Innovation often has a focus on tools, techniques and approaches. And while these are important building blocks, there are more nuanced ones that accelerate the path to impact. One of these is the innovation mindset. While we all have a “natural” mindset that is ours and ours alone, while it may be perfect for some parts of the innovation cycle, it can be detrimental to others.
For example, let’s assume your natural mindset is “operational” – one that is all about rapidly solving problems, optimizing your system, and putting out fires. Your team is in the earliest phases of an innovation project – trying to more deeply understand the challenge. An operational mindset will reduce the divergent and intentional wandering that the team must do in this phase. You, the leader, would be in unintentional conflict because of your natural mindset.
What to do? With focus and energy, we can temporarily change mindsets to match the phase of work. This is not natural and requires intention. But the leader only needs to hold the unnatural mindset for short periods of time – just long enough to be in sync with the team. One technique I’ve been using is an innovation meditation. It is designed to be used with a sponsor group, board or other advising body, and can be easily applied at the personal level as well.
It could feel risky to conduct a group meditation to the start of a leadership meeting. However, what is the risk of having a super-smart group of advisors who are unintentionally advising with the wrong state of mind?
And so, below is the meditation. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or even better, how it went adding in to your leadership practice.
The Innovation Leader’s Mindset Meditation
by Chris McCarthy
Take one deep breath and get comfortable in your meditative pose. Eyes open or shut, whatever you are most comfortable with. (pause 10 seconds)
Take two more deep, cleansing breaths. (pause 10 seconds)
Breathe naturally, except for the cleansing breaths when indicated…or whenever you feel like.
The Four Leadership Mindsets for Innovation are the strategic, the explorative, the generative and the operational. Each mindset powerful in its own way.
The Strategic – the blue sky, the big picture, seeing beyond the horizon. Take a breath and ponder the sophisticated Strategic mindset. (pause 15 seconds)
The Explorative – the curious, the deepening, the pushing past boundaries, wandering and wondering. Take another breath and ponder the ever inquisitive Explorative mindset. (pause 15 seconds)
The Generative – the crayons, the paper, the scissors and glue. It’s the “what if”s and the “Aha!”s. The desire for alternatives. Take another breath and ponder the playful Generative mindset. (pause 15 seconds)
Ahhh… And finally, the Operational – perhaps the most common and most maligned of the mindsets. The Devil’s Advocate, the realist, the analyst, the value-maker. Take another breath and ponder the brass-tack Operational Mindset. (pause 15 seconds)
The four mindsets: equal in need, equal in value, but rarely equal in expression.
Consider for a moment what is your natural mindset? (pause 5 seconds)
What mindset do you bring to this moment? (pause 5 seconds)
What mindset should you move to for today’s work? (pause 5 seconds)
Two more deep breaths. (pause 5 seconds)
We will each check-in with: “My mindset today is <fill in the blank>. And I am here and present.”
Open your eyes.
Who wants to go first?
Originally published on the UK Improvement Alliance blog
What would an “innovation learning network” for healthcare look like? Coming off of two successful years of co-launching an internal innovation group at Kaiser Permanente in 2005, it was time to build and connect to a larger community, and it was clear that to be successful, the network had to be different and valuable. The “value” piece emerged quickly in two of the three Innovation Learning Network pillars: 1) Share innovations across systems and 2) Teach innovation and design technique. These were important, valuable and obvious.
Read more here = > http://www.ukimprovement.co.uk/blog/threepillars
It comes down to the human experience, passion and real needs. My three takeaways from an evening conversation between Edward Boudrot of Optum, Adam Dole of Better and myself of KP’s Innovation Consultancy/ILN hosted by Continuum’s Augusta Meill in Boston on June 2.
(See Continuum’s Summary of the event here.)
