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The Future for Project Lift – 2020 and beyond

The pandemic has taught us that, no matter how well we plan, even the most resilient organisations can be surprised. Project Lift has a clear sense of purpose looking forward into what will certainly be a period of more uncertainty.


A word of context.

During Lockdown we found that things people had taken away were then also enabled to be offered back through different routes. The sense of choice, the sense of being heard, or being loved, all these conditions of psychological safety: the sense of belonging that COVID threatened to take away from many elements, we have found has been able to be provided within communities and our networks. We have worked hard to build these through Project Lift and they have been a real support to each other. There are real connections there that have survived COVID, some have flourished during this time and they’ve been seen to be very important support mechanisms for our networks and people. We have seen that all play out during COVID – the ability to connect, to share, to collaborate, to learn, to just make sense of what’s going on and to offer mutal support and this has been really brought to life.

As we look to the coming period we see three things that are overarching insights or priorities that then act as a context for the practical aims for Project Lift for 2020 and beyond.

2020 and beyond – triple thread of context

Links between Wellbeing, Culture and Leadership

We have understood through COVID-19 that people really matter. Both this realisation and the prominence of the Wellbeing agenda have been energised through the collective experience of COVID-19. The people agenda is centrally important to a system that relies on people.  As simple as this statement is, it is often forgotten. 2020 sees explicit links in conversation, thinking and collaboration around these three aspects of live at work.

Interconnectedness is key.

Project Lift is trying to enable the aspirations of the natural performance framework and that includes the unfinished business of integration.  We need to actively continue integrating services culturally, through connections and Project Lift has started to do that and we hope that this continues to energise and increase. We hold connections and collaboration along with shared purpose firm within the ethos and this brings us back to focus on shared goals – health for the nation is more than healthcare.

Building on learning from the pandemic

We have seen that great things can happen, quickly, if people are combined around a common purpose. If we can understand how to harness purpose for good then great things can happen and we are excited to see how we can build upon this with others across the system.

‘We are in the same storm,

but not in the same boat.’

Damien Barr




While we do not know how the continuing pandemic will impact the next 12 months, we do know that wellbeing, compassion and connectedness are key .

Our plan for the this year

In our 2019 progress report, we committed to taking a robust and meaningful approach to evaluating the impact that Project Lift and our related activities bring and to continue to build on our experience and learning to date across all five elements of Project Lift. We committed to growing the collaboration – of Scottish Government, NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council – to work more closely with a network of collaborators from across public services, the third and independent sectors, with a clear focus on supporting the progress of Integration, exploring and experimenting with ways of achieving Sustainable Performance and Reform, and in achieving the outcomes of the National Performance Framework. The detail of our specific next steps in each of the five elements of Project Lift is outlined in the final section of the report however in outline, the next steps were:

  • ENGAGEMENT Continue to build connections across the Health and Care and the wider Public Sector and enable people across our communities to connect with each other through Project Lift
  • TALENT MANAGEMENT Continue to facilitate and broaden access to Talent Management and make the connections to broader leadership development opportunities.
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Broaden the scope of leadership development and continue to make the connections across the system so that individuals and teams are enabled to access a range of development opportunities.
  • VALUES BASED RECRUITMENT Improve and spread the application of Values Based Recruitment across Health and Care.
  • PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL Continue to support the improvement and increasing relevance of the Performance Appraisal approach, ensuring that connections are made to Talent Management and Leadership Development.

What have we achieved - the 2020 reality.

  • ENGAGEMENT we invested time resources as we continued to build connections, listening and creating dialogue which resulted in increased engagement across the website, app and events, and we saw people from a wider range of backgrounds connecting with us and with each other.
  • TALENT MANAGEMENT we have facilitated access to Talent Management for a wider and more diverse range of individuals, increasing engagement and making connections to broader leadership development opportunities.
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT we have developed current offers and broadened the scope of new leadership offers, extending these out across the wider system reaching leaders at all levels from a more professionally, geographically and organisationally diverse population.
  • VALUES BASED RECRUITMENT we have continued to support the improvement and application of Values Based Recruitment across Health and Care.
  • PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL  We have continued to support the improvement and increasing relevance of the Performance Appraisal approach, ensuring that connections are made to Talent Management and Leadership Development.

What have we found difficult this year and how might we do things differently?


