OD Superstars - Jodi Brown

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Jodi Brown

31 / 3 / 2014 Midnight

We have welcomed Jodi Brown to our OD Superstars hall of fame due to the inspirational work she has carried out to champion innovation across the NHS. Jodi has recently been instrumental in the roll out of i-matter, a novel approach for crowdsourcing solutions to solve healthcare challenges. Find out more about Jodi's influential work here. 

OD Superstar Questions

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

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

I head up the Innovation Team at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, a community and mental health provider with just over 5000 employees. I think it’s a really privileged and exciting position as so few organisations have a person, let alone a team dedicated to innovation. My remit is concerned with helping individuals and teams build innovation capacity and capability, with a particular focus on encouraging and supporting grass roots innovation. We know that people who work in the NHS are talented and dedicated…I see it as my role to ensure that they get the chance to add extra value through their good ideas and quality initiatives.

2. What does OD mean to you? 

OD is all about getting the very best from your people and organisation by understanding and building on what “makes them tick”. I believe that the vast majority of people want to do a great job and I’m particularly interested in the factors that give rise to dissonance between intentions and behaviour in the workplace. To me, OD is a perfectly tuned relationship between the organisation and the individual so that both benefit.

3. What OD projects are you most proud of?

i-matter is Dorset HealthCare’s online innovation and engagement platform that gives our staff the chance to crowdsource solutions and ideas to solve healthcare and organisational challenges. I am particularly proud of this project for a number of reasons (and must add that I cannot take sole credit for this work!).

Firstly, it has brought about a change in attitude and policy in relation to the use of social media in our trust. Building on the momentum off the back of i-matter’s implementation, I was able to re-write the trust’s social media policy with an emphasis on its professional and permissive use. Just as much as i-matter values the collective insight and creativity of our people, social media gives them a platform to act as positive brand ambassador for Dorset HealthCare.

Secondly, the use of crowdsourcing is a relatively new method in the NHS and this approach has generated an awful lot of interest and opportunity from within the NHS community. I am proud that we have been pioneers, and although still very much in its infancy, i-matter has so much potential to bring people and communities together to collaborate over shared challenges and co-create solutions. I would love to see i-matter challenges opened up to our public and stakeholders in the not too distant future.

4. What would you like to learn more about? 

I’ve done a lot of academic study and learning, so I’m keen to learn more about practical OD tools that I can use in my workplace to support and develop individuals and teams. To be absolutely honest, I often think that it’s the way in which you engage people in a given tool or method that predicts its success, rather than the tool itself. I’d therefore not only like to develop my skills and OD toolkit but my facilitation and coaching skills.

5. Who inspires you most?

Although I don’t want my Mum to feel left out (she also inspires for many other reasons!), I would say my Dad has had the biggest influence over my professional and work life. Dad worked his entire career in IBM, starting as a Punch Card programmer and progressing to become a very well respected senior manager. Dad placed significant emphasis on the quality of relationships with employees and colleagues and demonstrated strong values-based work ethics. I believe it was these qualities that made him excel as a leader. I can only hope that I can emulate this through my behaviours and attitude towards my work and colleagues.

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

This would have to be my current read, The Innovator’s DNA by Dyer, Gregerson and Christensen (2012). Not a “purist” OD text, this book discusses the five “discovery skills” that the most innovative and creative leaders display: associating, observing, experimenting, questioning and networking. Gregerson says that the five discovery skills may seem intuitive, but when it comes to actual practice, “doing them is counterintuitive” because the adult world in which we live, “does not value these actions”. There is a high correlation between the extent to which leaders engage in and display these discovery skills, and the innovation performance of the organisation. Leadership must be concerned not just with delivery but also discovery.

7. What would you like to achieve in 2014?

I would like to spend more time out and about working alongside our teams and less time at my desk! This was my pledge for NHS Change Day 2014. I have had the chance to do this over the past few months and it has been such a grounding experience for me. I urge any desk-based person who ever feels out of touch with the core function of their organisation to get out there and roll up your sleeves!

8. What would your motto be?

“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.” (Danny Kaye)

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

If you’re passionate and enthusiastic about what you are trying to achieve, always be yourself and don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve. The days of needing to don a suit of armour to be perceived as “tough” leader are over and done with. Engage hearts and minds and the rest will follow.

10. What is your favourite sandwich?

Corned beef and pickle – a firm childhood favourite although I’m still totally ignorant as to what exactly goes into corned beef (and think I’d rather it remain that way!)

If you have any questions about her work, then please feel free to connect with Jodi on Twitter @JodiMBrown

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