The Innovation Bulb

The Innovation Bulb

Lucien Engelen 19/03/2019 4

In one of the chapters of my recent book "the end of the beginning", I elaborate on the need process and flow for real innovation to happen.

I want to share the bigger picture behind it with you over here. Having been challenged many times in project we ran, I can clearly see a pattern, also in the uptake of numbers of posts, articles, investments, and research being done. While mostly the out-called barriers are 'money', 'technology', 'government' or 'the board' the elephant in the room is 'us'. It's us whole are the real problems blocking change, although we all want change, almost nobody really wants to change their work, their behavior and certainly not their job. In reality, it is often the 'other department' that has to change, because 'we' are doing the stuff correctly. 

Where innovation is often seen as the solution to many of our problems it actually often distract from facing the real problem: culture. Most people have no need for change, the actual benefit from the status quo and want to keep it that way. So if there is no need or a 'burning platform', it comes to the will of people to change or from the leadership painting a horizon that people want to be part of. The vision of the horizon needs to be supported by strong authentic leadership securing that horizon as the way to go and make subsequent decisions into that path. That requires a layer of strategy that people can adhere to, brief, compelling and with simple logic. The majority of the strategic plans require tons of 'artistic lingo' to explain what we do and why we do it, that the bulk of the people cannot buy into. To innovate you need a clear pathway and model you can use. I often describe innovation into three phases : (creating) awareness (by show and tell), (doing the) groundwork (for more solid scaling) and (creating) breakthroughs (by making it the new normal). I will get back to that in one of the upcoming posts.

Once that has been in place it comes to the real challenge; the culture to make the horizon happen. This comes not easy and should NOT be part of your innovation process, but should've happened long before. It is part of your HR approach, of your leadership, the training and also. Often is see companies struggle during an innovation process, with a backlog of work on the aspects of 'trust', 'feeling valued', and lack of a clear vision. Culture is an ongoing part of your business and should in no way be the reason to start an innovation process. Innovation, however, can help supporting cultural change, if played right.

And lastly, often greatly overestimated is processes and technology. Even though I use technology often as my 'trojan horse' (boys and girls still like toys) to me it never has been the goal, but nothing more than a tool. Some colleagues of mine try to change healthcare & medicine by doing research, or improving the quality & safety my approach is through innovation supported by the technological opportunities of this era. 

One of the things that strikes me over and over is that after a successful innovation the final step to 'kill' the old way we were doing things, or the old technology is kept alive. While giving the laggards a choice and a tool to avoid working through the new normal, we also 'punish' the ones fiercely working and using what has been achieved. My call is therefore over and over to next to the innovation team create a 'demolition team" that clears away our old 'habits' and perhaps puts them in a special room to conserve to later put in a museum. You know, things like a fax, paper records, and email (just kidding ?

What do you think of this metaphor of the Innovation Bulb? Would love to hear your feedback so I can improve the model and the narrative about it, prior to incorporating it in the next book and articles.

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  • David Bevan

    This makes you wonder about the potential of the Universe

  • Andrew T

    You got me hooked, I want to read your book so badly !!!

  • Ian Button

    Simply brilliant

  • Jude Arevalo

    I like your ideas

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Lucien Engelen

Chief Health(care) Optimist

It is at the intersection of technology and patient empowerment, which is where Lucien Engelen (1962), director of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre REshape Center and advisor to the Board of Directors (since 2007) feels most at home. The two worlds combined into the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Singularity University in Silicon Valley & the Netherlands and in the Nordics, his modus operandi is always challenging, sometimes provocative but always techno-realistic. Writing on a new book that will be titled "Augmented Health(care)™ : The end of the beginning" (May 2018, Barcelone Spain) as he thinks we're at the end of an era of creating awareness, pilots, proof of concepts etc in the digital transformation of health(care). More on that on, his Linkedin Page has over 750.000 followers. He is Faculty Global Health(care) & Medecine since 2011 at Singularity University's Exponential Medicine in the US and in the Netherlands.

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