  • We received the feedback that our website and communications were often very NHS orientated and we have worked hard with contacts within social care to adapt our language, voice and messaging to be more inclusive. This has included working more closely with SSSC, bringing in community partners with direct links and roles in the 3rd sector, social care and education for health and care services. We have also listened through community engagement, making it safe to be honest and disagree with us and through blind feedback and wider review with our communication partners, Daysix, in our website redesign.
  • We have learned that sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of the way.  When the pandemic hit, we spent the first few weeks creating space for those engaged with us, holding back our regular activities and listening to what different groups where saying.  This was received well and has strengthened our resolve to be always listening.
  • COVID-19 stopped us in our plans half way through what we were doing to support our community members to connect, exchange, learn and come together.  We have since turned around a refocused and energised plan for moving forward for the next year, based on topics and conversations, hosted digitally for the foreseeable future.
  • You can read more about these points in our engagement section

Talent Management

  • It has been a busy time in developing the wider range of processes and tools and remaining sensitive to the needs of local systems and their operational pressures has been important. We are working hard with HR related teams to understand how we can support them in the area of talent management.
  • Engaging colleagues in Health and Social Care Partnerships, care providers, and the 3rd /voluntary sector is still challenging and we are working hard to identify how to connect more effectively with more of the varied, diverse range of organisations.

Leadership Development

  • The postponement of formal learning events for leadership cubed cohorts and national programmes was one of the most significant changes and required us to role model the ethos in our relationships to balance the variety needs across cohorts, collaborators and stakeholders.
  • We continue to face the challenge of raising awareness and attracting more participants from Social Care and other partners to our Project Lift Community and development programmes.
  • The challenges of the last year have accelerated the team’s appetite and capability to work virtually and reshape our development offerings for the online environment. This has served to enhance our collective skills and aptitude for working virtually going forward which will enable us to extend our reach

Values Based Recruitment

  • Our exploratory work has reinforced the ongoing tension between a desire for national consistency and the importance of local autonomy and has also emphasised that the experience of those involved in such processes should always be a central consideration. We have been listening to understand through work across HR Directors, recruitment leads and conversation between Scottish Government, Boards and organisations.
  • Progress has been slower than hoped due to the refocusing of resources on our response to COVID-19

Performance Appraisal

  • We have contributed to evolving and improving the experience and impact of Performance Appraisal in supporting our senior leaders in embodying the attitudes and behaviours of the Project Lift ethos.
  • We have worked to progress our understanding of what the holistic process could look like in the next phase of activity by listening to others across the system which has shown a range of activity depending on a range of factors within Boards and organisations.

2020 and beyond.

We know that there will be challenges ahead that we cannot yet see.  We wait as a global community to see the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and how that manifests itself on our Nation, our health and care system, those that access it and those that work within it.

We are encouraged by the humanness we have seen in the responses in the past 6 months and how we, as part of the wider system, have adapted to support our communities, networks and organisations.  If ever there was a time for the Project Lift ethos to be shown as the approach to enable transformational change, it is now.

  • Engagement – we will continue to further reach across the Health and Social Care system to enable people across our communities to connect, inspire and learn together through Project Lift.
  • Talent Management – we will continue to develop the Talent Management suite while extending access to both the platform and collaborative opportunities across health and social care and the wider public sector. We will also strengthen a national approach to succession planning and continue to broker connections between those identified as having potential and emerging leadership challenges.
  • Leadership Development – we will continue rescheduling and recovery of development activities configuring these in a way that supports what’s needed in the system and draws upon whole system learning. We will continue to expand our range of offers, providing offers open to all and more tailored offers to specific target populations and groups identified through the Project Lift Talent Management process.
  • Values Based Recruitment – we will continue to engage with those engaged in values based recruitment at a local level to learn from their experience and inform good practice and will support it’s extended, proportionate and effective use across health and social care and supporting the development and growth of individuals, whether they are successful or not.
  • Performance Appraisal: we will continue to revisit how we can support the evolution and improvement of the experience and impact of Performance Appraisal with those across the Health and Care system who are using this while continuing to hold the central responsibility for ensuring it is part of the holistic approach to the career journey from recruitment to development.
Creating space

We have learned, and we do know, that the one thing everyone needs, and will continue to need more of, is space. And that is arguably something that gets harder to find, to be allowed to have time for, the more senior a role you hold.



It’s important that we focus on helping everyone – all people, all leaders, all roles, all across the system – to create, find and make that space. For themselves and for others, to be and to be together. Wellbeing is key to being human and there is hope in our humanness.

