil our portion of the workload. Instead the project progressed at pace as a result of looking forward to sharing what we’d discovered with the other.  In this way, work felt like a joy and welcome diversion from the day to day routine.

What we found is that we could share our feelings as partners to acknowledge when we were having a ‘low energy’ days or felt frustration at lack of progress.  Being able to make each other laugh was a real bonus, but having another person to keep you on track, to stop each other losing site of the common goal was also key.

In change management it is natural to face obstacles of all sorts, sometimes they’re unexpected, sometimes they’re planned, sometimes you should have foreseen them coming, but the important message is not to switch focus to the obstacle, keep your focus on the goal and overcoming the obstacle will become easier.  A key obstacle we learnt to overcome was courage to do “the Big Ask” – when the blocker to progress was to ask permission or resource or time from a member of the exec team. Typically we would put this off, trying to find a long way round, assuming that what we were asking for was too difficult, likely to be rejected, would seem greedy or presumptuous. What we learned was all our preconceptions, assumptions and limitations around each “Big Ask” was untrue; manufactured in our minds. So be bold, be brave and GO FOR IT is our advice!

Our top 5 tips for you and your improvement partner;

  • Prebook at least 3 meetings ahead and protect the time with each other
  • Plan something fun to do which helps move the improvement forward
    • Have your meeting outside
    • Have a walk and talk
    • Make outrageous plans with pen and paper, get creative
  • Do the actions there and then, don’t make a note that you will call someone later for something, call them now while you’re together. Be realistic about what can be achieved.
  • Share your ideas to gain feedback, internally, externally (Twitter is great!)
  • Find your pillars of power and each reach out to them!


Want to know more about our social movement to reduce frustration and increase joy in work?

Quality Improvement for those who think Quality Improvement isn’t for them.

@15s30m      Info@15s30m.co.uk            www.15s30m.co.uk

Rachel Pilling and Dan Wadsworth are the winners of the 2017 NHS Improvement Sir Peter Carr Award.

We’d love to hear from you…follow them on twitter @miss_pilling  or @danwods or get in touch using email above.