Changing forces within the healthcare landscape are eliciting a strong sense of urgency within the organization to both adapt to the evolving environment and seek new ways to innovate. Broadly speaking, innovation is a priority across many organizations. However, historically, the ability for organizations to innovate has been challenged by a number of factors:
Difficulty with innovation pull-through in silos (walled gardens)
Lack of formal / systematic decision making framework
Tendency to think about scalability before prototyping / testing
Attempts to solve for it all at once (scope creep, time, $, FTE)
Tendency to assume (rather than measure) success
Limited ability to encourage new ideas and big ideas
Limited investment of time and resources in transformation efforts
Unstructured, inconsistent approach for developing, testing, and implementing ideas
Tendency to take a “solutions in search of problems” approach
Difficulty balancing the need in meeting today’s business requirements vs. preparing for tomorrow’s possibilities
Given the challenges described, how then can organizations continue to leverage existing efforts yet become more rigorous about identifying and pursuing innovative ideas within the broader ecosystem and advance the organization in a unified way?
First and foremost, we must recognize that no one person, team or department in the organization owns innovation. Good ideas come from connectivity, cross-pollination, from borrowing/combining ideas and greenhousing (nurturing good ideas). High-value innovation efforts require deep customer insights from various sources, diverse groups of subject matter experts and strong cross-functional participation.
Second, we must agree then, that the problem worth solving is not one of ownership, but rather one of suboptimal awareness, limited partnerships (to foster innovation) and a lack of focus on high-impact ideas. In many cases, great ideas already exist, yet are not broadly shared or pursued. In other cases, significant resources are poured into projects and pilots that are not tied to long-term strategies or able to articulate the intended impact to the organization.
Third, we need to recognize that departments and the stakeholders they interact with, consists of collections of social networks. We know that the structure and function of social networks profoundly impacts to whom and how fast information travels. Networks are known to provide an information advantage where diverse networks drive performance by providing greater access to novel information. Therefore, the core problem may actually be related to a distributed system of innovation and the key question may be as simple as – how can you rally your organization in unison to focus on the complicated problems that matter most?