I recently read an article titled, “Memo to CEO’s: Stop Blathering About Innovation and Do Something.” As you can imagine, this got me thinking about what we do at Inova to encourage innovation. After all, I want to be sure we are creating an innovative culture and not just blathering about it!
And I can confidently say, yes, Inova does indeed have a long history of creating a culture centered on learning opportunities, listening to all view points and openness in order to foster creativity and innovation. From our earliest days, our founders knew the importance of taking what works and looking for better ways of doing things. As the population grew, we continued to anticipate the needs of the community by growing our services and investing in new technology. Without this history, we would have no heart transplants; the Fairfax campus would have only 282 beds and we would have a blood shortage.
At previous Inova Leadership Institutes we learned from racing pit crews, Seattle Pike Place Fish mongers, Walt Disney cast members, Ritz Carlton ladies and gentleman and so many more. We’ve learned the importance of dropping the, “but this is the way we do it here” and replaced it with open listening skills to hear how new hires did things in their previous careers. It is looking at the broad picture with open minds that allow us to continue to create new best practices every day and view things as opportunities rather than problems.
Our Lean teams are sending colleagues to the Gemba, which is a Japanese word meaning “the real place.” The Gemba is where learning occurs. As we design our new facility spaces, we are creating mock rooms made out of foam core and cardboard boxes. Our nurses, technicians and just about everyone can get a feel for the layout of the space and comment on what works well and what doesn’t work well. Electricians may forget that many nurses aren’t six feet tall and they install switches and outlets too high. Design experts may like the flow of counters horizontally and a lab tech may come along and point out that he could easily save an hour walking everyday if the counters faced vertically.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s master innovator, was so detail oriented that he involved himself not only in the business side of making computers, iPhones and iPads, he helped design Apple’s buildings as well. It was his belief that some of the most creative ideas and excitement for projects came from casual conversations. One of the last buildings he helped design encourages such interactions by having all offices flow into a central atrium. Here it was more likely for, “Hey Jane, watchya working on?” conversations to take place. Job’s goal was always to make his products “insanely great,” no matter the obstacle.
And this is how Inova has always felt about serving our community. We invest not only in technology and new buildings, but in our teams that provide our “insanely great” services. Next month a few members of my team signed me up to visit an architecture firm to learn about “Design Thinking,” where they encourage folks to “stop talking and start making.” So, I’ll stop blathering now and end by asking for you to share ways that you and your teams foster creative thinking and innovation!