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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,
Networking. It’s a dirty, soulless word. Images of either stiff suits passing out business cards OR of data flowing across wires is conjured to the mind. Lets take the first image: the suits. Back in college I remember my university setting up networking events, and they were always the same; dressing up in a suit and tie and wandering around meeting people. It was a crap shoot. Rarely did any real connection ever get made. The second image is the data network: information flowing across circuits. This is closer to the purpose of networking so that data does flow, and freely.
As the founder of the Innovation Learning Network I was invited to give a tips and tricks of building a network last week to 150 of the nation’s top healthcare innovators at an event sponsored by the Federal Government. They were pretty shocked when I spent most of my time redefining the word. Really what networking means is building friendships. It means making real connections with real people by breaking bread, by asking about lives, talking about vacations and THEN exploring work. Dozens of the meeting attendees came up to say that they hadn’t thought of networking in that way. I blame MBA schools for this. They have stripped the humanity from a deeply human endeavor.
No sooner did I complete the DC talk, I found myself sitting on my United flight back to San Francisco reading the latest issue of Fast Company, and was floored by perhaps the most soulless new word: networthless: Any conversation you have at a conference that doesn’t involve networking, selling or closing. Do not make the mistake of making normal small talk. I love Fast Company and am a printed subscriber, and believe me that says a lot! But the word is an even baser variant of the word networking. Now it’s considered a waste of time talking to someone if they don’t increase your immediate value. How incredibly shortsighted!
We’re not robots who are data mining. We’re people who are multidimensional and deeply complex. Celebrate this, and you will find yourself at amazing dinners, tasting new wines, laughing about old exes, AND making a connection to get your latest idea launched. Life is sweet, and the most unexpected, serendipitous moments are the sweetest.