The journey of a speculative Tweet

Network Power: 9 suggestions in less than 5 hours

I’ve heard a lot of people describe themselves as “lurkers” rather than Tweeters on Twitter. Whilst this is fine and there’s a lot to be gained by absorbing information in our professional spheres, I think it misses a massive opportunity to be more interactive and discover things that aren’t necessarily being shared. I’d like to illustrate this with a timeline of a recent Tweet.

Tweet timeline, showing the timestamps of the responses

From an initial tweet, to having 9 potential avenues to explore in 269 minutes, and quite a few responses from people I don’t know at all. Here’s the detail.

9 Jan 2021, 16:46: I reached out to Twitter with a challenge that affects all Acute hospitals — admission scheduling. I wrote a thread, setting out the challenge and then tagged a few people that I thought might help.

Screenshot of my initial tweet

9 Jan 2021, 17:10 (24 mins after Tweet): Response from John at Google. John and I have already talked during 2020 about Cloud hosting and other things, so he’s an established contact.

Screenshot of John Neeson’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 17:18 (32 mins after Tweet): Response from Chris. This is starting to get interesting. I’ve never met him in real life or had a tel, I am part of the WB-40 Podcast Signal Discussion Group and once did a book review for the podcast. Chris recommends a company already doing some complex scheduling stuff — so that’s concrete lead #1 that I would not have come across ordinarily.

Screenshot of Chris Weston’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 17:22 (36 mins after Tweet): Reply from Neil, linking up to some work that someone else has gone on. Never met Neil before, he’s not in my network, I don’t follow him, but the gentle ripples of the network are starting to take effect. I met Aaron back in the day when he was at NHSBT, so got in touch with him via Twitter. I also used to work for Wendy, the current CIO at NHSBT, so reached out to her too.

Screenshot of Neil Ward-Dutton’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 17:25 (39 mins after Tweet): Reply from Lauren — we know each other from some stuff I did back in 2019 or so, and we follow each other on Twitter.

Screenshot of Lauren Bevan’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 17:29 (43 mins after Tweet): Response from Austin. I met him at a conference in 2019. He’s moved organisations now, but again shows the power of networking.

Screenshot of Austin Tanney’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 17:39 (53 mins after Tweet): Response from Tony Yates, someone I used to work with with a keen interest in building a better NHS. On Monday 11 Jan, Tony messaged me with some more throughts on the data types needed in a Google doc where he’d collected some notes.

Screenshot of Tony Yates’ reply

9 Jan 2021, 18:51 (2 hours, 5 mins after Tweet): response from Neill. I don’t know him, he wasn’t following me on Twitter until responding to this Tweet. I messaged him a link to the criteria doc.

Screenshot of Neill Crump’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 20:14 (3 hours, 28 minutes after Tweet): Suggestion from David about the Bradford control centre. David and I have messaged via Twitter and have had a few phone calls, but I’ve not met him properly in real life. On 14 Jan I messaged Paul Rice, CIO at Bradford via LinkedIn to see if there was scope to discuss.

Screenshot of David Walliker’s reply

9 Jan 2021, 21:15 (4 hours, 29 mins after Tweet): Reply from Sarra, drawing parallels with the scheduling challenge in hospitals with that of air traffic control, a link I hadn’t made. She sent a link to a fascinating article. I don’t know Sarra, never met her but noticed that she’s follow me on Twitter.

Screenshot of Sarra Hornby’s reply

So in 269 minutes, I had 9 avenues to explore. Here’s a bit about how they’ve been progressed…

14 Jan 2021, 09:00 (4 days after Tweet): Call with John from Google with one of their data experts. We discussed potential approaches using some of the tooling available in GCP.

15 Jan 2021, 06:54 (5 days after Tweet): Reply from Mike. Although I know Tim from the EMAHSN, I don’t know Mike.

So, by 5 days and will very little effort I had a number of reasonable routes to explore:

  1. Tony Yates data analysis
  2. Google options via John Neeson
  3. Insiris scheduling options
  4. NHSBT work
  5. BJSS capacity and demand via Lauren
  6. Work that Austin is doing re capacity modelling
  7. Possible interest in collaboration with the Dudley group via Neill
  8. Bradford Command Centre
  9. Parallels with air traffic control
  10. East Midlands Academic Health Science Network work with NUH

Final Thoughts

In 269 minutes I had 9 avenues to explore and in 5 days, 10. Compare where would I have got to in that short space of time just trying to do it myself and ploughing through Google or trying to have an orginal thought. Who knows at this point where those avenues will take us, and if some will lose enthusiasm along the way, but I have to say, the collective energy is a lot more motivating than following a lonely furrow.

Of the 10 responses:

  • 4 were from people I previously had no connection to
  • 2 were from people I only know via Twitter
  • 3 were from people I’ve met in the past at a conference or worked with colleagues of theirs
  • Only 1 from someone who I’ve worked with closely in the past

It is clear to me that if we only rely on those we are working directly with we’ll get a smaller selection of ideas than using the power of the network. The research I did recently showed how few NHS CIOs appear to be using their networks and I can’t work out why because they’re missing out on a superpower! Hopefully, this example is the nudge to see more.

Husband. Dad to 3 smashing lads. Cub Leader. MAMIL. Group CDIO for Northampton and Kettering Hospitals. Ex NHS Digital. Views own. Always learning.