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Q&A with Carey Campbell

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Carey Campbell, Clinical Director.

Describe your career path in few words  

Unplanned but progressive; Challenging but loads of fun! 

Growing up as the baker’s daughter in small town Ngāruawāhia in Aotearoa-New Zealand, I chose nursing as my career.  I have an innate sense of curiosity especially about how things work and how to fix them.  I also craved the knowledge and skills to manage in a crisis. Nurses are fantastic coping in complex environments, working with ambiguity and in crises, so it’s been a great career choice. 

Having experience in the public hospital sector across a number of clinical, education, management and professional nursing leadership roles, and armed with a master's in health Practice led smoothly into a Director of Nursing role for a national network of private surgical hospitals.  This was where I was able to combine my passions for positively influencing excellence in nursing and providing the best patient experience and outcomes with my interest in digital solutions for operational efficiency, in particular digitising patient records that align with and support clinician workflow. Working in an innovative development partnership with software vendor, Orion Health, I was the clinical lead/ product owner for the transformation from a fully paper-based patient record to an end-to-end, mobile responsive digital care record.  This was where my love affair with all things Agile began.   

In my current role as Clinical Director for Orion Health – an award-winning global health technology company founded 30 years ago in New Zealand – I get to share my knowledge and experience in successful digital transformation and Agile with others.  Although Orion Health was a start-up three decades ago, we ensure our Agile start-up mentality is front of mind for our entire business.  

Nursing, software development, and Agile?  Some may think a strange mix, but I see them as a match made in heaven! Nurses focus on patient (customer) changing needs; work in complex systems and changing environments (health); are part of self-organising, cross-functional (interdisciplinary) teams – I could go on.  Nurses thought processes and work functions already align with Agile principles so, to me, this is a great marriage!! 

How do you think Agile practices transform companies? 

From my personal Agile experience with a 2-squad model delivering a major strategic programme of work, the philosophy, culture and environment were the main transformations that led to the improved quality, quantity and speed to delivery of user focused outcomes that added real value.   

Whilst Agile practices and processes help keep things on track and progressing, this is only possible when Agile principles and values (mindset) are embedded.  Agile mindsets interact with and drive the practices – not the other way around. From all accounts, those companies that have moved to digital-age management and embrace Agile create more value, innovate more quickly, operate more efficiently, mobilise more resources, attract more talent and use it more effectively, win over customers more readily and raise more money for new endeavours. 

Surely those are outcomes any business is interested in? 

Will Agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices? 

I get a mixed bag of reactions when mentioning Agile (with a capital A as opposed to the general use of the terms agile or agility, which many businesses aspire to be and have).  Reactions range from agreement, enthusiasm and interested questioning through to eye-rolling, scepticism and outright ‘poo-pooing’ the concept. I have learned over my long career that language is important.  If the words Agile, scrum master, Agile coach, retrospectives, ceremonies don’t resonate – don’t use them.  Assess your audience and adjust your approach and language to suit – it’s not being dishonest or manipulative, it’s speaking in a way that encourages the listener to be interested in knowing more.   

As I explained earlier about how Agile aligns with nursing, use iterations of the values and principles to pique curiosity and interest in others.  This helps those with a ‘what’s in it for me?’ and ‘how will it fit with my workplace?’ mentalities and may help with those who have a more traditional approach and discourse. 

So the initial challenge I see, is increasing the understanding of Agile values, principles and philosophy and demonstrating that this leads to the processes and practices that will ‘fit’ the strategies of the organisation. Just “doing Agile” isn’t the answer – although it is often implemented this way. Levering or pigeon-holing Agile tools such as sprints, backlog refinement, stand-ups and retrospectives into waterfall projects and instantly renaming project managers to scrum-masters doesn’t work – and only gives Agile a bad rap.  This is a recipe for failure. 

Another challenge is moving an entire organisation to think and function differently from the traditional ways of thinking and working.  Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an organisation can only be as agile as it’s least agile part! The transformation to the Digital Age from the Industrial Age requires new mindsets that enable Agile thinking across the whole business.  This is no mean feat – but arguably well worth it in today’s digital society. 

And really the underlying ethos to Agile is explained beautifully in this well-known (in New Zealand) Māori proverb: 

He aha te mea nui o te ao?  He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” 

What is the most important thing in the world?  It is people, it is people, it is people 

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