It really wasn’t that bad. Not nearly as rough as I predicted. And THAT is a damn good reminder about the nature of change. Planning for it, thinking about it, and worrying about it are the painful parts. Going though it is almost mechanical. And reflecting on it in the past tense is almost always a non-event [yawn].
One year ago, I left behind a 20-year journey through the twisty, beautiful and strange halls of Kaiser Permanente. It was where I found my calling, nurtured my passions, and made a difference in the world. Towards the end, I was on a plateau of doing/making really cool shit. Those last few years were executed with a tried and true algorithm of cracking tough challenges into high-value solutions.
The truth is, I thought about a change as I approached the plateau, that place where you’re just leaving the curve of acceleration for THE peak – but why screw around with THAT success? Eventually the itch to see more – experience more –
got the best of me, and so I accepted a challenge at the amazing Hopelab. Those last few months at KP were hard. Was I making the right choice? Could I repeat or recreate “cracking tough challenges”? Who would I be if not a Kaiser Permanente design leader?
The first few months at Hopelab were strange. It felt like I was on assignment from my old world – trecking to a new city, working with a client, and at some point down the road I’d be going home. And every day my identity shifted a little here, a little there. A great week, followed by a tough day, then an amazing retreat, and an interpersonal bump, then a beautiful series of strolling meetings, a mini-set back, and a great leap forward.
One year later, I am riding the curve again. I don’t really know when it happened – 4 months, 8 months, 9 months? – but there was that gentle acceleration of thinking, contributing and making that feels like you’re catching a wave.
Yep, riding the curve and loving it.
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.