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The Weirdness is Coming


Reprinted from InSights.ILN.org

The sprint is on for the final touches of  “WEIRD PAIRINGS ENGINEERED RANDOM COLLISIONS,” where 80 ILNers and friends will descend on Toronto for three days with our hosts, Saint Elizabeth and MaRS Discovery District.

Coffeehouses/Nursing (ANA), Firemen/Rugs (HealthPartners), Dining/Caregiving (Cincinnati Children’s), and many more will bring the magic from these strange collisions to life. Follow us from Oct 27 – 29 on Twitter:  #ILN15

Whether or not you can join (admittedly, we filled up fast!), we compiled a list of weird articles to get you thinking:

(Some) Takeaways on Innovation Capability Building


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?

An Americanized British Import


Full USAcd LogoIt 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 formed a “coalition of the willing” six months ago (August 2014) organized by the Innovation Learning Network to import NHS Change Day.

We crafted simple principles to move the work forward 4 months ago (October -2014):

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Import “as is”
  3. Make it grassroots
  4. Invite all

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.

 

The Titanic, Dinosaurs and Burning Platforms


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.

“We’re dinosaurs.”

“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.

 

 

ILN Insights Magazine: the Blurry (R)evolution Issue


Insights Vol.8

Get your Insights copy here ==>  goo.gl/1AOspQ

Director’s Message

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,

Chris McCarthy

#Healthcare, #FineArt and #Hockey


getty ilnAs 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.

The Lowly and Mighty #Anecdote


Once Upon A TimeThere 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.

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.

Enjoy!

The Paradox of Innovation and Structure


As innovation and design continue to move to the forefront of leaders agendas, the topic of who are the innovators and how do we find and develop them is becoming more and more important. Even more important is the exploration of the organizational structures put in place to foster and sustain them. And here is where the paradox starts to kick in; books, magazines, talks and anecdotes show us that organizational structures often stifle innovation and creativity. At TEDxBerkeley yesterday, several speakers indirectly pointed to this:

  • Carl Bass CEO of Autodesk believes that innovation is the result of individuals….it’s the individuals who break the rules. And create new ones.
  • Tapan Parikh of UC-Berkeley explained that the most innovative ideas came from “the people that no one wanted to talk to, the weird ones…on the edge doing their own thing.”
  • Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, said it best “innovators need moxie.” For those of you who don’t remember, moxie means “courage and aggressiveness; nerve.” (from Dictionary.com)

Combing these three perspectives: An individual on the edge, doing his or her own thing with moxie. Yes….that’s a great definition for an innovator. The trouble is that that this kind of person doesn’t fit most organizational structures. So if this is the paradox, then we need paradoxical structures. Structures that open up, rather than contain. Approaches that liberate, rather than corral. Direction that is intentionally wide and blurry, rather than unintentionally narrow and clear.

These paradoxical structures of course would not fit well for an entire organization (I have no proof, maybe it would!) but for the creatives, the innovators, and the moxi-fied weirds big organizations could be their home.

Improvement or Innovation?


I’ve been on the road for several years now sharing my journey in the world of innovation and some of the lessons i’ve learned along the way. Specifically on the infrastructure an organization puts into place to allow for continuous innovation. I call this the Infrastructure of Design. This blog is not about that, rather it is about one small piece that has triggered many questions and responses. Its the definitions I use to distinguish innovation from improvement. These definitions emerged through years “at it” and the opportunity to play in both worlds, and not from literature. They are practical. So here goes:

You are in the world of improvement when you fundamentally believe that what you have works. Hey you can always make something better, right?

You are in the world of innovation when you fundamentally believe that what you have is broken. (or are stuck on a plateau of non-improvement).

You WANT most of your world to fall in the improvement side of the house. It would be chaotic and expensive if everything were fundamentally broken. In fact you’d probably be out of business. Not everything needs innovating. Some things just need a few tweaks and some focused effort to bring it to the next level. In fact the solution may already be out there. Improvement is cheaper and faster than innovation.

However, SOME things do need innovation. For that a more focused, deeper effort is needed. You may not even know what the real problem is, nor have a clear path to a solution. This is the lovely, inefficient world of innovation. Inefficient because innovation required us to slow down and explore many possible avenues. Inefficient because you WANT innovators to try many ideas and combination of ideas until that magic combo yields a big valuable solution.

There are many organizations that do not separate the two (god love’em) and many that do (god love’em too). There is no right answer as to whether they should be combined or separated. However I, personally, do see great value in separation. Separation allows improvement people to deepen their skills at making the system better, faster. They are the optimizers in our systems.  For the innovators, it allows a deepening of the innovator skill set to tackle the fewer, but more complex challenges. They are the inventors in our systems.

This is not a judgement of ease. Both improvement and innovation are hard work, and each has effective tools and approaches. However it does help to steer organizational challenges to a starting point, knowing full well that they just might end up in the other camp. A good rule of thumb, when in doubt try improvement first.

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