OD Superstar - Richard French-Lowe


28 / 11 / 2014 12.54pm

Our November Superstar is Richard French-Lowe, workforce development manager at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, which is a mental health trust operating in two north London boroughs. The learning and development team provides learning services and OD support across the organisation to 1,500 staff.
Richard has always worked in the public sector; initially in the Civil Service as a policy manager and then as the L&D manager. Richard joined the NHS in 1998 and has had the privilege to work in some of the oldest and largest acute trusts. His work has mainly focused on leadership and management development and more recently with an OD focus.  Richard confesses that he loves working where the ‘script’ is emergent rather than being fixed; therefore OD consulting, coaching and facilitation are his principal interests.

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

I provide OD and leadership consultancy to support the trust; this means I am called upon to provide learning, facilitation, OD or event training to teams or individuals. As a small team we do have to be adept at working in different modes so for example last week I was delivering mandatory training, and this week. I’m supporting a change project in one of our clinical pathways.

2. What does OD mean to you?  

I prefer the term ‘organisational change’; but with added emphasis on people and whole systems change. Sometimes I think we mystify OD, maybe to talk it up, and that can potentially distance us from our clients. 

3. What OD projects are you most proud of? 

Working with Professor Halligan on the safety culture with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals was a real cross organisation change project and I learned a lot!

More recently at Camden and Islington (C&I), I am proud of our work on Reconnecting: Changing Lives to identify our values. We’ve still got more to do but it’s a solid foundation. Also, our leadership and management development offer; it isn’t just about training managers but solidifies our commitment to professionalising leadership and management. Our target was to have over 50 per cent of those with managerial roles holding a relevant management qualification, and we've achieved that…the impact over time will be immeasurable.

4. What would you like to learn more about? 

I’m hoping to start a Postgraduate Certificate in OD in the next few months so the whole subject area is of interest. Specifically, I want to get more aware of how we link OD with the delivery of health services. It’s been a while since my last formal studying so it’s pretty scary too.

5. Who inspires you most? 

Personally, my brother. There aren’t many contemporary dancers who are disabled (and who graduate at the age of 49). He is an example of strength and how to live life.

Professionally, I’ve always been impressed with Stephen Covey’s work. Start with the individual! Patrick Lencioni is someone whose work I’ve been looking into more recently.

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

Organization Development by Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge and Linda Holbeche. 

It’s a core text for me and both authors are leaders in the field.  I’ve asked Linda to present work for my organisation in the past and she is knowledgeable and a top speaker.

7. What would you like to achieve in 2014? 

We’re developing something around clinical leadership and OD at C&I that I’d like to see grow and have a real impact on leadership in health. Watch this space.

I need to sort myself a better work related Twitter name but I’m struggling…any ideas?

8. What would your motto be? 

“Decisions are made by those that show up”: a quote I first heard on the West Wing (essential viewing) but the actual source is unclear. Anyway, it says it all: get involved.

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

You just need to get on with the role and delivering what you’re asked to do. Get experience and let the technical learning follow. Work with great people, different from you, but who you can learn from.

10. What is your favourite sandwich? 

Malted Bread: cream cheese, egg and anchovies (yes, really)

If you have any questions about Richard and their work, then please feel free to connect with him on

Twitter: @FrenchLoweLearn

Email: Richard.French_Lowe@candi.nhs.uk

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