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Learning from healthcare

Adrian Ruth reflects on his experiences at Super Melting Pot visiting Babylon Health, learning about workplace civility and driving culture change.

Although I don’t work in healthcare, I’d come across the Kaleidoscope team a few times – even presenting at a previous (mini) Melting Pot. I’ve spent several years leading a transformation team in the BBC, and our approach – collaborating and innovating to tackle some really thorny problems – has a lot in common with Kaleidoscope.

I’m always eager to learn from different sectors – people often think in silos within their own organisations, let alone their own sectors – so it was refreshing to arrive and get a sense that I was surrounded by enthusiastic, open-minded people. This boded well, but was the Super Melting Pot going to be able to live up to its name?

I wasn’t disappointed. My personal highlight was probably the external visit – a few of us went to see Babylon Health, the rapidly-growing “medi-tech” start-up. They’re behind the virtual GP-at-hand service, and are focussing on harnessing AI to fulfil their mission “to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth”. It was an inspirational visit – they’ve done some incredible work in Rwanda as well as their pioneering service in the UK.

I’m always eager to learn from different sectors… so it was refreshing to arrive and get a sense that I was surrounded by enthusiastic, open-minded people.

The clinical director, Dr Umang Patel, who has been with the company since the beginning, was very open and frank about the journey they’ve been on. The one thing which shone through was the benefit of making a clear decision quickly and seeing it through – what Umang described as “decision velocity”. He attributes a lot of their success, and the fostering of a culture where they aim for really ambitious targets, to this decision velocity.

This got a few of us thinking about how to harness the power of this approach within a much bigger organisation – somewhere like the BBC or the NHS. Given the challenges we’re all facing, that speed and agility is going to be ever more crucial in the coming years.

A Melting Pot discussion at Super Melting Pot

Two other points from the conference strongly resonated with me:

  • a discussion on how to promote workplace civility and how vital it is – this had real echoes of work we’ve done in the BBC on behaviours, and it strikes me that this is something we need to keep a focus on in all of our organisations
  • the importance of role-modelling by leadership when driving culture change. I think this is a concept we all readily understand, but it’s too easy to make excuses – so it’s always useful to be reminded of it.

In summary, lots to reflect on, and a ton of inspiration. Thanks to the team for the incredible organisation of Super Melting Pot, and roll on Super Melting Pot Two!

Adrian Ruth is Director of BBC Spark, the BBC’s in-house lean transformation team.

Learn more about what happened at Super Melting Pot.

Adrian Ruth19 February 2020


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