What business can learn from the NHS at its best

The first emotion you experience when the paramedics arrive is relief. Relief that the pain will stop soon and relief that you are in the hands of competent, compassionate people who are committed to doing the right thing for you.  I was recently involved in a pretty serious cycle accident in which I broke my leg and wrist in multiple places. As I embark on the recuperation process, I’ve been reflecting on what made the last few weeks a far more positive experience than I could ever have imagined when I was lying on the road knowing that I had done myself some as yet unknown injury.

The first thing to note was the extraordinary reaction of so many ordinary people who dropped everything to come to my assistance.  Holding my leg and head, calling 999, creating a protective cocoon of road furniture around me, taking care of my bike. So many people, too numerous to thank stayed with me until the ambulance arrived. And then I was in the ambulance and starting the long journey through A&E, Major Trauma, operating theatre, recovery wards etc. At each stage of the journey, I knew the name of the person who was talking to me, I was told what was happening, everyone talked to me – they cared.

And the operation was a masterclass in applied technology and experience.  After 8 hours in theatre and the insertion of some high-quality titanium I have a very good prognosis and a high chance of getting back 95% of my function in both limbs.   

Behind the scenes I was being tracked by seemingly endless numbers of professionals.  From well-being to claiming benefits, from urology (don’t ask) to physiotherapy, district nursing to out-patients, at each turn the system ensured an appropriate response.  On discharge day so many things came together so quickly my head was spinning.

Now I can imagine that not everyone will have had such a good experience, but I describe it only to help make my point that organizational success rests on doing 3 things well. It goes without saying that every organization must have expertise of some kind to deliver a product or service – what I call the technique or technology.  They also need good, seamless systems to bring their offering to the client/patient. And all this needs to be wrapped in a package of care where the client feels valued and regarded.  Fail to get any of one of these elements right and the organization will lose reputation and lose customers.

Technique, systems, and compassion are the 3 superpowers that every organization needs if it’s to succeed. I was so pleased to be cared for by the NHS and King’s College Hospital which showed all 3 in abundance when I really needed them.  Through my new business, Intentionality, I’m hoping I can help more organizations deliver socially useful products and services at greater scale and my observations of the last few weeks will shape the  prism I use to guide them.

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