OD Superstar - Jo Davidson


30 / 9 / 2014 11.30am

Our September OD Superstar is the fantastic Jo Davidson, Organisational Development (OD) lead at Mersey Care NHS Trust.

Jo takes a 'whole systems' approach to people and business development to influence a culture of continuous improvement and high performance. With over twenty five years experience in both public and private sector, her background in OD, HR and learning and development has fuelled her commitment to create environments that enable people to maximise their potential. Jo is passionate about protecting the quality and the future of public health care, often remembering the quote 'as a society we are only as good as the worst care we provide' (Professor Dawn Brooker). 

After successfully making a business case for investment in OD in September 2013, the team have been working hard to support the organisation's large scale change and the implementation of a new Care strategy. Some of the key interventions delivered include;
  • Development of Mersey Care's bespoke leadership programme, Thrive, which has supported over 200 participants to deliver service improvements
  • 'Mersey Cares: Your Voice, Your Change' engagement strategy, facilitating trust wide conversations that has lead to a combination of strategic, operational and environmental improvements for staff and service users
  • Development of a Staff Charter, embedding the trust's values in recruitment, induction, performance assessment and development mechanisms
  • Implementation of a new personal development record process, which combines best practice, people and business management to cascade strategic aims into values based objectives
  • A strategic approach for the development of high performing teams across care pathways

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

My role is to develop and deliver interventions that underpin Mersey Care's transformation. Mersey Care has an ambitious vision to establish our Centre for Perfect Care and Wellbeing. The Centre combines quality, research and development, service improvement and innovation to radically rethink mental health service provision and further the development of biological, psychological and social care. The organisation is undergoing large scale change, redesigning itself and facilitating the culture of excellence and continuous improvement that underpins the provision of superior, person centred, compassionate care. 

My job is to help engage, empower and maximise the performance and expertise of our talented workforce, and provide the support required during our journey of change. It is through the vision and strategic ability of our chief executive, Joe Rafferty and Director of Workforce, Amanda Oates, that we will ensure OD truly underpins Mersey Care's transformation. 

2. What does OD mean to you?  

Mersey Care NHS Trust intends to be the leading provider of mental health, addiction and learning disability services. We know that to be the best provider, we must be the best employer; we must care for our workforce as well as the people who use our services. OD recognises that organisations are essentially human systems; the organisation must be designed, developed and managed in a way that enables people to do their best work and to maximise their potential.

In most provider organisations, approximately 80% of our capital is our workforce, and the quality of our services are directly impacted by the wellbeing, motivation and capability of our staff. In health, this directly translates to the quality of the care we provide, which is why at Mersey Care, we genuinely mean it when we say that our workforce is our most important, and most precious asset. Our trust has invested in OD as a serious commitment to providing continuous support and development so that we can work together to shape the future of our organisation. 

3. What OD projects are you most proud of? 

There a few things that I'm particularly proud of; 
  • The development of Mersey Care's bespoke leadership programme, Thrive, which has developed and supported participants to deliver numerous improvements in front line services whilst reducing costs, e.g. reduction in bed stay, increased therapeutic activity, securing commissioner funding to develop new care pathways etc. The programme re-energises and inspires clinicians, and provides them with the knowledge and tools to influence and shape service delivery through the development of high performing teams. One consultant said that the programme had quite literally saved her NHS career as she was about to go into private practice. Thrive's success attracted the attention of Professor Michael West, who having said it was 'hugely impressive' asked permission to use it as a case study at The King's Fund as an example of the impact that values led, engaging leadership can deliver. 
  • Our 'Your Voice, Your Change' work is shifting the way we work together, which has lead to a plethora of co-produced solutions and improvements for staff and services users. There are different conversations being had right across the organisation that result in positive action.

4. What would you like to learn more about? 

The Hypertext Organisation and how we convert tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that is then used to develop, improve and innovate, as well as high reliability organisations and the ability to adapt and thrive in increasingly complex environments.

5. Who inspires you most? 

I know it sounds corny but it's got to be my Mum. She was intelligent, tenacious, and had the ability to find the positives in every situation and turn it round, even during some of the most difficult circumstances that I'm glad to say most people would never experience. My mum was passionate about public service, especially health and social care services, and worked tirelessly all her life to care for people. Through both her personal and professional life, she touched and improved the lives of so many, who without her, would have been left extremely vulnerable or unloved. My mum had a reputation for providing the care that we have come to know described in so many of today's 'papers and plans' as truly person centred, compassionate, and effective. She combined a selfless, no nonsense approach with an energy second to none and of course a Scouse sense of humour! I'm proud to say that she instilled these values in me and demonstrated what I can only describe as true values led, servant leadership. 

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

I'd always recommend 'Organisation Development: A Practitioners Guide for OD and HR by Mee-Yan Cheung Judge and Linda Holbeche. We've bought several copies of this book and share across the team. I would also recommend Jim Collins, Good to Great and Great by Choice.

7. What would you like to achieve in 2014? 

I'm proud of the evidence base we have built to date, however I am keen to further triangulate OD to frontline care. I'm also delighted that Professor West has agreed to become a Fellow and Expert Advisor to the Centre for Perfect Care. He will provide advice and guidance to further develop our research and evidence base that demonstrate how our OD interventions lead to the patient safety , outcomes and experience. 

8. What would your motto be? 

Something good comes from everything.....so long as the learning leads to improvement.

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

  • Work hard to develop your relationships, trust and credibility
  • Ensure you really really understand the context, culture and needs of an organisation to ensure you tailor your interventions appropriately.
  • Integrate organisational design and development
  • Measure your outcomes and develop your evidence base 

10. What is your favourite sandwich? 

... A success sandwich... two slices of hard work, a wedge of determination and a dollop of fun!! ...Only kidding (my son told me to write that for a corny finish!). My favourite sandwich would be anything on tiger bread...mmm!

If you have any questions about Jo and their work, then please feel free to connect with her via email: joanne.davidson@merseycare.nhs.uk

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