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Insights 2011 – a recap of all things ILN

Each year, my organization the Innovation Learning Network compiles a “best of” from the previous 365 days. I am thrilled to share this work with you. Highlights include:

  • gamification
  • analogous observation
  • care in 2031
  • a few cool tools for research and group interactions

The PDF is free (and green!); however if you would like a hard copy, you may order it here.


Touch the Insight Part 2

The wait is over.

Here is the long promised conclusion to Touch the Insight. Recall, that that posting was about an attempt to use physical prototyping not to get to a solution but to better understand the complexities in a challenge.  And I happy to report that it was not a flop.  Turns out that prototyping insights is not that different than prototyping solutions.  The main difference is the mental acrobats the design team performs in order to craft prototypes that give the sense of the insight.  The best prototypes were the ones that used analogies. For example we compared one of our work process against traditional mopping (difficult) and the Swifter (mopping made easier).   This allow the participants to consider how might we make our difficult process more Swifter-like.

Most remarkable, was the rich and often heated conversations that the prototypes generated.  Both are important elements.  It is in the deep discussions that real meaning is discovered allowing the insights to move to the action level.  The participants who played with the prototypes (and together) were more connected more deeply.

Our Insight Prototypes are becoming a “Mars Rover” of sorts; they were designed for two 1-day immersions.  However by popular demand they are lasting far beyond that original intention by a magnitude of at least 2 and up to 10. And that brings us to the final learning on prototyping insight: build for durability.  It does not need to be indestructible, but should be usable for a period of time longer than you think.

So here the top learnings:

1)   Analogies are awesome for insight prototyping (see first paragraph)

2)   Flow is REAL important. Ensuring participants move through the insights at a thoughtful pace must be planned for

3)   Good insight will challenge convention.  And when experienced en mass, healthy confrontation can occur.  Be prepared for emotional exchanges, and be prepared to capture them.  We used large stickers that participants could write their thoughts and then stick to the exhibit.

4)   Build the prototypes to last longer than you think. (see last paragraph)

5)   Build the prototypes for easy setup and take down.  (this, we did not do)

The Big Bold Future


Wow. The Autumn 2011 Innovation Learning Network InPerson Meeting was a chaotic magical dream state. I am not quite sure if I’ve woken back up. 150 innovators and leaders from around the country gathered to build the future of healthcare. The theme was complex yet simple: connected health. And it encompassed broad reaching policies and deep, yet to be developed technologies.

We sent the innovators on an innovation safari on Day 1 to fifteen extraordinary SFBay organizations. We exposed them to 10 super cool technologies and concepts in a progressive lunch (we paired finger foods with technology…and wow was that a cool way to learn!). And then we gave six hours to brainstorm and prototype healthcare in 2031.

From SmartBathrooms and SmartSupermarkets, to a Healthcare Political Party and friendly cloud computing the future were as brilliant as they were diverse. All gave us a glimpse of what we know is to come.

Now the hard work: dragging 2031 as fast as we can to the present. Our innovators will coalesce around the most promising ideas, the ones were passion is high and collaboration is needed….and do something about it. Stay Tuned!!

Finally a special thanks to my home Kaiser Permanente and to my dear friends the California Healthcare Foundation. We co-hosted and sponsored this event.

Touch the Insight Part 1

We’re trying something totally new (for us) and totally cool (to us). Rather than prototyping solutions (which is the norm), we are prototyping insights. Same pathway, very different outcome. Solution pathways are meant to solve the problem or create new business opportunities. Insight pathways are meant to assist an organization in deeply understanding the issues they face.

Insights are pieces of the design puzzle and come early in a project. They are what drive opportunity identification, ideation and “solution” prototyping. But what if the problem is so complex, so gnarly, so diffuse that even understanding the insights are challenging? Insight prototyping breaks down this complexity and allows the organization to play, ponder, and plunder the insight; stretching and twisting them into first self meaning, secondly group meaning, and finally  organizational meaning.  They are designed to foster deeper discussion and smarter action, and reduce simplistic reaction.

Now with all this praise for insight prototyping, we’re literally prototyping it. And so far so good.

So this blog is a tease.  You will have to come back for Part 2 to see if this technique is a flop, success, or something in between.  We debut our insight prototypes next week…..

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