‘Mony a mickle maks a muckle’

An apt Scottish phrase to consider is “mony a mickle maks a muckle”. For those not familiar with this glorious expression, it means “many little things, make a big thing”.

Within bigger programmes of change underway in Scotland, little nuggets are capturing the imagination and playing a huge role in driving improvements. I was really pleased to share some of these with the UCLP Involvement Leads Forum, as part of a day I spent in London catching up on many aspects of what UCLP does.

I’ve recently been involved with work to consider an approach to better using the power of storytelling to articulate things in more straightforward and engaging ways.

One story that seemed to strongly resonate with the Involvement Leads draws its origins from an experience shared on Patient Opinion, the online forum to capture good, bad and indifferent experiences that people have with health and care services.

A man had been impressed by the colour pathways at the hospital, which help to direct people to particular wards or parts of the building. However, he wasn’t sure which colour pathway he should be on. Wouldn’t it be great if the colour pathway he should follow could be included on the letter? Hey presto, one of the services responds by making the colour pathway match the colour of the letter. Other services follow suit. A simple story and a great idea brought about a fantastic and eminently sensible change.

Drawing upon personal connections with the creative sector in Scotland, I’ve been having a lot of fun with a group of interested innovators where we’ve been considering one of the littlest literary forms I’ve come across: the anchored terset.

At a recent meeting, I set the attendees the challenge producing one terset each to sum up the discussions. By the end of the session, we’d collectively produced over 80.

I set the Involvement Leads the same challenge and we collectively produced a multi-coloured wall of notes. Particular highlights for me were:


It seems a really good technique for capturing condensed notes in ways that are brief and memorable.

Our challenge is to allow these distilled ideas to inform a wider vision and set of actions for how we more effectively engage and involve people, via the emerging Our Voice framework.

We have many strands of work that come together within our person-centred work in Scotland. This recently published handy guide provides a good digest.

Thanks to everyone at UCLP for the invitation to come along, and a further thanks to all of those who attended the Involvement Leads Network session. It was a real delight to share some of our work with you.


Blythe Robertson is the Policy Manager for Person-Centred Care and Self-Management: Healthcare Quality & Strategy, Scottish Government

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