This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
| 3 minutes read

How the 'Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide' can help in practice

Following the publication of the NHS England and Improvement Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide a few months ago I was very keen to understand how the Guide might be applied in practice. One of the ways to gain insight is to work alongside someone applying the Guide to their work so I offered an opportunity via Twitter.

The winner of the random draw was Sonal Mehta, Partnership Lead (voluntary, community & social enterprise) for Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes Integrated Care System. After Sonal and I met and spent time together I asked Sonal for reflections on our session and use of the Guide which I share with you here in Sonal's words.

"I was the lucky winner of a bespoke session with Diane Ketley from the NHS Horizons team, to explore how I can apply Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide to my work. 

"We are both pharmacists by background but our careers have taken a less traditional route so that in itself was an insightful conversation. My current area of work is to lead on developing strategic partnerships between the Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes integrated care system and the local voluntary, community & social enterprise (VCSE) sector, through the development of a VCSE alliance. The Guide draws on a variety of areas to create an excellent resource, which begins by explaining why a new mindset is required to enable to spread and adoption in an increasingly complex world. It describes seven interconnected principles and introduces a relatively new concept termed systems convening.

"The guide is organised in such a way that you can familiarise yourself with key information or take as much time as you want for a more in-depth understanding. There are also case studies to explore, practical tools and methods and a whole bunch of other great resources. 

"I decided to start with a whistle-stop tour of the guide and then started to pull out more detailed bits of information that I felt were most relevant to my areas of work. The Guide recognises that there is benefit in applying traditional programme management approaches alongside a systems convening approach. It is also helpful in explaining that when we consider complexity, we must think of the innovation as well as the situation.

"I was really grateful for my session with Diane as I am working with a complex innovation and a complex situation! We discussed the benefits of creating an adaptive space and an enabling style of leadership in order to bring people with diverse views and experiences together. The aim is to create a space that brings about mutual understanding and shared purpose, which helps to overcome barriers to change. I had also been struggling with how we report success with this work as it is developmental and relationship based – not the sort of things that lends itself to hard numbers. 

"The process of creating the innovation is just as important as the innovation itself and we had a really good discussion about different approaches that not only describe progress but will also enable spread of the innovation. I’m really thankful for this dedicated session with Diane, those two hours accelerated my thinking and helped me to define a high level plan. If you have an innovation and are keen for others to adopt it I would really encourage you to look at this Guide."

Thanks to Sonal for sharing her thoughts and I hope we will hear an update on how her work progresses.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Guide and how you have, or plan to, use it in your work. Please send a tweet to @DianeKetley @HorizonsNHS #NHSSpread or if you prefer email, get in touch at


Systems convening – is an enabling leadership behaviour needed to create the conditions, connecting across boundaries, to enable complex change. Details here.

Adaptive space – temporary safe [virtual] space at interface of normal business and the innovation where through developing relationships, addressing tensions, shared learning and working with emergence spread and adoption can be enabled. Details here

Want More Information? 

More information on the Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide in the blog here and on the seven spread and adoption principles and system convening, including blogs and videos, available on the NHS Horizons website.

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.

Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

If you have an innovation and are keen for others to adopt it I would really encourage you to look at this Guide.


spread and adoption