Learning from excellence conference

Every now and then you meet some people who change you

Every now and then you hear a speech or presentation or talk that changes you

Every now and then you talk with others and it changes you

All three of those happened for me yesterday at the wonderful conference ‘Learning from Excellence’.

I was wondering how I would share the learning for others and got stumped at the first hurdle – because this was one of those things you felt and experienced, you just kind of had to be there.  However that’s unfair on anyone who couldn’t go so I shall do my best for you.

The conference was organised by West Midlands Patient Safety Collaborative in conjunction with a group called Appreciating People.  It was billed as the first Learning from Excellence Community Event.  The starting point for it all was in 2014 when Adrian Plunkett and Emma Plunkett (two of the loveliest people you could ever have the pleasure to meet) had an idea that has taken off and spread in just three years to becoming a movement of people who recognise the need to not only learn from when things go well but to be overwhelmingly kind to people who are kind and let them know that they have done something good.

Adrian and Emma have stimulated a whole new way of capturing positive feedback for those that work in healthcare and have two main aims of learning from excellence:

  • Improve quality by learning from what works well
  • Improve morale

If you want to know what good looks like when it comes to organising a conference you need to look no further than this one:

  • Usual comfort things like venue, food, enough toilets for a large audience (believe me that’s important!) space to sit etc.  All sorted.
  • A beautifully crafted agenda that thread its way from why we were there, injected with short presentations and quality time for discussions with the audience sharing experiences and ideas, to what we could all do differently and then finally to what could and will happen next.
  • Every conversation, every presentation, every discussion built upon each other in a way that added value to what came before and enhanced our learning.  They were all connected in a meaningful way to the  theme or thread of learning from excellence.


How has it changed me?

  • Meeting Emma and Adrian has changed my perceptions (in a good way!) of what is possible for a small number of individuals to make a massive impact
  • Hearing from Neil Spenceley, Andy Bradley and Chris Turner enlightened and moved in equal measure.  A master class in presenting and sharing from all three in their unique different ways – (note) Neil has a Risky Business talk which is a must watch – http://www.risky-business.com
  • Hearing from and talking with others has made me realise how every part of what we do can be reframed in a way that leads to a much more positive interaction
  • The whole conference has confirmed for me that our work in patient safety and changing the culture of the NHS needs re-thinking and re-framing and has changed the way my next book is evolving

That’s pretty profound.

Take home quotes:

The bottom line is the frontline (Emma Plunkett)

Move from humiliation to humility (Neil Spenceley)

Incivility is the biggest patient safety concern in healthcare (Neil Spenceley)

When I did a shift as a cleaner I got a superpower – I became invisible (Neil Spenceley)

Would you and could you do someone else’s job for the day (to truly learn about what it is like for others) (Neil Spenceley)

When someone shares with you what you have done well, it makes you want to keep doing that (Adrian Plunkett)

Civility saves lives (Chris Turner)

How we behave towards each other is the single greatest factor in how well our teams will perform (Chris Turner)

Minor incivility has significant impact on performance with 61% reduction in cognitive capacity on recipients, 20% decrease in performance for ‘onlookers’ and 50% reduction in willingness to help others (Chris Turner)

The twitter hashtag #LfEConference will provide you with so much joy and positivity you will be hooked!


  1. Civility certainly welcomed, but the changes near to come within systems and processes to nudge people towards this being the favoured behaviour. Talking about it won’t make it happen.
    You can’t expect to thrash the horse to win the Derby if you haven’t made the horse fit to race in the first place. Let’s use this work to move things forward with the understanding now.

  2. A very fair summary of a wonderful conference. We must ensure this initiative (LfE) becomes standard practice throughout the NHS

Comments are closed.