Contributors and Collaborators to our Collective Wisdom

This is not an exhaustive list by any means and we thank everyone who has helped shape and challenge our thinking.

Professor Michael West, @WestM61Nurturing cultures of high quality and compassionate care in health services, promoting understanding of organizational effectiveness and human flourishing. (the King's Fund)

Self-compassion is at the heart of our relationships with others and is key to our ability to model and embody compassionate leadership. Self-compassion is the starting point for creating compassionate teams, organisations and health and care systems.

Helen Bevan @helenbevanChief Transformation Officer @HorizonsNHS . Seeking ideas, inspiration, learning & connections for large scale change in health & care. All views are my own.

The NHS is moving to a mindset of "system-first" or "system by default",meaning that we focus on the bigger system of health & care rather than individual organisations or silos. As leaders we must also role model "system first" in how we think & behave in the world. TY @anosikec

Dr Karen JanmanBusiness Psychologist & Member of Silvermaple Team

Talent Management can all too easily become an overly complex, regimented experience. Project Lift continues to demonstrate that a combination of the right values, commitment and a dash of good humour, can deliver a very human and individualised experience for all that choose to take that next step.

Chris MartinBusiness Psychologist & Founder of Silvermaple

Individuals are trusted to be honest about their preferences and experiences. In turn this helps to ensure the talent management components of Project Lift are able to provide people with unique insights into their potential and aspirations. This heightened self-awareness can then enable individuals to make the right choices and decisions at key points in their life and career.

Brigid RussellCoach and Leadership Consultant - Leadership Development Collaborative Partner

I believe that developing leadership goes way beyond expertise in theories and models. It starts with who we are as people, our humanity, and our relationships with the people with whom we work and right across our communities. This is why I believe in a relational approach to leadership development.

Megan Reitz @MeganReitz1Professor at Hult Ashridge, facilitator, teacher, speaker, executive coach, researcher and author dedicated to exploring and finding ways to improve the way we interact with one another in the workplace.

Leadership, dialogue and mindfulness, author, speaker and researcher. Mother of 2 lovely girls. Thinkers50 radar. HR Most Influential

Amy Edmondson @AmyCEdmondsonHarvard professor, speaker author

Harvard professor, studies leadership, psychological safety, teaming, building the future, Bucky Fuller. Author of The Fearless Organization (@WorkFearlessly)

Myron Rogers @myron_rogersLeader, author, speaker, consultant - Phillips Kay Partnership

A leader in translating Living Systems Theory for large-scale social systems change. Author, A Simpler Way. Director Chair

John Sturrock, QC @CoremediationMediator & facilitator, author of the Sturrock Report, 2019

Seeking to make a difference, innovator, strategic thinker, mediator & facilitator in Scotland, portfolio extending to rest of UK, mainland Europe & beyond

Angiolina Foster @AngiolinaFosterChief Executive of NHS 24. Privileged to work with such outstanding people.

Angiolina Foster inspires a generation of Project Lift transformers - she encourages us to reframe a job to mean something
@ProjectLiftScot @AngiolinaFoster @NHS_Lothian #Inspire #leadership #values (Tweet from @lisa_stewart1)

Kirsty LeishmanCoach and Supervisor

Being a leader today is like taking a trip with no map. No sooner do people feel they have got their bearings, than another route appears.

Ben Thurman @Ben_CarnegieUKPolicy person @CarnegieUKTrust | trustee @EGPgrapevine Seedling | thinking mostly about #kindness & #wellbeing

'Governments everywhere need a blueprint that puts #wellbeing at the Green heart of the recovery' Here are six propositions from @CEO_CarnegieUK on what that could look like Down pointing backhand index #BuildBackBetter

Julian Stodd @julianstoddAuthor 'Social Leadership Handbook' & 'My 1st 100 days'. Blogs Founder @SeaSaltLearning.