Impressive was Edward’s exploration of people and empathy at Optum and his Fusion! method. One element is “building passion”, and how the very nature of connecting to the human experience is the call to action for change. Rapid change from rapid experimentation, causing a shift from old-fashioned product management to the more progressive experience management. He is pushing on virtuous cycles. His tip: Be tenacious for the possible.
Adam of Better fills a gap that most of healthcare refuses to adequately address. For a small fee, Better provides a personal health assistant to help navigate the complexity of getting, receiving and paying for care. Adam is optimizing the healing/wellness experience. He created a product that addresses a real deep need. I particularly love his singular focus of need and use of design to create a superior service. The first audience question was a concern that this would not be affordable to all. The real question, is why can’t mainstream healthcare deliver this? Until then, Better is here.
I explored how to accelerate innovation and uptake of ideas from a human-centered design lens; uniting design research and minimum specifications. For example, with our nurse shift change innovation, the tools used to discover the need were repackaged so that at each implementation the unit nurses could rapidly (re)discover the need for themselves. Then using minimum specs, they could jumpstart fitting the solution into their environment. It’s a longer upfront cost but tied to longer-term value as the solutions are stickier.
One point of clarification about employee innovation capability building trainings: organizations should not solely rely on this for transformation. It is a piece of the transformation puzzle. It does amp up improvement activities in a big way, and lays the foundation for participating in bigger change efforts. Paired with other puzzle pieces, like honest-to-goodness design teams, clear strategic direction, and end-to-end idea “mentoring”, the puzzle of innovation capability becomes clearer.
And so the evening ended with far more concordance than expected. Although, how can you go wrong with the human-experience as your focus, passion as your driver, and real needs as your compass?
There* was a palpable change in the room. The previous hour ILNers were transfixed in the School for Health & Care Radicals, exploring the differences between rebels and troublemakers. The discussion was fascinating: rebels have a natural energy of change, a “what can we do together?” attitude, and a greater good perspective. The troublemaker on the other hand is negative, grounded in “me”, and focused on success for their chunk of the world.
And then she said it. The “she” being none other than the NHS Chief Transformation Officer Helen Bevan. She made that statement that immediately became the mantra:
“Go for No.”
“What?!?” we all thought-gasped. Heads popped up; keyboards stopped clicking.
If you look at the big, audacious successes, they are built on a stockpile of “no”. No after no, planting seeds. No after no, chipping away at barriers. No after no, offering pivots. No after no, finding back alleys and back doors. No after no, until yes.
No is the indicator that you are provoking. No is the signpost that you are in a space others dare not enter. No is your pathway to Yes.
There was a palpable change in the room: junkyards of no transformed into treasures of no. And we felt… happy …and relieved.
And so, go for no. Keep on inNOvating.
*”Go For No “came from our Ninth Year of ILN InPerson Meetings. May 12 – 14, 2015, Centura Health and the National Health Service co-hosted 80 ILNers who explored how the everyday healthcare person can step up as a change thinker, change maker and change doer.
It was just over two years ago (in Dec 2012) that I heard that employees were pledging to make healthcare better. At the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Forum in Orlando, Helen Bevan of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) talked about being a healthcare radical. She shared that employees all over the NHS were committing to change and bringing their passion and ideas to life. Furthermore, NHS executives were celebrating and championing the ability and passion for change; instead of choosing the change that all employees would make.
It was a simple and novel approach. And I wondered how this would work in the United States. And over time, so did Tim Rawson, and Mike Lin…and Yasmin Staton and Claudia Perez. So too did Jim Rawson, Richard Corder, Debra Barrath, and Amy Woodrum…Along with Dina Piccoli, Josh Rutkoff…and….
We crafted simple principles to move the work forward 4 months ago (October -2014):
We jumpstarted and divvied the work 3 months ago (November 2014) splitting into technology, marketing and social, and resources.
And so just over two years ago from when I first heard about NHS healthcare employees pledging to make healthcare better, I posted my first pledge “to launch Change Day in the United States”.
