How do you design and deliver a leadership course that has real impact? That builds into succession planning? That staff can really get involved with and commit to? Particularly when these staff are front line NHS nurses, managing their teams, service delivery & patient care with little time to reflect and apply learning?

Well we managed to do just that.

Previously we used to design 6 days training covering certain topics and deliver them over the course of a year. People would sign up but we would have 30%+ drop out on the day as it’s hard to commit to a day out of the day job, particularly if any of the team are off sick or have had to book leave. It’s not easy to back fill without additional budgets. And then there’s the travel…

There were some good sessions (although much of the training was more about management rather than leadership), but with no follow up or required application I wonder how much the learning filtered through to the real world beyond an initial couple of weeks of thinking, , and I’m not sure there was any noticeable impact a few months later.

So how did we manage to take 18 senior nurses, spread across many different NHS Board locations in Scotland, through an immersive leadership programme over a 10 week period, where 2 projects were delivered, where no one had to travel and where we had pretty much 100% attendance at each session. And how do we know it’s been successful, has had a longer-term impact, and focused on real leadership skills?

We used the 4D virtual immersive “learn and do ware” called QUBE. We initially introduced QUBE and the concept to the nurse cohort at a conference. They looked scared. They deal with people and patients; they don’t wear headsets and sit at computers. But they agreed to give it a go. They had, after all, been selected as leaders of the future.

Two weeks later we had everybody set up on QUBE, orientated and attending the first workshop (‘worqshop’ on QUBE) for a friendly getting to know each other (these were people who didn’t directly work together or in some cases even know each other). After 15 minutes there was laughter, excitement, panic, more excitement and lots of conversations taking place (on QUBE you can have multiple conversations in the same room by using sound zone areas). What followed was 4 worqshops on leadership every 2 weeks and the cohort were also split into 2 teams (quints) and given a project to deliver. They worked on this in between worqshops at “drumbeats” (same day and time every week). They quickly established teams, and quickly got to grips with how to use QUBE and its Performance Enhancement Tools (PETs) and very quickly were demonstrating their improved skills, confidence and leadership.

How do we know?

Well they all said they were applying their learning back at base. They saw the value in what they’d learnt, they were applying it directly to the assigned projects to embed the learning and they were comfortable and able to use the learning with their local teams

Following the training many of the nurses established their own project qubicles to develop and work on their own team objectives with their local teams

At the final “show and tell” one of the invited Directors remarked “I’m struck by the level of the confidence in the room…. Its unseen to have that level of confidence as well has have fun as well as getting through pieces of work”

The team also looked back on their original ‘Hopes & Fears’ for the course and were amazed that they had initially been so worried and that none of their fears had at all come true. You can hear an overview of the final “spin” from the nurses and guests on their summary of the course (

A year later – did everyone just go back to the day job and remember with fondness a nice course they went on last year?
No. Most of the cohort are working on QUBE regularly, leading and driving real change within the organisation.

A few of the cohort have presented their efforts and learning at 2 conferences this summer, including developing an animated story of their learning. (

Some of the cohort have received further training on QUBE and will be supporting the next cohort of nurse leadership on QUBE , supporting training and project drumbeats.

Some of the cohort are involved in re-designing the nurse re-validation process so we can do it virtually, reducing time and effort, supporting peer to peer learning and growing a virtual national network of nurses to help and support one another

And sometimes, they just get together for a virtual coffee on a Friday morning to check in with each other. If you’re on QUBE you should look out for them in the NHS Leading Better Care qubicle. Pop in and say hello.

Effective, embedded leadership with no travel, ongoing peer learning and support, lots of fun and able to take part even when you are camping in a wigwam. What’s stopping you?