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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Innovation Perspectives - Innovating a Health Care Fix

This is the seventh of several 'Innovation Perspectives' articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on 'What product or sector is in desperate need of innovation?'. Here is the next perspective in the series:

by Mark Roser

Innovation Perspectives - Innovating a Health Care FixIn looking across various sectors the area of healthcare stands out as a particular opportunity for innovation. And, regardless which side one takes politically, there is no doubt a surplus of opportunities for improvement. In the US, government healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid) together with private healthcare account for a significant percentage of GDP.

As professionals involved in open innovation, readers of this blog will no doubt bring a valued perspective on how we can deliver innovation in this space. Whether we work in the healthcare field or are simply consumers of healthcare, the lessons that we learn from open innovation collaboration are intrinsically required in innovating the future of healthcare.

Each health transaction is touched by a multitude of stakeholders:
  • Patients and their network - family members, caregivers, friends, etc.
  • Doctors (generalists and specialists) and their network - health technicians, clerical staff, reimbursement specialists representing the doctor, professional societies, etc.
  • Health institutions (hospital, medical center, practice, etc) and their network - administrators, IT specialists, physical plant & facilities management, etc.
  • Pharmacies and their network - pharmacist, pharmacists assistants, retail pharmacy operators, etc.
  • Pharmaceutical companies and their network - scientists, clinical experts, marketers, etc.
  • Payers (insurance companies or government body such as Medicare Medicaid) and their network - claims specialists, underwriters, administrators, customer service experts, etc.
  • Primary researchers (who develop new cures) - NIH, Universities, entrepreneurs, etc.
  • Educators - internet websites, magazines, professional development & continuing education, etc.
  • Regulators - FDA, etc.
  • Media - TV news, magazines, etc.

Classically, there has been a variety of silos that keep these parties separated. The silos were further reinforced because each silo had its own vocabulary and position within a cultural hierarchy.

As specialists in open innovation, we can be helpful by demonstrating ways in which collaborative efforts can be realized. Collaboration is quite a challenge; it requires that each of us - wherever we fit in the overall network - has a responsibility for being sufficiently self-aware that our universe is much bigger than our immediate circle. We have a responsibility to learn the language of the networks around us and understand that the current relationships that exist between silos are not set in stone, but rather a reflection of our history. We can see the weaknesses in the current system and instead of finding fault, we can find ways to bring people together.

By behaving in small ways, and demonstrating collaboration we become the change that we wish to see.

Regardless of your political views on healthcare, there is opportunity for us each to help.


You can check out all of the 'Innovation Perspectives' articles from the different contributing authors on 'What product or sector is in desperate need of innovation?' by clicking the link in this sentence.



Mark RoserMark Roser has been working with companies internationally for over 12 years to identify new markets, clarify product & service growth opportunities and lead exploratory development programs. He can be reached at mark.roser*at*openinnovators.com

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Innovation Perspectives - Fighting our Stereotypes

This is the second of several 'Innovation Perspectives' articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on "What roles do engineers and marketers play in an innovation setting, and what conflicts can arise based on their perspectives and approaches?" Here is the next perspective in the series:

by Mark Roser

Stereotype of a MarketerPeople interested in the topic of new product development and innovation are likely already familiar with many aspects of bringing technologists together with marketers. There is no shortage of opportunities for both groups to take credit for success but lay the blame for product problems with the other group.

Having studied marketing at Wharton while getting my engineering degree at the University of Pennsylvania, I was fortunate to start my career seeing how both types speak about the other.

Engineers can caricaturize marketers as talkative, image-sensitive, fashionistas who are more interested in socializing than in working. Marketers can caricaturize engineers as dull, narrow-minded techies who buy generic shampoo and could use a change in wardrobe.

These age-old stereotypes are quick to point out the whimsical notions of our varied personalities, but rarely speak to the value of what each of us can truly contribute.

Innovation programs can only succeed when a diverse set of skills, ideas and capabilities are brought together. If two people think the same way on a team, one of them is redundant. Yet, though we all logically know this, we often find it a challenge to feel comfortable working with people who are different from us.

If these assumptions are true, then we see that the success of innovation is related to a team's capacity to endure discomfort.

Discomfort can arise from many points of difference:
  • Ownership of the product - Who gets to prioritize the specifications?

  • Organizational boundaries - Who holds more turf?

  • Ego structure - Where do we find self-worth?

  • View of the client - Am I able to see the world through others' eyes?

  • Language - Do I speak the same language? (Jargon, idioms, private jokes)

  • View of technology - What features are possible, are required?

  • Sense of urgency - When do we need results?

  • View of success - Is success measured by revenue, by engineering marvel?

