May 2009

Grant Results

SUMMARY

Staff of the Leadership Learning Community, a project of the Tides Center, created a "Health Learning Circle," an affinity group of individuals and organizations concerned with the development of health care leadership. The goal was to provide members with an avenue to identify successful practices, work together to tackle tough health care issues and generate new tools and knowledge about effective leadership.

Key Results

  • Between March 2007 and June 2008, the Health Learning Circle convened two national retreats in Rohnert, Calif., and three Web-based virtual meetings.
  • Some 35–40 people attended the Health Learning Circle retreats, and 20–35 people participated in the circle's online virtual meetings.
  • Several participants reported starting new initiatives as a result of connections made through the Health Learning Circle.
  • Some 57 health-related leadership programs and foundations and 25 individuals created profiles on the Leadership Learning Community Web site (no longer available).

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $254,812 from July 2006 to June 2008.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

The Leadership Learning Community, a project of the Tides Center, works to strengthen the practice and field of leadership development. Its membership includes representatives from more than 400 leadership development programs, 50 foundations and 15 to 20 academic institutions.

In June 2005, staff of the Leadership Learning Community completed a Scan of Health Leadership Development Programs for RWJF (Grant ID# 052307), which examined some 47 health leadership programs in the United States. Among the report's key findings:

  • Most of the programs focused on strengthening the leadership abilities of mid-career and senior professionals who direct health care organizations.
  • A number of programs worked to increase the number of health professionals from underrepresented groups, develop and sustain community health leadership and strengthen collaboration among health leaders.
  • While several initiatives worked to support learning and collaboration among individual leadership development programs, most program staff said they felt isolated from their peers, limiting their ability to collaborate and build the will needed to improve health outcomes.

The Leadership Learning Community proposed to create a "health learning circle" where individuals and organizations with an interest in health care leadership development could come together to:

  • Identify successful practices.
  • Collectively tackle tough issues.
  • Generate new tools and knowledge about effective leadership practice.
  • Act on issues and concerns of mutual interest by leveraging their resources and mining their collective wisdom.

The Leadership Learning Community administers a number of learning circles organized around a specific theme, common identity or issue, or region of the country. Participants in learning circles meet in person and through Web-based seminars and conference calls to identify innovative practices and share lessons learned that will strengthen each other's work. The purpose is to build a body of collective knowledge for a field.

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RWJF STRATEGY

The Human Capital Portfolio seeks to assure that the nation has a diverse, well-trained leadership and workforce in health and health care to meet the needs of all Americans. Its grantmaking aims to:

  • Foster new methods in leadership development.
  • Build diversity in the health professions.
  • Increase the number of health and health care professionals trained in quality improvement methods.
  • Address the nurse faculty shortage.
  • Engage RWJF program alumni in our efforts and create opportunities to help the Foundation and American society benefit more extensively from their experience.

Leadership. Staff on this portfolio work to develop new methods in leadership development.

The project described in this report addresses RWJF's objective to enhance health leadership programs and encourage collaboration across programs both in and outside the foundation.

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THE PROJECT

Staff of the Leadership Learning Community, a project of the Tides Center, created a Health Learning Circle, an affinity group of individuals and organizations concerned with the development of health care leadership.

The goals of the Health Learning Circle were to:

  • Enhance the learning capacity and relationships among participants.
  • Develop and organize resources and tools to improve leadership development efforts.
  • Create a shared vision about the most effective approaches to enhance leadership in health and health care.

A seven-member "design team"—composed of Leadership Learning Community staff and representatives of health funders, leadership development program leaders and educators—helped spearhead planning and facilitation for the Health Learning Circle activities.

Key activities included:

  • Two "face-to-face" retreats of Health Learning Circle members in March 2007 and April 2008.
  • Three "virtual" meetings in September 2007, January 2008 and June 2008 using Web-based conference technology, which allowed participants to view presentations and communicate live via the Internet.

Other Partners

The Center for Creative Leadership donated the use of the WebEx system for the conference calls. The California Endowment provided some support to its grantees who were participating in the Boundary Crossing Learning Circle and wanted to join the Health Learning Circle.

