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| 3 minutes read

Focus on the Benefit Rather than the Innovation - One of the Seven Interconnected Principles

The recently launched Guide, Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide, offers seven interconnected principles. This blog is the fourth in a series of blogs, each focusing on one of the seven principles. 

These principles represent important aspects to consider for spread and adoption and are explained in the Guide. All the seven principles are important; they are interconnected, each will have a different importance and require different actions in different settings. Relational, interpersonal elements of spread and adoption – looking at how people can work together – is a common thread within each of the principles.

Focus on the benefit rather than the innovation

  • Focus on the why rather than the what: take a system needs focus [Pull, attractor] rather than an innovation focus [Push]. This means explaining the benefits for patients, staff and carers and the system, to the adopters. See individual principle for more information.
  • Create a shared narrative that has local meaning and importance to help communicate the benefits of the innovation and articulate a shared purpose.
  • Create a Pull for the innovation [receptive context] by sharing the benefits and shared purpose, to increase understanding and investment in the innovation, generating motivation and activating agency to build a ‘crowd ‘or community to provide the energy for change and to build and maintain momentum.
  • Creating a pull for an innovation helps increase the likelihood of sustainability and subsequent scale and spread. The sustainability of an innovation is directly influenced by the spread approach taken, greater and earlier involvement increases the likelihood of sustainability.
  • An innovation needs to significantly address a local strategic, agreed priority.
  • Consider how the potential benefit of the innovation may differ across contexts and reframe as may be necessary.
  • Each context is unique which presents the challenge of predicting how an innovation will work in that context, the benefit it may create and what is needed for the innovation to be adopted, adapted and routinely used in that setting.
  • Consider how much and the type of evidence of benefit needed by adopters.
  • The benefit gained may be the anticipated impact of the innovation or may be other unexpected benefits delivered during the process of spread. See learning principle for more information.
  • Recognise and reward the adoption, spread and sustainability of an innovation.
  • Learning gained on the adaptation needed when used in different settings helps inform what local adaptation will be needed and the likely benefits realised.

Applying This Principle To Practice

The Guide offers a list of questions to help apply this work to practice. The questions will be of varying relevance depending on the particular context. Some of the questions are:

  • Why is the innovation worth spreading and adopting?
  • Can you communicate clearly this ‘why’ with others?
  • How and in what way will this innovation meet a local strategic need?
  • How well understood and agreed are your local needs?
  • What is the local expectation of benefit from this innovation in your context?
  • Do you need to reframe the expected benefits for your context?
  • How will the actual benefit, intended and unintended, be measured?
  • What evidence is needed to gain commitment?
  • How will spread and adoption be recognised?

You may find the following tools and methods helpful:

also see practical tools and methods, further resources and systems convening sections in the Guide. 

These seven interconnected principles can be used by individuals, or by a team, and at all levels; local, regional and national and settings where the spread and adoption of complex change is needed. These principles can be used to inform planning and to inform ongoing reviews. 

This blog Introduction to the Seven Interconnected Principles for Spread and Adoption offers an overview of all seven principles.

Details of how these principles apply to the work we do are described in How the Seven Spread and Adoption Principles Work in Practice: the Continuing Healthcare Improvement Collaborative case study

Want more information?

More details on the Benefit principle, the seven interconnected principles and systems convening, in the Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide and on the NHS Horizons website including blogs and videos. 

If you're interested to read more there are previous blogs and further blogs to follow. Please do subscribe to this blog and follow @DianeKetley @HorizonsNHS, #NHSSpread.

We would love to hear your feedback about the Guide, and how you will use it. Send a tweet to @DianeKetley @HorizonsNHS #NHSSpread. If you prefer email, get in touch at

Image by Leigh Kendall, NHS Horizons

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it ...... Simon Sinek


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