Solving these differences is not something that can be addressed in a one-page article. But, the solutions to each of these challenges requires three foundational elements:
  • A willingness to accept a level of discomfort, knowing that it is a required part of the game of innovation (New ideas, new people, new personalities, new thinking)

  • A willingness to be a model of tolerance for others' thinking, knowing that if we are open to others, they will be more likely to be open to us (and conversely if we step on others ideas or solutions, they will step on ours)

  • A willingness to be stewards of the customer's best interest and to hold the customer's needs as a higher priority than any conflict between us and others on the team

Through these three fundamental steps, teams grant each other a safe place where differences can become strengths and not just irritants.


You can check out all of the 'Innovation Perspectives' articles from the different contributing authors on "What roles do engineers and marketers play in an innovation setting, and what conflicts can arise based on their perspectives and approaches?" by clicking the link in this sentence.



Mark RoserMark Roser has been working with companies internationally for over 12 years to identify new markets, clarify product & service growth opportunities and lead exploratory development programs. He can be reached at mark.roser*at*openinnovators.com

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Innovation Perspectives - An Innovation Progression

This is the fifth of several 'Innovation Perspectives' articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on "Where should innovation reside?" Here is the next perspective in the series:

by Mark Roser

Looking for InnovationHaving consulted in the new product and innovation areas of major pharmaceutical companies and commercial transportation companies over the past 12 years, and in R&D for the 10 years prior, I have seen several variations of how innovation has been 'owned' within organizations.

The finding I would like to share is that the treatment of innovation by companies follows a progression, and as companies mature, their treatment of innovation also matures. 'How' an innovation group is owned appears to be much more important than 'where' it is owned.

For companies that consider themselves early in adopting an innovation discipline, the notion of innovation can be foreign. In order for the idea of innovation to be accepted within the organization, ownership is often centrally contained within a small group of enthusiastic souls who have stood out as having an interest in the topic; Whether they are in engineering, research, HR or an off-shoot of a quality initiative - the group tends to be isolated and on the political fringe of the organization. But, at least it is now inside the body of the organization. This is great news.

If the group remains active over the first couple of years, innovation language and approaches will spread across the organization. This diffusion of innovation language and stories within the company will be related to the number of activities that the innovation group can sponsor versus the size of the organization. For example: if the group can host a significant number of brainstorming events, idea challenges, innovation team building training, and empathic customer insight visits, then the stories from these events will spread. The larger the organization, the more active the group must be. Diffusion will also be related to the perceived success of these activities. Did an idea that was offered in a brainstorm ever survive? Did a response to an idea challenge get proper review, and did the reviewers acknowledge the submitter? Did senior leadership venture out to meet with patients or customers? The perceived success of the events will determine the tone of the conversations that result from the events.

Thus, the ownership of the innovation group is still within the small group, but the diffusion of knowledge and language of innovation has now started to foster a network of engaged colleagues. Stories get shared about innovation. The influence of the group blossoms. If the group survives, then the ownership of the activities of innovation starts to become decentralized.

Innovation Group GrowthAs the group matures further, the question of innovation ownership within the company becomes less associated with the group, and more associated with each individual within the organization. Just as quality must be everyone’s job, and just as everyone has a stake in the company's profitability - mature companies have employees who recognize that growth is everyone's role. They also realize that it is a no-no to interfere with teams that are trying to grow new products and markets.

Ownership of innovation may still be within the same hierarchical position, but now the group defines itself as a center of excellence that helps the organization to keep pushing its own limits, growing its innovation capabilities and exploring new territory.

In summary:
  • How innovation is owned is more important than where it is owned

  • The networks that the innovation group establishes are critical to its success and its early success is critical to establishing viable networks

  • Early in the game, innovation ownership is centered within the locus of the innovation group; in this phase, the innovation group is very active in hosting brainstorms, sponsoring research with patients and customers, developing metrics for portfolio spend on new products & new markets, developing an internal language of innovation, educating colleagues.

  • Successful innovation groups find internal clients and ramp up activity, which leads to organizational awareness of innovation, acceptance of the approach and the diffusion of internal innovation lingo and success stories

  • Many groups never get to a critical mass of activity to develop beyond their initial remit

  • For groups that do evolve, late in the game, the ownership of innovation activity becomes decentralized, and the innovation group defines itself as owning the center of excellence for innovation knowledge and development

  • With innovation being a hot topic these past few years, the role of the innovation group is to continually pilot new methods, grow its network of influence, learn from failure and support new thinking

You can check out all of the 'Innovation Perspectives' articles from the different contributing authors on "Where should innovation reside?" by clicking the link in this sentence.



Mark RoserMark Roser has been working with companies internationally for over 12 years to identify new markets, clarify product & service growth opportunities and lead exploratory development programs. He can be reached at mark.roser*at*openinnovators.com

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