I’ve got one simple question for you – who is responsible for innovation in your organisation? If your instinctive response was to point to one individual, or to the design & development team then you may innovate but you certainly don’t have an innovation culture. Well done all those who said that every employee in the organisation has a part to play but I’m afraid that although you have made an important start you still have some way to go. You want to add suppliers, partners and in some fields of business even competitors, to the mix? That’s a good idea but there is still further to go yet; in fact there is one important element which should have been at the top of your list and that is the customer.
The next wave of innovation is now about creating exceptional customer experiences. Going further, innovation is a bi-product of being exceptional and if you don’t include the customer in the innovation design and planning mix then how do you know that what you are doing is the right thing? Over in America, the Mayo Clinic Centre for innovation understands this concept only too well. In a report on the AAMC website last year the centre’s director, John Wood, summed up its ethos. Explaining that the clinic’s researchers don’t just ask patients questions, they embed themselves in the patient’s experience; John Wood said;
“Change begins with the patient. In fact, patients are often intimately involved in creating the innovations that come from the centre.”
This idea of extended collaboration is not an easy concept to grasp though for organisations which have traditionally operated as a closed shop inside which even departments stand-alone. When we talk about organisational change, about adopting a culture of innovation, we generally think about the changes required to infuse innovation throughout the organisation. So we talk about teamwork, about moving away from a silo mentality, about collaboration and about internal reorganisations. And yes, all these are necessary; but if we carry out all this work with no concept of the mass interactions between our organisation and the wider world then, quite frankly, we are wasting our time.
Perhaps it is easier for organisations in some areas of business to grasp the ideals of extended collaboration. In fields such as medicine where innovations could save lives, it is common for best practices to be shared. Organisations such as the Mayo Clinic exist to research and advance patient care and to disseminate best practice. But even in the field of medicine, the stories which have emerged over the last few years from our own NHS show how far the patient’s needs can be from day to day practice. New ideas such as sending out appointment reminders by text are touted around as ways to save the NHS the cost of missed appointments. But if the patients were truly involved in their treatment, if solutions were designed first and foremost with the patient in mind, then no-shows would not be an issue.
If the idea of collaboration is so hard in fields such as health, how much harder is it for organisations in which the vast majority of employees never come into contact with the end user? How many of the scandals which have beset our financial services industry recently would have even got off the drawing board if the ethos and practices of the banks had been designed in collaboration with and for customers?
So who is responsible for innovation in your organisation? Perhaps it is time to think again!
Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and you’ve got a question, ask Cris on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crisbeswick.com for more information.