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RESULTS

The Leadership Learning Community reported the following results to RWJF:

  • Convened two Health Learning Circle retreats.
    • A March 1–2, 2007, retreat in Rohnert Park, Calif., provided an opportunity for participants to get to know each other and each other's leadership work and to begin creating a shared purpose. Some 40 individuals attended the retreat, representing health leadership programs focusing on a broad spectrum of issues, from family planning to teen health to patient safety. (The meeting summary is available online.)
    • An April 10–12, 2008, retreat in Rohnert Park, Calif., featured presentations of tools and techniques to:
      • Work more effectively across boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender or economic status.
      • Create shifts in the way people work together to find innovative solutions.
      • Evaluate and build the capacity of leadership networks.
      Some 35 individuals attended the retreat. (The meeting agenda is available online; no summary is available.)
  • Convened three virtual meetings, using Web-based conferencing technology.
    • A September 24, 2007, meeting focused on designing an evaluation for a community health leadership initiative. It used as a case study, the RWJF program, Ladder to Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Community Health Leaders, managed by the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. More than 30 people participated. (Meeting summary available online.)
    • A January 30, 2008, meeting of the Health Learning Circle brought together members of the Sustaining Networks Learning Circle and the Social Media and Leadership Circle to discuss creating and sustaining leadership networks. Some 20 individuals participated. (Meeting summary available online.)
    • A June 20, 2008, meeting focused on leadership networks and "social network mapping," a set of tools and processes for better understanding the relationships in a network. More than 30 people participated. (Meeting summary available online.)
  • Evaluations of the Health Learning Circle retreats and the WebEx calls were very positive, according to the project team.
    • All retreat participants (100 percent) rated the overall value of the learning circle as extremely valuable or very valuable.
    • All (100 percent) said they made connections that they were like to follow up on.
    • Nearly all (93 percent) said the learning circle worked extremely or very well to help them gain new learning, ideas and resources that they can apply to their work.
  • Several Health Learning Circle members reported that they had started new initiatives as a result of connections made through the circle. A number of circle members have also joined circles in other topic areas, thus expanding their networks. Examples of new initiatives included:
    • Through the Health Learning Circle, Tracy Patterson of the Center for Creative Leadership, connected with Virginia Oehler of the Community Health Foundation's Health Leadership Fellows Program. Subsequently, the two organizations partnered to bring RWJF's Ladder to Leadership program to Central New York.
    • A Health Learning Circle participant from IntraHealth International in Chapel Hill, N.C., who works internationally to build capacity and develop leadership in the health field, is using a learning community approach and methodology in his work.
  • Some 57 health-related leadership programs and foundations and 25 individuals created profiles on the Leadership Learning Community Web site (no longer available).
  • In addition, 30 new health leadership resources were posted to the site, including:

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LESSONS LEARNED

  • When creating a new learning circle, invite potential participants to be part of the design team. This ensures good representation from your potential pool of participants and encourages ownership of the purpose and work of the circle. It takes longer and costs more to involve participants early on in the planning, but it's well worth it, because it builds the internal capacity of the group. (Project Director/Meehan)
  • Convening people virtually works well, as long as they have first met face-to-face. Circle participants developed strong relationships at the retreats and then were willing to participate in WebEx meetings. This is good news for national groups that cannot afford to convene in person more than once a year. (Project Director/Meehan)
  • Face-to-face contact works better than other tools for encouraging the exchange of information. The Leadership Learning Community provided participants with tools to encourage them to tap each other as resources, including lists of circle members' skills, interests and needs. Circle members rarely used these tools; exchanges happened through personal relationships developed as part of the project. (Project Director/Meehan)

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AFTER THE GRANT

At the close of the grant, the Leadership Learning Community planned to hold another national retreat for the Health Learning Circle in spring 2009 and considered convening the circle in conjunction with the national meeting of the Leadership Learning Community, held May 20–22, 2009 in Oakland, Calif.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Connecting and leveraging health leadership through network-building, collaborative learning and technology

Grantee

Tides Center (San Francisco,  CA)

  • Amount: $ 254,812
    Dates: July 2006 to June 2008
    ID#:  057126

Contact

Deborah M. Meehan
(510) 238-9080
deborah@leadershiplearning.org

Web Site

http://www.leadershiplearning.org/circle/health-learning-circle

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

Health Learning Circle Design Team

Joel Kreisberg
Founder And Executive Director
Teleosis Institute
Berkeley, Calif.

Deborah Meehan
Executive Director
Leadership Learning Community
Oakland, Calif.

Duffy Newman
Senior Director of Leadership, Education and Fellowships
Health Research and Educational Trust
Chicago, Ill.

Virginia Oehler
Advisor, Health Leadership Fellows Program
Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York
Buffalo, N.Y.

Claire Reinelt
Research and Evaluation Director
Leadership Learning Community
Oakland, Calif.

Connie Chan Robison
Women's Health Leadership
Center for Collaborative Planning, Public Health Institute
Sacramento, Calif.

Rachel Wick
Program Officer for Policy and Evaluation
Consumer Health Foundation
Washington, D.C.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Zackman O, Emmett M, Hoppe B and Russell D. "Social Network Analysis for Leadership Learning Circles. Final Report on Project Results" June 2007. Unpublished.

World Wide Web Sites

www.leadershiplearning.org/circle/health-learning-circle. The link to the Health Leadership Circle on the Leadership Learning Community Web site provides information, events, resources and blogs.

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Report prepared by: Kelsey Menehan
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Sallie Anne George

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