OPM Group was commissioned by the NHS Leadership Academy (NHSLA) to conduct an independent evaluation of Ready Now. Ready Now is a leadership programme aimed at senior leaders from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds working in the NHS.
The aims of the evaluation were to:
- Capture the experiences of Cohort 2 and 3 participants of Ready Now and report on what individual changes, if any, occurred;
- Identify wider organisational or system level changes taking place because of participation in Ready Now;
- Understand the extent to which different elements of the programme have contributed to individual, organisational and systems level change; and
- Inform the ongoing development of the Ready Now programme.
The evaluation methodology was comprised of the following steps and activities:
- Scoping interviews with programme designers and core facilitators (n=5) to inform the design of the evaluation.
- An online survey of Cohort 2 and 3 participants (26 responses) and depth interviews with Cohort 2 and 3 participants (n=13).
- Development of five case studies through follow-up qualitative fieldwork.
There is strong evidence that the programme has succeeded achieving positive change at different levels. When it comes to individual level change, there is evidence that the programme has led to:
- Participants accepting their ‘authentic self’, which was an important developmental step for many participants, allowing them to move on to other areas of learning and development.
- Strengthened professional and leadership skills, including becoming a more resilient leader, acting with greater confidence and more productive relationships with colleagues.
- Supported career progression, both in terms of applying and achieving new and more senior roles as well as in-role progression which is no less important.
- Greater readiness to pursue further learning and development opportunities including several participants who went to apply for the Nye Bevan leadership programme
In terms of supporting organisational and systems-level changes, there is evidence that the programme made a strong contribution. For example, by giving participants:
- The knowledge and confidence to effect change and the readiness to share these insights with colleagues including through thought leadership or by directly supporting colleagues e.g. mentoring, coaching and pastoral support.
- To become louder and more confidence champions of inclusion and diversity in their organisations including influencing policies and procedures and initiating new training.
- Increased connections and with other BAME professionals as participants joined or formed professional networks and contributed towards a movement for effecting positive change.
- The ability to make positive changes in their personal lives and beyond the health system for example, re engaging with hobbies, taking on trustee positions in voluntary organisations and mentoring young people in their area
Although some participant’s colleagues were supportive and enthusiastic about Ready Now, at least a quarter answering the survey described how their organisation or specific colleagues, such as line managers, had been not ready or were resistant to change. Some also reported that there was not yet a critical mass of champions in their organisation or in the wider system who were ready to lead positive change or felt that the problem of discrimination in the organisation was ‘too big’ for an individual or small group of individuals to take on. Recognising this challenge, Ready Now faculty emphasised that alongside implementing programme like Ready Now, it would be important to work at a more strategic level to 'enable' the system to change.