OD Superstar Agi Kertynska

Agi Kertynska

15 / 1 / 2016 2.54pm

Agi started her NHS career in London Strategic Health Authority working on leadership development and talent management projects. She then moved to a national role in education and training at Public Health England.

Having studied for CIPD postgraduate qualifications in HR Development, she decided to move to organisational development (OD). Agi is now the OD practitioner at Camden & Islington Foundation Trust. She also volunteers for London HPMA and Do OD.

Although during her studies in English literature and linguistics she focused on methodology of teaching, it wasn't until later that she found her passion for people development. The turning point came when she was offered a corporate trainer role while on the graduate management training at Marriott International. This experience was key in shaping her career choices.

Learn more about what makes Agi tick and her numerous OD talents in the answers to each of our superstar questions:

1. How would you describe your role in the organisation?

First of all thank you for this amazing acknowledgement. I’m the OD practitioner at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, which is a mental health organisation in central London. I started in February 2015 with the objectives of running the OD diagnostic across the organisation and subsequently draft the OD strategy. I am currently working on practical plans to implement the OD strategy across the organisation.

2. What does OD mean to you?

For me, OD is the ‘how’ of achieving outcomes, clinical or corporate, in fact, whatever they are. The beauty of it, is its diverse nature. It involves holistic observation, in-depth academic research, connecting different groups of people, engaging creative thinking, influencing and continuously listening to where the system wants to be. You can never really fully learn or grasp it. There's always a new tool, philosophical thought and you can add to it as well. I like the variety and almost infinite potential for innovating.

3. What OD projects are you most proud of?

Last year was packed with professional development, experimentation with new OD techniques and utilising best practice. I am immensely proud of how our OD strategy was developed. It involved a lot of discussions with our executive team, running an in-depth and multi-stage diagnostic exercise in a highly dialogic way, involving staff to help facilitate an engagement/innovation event, which resulted in some brilliant ideas and plans designed by our staff. This would not be possible without the support and guidance from my line manager, Mark Cole, who has now raised two OD superstars (Richard French-Lowe was the first). It hugely helped that my trust is open to OD and I got a lot of support from the very approachable executive team. In the background I kept in touch with experienced NHS colleagues like Caroline Mabey, Rachel Moench and Paul Taylor for advice and support. I feel the OD strategy, which has been recently approved by our executive directors, is an outcome of true collaboration.

4. What would you like to learn more about?

Anything that will help translating OD ideas into impactful and tangible action plans with the patient at their centre. Easier said than done. On a personal level, I’m interested in group and whole system dynamics and how coaching can influence it. From the CPD point of view, I want to get a stronger theoretical command of OD models.

5. Who inspires you most?

I used to look for role models from the world of history and sport. These days when I need a bit more motivation and energy I look at people around me, people I know or used to know. My grandfather springs to my mind immediately. He was the first Polish doctor in the town of Legnica in south-western Poland, tasked with setting up the healthcare system in the surrounding area. All that straight after WWII, a rather dark time in the history of my country. Resources, both human and material, were limited so he certainly had to be creative, collaborative and make tough choices. Yet, he stayed positive and warm. I wish I could share with him what we are trying to achieve in C&I and ask how he would approach it. He must have been an OD-er in his heart!

6. What’s your one 'must read' book, article or website on OD?

I have got two resources I always come back to. One is ‘Sticky Wisdom’ by the innovation company, ?What If!. It’s perfect if you want to engage staff to think creatively. It introduces the greenhousing approach, which is what we are promoting at C&I.

OD celebrates humanity, which on one hand is about relationships between people, growth, appreciation of what is similar and different between us. Therefore, it is important for me to go beyond textbooks and identify OD themes in non-professional resources, usually in classic literature. I think, therefore, the perfect book for those working in OD in the NHS is The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). It’s a story about caring for others and the world around us, compassion, personal growth and effective servant leadership. All those things we are trying to support.

7. What would you like to achieve in the coming year?

This is a critical year for OD in our organisation. We are starting to implement the strategy and in December 2016 I would like to see four projects from our engagement/innovation exercise be delivered and use it as an opportunity to grow a group of OD aficionados among clinical and non-clinical staff. I would also like our OD model Collaboration, Adaptability, Transparency, Environment (CATE) to be piloted. The intention is to use it to support the implementation of the new clinical strategy, in particular development of the Integrated psychosis units and practice based teams.

8. What would your motto be?

Think about what makes you tick and look for it. You are likely to find it and even more likely to make a good job of it.

9. What advice would you give to a budding OD professional?

Find your style, trust yourself, research widely, network a lot within and beyond the NHS. We have an amazing breadth of OD talent and opportunities through the NHS Leadership Academy, NHS Employers (Do OD) and HPMA so use it and contribute as well.

10. What is your favourite sandwich?

I love burgers, ideally with jalapenos and guacamole.

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