Tuesday, 30 June 2009

It's the People, Stupid!

A few years ago I was working for a national organisation dedicated to innovation in healthcare delivery. The issue they wanted me to work on was to explore the reasons for failure in their customer organisations’ adoption of innovations and putting them to work. I was given a group of their experienced senior consultants in change management to work on this, using a creative approach involving the use of metaphor.

The top 3 solutions were frighteningly simple (which demonstrates the power of the technique):

1. Use the language of the user: try to introduce the innovation using the kind of language that the potential user understands, instead of consultant-speak which tends to alienate and trigger natural Not-Invented-Here behaviours.

2. Identify great benefits don't just apply to the customer of the service, but which also include benefits for the people applying the innovation.

3. Recruit individuals into your healthcare service who want to innovate, and make it clear that their role will involve continual improvement: the way we work will continually evolve.

This brings out an important issue, that if you recruit individuals who do not want to innovate, and who see innovation as someone else’s job, then you cannot be surprised at what you get. So maybe it isn’t about optimal processes, it’s about people. Having the right people with the right psychology.

1 comment:

Nick Milton said...

I don't think it's just the people, it's also the structure. There is something about the public sector which stifles innovation, and that "something" is a lack of empowerment. There are so many levels to go through before any change is agreed, and there is a risk of innate conservatism at many levels which can tend to result in innovative ideas being watered down and watered down until they lose their value.

There's a lot of really bright people in Healthcare, and in the prublic sector, but they lack the open empowering structure that would let them make a real difference.