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The Difference that Makes the Difference - Final evaluation of the first place-based programmes for Systems Leadership: Local Vision

Bolden, Richard; Gulati, Anita; Ahmad, Yusuf; Burgoyne, John; Chapman, Nick; Edwards, Gareth; Green, Elizabeth; Owen, David; Smith, Ian; Spirit, Michelle


Richard Bolden
Dir of Res Ctr - Ldrship & Behav Change

Anita Gulati

Yusuf Ahmad

John Burgoyne

Nick Chapman

Gareth Edwards

David Owen

Ian Smith

Michelle Spirit


1. This report outlines findings from Phase 2 of the evaluation of Systems Leadership: Local Vision, conducted by Bristol Leadership Centre on behalf of the Systems Leadership Steering Group. It is the third in a series of reports capturing the learning and outcomes of the first cohort of Local Vision projects.

2. In this report we focus on the outcomes and effects of Local Vision projects in different localities and consider how local context enables or constrains the potential for sustainable change. This analysis is based on case studies, interviews and secondary data.

3. Overall, the findings suggest that Local Vision has had a positive impact within each of the areas investigated, complementing existing initiatives and catalysing change and engagement amongst partners and communities.

4. There is good evidence of Local Vision projects raising awareness of systems leadership amongst stakeholders in different localities – in particular in relation to thinking systemically, working collaboratively, engaging with service users, and fostering shared leadership.

5. Likewise, there is good evidence that Local Vision has been regarded as a success in most localities, producing benefits and value for a diversity of stakeholders, such as influencing strategy, generating income and opportunities, engaging professionals, and improving services and client outcomes.

6. Whilst, in many cases it is still a little too early to determine the legacy and any lasting change arising from Local Vision, there is good evidence of its ability to catalyse change, influence new ways of working, and build commitment and momentum in relation to ‘wicked’ issues.

7. The case studies conducted during this phase of the evaluation enable the identification of a number of trends across projects that suggest some important ingredients of effective systems leadership interventions. These include start-up conditions (including the nature of the problem/challenge, level of intervention, prior experience of systems working, and imperative for change); local context (including alignment with other initiatives, project ownership, dedicated project support, and senior-level organisational and political engagement); process (including choice of Enabler, engagement with local communities, memorandum of understanding, King’s Fund learning network, and scale and timing of projects); and planning for sustainability (including project leadership, Enabler exit conditions, roll-out, and evaluating outcomes).

8. Alongside the collection and analysis of evidence from Local Vision project partners and Enablers, the evaluation also collated and analysed a wide range of independent metrics on localities and the nature and scale of the ‘wicked’ issues that projects were tackling. Whilst these analyses did not reveal many insights into the Local Vision projects themselves, they do illuminate the challenges of benchmarking complex change interventions, and highlight the potential value of data as a leadership tool for galvanising action in complex and contested environments.

9. The report concludes with a summary of key outcomes and recommendations for future activity on Local Vision and related systems leadership initiatives. The evidence from this evaluation suggests that Local Vision can be regarded as a successful initiative that has succeeded in developing and embedding learning about systems leadership and change in the majority of localities where it has operated. As a place-based intervention, supported by skilled ‘Enablers’, Local Vision has successfully catalysed collaboration between multiple stakeholders to address shared challenges.

10. The evaluation findings prove testament to the skill and tenacity of the Local Vision Enablers, project partners and the Leadership Centre (who coordinated and supported the initiative on behalf of the Systems Leadership Steering Group) in brokering relationships, facilitating difficult conversations and (re)connecting diverse communities to a shared sense of purpose. In most localities, there are now people committed to thinking systemically, working collaboratively, engaging with service users, and fostering shared leadership that will continue to have an impact for many years to come.


Bolden, R., Gulati, A., Ahmad, Y., Burgoyne, J., Chapman, N., Edwards, G., …Spirit, M. (2015). The Difference that Makes the Difference - Final evaluation of the first place-based programmes for Systems Leadership: Local Vision

Report Type Project Report
Acceptance Date Oct 1, 2015
Publication Date Oct 30, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords leadership, local


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