Want to make your own pledge? Visit: http://usachangeday.org
And follow @USAChangeDay on Twitter.
Thank goodness for Peter Fuda. More on that in a moment.
For the past decade, the “sky is falling” change management approach seemed to be THE way. The sky did seem like it was falling, and it was a quick way to get employees and organizations to rally around a new concept, initiative or change. And it worked…for a time. But then the sky kept falling more and more, faster and faster, and with little fanfare the sky was perpetually falling. Without exception, gloom and doom ruled.
“It’s like trying to turn the Titanic.”
“Can we link this to a burning platform?”
If innovation is the breath of fresh air to build new, valuable stuff, the burning platform is the life-sucker that stole the joy. I wish I was the one smart enough to know this. But alas, it wasn’t until two years ago when my friends at the National Health Service Helen Bevans and Lynne Mayer (now at Ko Awatea) introduced the ILN.org to a poweful youtube video by a researcher named Peter Fuda. (Please watch it and share widely). He laid the foundation of moving from “burning platform” to “burning ambition.”
Now I have to admit one of my fabulous fails. Ten years ago I proudly used the burning platform metaphor, and didn’t even use it correctly. I thought a burning platform was an intensely important political issue (as in a plank in the Democratic platform). However I actually used the image of a real burning oil rig platform for the presentation. Indeed as most of you know the oil rig is the metaphor. And it’s a dark, scary, death-y one to boot.
And so, two years ago I stopped using it. Then lo and behold while teaching at an innovation event it reared its ugly, fiery head. An attendee shared and asked, “Fear is our motivator. How are we supposed to get stuff done if there isn’t a burning platform?”
Its a good question, and paraphrased, here is my response (knowledge courtesy of Fuda):
The “burning platform” is only a metaphor. Its not real. We are not on fire. We don’t need to jump off a real burning platform into the dark freezing ocean. It is a paradigm shift; an intellectual choice to view our current challenges from a different len and with a different metaphor. You can choose any lens or metaphors you want. But why are we so sure that fear is the only tool we have?
So let me say loud and clear:
We are not the dinosaurs.
We are not on the Titanic.
We are not on a burning platform.
Our asses are not on fire.
We are working really hard to make a difference in the lives of patients and the people who serve them.
We are making healing and wellness the best it can be.
We are doing this work with our hearts, minds and souls.
It’s our Burning Ambition, not a Burning Platform.
Thank you, Peter, for shattering this fear metaphor.
Don’t Forget the Humans (UX – 2010) explores the magic of being an internal design team. How human centered design can unleash and unlock new opportunities.
Don’t Forget the Organizations (MX – 2014): With success comes, new challenges and expectations. Sophisticated leaders are asking to democratize design and innovation. They are asking for deeper insight into gnarly challenges. They are asking to apply the design facilitation skill to meetings at large. And the list grows. Just exactly what do we want to be in our teenage years? We don’t know! But we hear the clamor, “Don’t Forget the Organization!”
Part 2 from 2014: Don’t Forget the Organization: http://vimeo.com/90917267
Part 1 from 2010: Don’t Forget the Humans: http://youtu.be/JFsswJrSEes
Get your Insights copy here ==> goo.gl/1AOspQ
I ended last year’s ILN director’s message with “The year ahead of us promises to be exciting and turbulent. If ever there was a time that innovation and design are needed, it’s now.” Little did we know how exciting and how turbulent, nor how much innovation and design are still needed. We spent most of the year with an anxious anticipation for the ACA Exchanges. And their launch was messy to say the least. Big change and big innovation are messy, but this also points to the lesson we all know well: fail early to succeed sooner.
So 2013 for the ILN was a year of experimentation, with little failures guiding us to bigger success. The Spring InPerson hosted by Boston University and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) is a great example. We learned from past meetings that the basic Open Space format is great, but there was something missing to jolt the work to the next level. And so, we added seed funding distributed by crowdsourcing. The jolt was felt. Via experimentation the theme of (R)evolution inspired three projects to move forward. You can explore one of these (r)evolutionary projects on page 80.
