What is Improvement Leaders Capability Programme?


Improvement Leaders Capability Programme (ILP) is a programme developed by Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS), the aim of which is to start a process of sustainable improvement in the hospital organisation. It has been awarded in Britain and has aroused interest in other NHS trusts and abroad. Lapland Hospital District cooperates with DCHS to introduce the programme in Finland; all the other 4 hospital districts in the Oulu University Hospital’s area of responsibility for specialized care are also involved.

ILP is part of the Humanly Efficient Hospital programme, which is Lapland Hospital District’s long-term research and development programme aimed at improving the hospital as a work environment in various ways. The focus in its second phase is in management and leadership, and ILP serves to bring the improvement of these concretely into the employees’ everyday work.


The English name of the programme refers to its objective of coaching personnel to become improvement leaders who are able to take a critical look at their own work and work environment and understand how they could be improved

Many kinds of everyday operations in the hospital contain elements of waste (such as waste of time and energy caused by an inconvenient location or bad organisation of a depository; redundancies derived from vague or missing job descriptions; or unnecessary paper waste), the elimination of which can make operation more efficient and bring efficiency savings without increasing anyone’s workload. Hence the programme’s Finnish name Hukkajahti (”Chasing Waste”)!

The programme enables participants to plan and implement changes which improve the organisation’s operation – and, importantly, it gives them the relevant tools needed for this, using structured methods based on Lean methodology

The focus areas for the development work can be anything that the organisation wishes to improve, be it clinical work or support services

The aim is to create a more smoothly operating work environment, which also improves the personnel’s sense of meaningfulness at work

The stages involved in the project

The first cohort, consisting of participants from Lapland Hospital District and 4 other hospital districts, will receive their coaching in Rovaniemi in August 2012; after this, pilot programmes will be run by the participants in their own organisations. The project then continues within the organisations with the coaching of new cohorts, with new focus areas identified as the targets of improvement work.

The structure of the programme

The participants (around 20 per cohort) are volunteers who are selected based on their applications. They can come from any unit and from any organisational level.

The programme, which lasts for about six weeks, begins with Academy sessions, in the course of which the participants are provided with tools and structured methods for problem-solving , which helps them to look at issues with ”fresh eyes”.

After the Academy sessions, the participants start working in project teams and delve into a specific issue requiring improvement. They seek information about it and develop solutions, using the tools and methods learned during the Academy sessions. This phase takes about three weeks and the participants do it while continuing their daily work.

The teams then present their solutions to the directors of their organisation. Finally, ideas judged to be implementable are put into a week-long test during a ”rapid improvement event”. The idea is to implement the proposed changes rapidly so that their practical viability can be assessed, and the predetermined date for their implementation ensures that the changes will really be carried out. If the improvement event turns out to be successful, it is easier to continue the change once it is already implemented.