Innovation Agency
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Coaching Academy celebrates four years

The Innovation Agency’s Coaching Academy was launched four years ago on 10 January 2018. Since then we are proud to have offered a range of opportunities throughout the north west and beyond. 

  • Over 2,000 people have attended one of our 382 various programmes, sessions or workshops.
  • 37 coaches have achieved recognised accreditation at either the ‘practioner’ and ‘foundation’ level.

Juliette Kumar, Associate Director of Culture and Workforce, had the initial vision for the academy. She shares her reflections on how it has developed and what’s in store for the next four years, and beyond.

How did the Coaching Academy come about?

“There was a real gap in the system for coaching people and teams through change. Coaching unlocks real transformational change in how we think and so that drives what we do. Imagine the improvement we could see in the system if we could unlock the potential in our people and if they really felt empowered to solve the problems they see every day. At that time, Academic Health Science Networks and the Innovation Agency were also new organisations and trying to be innovative ourselves. I was in the right place at the right time, in the right organisation and my idea for a Coaching Academy was wholeheartedly supported.”

How do you feel about what the Coaching Academy has accomplished over the last four years?

“I am so proud of what we have achieved and our amazing team. Over the years we have evolved, continuously improved and adapted in response to what we have heard people want and need in our local organisations and systems. People have seen the value of expert convenors, facilitators and educators, holding space for teams to learn and truly understand the challenges they have, and giving them tools and techniques to work through these challenges.”

Do you have an example of a time the Coaching Academy made a difference to a person or a team?

“There are many examples. In one of our early Spread and Adoption programmes, a physiotherapist had an idea for tracking equipment using a digital scanner within her hospital. One of the course challenges was to tell three influential people in her workplace about her idea. The next thing she knew she was presenting it to the medical devices board. They loved it and supported her to implement it. By simply supporting her to challenge her assumptions on her own perceptions on what she could and couldn’t do in her organisation she was able to upscale her idea and spread it more widely.

“One of our first patient safety culture programmes we had a variety of teams: an operating theatre, a dementia ward, a community nursing team, mental health services and ambulance services. It was a real microcosm of the health care system in one room. I remember what an eye-opener it was for participants to see just how interconnected the system is. Through the discussions we could really see how all other bits are impacted when one bit isn’t working. Allowing people to see the whole system really helps in managing change. They realised that we could achieve real transformational change only by engaging meaningfully with other parts of the system.”

“We are just completing our first accredited coach training programme with managers at a local trust. It is so great to hear the positive impact that coaching conversations are having on the manager’s relationships with their teams and how they are transforming the cultures of their teams through coaching. Coaching is simply learning to ask not tell, and holding space for people to learn to problem solve themselves. It’s just brilliant.”

What has changed for the Coaching Academy over the past four years?

“There has been a real shift towards integrated care systems and place-based care. We have to think much more widely about whole pathways and systems. So, from prevention through to how people are getting into the hospital, how people are getting out and reintegrating back into the community, instead of just what goes on in one part of the pathway or the hospital itself. This means our work is more system based and focussed on health inequalities.

“Covid has also obviously had a huge impact on how we work and the use technology. Many of these changes have been positive and people have embraced digital tools much more. However, the pressure on the frontline means that there is a real need to support the mental health and wellbeing of our people so that we keep them safe and do not lose capacity in the system.”

What is next for the Coaching Academy?

“The Coaching Academy will continue to work at the regional ICS and national level, offering support for complex change, leadership and culture. This makes sense as I think we can have bigger impact with some of our programmes across the system, although it is still important to keep in touch with what our local organisations, teams and people need and will always ensure we support them. They have always supported us with the feedback and insights they give. We will also be looking to grow what we offer, and ensure they are accessible, particularly online.”

“In the long term I would like to see Coaching Academy model spread nationally and be an integral part of how we manage change at scale in our health and care systems. My ambition for the next few years is that we continue to grow and become the leading organisation for coaching for innovation, improvement and change with an excellent track record for enabling system change.”

Join us in celebrating our birthday!

We are celebrating our 4th birthday and ringing in 2022 with a free, lunch-hour coached intention-setting session. Bring your sandwich and your goals for the year ahead, and explore paths to achieve these goals. Register now for either Tuesday 25th or Friday 28th January.

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