Raising our collective voice by Karen Dumain

OD III - Karen

26 / 5 / 2016 2.02pm

‘The human voice is the only instrument we all play’

There were a sprinkle of NHS OD practitioners mixed in with OD folk from all sectors and continents. ODN Europe attracts those new to the field, experienced practitioners, external consultants, academics and renowned experts all into one space.

This space is a place to listen, to be listened to, have conversations and experiment. It offers an opportunity to really focus on ideas and generative thinking which inspires my own reflections on how this thinking can inform my OD practice. ODN Europe gave me a space to build courage, confidence and understand more fully the complexity of our work.

The two keynote speakers brilliantly provoked my thinking.

  • Gervase Bushe on the value of the dialogic mind-set.  This session helped my thinking the following week as I facilitated a session on the OD masters programme at Southampton University and shared with the group my reflections on why we use the lens of dialogic OD and mind-set through all our work in Do OD.  At the ODN Europe conference Paul and I also facilitated an open space session on our DO OD capability model. It was great to have Gervase in our session and for him to share his thoughts and reflections and particularly that we had created a generative image with our OD capability model. 

  • Mee-Yan Cheung Judge provoked us to think about the realities of the future, the impact on our organisations and our role and place as OD practitioners.  Are we future ready?  I loved the links that Mee-Yan made from the impact of the future technologies and changes, the impact on our organisations and then to each of us as OD practitioners, particularly with our presence, impact and influence.  Mee-Yan also focussed on the use of voice, building on the research she had done on the different voices we might use. This is based on the Five Elements Framework that shows different qualities our voices can embody. Mee-Yan encouraged us to think about our natural position and to broaden the range of our voice by adopting more than one style


Leaving the conference I found myself thinking more and more about voice and how we use this. One of the privileges I have working for the NHS Leadership Academy and Do OD is that nearly every day I hear the real impact and change that OD practitioners are delivering across the NHS. 

We have a fantastic capability and passion within the NHS to deliver change and transformation. As a community we are always learning and strengthening our partnerships, capability and capacity.  It’s healthy to get challenges, for example on the value of OD, how we begin to work more effectively with service improvement and transformation colleagues and bring together all those working hard to design and deliver for the future. We need to think creatively about how best OD can support new models of care in the NHS, the vanguards and the sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).

Thinking about voice has enabled me to reflect on how I respond to these opportunities and challenges. I’m wondering what voice do I use? How could I change my frame and voice to offer a different conversation? What voice will have the most impact?

When we join our voices what influence, difference and impact could we have? How can we raise our ambition collectively? I’m looking forward to practising a little more fire – what voice do you need more of?

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