Digital & Technology

Harnessing the power of all: Managing the people side of innovation

By David Schneider, and Alyssa Tsenter

Aug. 18, 2023 | Article | 3-minute read


Legacy healthcare companies are in the midst of technological upheaval. The rise of generative AI, advanced analytics and other technology hyperscalers demand more than sticking to an old playbook. Innovation is not just an option; it’s a necessity to remain relevant.


In fact, a recent IBM report has shown that organizations that embrace open innovation enjoy a staggering 59% higher revenue growth rate compared to those that don’t. So, how can healthcare companies drive open innovation and harness the full potential of their workforce?

Shattering innovation islands

Unlike native digital companies, legacy healthcare companies face a unique challenge. Innovation isn’t ingrained in their DNA. They were not created for one-day-per-week innovation schedules or quarterly hack weeks. While some pockets of innovation exist within these organizations, most employees are confined to maintaining the core business. They’re underutilized in areas related to innovation and creativity.


But here’s what leaders miss: these employees have invaluable knowledge, customer insights, operational know-how and the potential for groundbreaking ideas.


In a world where six of 10 employees are quiet quitting and one of the most common drivers for looking for a new job is the opportunity to develop and grow, driving innovation can help boost employee engagement in addition to company revenue.


Coaxing the inventor from the employees who focus on the core business is challenging, but it can be done. The key is to use tactics that boost engagement and provide employees with the skills, motivation and recognition to think beyond their daily work.


Here are four steps to help you on this journey:


Leadership: Guide innovation

Leadership is the compass that steers the ship of innovation. Senior leaders can set the course for their teams by demonstrating the behaviors they expect through immersive experiences, workshops and hackathons and by showcasing tangible applications and relevant technology. It’s not just about excitement; it’s about translating ideas into action. Leaders must connect the dots between what’s possible with innovative technologies and their team’s, company’s and customers’ needs. That’s how innovation becomes a priority.


Education: Empower the innovators

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to innovation. A digital upskilling approach is vital. First, equip employees with technical know-how and domain understanding of future healthcare trends, data literacy, emerging technologies and more. But don’t stop there. Next, train them to think like innovators. Teach orthogonal thinking, how to overcome cognitive biases, the art of storytelling and more. Education, clear approaches and frameworks can help funnel latent innovation energy in all of us into meaningful business impact.


Events: Create the innovation playground

Knowledge prepares people to act. To transform knowledge into action, however, organizations must provide a playground for innovation. Hands-on hackathons, innovation field trips and dedicated time and space for innovation breathe life into ideas. They fuel participants’ enthusiasm and inject inspiration into their daily routines. These pattern-interrupt moments can also inspire fresh thinking about how to reach strategic imperatives and reshape growth.


Celebration: Share the limelight with scalers and inventors

Every innovation journey has its heroes. Celebrate them loudly. Recognize and applaud the inventors whose ideas shine brightly. But don’t forget the unsung heroes—the scalers.


These individuals bring ideas to life by refining and scaling them for widespread use, creating value for the enterprise. They are the backbone of innovation, turning ideas into reality. After all, smallpox vaccines were invented several times before they were finally scaled enough to stick around. Celebrating the scalers just as loudly as the inventors will emphasize that an idea is a great milestone, but not the end of the journey.


Legacy healthcare companies must embrace open innovation and empower every employee to become an innovator to thrive in the fast-paced world of healthcare. By unleashing their potential, these companies can create a culture of innovation that propels them forward. It’s time to unleash everyone’s skills to revolutionize healthcare.


Interested in driving grassroots digital innovation in your organization? Contact David Schneider and our digital team to schedule an innovation consult.

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