How can you create a culture of innovation in your organization? Why is it so hard to get people to become more innovative, creative and capable problem solvers? When Andrea Simon, Ph.D., Founder and President of Simon Associates, found herself repeatedly being asked these questions, she decided to share her years of knowledge and experience in an article recently published by Fierce Healthcare, “3 steps to create a hospital culture of innovation.”
“Times are changing, and to make new ideas actually happen, people need to ‘see, feel and think’ in new ways―those elusive innovations,” Dr. Simon writes. “Healthcare changes push hospitals and providers to rethink their core values, beliefs and behaviors: the essential elements of their culture.”
As a corporate anthropologist. Dr. Simon specializes in helping companies change, and in her work out in the field, she sees a lot of culture change taking place, both intentionally and serendipitously, as people adapt their habits and beliefs to better align with new situations. For old-line organizations where management typically knows best, the idea of creating an innovative culture is a big challenge, she has observed. Many businesses claim that they’re all about innovation, but when you get down to it, Dr. Simon poses, how will you know when an idea truly is innovative and will work?
As a solution, Dr. Simon offers these three steps for transforming an outdated, “stuck” company culture into a more innovative one:
- It’s all in the story. Get your people to tell a story that shifts the undesirable of today into the desirable of tomorrow. Storytelling begins the process. Have your team tell you stories about what they do to solve a particular problem or get a job done. Then ask them to envision how they would prefer to get different results or have a different way of solving those problems in the future.
- Set up practice session where you can create small wins. Once you have your team starting to tell you the new story, they need to identify how they will know that the changes and innovations are working as they had imagined. We call these small wins―and you will need a lot of them! Think of them as practice exercises, and make sure the new clearly is preferential to the old.
- “More of, Less of” is a simple, often overused, but highly effective method for scoping out innovation and getting team commitment to changes that must take place. What will you really do more of and less of? The exercise of “More of, Less of” is well suited for a re-write and re-design of the solution you are working on.
The most successful companies are managed by people who understand that they need some of each of these types of cultures, Dr. Simon reasons. “Too much rigor and rules limit an organization’s ability to innovate and compete,” she writes. “Entrepreneurs with too many ideas struggle to convert them into innovations, and too much concern for collaboration interferes with achieving results. Not surprisingly, the best balance is around the middle.”
An excellent primer for how to create a true culture of innovation, Dr. Simon’s article motivates anyone in healthcare to go get innovating!
To read Dr. Andrea Simon’s Fierce Healthcare article in its entirety, click here.