Radical Models of Organising

By Andy Brogan and originally published on easierinc.com

Enlivening Edge’s republication of Part 2 on Public Service is here. And Part 4 on Leadership is here.

This blog is the first of a short series inspired by a recent #NextStageRadicals event held in London on March 19th 2019 (more details here). Throughout this series I’ll be sharing presentations, insights and reflections from the event.


If the only problem our organisations had to solve was how to take skilled communities of the likeminded and point them at a shared goal then work might be simple. But work isn’t like that.

Instead, people have differing needs, strengths and views. When we try to secure their alignment and buy in through traditional means (e.g. centrally set plans and priorities cajoled into practice through carefully designed incentives), we tend to be caught out by unintended consequences and changing context.

So it was with interest that I joined a group of over 100 public sector pioneers at last week’s #NextStageRadicals event in London’s Conway Hall. The day was an opportunity to explore 5 themes any “Next Stage” organisation is likely to encounter under the banner “Radical Models of…”. These were:

  • Radical Models of Organising
  • Radical Models of Service
  • Radical Models of Commissioning
  • Radical Models of Regulation
  • Radical Models of Leadership

I wanted to hear how credible organisations (actually incredible organisations) are approaching these challenges and what they are learning along the way.


Speaking on the first theme were Edel Harris (CEO at Cornerstone) and Helen Sanderson (Founder of Wellbeing Teams). Their stories were inspiring but their contexts quite different. In the case of Edel, her challenge has been to lead an already established organisation of over 2000 people from how they have always done things to a radical new way of organising through self-management.

By contrast, Helen’s challenge has been to develop a brand new organisation from start up, providing care to people and communities, and founded on the principles of self-management. For Helen the exciting opportunity of cutting new ground also came with the knowledge that her organisation would be a test case for whether self-managed care can thrive in the UK’s regulation environment.

You can watch Edel and Helen speak in the videos below.


For me this was all inspirational stuff; a measure of what’s possible and a platform for what proved to be an afternoon of mind-expanding discussions with the 100+ other pioneers in the room. I wasn’t the only one inspired. Another attendee raved so much about the day to her poet partner that he came up with this…

Start With The Person

What if we did things differently?

How about we buck the trend?

Who’s up for throwing out the guide book

And starting things again?

Who says things have to be the way they are,

What makes it black and white?

Does because it’s what we’ve always done

Automatically make it right?

The world moves at a frantic pace

And the people with it too.

What once was thought of as best practice

May now not be actually true.

But change is always risky,

of that I will admit

But if making change is the right thing

Then shouldn’t we do it?

Our starting point must be people;

We build relationships and trust

Nothing else is as important

For in the end we turn to dust.

And like dust, all the savings

And financial gain we sought

Will disappear upon the breeze

And ultimately count for nought.

So who’s for a new direction?

Where are the pioneers?

Let’s work towards light and hope

And walk away from fear.

NB Find the original and more from Laurence Lagrue at W is for Duck.


If you are ready to ‘walk away from fear’ or are curious to find out more, here are a couple of things you can do:

If you want to connect to a community of “Next Stage” pioneers like Edel, Helen and the 100+ others…

  • consider joining the Q Community’s “Reimagining Health and Care Special Interest Group (SIG)”. More details here.

If you want to learn more about putting self-management into practice…

  • consider signing up for Self-Management In Action. Supported by the RSA and featuring Helen, her colleagues at Wellbeing Teams and yours truly, this course provides guided learning and a community of practice for anyone who wants to explore the principles, practices, benefits and challenges of self-management. There’s also a one day overview option for those tight on time or wanting a taster first. More details on both here.

If you want to find out more about the event that inspired this blog (including updates on and videos of the other speakers)…

  • consider subscribing to this blog (below) or follow me on Twitter.

Also… search #NextStageRadicals on Twitter for more from those who attended.

Thanks for reading (and watching)!

Republished with permission of the author.

Featured Image/graphic link added by Enlivening Edge Magazine. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay