The Expert:

Jenny Powell

Jenny Powell is the organisational development manager at Counties Manukau Health. She has over 40 years’ experience in healthcare. After starting her career as a nurse in the UK, Ms Powell moved into staff development, where she quickly established a successful Practice and Professional Development Team to meet the training, education and development needs for registered nurses, midwives and HCAs. Over the next few years, she took on a number of key roles, predominantly focusing on strategic workforce planning and the development of the healthcare workforce at a regional level. Ms Powell’s last appointment before emigrating to NZ in 2010 was as Head of Organisational Development, Leadership & Workforce Strategy, in a newly merged healthcare organisation. She holds a master’s degree in human resource development, a postgraduate diploma in training management, and has completed the King’s Fund Nurse Leadership Programme.

Their View:

Organisational development is an approach to development and change that works across the whole of an organisation or system to enable it to meet its objectives.

The NHS North West Leadership Academy defines organisational development as “…improving organisational performance through implementing a planned process of leading and managing change that aligns key levers such as vision, values, strategy, structure, processes, systems, ways of working and people capabilities”.[1]

Most organisational development models take into account a variety of factors that play a role in organisational change. For example, the well-known McKinsey 7S Model proposes that organisations are made up of seven interdependent ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors. Hard factors are tangible or documented elements of an organisation that can be directly influenced by organisational management, such as strategy, structure, and systems. Soft factors are intangible elements that are influenced strongly by culture, such as shared values, skills, staff and style. The McKinsey 7S Model puts values at the centre, but acknowledges that hard and soft factors are equally important in determining organisational success and that change in any one element affects the others in turn.[2]

There is growing recognition of the systematic, organisation-wide perspective of organisational development in the New Zealand healthcare sector. Several district health boards, including Counties Manukau Health (CM Health), have introduced organisational development teams.

The current model of organisational development in New Zealand healthcare focuses most strongly on the ‘people’ elements. For example, CM Health has developed a People Strategy to support its Healthy Together Strategic Plan. This reflects the organisation’s recognition that people are at the heart of healthcare services and that the staff and volunteers of CM Health are the key to achieving high-quality care. The strategy sets out CM Health’s path for enabling cultural change and transformation, and aims to ensure consistent compassion and caring, both for patients and staff. It covers:

• embedding values and culture in the way we do business
• growing capability to transform systems and respond better to changing health needs
• building workforce capacity and diversity to do more in communities and deliver care closer to home
• providing effortless systems and processes that enable people to do their best.

Although the current focus is often around elements that are related to people development, such as leadership programmes, these activities aim over time to deliver organisation-wide outcomes, rather than being focused on specific teams or groups . At CM Health, for example, leadership development programmes such as Emerging Leaders and Doctors as Leaders deliberately bring together staff from diverse parts of the healthcare system. As well as developing leadership capability, this helps to break down barriers, improve care integration and smooth the patient’s journey through the system by encouraging staff to take a system-wide perspective rather than thinking and working in silos.

In this way, the activities of the organisational development team help staff to look beyond the boundaries of their role, function and service. This is crucial to achieving system-wide organisational development. Staff must be able to see what they do from the perspectives of patients and colleagues, to understand what strategies such as Healthy Together mean across the whole organisation at all levels, and to see how they fit into the bigger picture.

1. NHS North West Leadership Academy. Developing together: OD toolkit. Manchester, UK: NHS North West Leadership Academy; [n.d.]. p.2.
2. Jurevicius, O. McKinsey 7s Model. In: Strategic Management Insight [Webpage]. December 20, 2013. Available at:
3. CM Health. Counties Manukau Health People Strategy 2015-2020. Auckland, NZ: CM Health; [2015], p.7.

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