Sharing culture-change impact through storytelling

The solution

An organisational case study that shared the culture-change experience through qualitative and quantitative elements, pulling together three key elements, each of equal weighting:

  • Infographics to clearly communicate statistics
  • Quotes to bring alive the experience of staff who took part
  • Narrative that set out the key messages and supported readers to interpret what they saw.

This three-pronged approach required a three-person team, comprising NHS England’s Laurainne Copnall, communications consultant Eleanor Stanley (Articulate) and designer Glen Birchall.

Showing the totality of a four-year programme in just a few pages wasn’t easy, so having the right team was crucial. ‘We felt a case study was the best way to showcase our work and we had a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data available, but we needed help pulling it all together into a coherent narrative.

Laurainne Copnall  Former Transformation Manager, Culture and Transformation Team | NHS England

The team developed a visual magazine-style approach that told the story of the Culture and Leadership programme through staff’s own experiences.

How we did it

The programme followed Articulate’s usual Double Diamond approach (Design Council 2004) through the following activities:

double diamond sketch model

  1. Discover Eleanor worked with Laurainne to understand exactly what the Culture and Leadership Programme had involved and achieved, against the wider healthcare context. Eleanor advised that an organisational case study could feel dry, losing the colour and warmth of individual case studies. She recommended incorporating individual stories to bring the data alive in a way that felt accessible and appealing.
  2. Define Eleanor presented options and involved designer Glen early in the process to advise on logistics. The team agreed to produce a case study that used a magazine-style design. This would incorporate three featured staff members, describing their experiences, and simple, attractive infographics to convey strategy and quantitative data.
  3. Develop Eleanor mined the programme reports for potential content and interviewed three staff members who had played an active role in the programme – a director of patient experience, a senior physiotherapist, and the deputy medical director – to explore their experiences of taking part in the programme. She spoke in detail to trust leaders to fill in the gaps and ensure that the tone and messaging would accurately reflect the wider context.
  4. Deliver Eleanor adopted an informal, storytelling approach, incorporating plenty of practical detail, to help readers envisage exactly what the programme entailed. Meanwhile, Glen developed clear visuals to capture complex information and support the messaging.

double diamond sketch model

The team designed this infographic to capture the trust’s culture change journey. It shows improvements following the start of the programme, the drop during the pandemic and then an uptick as the UK moved into recovery.

Learning points

  • Celebrate success – but not at the expense of authenticity. It was important for everyone involved that the case study was not simply a ‘success story’. It should not gloss over the difficulties faced by the Trust – and the wider NHS – during a period of extreme challenge.
  • Bring in design as early as possible. Design played a crucial role from the start of this project as telling the story of the project required strong images as well as words. Early dummy versions helped us to clarify to stakeholders the approach we were taking.
  • Understand the data. The usual difficulties measuring culture change were impacted further by the timeframe. The programme spanned the Covid-19 pandemic, which inevitably affected figures. Telling the story accurately required all three team members to engage fully with the data and then draw on their individual specialisms to propose solutions.
  • Build supportive team working. The team members collaborated closely to crunch numbers, discuss implications, sketch visual representations and run options past the trust. Eventually we found the right balance, so it was worth taking the time.

Cover of the publication showing an image of three women laughing and an icon showing the steps of NHS England’s Culture and Leadership Programme.

2190 1548 Articulate Health