The experimentation continued with the Autumn InPerson co-hosted by the UCLA Institute for Innovation in Health and the Center for Care Innovations. This meeting’s experiment was size. Just how big can an ILN InPerson get and still be meaningful? Over 160 attendees proved that bigger is sometimes better. It also was fitting that our theme was Blur. Although it was intended to suggest the disappearing line between care and life (and wow, were there some cool ideas!), it also doubled as an inflection point for ILN InPerson Meetings. The ILN meetings are getting big. Do we constrain them or open them up? It’s blurry. There are no right answers. But we have some surprises in store for 2014 and 2015. Stay tuned.
And so here is to celebrating the blurry, the unknown, and the experiments; it’s where great things live.
Yours in innovation,
As a part of the InnovationLearningNetwork.Org InPerson Meeting in Los Angles this week, attendees split into a dozen groups and were set loose to hunt for insight and inspiration. My team and I found it at the Getty Museum exploring the evolving museum industry and its future. It was remarkable how similar its challenges are to healthcare…and how much we can learn from their experience. Nik Honeysett, its Administrator gave us the 101.
First of all, the industry changed “overnight”. For centuries, highly skilled curators would collect and interpret. And the public had only one option; go to the museum to see it. Then with little warning, the public got a voice via the internet. And the paradigm began a monumental shift: the public wanted new ways to see the collections, they wanted to talk about it, and they wanted to help influence it. The museums were not prepared for this voice, nor have most learned yet how to harness it fully; but they are learning.
Nik shared a story of a Canadian museum of fine art that attempted to crowdsource an exhibit. The public submitted and voted for a hockey exhibition – not exactly what the museum had in mind; or even in the genre of fine art. Although this was shared as crowdsourcing gone wrong, I can easily image a twist where the museum could have commissioned a series of oil paintings of hockey scenes; dragging in a whole new audience into their world.
Next technology seeped into the museums. Most often it was a random employee who just happened to know how to flip on a PC, they were the first museum technologists. Interestingly, museums were the first to bring touchscreens and hyperlinks to the public in 80’s. Not so bad for being homegrown. Recently there has been a shift to bring in trained technologist, but at the expense of “sullying” the inner museum world with those who did not rise through the ranks. Finally, new and interesting business models began to emerge. As most museums are not-for-profit, and have similar missions, rather than competing, they focused on cooperating. Deals like two venues for the price of one began to emerge. “Retail museums” began to appear as popup stores in downtown areas . And unique combinations like museum and DJs began providing new experiences for new crowds.
And so healthcare is not as unique as it perceives, and has much it can learn by simply going out into the world. I am certain that the other eleven groups found an equal amount of insight and knowledge in their LA exploration. Meanwhile, go to the museum; the inspiration is curated for you.
There is a mantra that I’ve been hearing: “No data without stories, and no stories without data.” At first blush, this sounds awesome. It honors the art of storytelling; elevating it to the powerful level of data. And it also helps the storyteller fully grasp the power of data; their stories now pack a powerful data-driven punch.
However those of us who live in the world of innovation, this mantra can be crippling. There often is little to no data to pair with the stories we discover. And many stories in the early phases of innovation work are just anecdotes. As the innovator accumulates knowledge and more anecdotes, opportunity areas start to emerge; and from opportunity, innovation springs.
And that is the conundrum. In a data driven world, the simple anecdote is looked down upon, but often is where the richest untapped insight exists.
“No stories without data, and no data without stories” is a great rule of thumb. But it is not a law. For the vast majority of what business does, this rule of thumb will keep us safe. But for the innovator, the company rule breaker, the anecdote is a mightly lens to view the system cracks and failings.
So this blog is dedicated to the lowly and often maligned innovator tool: the anecdote.
Use it well.
Use it wisely.