Running a Rapid Improvement Event: “Is it a lock-down?”

That was the question posed when we sought buy in and commitment from the Directors of Adult and Children’s social care; to take a team of people out of their working roles for a whole week.

We had reached a point with a piece of work where we needed to seriously put our heads together and come up with a workable solution. Our colleagues from RedQuadrant suggested a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) as a mechanism to enable this to happen.

In practice a RIE brings together colleagues from across all of the services where the issue is – in this case, Adults and Children’s social care, SEN and Children with Disabilities.  During a pre-defined timeframe – a week in this case – people came together to focus on solving a narrowly scoped process improvement opportunity.

It’s fair to say that this is a bold move that demands a lot from the people involved as well as those covering  their workloads in their absence.  We had previously tried to work through the identified issues through workshops but were not making the progress we wanted. The RIE was a distinctly different experience.

Planning for the event was extensive as we needed to be really clear from the start on the specific issue we were trying to resolve. The agreed upon improvement was tested in real life (with real people!) and in some cases implemented before the RIE event ended. We therefore needed explicit understanding and approval from leaders and decision makers to go away and do this.

The prospect was daunting and unnerving but it was exciting to be trying something new.  There was certainly not going to be a magical fairy godmother to whisk up a beautiful shiny carriage to take us to the ball! But we were all in the same boat and all aware of the need for change.

An intense RIE week got underway. Once we were working together and had got to know each other as a RIE team, becoming aware of each other’s passions and frustrations, it was easier to be completely honest and open and to really start thinking about the issues and opportunities.

The benefits from this particular RIE were significant and helped us make real progress. As well as the process improvements identified, there were cultural successes too:

  • The team truly recognised the opportunities for change, and that small changes can have a huge impact;
  • We were enabled to make change that benefited real people happen relatively quickly- people who we were meeting face to face, who were sharing their stories and who were also frustrated with current practices;
  • We felt empowered to make some immediate changes within the event, which ignited an appetite for change and sowed seeds for a change in culture;
  • It was great to work across teams, breaking down silos and misconceptions and gaining a truer understanding of the end to end pathway;
  • People were equipped with tools and techniques that they can take with them into their day to day job. It was encouraging to see the confidence of individuals grow over the week.

The beauty of this RIE was that it engaged the creativity, passion and skill of the people involved across the system to recognise that change is possible in all that we do and that they have the power to make those changes.