In a post on this blog back in September 2012, I described effective stakeholder engagement as "the holy grail that every public sector organisation is in search of". Much has changed in the public sector since then, but it seems to me this statement is still accurate - many organisations are still struggling to identify, engage and communicate with different stakeholder groups in a meaningful way.
One of the biggest structural changes we've seen since 2012 has occurred in the health service: the formation of CCGs. Following the publication of the Nuffield Trust and King's Fund report 'Risk or reward?' in January this year, the complexity and challenging nature of stakeholder engagement for CCGs has been increasingly apparent.
The scale of the challenge is clear when you consider the dispersed network of colleagues and interdependent stakeholder relationships that feed into each of the country's 211 CCGs.
Every CCG needs to achieve effective collaboration on three levels:
Although some CCGs comprise only a handful of GP practices, others are much larger. For example, a total of 68 practices make up the Barnet CCG in north London.
With fellow CCGs
CCGs in the same region are encouraged to adopt a collaborative approach when patients flow to the same provider or access the same service - for example the same NHS Foundation Trust.
With other organisations
The reformed structure of the NHS is based on each CCG functioning as the central spoke of a wheel that also includes the local authority, HealthWatch, hospitals, mental health providers, the voluntary sector, adult social care and other specialist services.
Building strong relationships
Much has been written about CCGs in last three years, but I'm yet to find a better summary of the unique challenge they face than in the introduction to the original CCG authorisation 360 degree stakeholder survey report. Firstly, it defines the three principles that comprise the vision for CCGs:
- giving patients more power
- focusing on healthcare outcomes, quality and reducing inequalities
- giving frontline professionals greater freedoms and a strong leadership role
Then the report states:
"For CCGs to fulfill these principles successfully, they will need to form strong relationships with a range of stakeholders, including patients, clinical colleagues both within and outside their CCG, colleagues in local authorities and health and wellbeing board(s), providers, other commissioners and those who will provide commissioning support for the CCG (where appropriate).
"The potential of CCGs will only be realised if these relationships are in place."
There two key points to take away here - firstly, it's clear that stakeholder engagement can never be an isolated function or token gesture. It's an inherent part of how CCGs are designed to function. Secondly, the success of CCG stakeholder engagement - and the success of CCGs themselves - is inextricably linked to their ability to cultivate strong relationships.
This is why we believe cloud collaboration has such an important role to play in stakeholder management strategy for CCGs. Strong relationships are based on trust - and in professional interactions, trust is often created by transparency and accountability.
A collaboration tool like Kahootz supports both - by providing a complete audit trail of all workspace activity and custom task management tools to closely monitor progress on deliverables. Collaborating in the cloud also builds trust between partners precisely because it is based around a shared workspace, owned by no single organisation.