“We can go fast alone, but we can go far together”

Kat Densham, GP registrar, Birmingham

I have a confession to make: I’ve always hated group work. It’s always seemed frustrating, and so difficult to make different brains and personalities work together. I relish getting stuck into a problem, finding a solution and presenting the finished article – ta-da! Doing it myself is both balm to my control-freak soul, and clearly faster and more efficient than involving others…

It was therefore rather a shock to my system to be part of Robert Varnam’s excellent workshop on collaborative leadership at the Unconference.

He pointed out that we have spent a long time being leaders that do things to people, or for people, and that actually we need to be leaders that do things with people.

Working alone might be faster, but ultimately often lacks impact and longevity.

I reflect on the projects I’ve undertaken in our practice since joining three years ago. I’ve audited practice, found ways to improve, and presented my flawless plans to colleagues…and very little of what I’ve developed has made its way into people’s daily practice.

The real crunch point of Robert’s workshop for me was his focus on testing ideas out with others, because “you are not perfect, and neither is your plan”. If we are serious about enacting real and lasting change, we should not be afraid to “borrow others’ brilliance” (thank you, Oliver Nyumbu!).
Why do I hang back from sharing my plans with others? It’s mostly fear. I’m afraid…

…that they won’t like the plan.

…that the plan will sound terrible once it’s spoken out loud.

…that they’ll think I’m naive.

…that they’ll have questions I can’t answer.

…that I’ll actually have to do something about this plan now!

As Dido Harding and Dany Cotton reminded us so compellingly, we are invited to “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

And so I did just that, sitting on the 20:16 train home with three other GPs, sharing my idea and listening to their suggestions. They gave me some of their creativity, a couple of their contacts, and perhaps most importantly a reminder that I was not alone in wanting to change the world.

 Maybe I should give group work a second chance…