Connect, collaborate, transform: The importance of social networks


What makes a good life? Money? Health? Success? The truth may surprise you. The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. Running for 75 years and tracking over 700 people, the clearest message from the study is this: a good life is built with good relationships. People who are more socially connected to their family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than those who are less well connected.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is toxic. Those who are isolated are less happy, their physical health and brain function declines earlier and they live shorter lives than those who are well connected.

Our social networks clearly have a profound impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. So why in our work lives are relationships so often neglected? Why don’t we work together more collaboratively? And what’s stopping us from breaking down those professional and organisational barriers?

These were some of the questions explored during our immersive workshop,  ‘Connect, Collaborate, Transform’, at Health + Care this month. With a diverse group of leaders from across primary care, acute care and NHS England, we discussed how the Collaborate approach, based on generative listening, can take us from an ego-based model to a truly transformative eco-system, where everyone has an equal voice and new ideas can thrive. And it starts very simply: by taking the time to connect.

If you’d like to learn more about the value of close relationships for our health and happiness, you may be interested in the Ted talk below by study lead, Robert Waldinger: