There are two management adages that often get quoted in policy development circles – namely:

“What gets measured gets done” (or some variation of this); and “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Both of these quotes are generally attributed to the management guru Peter Drucker. They are interesting quotes because of course they essentially contradict and fight against each other – in that one is encouraging you to be very formulaic and process-driven in your approach – and the other is warning you against this. But of course, that is the essence of modern day management – in that there is no one size fits all solution!

So it is with the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) that the NHS introduced a few years ago and is trying to use as a force for change within the echelons of power across the health and social care system in England. Whilst ostensibly a measurement tool – it is informed and driven by data that is influenced by culture. And that is what the best organisations do – they use the data – but recognise that the data will only change when the culture changes.

This philosophy is what very much underpins our diversity and inclusion Partners programme that has been running for several years now. It is a programme that seeks to encourage and empower the organisations who participate in it to both use the levers and mechanisms in the system (such as the WRES and the Equality Delivery System) – and also focus on creating workplaces that attract, nurture and retain managers who understand that culture needs to be sown and grown. Or – to quote another great philosopher (Bob Marley): “When the root is strong, the fruit is sweet”.

Several of the organisations who have participated on the Partners programme in previous years – such as Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust and Southend University Hospitals continue to thrive at the moment and feature well in some of the WRES metrics reported in the national report. Equally, some of our current Partners such as Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust also report progress in certain aspects of the WRES.


But ultimately we know – as I said at the beginning – that this is not a one-track road – but a motorway of policies, practices and procedures that need to be controlled and managed towards one final destination. This requires leadership and vision and bravery from the very top and a management team underneath that is diverse, empowered and principled. Coupled with this, the best organisations also know that they need to empower and encourage staff – and their formal representatives – to be a part of the change and listen to what they are telling them will make the biggest difference. To quote another famous politician and leader, Marcus Garvey: “Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden. Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent.”

We need intelligent management in a modern, progressive, fair and diverse NHS.


** The views, information, words, concepts or opinions expressed in our blogs, articles and blog articles are solely the opinions of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of nStratagem, its employees or its affiliated companies.

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