Adoption of Innovation and Improvement Practices

Pivotal Resources Blog: Innovation and Improvement

In May and June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the awardees for Health Care Innovation. The awards provide funding for the implementation of projects whose objectives are to deliver better health, improve care and lower costs for people in Medicare. These innovations will, hopefully, address the ongoing rise of costs and the fragmented care system that results in less than optimal outcomes and patient dissatisfaction. The issue of successful implementation is core to producing an innovation in care. As authors Peter Denning and Bob Dunham call out in their groundbreaking book The Innovator’s Way, “The real work of innovation is not the invention of a new product or service, but in getting people to adopt it.”

We often use the term innovation to describe an idea, service or product so new or radical that it redefines entire industries. But while a new idea or product may offer an attractive alternative to the current organizational standard, it still must be successfully integrated into an already existing network of commitments, structure and people in order to create a sustained change in practice. A new idea or clever product that doesn’t “stick” is simply a novelty.

Getting a new idea or practice implemented into everyday use is no simple matter; success rates of innovations are notoriously low. Innovation means change, and change means resistance from those who are threatened or see no value in it. But, to overcome this resistance – and greatly improve its chances for success – we can utilize proven tools and methodologies developed from continuous improvement and change management disciplines.

By utilizing a Change Roadmap, the innovation stands a far better chance of being accepted. The roadmap offers a methodology for the team to generate a work plan with clear activities and purpose whereby they can gain buy in (and feedback) from stakeholders – and define how the innovation’s “story” will best be told. The story should readily show users how the innovation fits with business strategy and the organization’s mission, vision and values.

A good Change Roadmap provides key steps to follow and will allow the innovation team to address each need for success in a systematic way. High-level steps in the roadmap address the need to:

  • Have a solid Plan that will define the innovation and how it aligns with business strategy, identify the team and assess readiness for change
  • Further Refine the plan to develop a vision, build a compelling business case, and create stakeholder communications strategies 
  • Align business activities and Implement the innovation utilizing a pilot to assess further needs before full rollout
  • Sustain the effort by establishing critical measures and creating reporting mechanisms that reveal further needs for success, including the impact and rate of adoption into everyday use
  • Expand the innovation by analyzing and learning from efforts to date, and build further organizational capability

By not including the dynamics of organizational change necessary to gain buy in of a new idea, product, process or service, many organizations have done a lot of good work that goes to waste. If we begin thinking about how to foster the adoption of a new idea, rather than focusing on the invention of it, our ability to utilize those ideas to our – and our customer’s – advantage will be improved dramatically.

About Steve Dorn

Steve Dorn, Director of Client Strategy, Pivotal Resources Inc., is responsible for helping Pivotal clients achieve their change objectives by outlining the most effective mix of solutions to deliver short and long-term results. A seasoned consultant and manager, he has strong expertise in helping leaders and organizations tackle critical strategic and tactical business problems.
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