Learn with Plackard: How to speak Weasel

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Martin Plackard is universally acknowledged as the foremost public sector communicator of his generation. Here he provides a guide to the most useful terms every NHS communications professional should know.

Strategy

Vision – what good looks like and what better might look like in future, ideally captured in a clear and concise vision statement running to no more than two sides of A4. Make sure you have sign-up and preferably buy-in from all stakeholders.

Mission – what you are urgently planning to aim to facilitate or enable. May contain pledges and ambitions. Should not include promises or dates.

Commitment – may be firm, strong, lasting or unwavering. Everything you do should underline or demonstrate it. A preliminary commitment is a useful first step leaving room to change your mind later.

Purpose – the ultimate aim of every strategy. Something we should all aspire to (see also achievement).

Transformation – state or act of imagining incredible benefits that will materialise in the near to mid future.

Sustainability – what all transformation funding ends up being used for.

Roll-out – how all new programmes, campaigns, policies, IT systems and changes to services are introduced. Start with an initial roll-out and progress to the regional or national variety. For large-scale or long-running programmes organise your roll-out in waves.

Geography and travel

Landscape – uncharted expanse of space suitable for stakeholder mapping exercises, reviews and surveys (see also journey).

Place – very approximate measure of size not to be confused with an actual location. A place is smaller than a system but larger than a locality.

Direction of travel – means of expressing intended course to an implied end-point or destination. Usually but not necessarily synonymous with forward (see also towards).

Towards – indispensable term conveying momentum and strategic intent.

Journey – something we’re on or may soon be on together.

Roadblock – unforeseen circumstance that may lead to long detour or in extreme cases an abandoned journey. (Note: You are not starting again but building on the success of your last journey).

Engineering and construction

Underpinning – the parts of your strategy or programme that people don’t need to see but like to know are there. Underpinning beliefs or principles may be used to convey robustness in the absence of credible evidence or a solid rationale.

System architecture – use to confer orderliness and coherence on the sprawling mass of ill-fitting and incompatible parts responsible for commissioning, regulating and providing services.

Support chassis – sometimes even system architecture needs further reinforcement. One or more support chassis may be rolled out as required.

Overarching – largely decorative rhetorical feature advertising your primary goal. Note that too many overarching ambitions can make the programme top-heavy and unstable.

Silo – mass storage unit for vested interests. Aim to break them down but not before moving their contents to another suitable location (see delivery vehicle).

Delivery vehicle – something has to deliver the outcomes and benefits of transformation. They won’t move themselves.

Media editor: Julian Patterson

julian.patterson@networks.nhs.uk
@NHSnetworks

Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Julian Patterson.