How can we work together most productively on the many complex challenges we face in health care improvement? Engaging people is an essential starting point for effective change and the way in which we interact with people can have a real impact on how effective that engagement is.  

Q is all about the power of collaboration and connection done well. Through the ongoing co-design of the Q community we’ve tried and tested different methods for bringing people together to solve problems.

Here are three really useful resources to help you work collaboratively – Q members have told us they found them useful and we hope you do too: 

1. Put your thinking cap on – Creative approaches to problem solving (CAPS) toolkit

Our Creative Approaches to Problem Solving (CAPS) toolkit includes 25 tried and tested methods for creative collaboration and problem solving, based on approaches we found worked well when designing Q. There are methods to help you gain insight and input, seek new perspectives, reframe a problem, harness new ideas, or prioritise solutions and lots more. 

Approaches include: 

  • developing user personas to help you see issues from different perspectives
  • using the MoSCoW (Must do, Should do, Could do and Won’t do) method to prioritise tasks when developing a project or service 
  • using TRIZ to reframe a problem by thinking about the worst imaginable result from your project and working backwards to make sure it doesn’t happen. 

All of the methods can be used in a variety of different settings including meetings, workshops and team away days.

Download the CAPS toolkit 

2. Feel free! Use Liberating Structures

Liberating Structures are a set of alternative ways to approach and design how people work together which encourage everyone to get involved in finding solutions. The idea is that the conventional structures used to organise how people routinely work together actually stifle inclusion and engagement. This is because they are too inhibiting (eg presentations, status reports and managed discussions) or too loose and disorganised (eg open discussions and brainstorming) to creatively engage people in shaping their own future. 

The Liberating Structures website contains a menu of 33 alternative methods to replace or complement conventional practices. Used routinely, these approaches introduce tiny shifts in the way we meet, plan, decide and relate to one another. They are simple and easy to learn, requiring no lengthy training courses, and put innovation in the hands of everyone. 

The Liberating Structures team led Q members through an immersive workshop in March 2018, to introduce 10 of the 33 approaches including:

  • Troika Consulting, which allows individuals to get practical help from colleagues using a round-robin format
  • 25/10 Crowdsourcing which provides a way to quickly gather feedback from a group
  • 15% Solutions, which helps group members focus on whatever tasks they have the freedom and resources to act on immediately. 

The workshop places were booked up within hours and there’s been real momentum built around this work since, with an online group set up to share learning and challenges around using Liberating Structures to support improvement work. This has included a video-call with two of the health professionals who have been at the heart of pioneering their use in improvement in Ireland. Members in the 70-strong group also plan to launch a first Liberating Structures user group in Scotland and are also supporting an emerging user group in Leeds.

Read our learning from the Liberating Structures workshop 

3. In it together – SIGs/Communities of Practice toolkit

This toolkit was developed to support the work of our Q special interest groups (SIGs). A SIG is a group of Q members (and non-members) who come together around a shared interest and a passion to share knowledge and improve health and care. They often cross geographical and professional boundaries and are self-managed by members of the community. SIGs offer a safe space where there should be trust to share challenges and failures and contribute towards building a culture of learning.

Some SIGs choose to explicitly view themselves as fully-fledged ‘communities of practice’, an approach developed by Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave for learning and developing new knowledge together and across many sectors. 

The toolkit summarises what we’ve learnt so far about how to set up and manage a SIG or community of practice, from establishing and promoting the group, to running meetings and using online spaces to store and promote your learning. 

Explore the Q Special Interest Groups/Communities of Practice support toolkit