Spotlight on Calls to Action & Shared Purpose

This series is intended to highlight accessible resources on current topics, from within the Knowledge Hub and other sources. Each feature will identify a range of resources on the selected topic, and provide examples of the practical application of the improvement approach.

For the fourth in the series, the spotlight falls on calls to action and shared purpose. Calls to action and shared purpose both refer to a popular approach to change, away from the traditional focus of change that is orchestrated and imposed in a ‘top-down’ fashion. Shared purpose is a potentially powerful driver of change, utilising collaborative effort; a call to action unites people with a shared goal and a collective vision.

A call to action unites people around a collective vision, and focuses their energy towards achieving a specific goal that they can envisage and emotionally invest in, and that can be achieved in a defined period of time. A call to action requires people to collaborate and trust, and achieves this through a shared narrative, which reflects people’s values and shared experiences.

Calls to action have been utilised by the NHS in recent years to unite staff, patients and the public behind campaigns, such as supporting the NHS for the future, and reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia.

Shared purpose sits at the centre of the NHS Change Model as it is an essential element of successful change and system transformation.

This Spotlight brings together Resources from the NHS legacy organisations which describe the Call to Action approach and the value of developing a shared purpose vision; Knowledge Links contains brief overviews of selected journal publications which consider the power of developing shared purpose in a healthcare setting, alongside links to the full journal article; Case Study, Evaluation or Delivery Experience includes examples of improvement projects which have adopted a Call to Action approach; finally, Looking Forwards contains details of current Calls to Action in the NHS.



Shared Purpose

An Overview – Agreeing on a Team Purpose

Our Shared Purpose

Senior leaders as mobilising leaders for change

The Change Model has shared purpose as its central point – recommending that all change approaches should start from this point, regardless of which order the change approach then adopts. Resources relating to the Change Model therefore include substantial references to the principles of developing a shared purpose.

Call to Action

Creating Contagious Commitment to Change


Knowledge Links

Graham Martin, Elizabeth Sutton, Janet Willars and Mary Dixon-Wood (2013) Framework for Change in Healthcare Organisations: A Formative Evaluation of the NHS Change Model. Health Services Management Research vol 26 (2-3)

This evaluation of the Change Model is based on interviews with users putting the approach into action. They identify the starting point of the process as ‘our shared purpose’ – ensuring that all stakeholders’ values are connected to a mutual goal. The authors report that if there is a shared purpose ‘ethos’ then it will bring people together, make conversations less polarised and ensure the focus is on developing solutions.

Nikola Biller-Andorno and Thomas Lee (2013) Ethical Physician Incentives – From Carrots and Sticks to Shared Purpose.
Zurich Open Repository and Archive, University of Zurich

This paper looks at the potential value of shared purpose as an incentive. It identifies that not all incentives are financial; incentives should ideally be aligned to promote an organisation’s goals. Incentives orientated towards an organisation’s shared purpose can unite and motivate staff, and generate a sense of ownership, so that individual goals are aligned to the organisation’s goals.

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (2016) Building Shared Purpose and Inspiring Collective Commitment (group 6 v4) and ‘shared purpose’

This presentation describes the power of shared purpose in bringing about change through collaborative working.

The Health Foundation (2015) Celebrating Shared Purpose.

A collection of case studies from a shared purpose improvement programme, developed to unite corporate support teams and clinical teams in improvement projects.


Case Study, Evaluation or Delivery Experience

Improving Wheelchair Services – a Call to Action

The NHS Belongs to the People: A Call to Action

The New Era of Thinking and Practice in Change and Transformation: A Call to Action for Leaders of Health and Care

The Right Prescription: a Call to Action on the Use of Antipsychotic Drugs for People with Dementia


Looking Forwards

The focus on change originating from individuals – ‘bottom up’ – remains central to many change initiatives within the NHS. The Call to Action approach starts with engagement with an audience, identifying their shared purpose in order to create the motivation and then generate the activity to bring about change.

National examples of Calls to Action include: the Social Partnership Forum, which brings together national NHS organisations to consider current workforce developments, is currently supporting a call to action to tackle bullying in the NHS.

Allied Health Professionals are also supporting a call to action with their ‘AHPs into Action’ framework, identifying AHP actions to be taken to support the delivery of the current health and social care goals.