Health and Social Care

Culture eats strategy for breakfast!

November 15, 2022 by No Comments | Category Data Strategy, health & social care

Scotland’s first health and social care data strategy, currently being developed, must align with wider work on unlocking the value of personal public sector data.

This is recognised in the wider Digital Health and Care Strategy, and will enable us to drive forward the ambitious agenda it sets out in support of the recovery and transformation of Scotland’s health and social care system.

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’

Says who?

This quote is attributed to the well-known management consultant Peter Drucker, but there is no traceable citation.

However, with that aside, we can all think of an example where an organisational strategy has fallen –  often at the first hurdle. As the independent chair of the newly established national Health & Care Data Board overseeing the development and launch of a Data Strategy for health and care, I am determined that we don’t fall at our first, second, or even third hurdle.

 The ‘invisibility’ of culture means that is often regarded as a ‘soft’ management issue but it is the stuff that determines how things get done, and is really important if we are to successfully implement the data strategy.

A quote from business leader and former CEO of the Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields, neatly sums up the scale of challenge:

‘You can have the best plan in the world, and if the culture isn’t going to let it happen, it’s going to die on the vine.’

So what does this mean for the Data Strategy and its Board? 

We need to change ways of thinking and doing and, in essence, change our culture in health and social care to one where data is the new ‘fuel’ for all of our decision-making, be it planning or service delivery.

 Visible and committed leadership is crucial – but is nothing if it doesn’t create willing and enthusiastic followers.  Shared purpose is also key – if we don’t agree on what we are seeking to achieve, the how can we go on the same journey.


The Data Board has been formed to provide leadership and oversight for the Strategy and its delivery plan.

  • By providing the collective (multi-agency) leadership, and strategic oversight, that can influence and direct the scope of Scotland’s Data Strategy for Health and Social Care to ensure that it meets the needs and requirements of the Health and Care sector, and people in Scotland.
  • By shaping and creating the necessary governance and delivery arrangements required to support the use of data in health and social care, and more widely.
  • By working with other data governance bodies, and contributing to shared priorities across government.

We’ve recently completed an extensive engagement and public consultation process, and have published the results.  All of this gives valuable insight to the Strategy’s development, including how we encourage a culture that sees Data as the key element of our new approach.

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