Organisations are entities of story and belief: in ‘The Socially Dynamic Organisation’ I explore how that #story is written, how it may evolve, and how we earn that belief. It’s a book about a new type of Organisation fit for the #SocialAge

Jann Gardiner @GardnerJannChief Executive, Golden Jubilee National Hospital

Happy #InternationalNursesDay2020 and a huge thanks to all our wonderful nurses especially during these challenging times - for care, compassion and kindness. Special thanks to Anne Marie Cavanagh, Director of Nursing & AHP’s for outstanding leadership⁦, @JubileeHospital

Nadine Smith @NadineMCSmithStriving for inclusive, empathetic governments that put people first. Personal account. #findinglegitimacy, ex @UKCivilService now leading @CPI_foundation UK

"In truth, a combination of ideas that come from all places are key to rebalancing power, and will require us to think about who we are as a country and what values bind us."
- @NadineMCSmith in @CityAM this morning (tweet by @CPI_foundation)

The Behavioural Insights Team @B_I_TweetsWe use insights from behavioural science to encourage people to make better choices for themselves. Social purpose company, known as world's first nudge unit.

"The #pandemic represented the biggest #experiment in home working ever! It showed that we have to put people & wellbeing at the front and centre of the business agenda." ...

Graham Leicester @graham_iffInternational Futures Forum: practical hope. wise initiative. effective and responsible action in real, conceptual and existential emergencies.

Beyond Survival - one of the products of my lockdown, a short pamphlet on the resources we need to draw on - survival, insight, perseverance, hope - if we are to bend the arc of history "toward the hope of a better day"

Suzie Bailey @bailey_suzieDirector of Leadership & OD, The King’s Fund. Health Foundation Fellow (GenQ) passionate about improving quality & organisational culture by developing people

It has been a huge privilege to listen to the lived experiences of nurses and midwives to inform this work - thank you to all those who contributed to this report and helped shape the recommendations . @WestM61 @TheKingsFund @RCNFoundation

John Atkinson @john_atkiIndependent thought and finely honed prejudice on leadership, living systems and change in global and national organisations

We need to listen. Start doing things with people. Not to them.

Kaleidoscope H&C @kscopehealthWe bring people together to improve health and care. We create connections, support strategy and spark debate. Tweets by Charm

Leadership in Covid-19: can we affect radical change by thinking differently about power? Great blog for @ProjectLiftScot from @Glennetal and @janAHPO

Tim Mart @timknowyoumoreCEO and Co-Founder of Know You More | Coaching | At Scale | For Everyone #knowyoumore

'Governments everywhere need a blueprint that puts #wellbeing at the Green heart of the recovery' Here are six propositions from @CEO_CarnegieUK on what that could look like Down pointing backhand index #BuildBackBetter

Joanne Kerr @Joanne1234KerrCoach and Coach Supervisor : Passionate about developing people

A really great morning session, and sorry I couldn't stay longer. Open space, listening, inquiry, ideas and experiences. Also lovely to meet new people from different spaces/places!

UoE Business School @uoebusinessGet the latest news & events from Business School staff, students, alumni & our community. Student & Admissions Blog:

On this list of five must-read articles is one co-authored by our colleague John Amis - the Five Practices and Three Myths that Fuel Inequality. As @Forbes magazine's contributors put it: "We encourage you to dig deep into this one."

Katie Kelly @Vibrant_SocksKatie Kelly @Vibrant_Socks

Wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it.” Meister Eckhart

Jan Beattie @janAHPOAHP Professional Advisor for Primary Care -committed to maximising the potential of AHPs. IHI IA Wave34. All views are my own and retweets aren't an endorsement

For me @JenniJones2468 being human is related to mine ... being aware of my vulnerability Do you have any reflections @GabyStewartOT?
Quote Tweet Jenni Jones @JenniJones2468 · 12h
What thoughtful reflections on power you've stimulated in us today @janAHPO @Glennetal @ProjectLiftScot keys to experiencing powerful leaders lie in building trust, being real, open, sharing mistakes& learning. Be more human, always be human was my own takeaway. What was urs?…

Charlie Jones @charlie_psychHumanity in healthcare. Relationships in 'the system'. #SpacesForListening. Trying stuff out. What's really going on? Clinical psychologist. Dad #IdenticalTwins

I'm glad to be in touch with people working relationally in healthcare contexts where hearts & minds matter.
Our shared humanity & vulnerability create space in which we can connect, we can think, & both givers & receivers of care feel engaged in healing.

acosvo @ACOSVOThe Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations - For Scotland's Voluntary Sector Leaders #Leadership #VoluntarySector

@wrengreyhound's next masterclass takes place Oct 13th! Attracting the Next Generation of Leaders & Supporting Leadership Equality & Diversity. Explore how self-care & development is needed to develop a culture of openness & inclusion