Lessons for the NHS…from Vincent Van Gogh

Improvement, Organisations No Comments

A friend recently went to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. She was hugely impressed by the work – and one thing in particular stood out. From the tour, she learnt how derivative Vincent Van Gogh’s work was, in some ways. His oeuvre wasn’t totally unique. He used and combined what he learnt over a short period of time in Paris.

He copied others, for example
– Delacroix in his use of a colour wheel for bold, almost clashing, contrasts.
– Romanticism for its use of texture
– Impressionism and pointillism for pixilation in composition

He added this to his use of a wooden perspective frame to help him get a sense of aspect that alluded him naturally, like the early masters.

He used others’ ideas and strengths – and yet he combined them into something unique and powerful.

He wasn’t afraid to ‘steal with pride’.

The English NHS has been in the news this week. As I have written before the desire to copy other people’s good ideas is at the heart of improvement. Those to learn from might be on the next shift or the next ward or the adjacent profession or the younger recruit or the older team member. Or maybe from far away: this piece  outlines some of the many things that could be creatively pursued in a ‘pick and mix’ – learn from elsewhere – fashion.


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