Isn’t it everybody’s job to drive innovation?

Friday, February 21, 2020 |
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
There’s constant talk of the lack of innovation in the UK healthcare system, but that’s not true – people across the NHS are innovating constantly. After all, innovation is as much about spreading new ideas and processes as it is introducing something as revolutionary as CAR-T. However, what is common is that proven ideas and innovations are not easily discovered by those who can benefit from using them.

There have been recent calls for the NHS to introduce Chief Innovation Officers into every Trust to tackle the problem of slow innovation uptake. I’ll admit, upon first seeing the Association of the British Health HealthTech Industries’ #ItsNobodysJob campaign, I was a little cynical – isn’t it everyone’s job to innovate? After all, some of the world’s largest technology companies don’t believe in Chief Innovation Officers – it’s in everyone’s job description as it's seen as a process that requires collaboration. My initial view was that if you make it one person’s job to drive forward innovation, others will perceive it as a done deal “that’s Jasmine’s job, let’s just crack on with ours”. Combine with that some of the online backlash “We don’t need yet another senior NHS salary to pay, we want more nurses!” and the counter-argument seems compelling.

However, after debates with my fellow BOBers, my view was changed. After all, the NHS is not a flashy tech company with spare cash for people to sit and ‘think’. They’re trying to keep people alive while also meeting CQC targets and completing hordes of paperwork. Most people want to do good; they want an easier and more effective way of doing things. But making changes is not always easy. This is particularly true when starting something from scratch, often leading that work to being driven to the bottom of the pile. So, if there’s such a need for it then why is it so difficult to read and share about successful innovation uptake?
  • People are busy with little incentive to find the time to share their stories
  • Experience and evidence of adopting new ideas and innovations are published haphazardly and are hard to find
  • Published case studies lack instructions and guidance for others to replicate
  • Individuals move on to new organisations and the learning is lost
With all this in mind, I find myself backtracking on my ideas of an innovation utopia – having an innovation lynchpin within an organisation helps draw attention to where new technologies or processes could be implemented, but also when learnings can and should be shared. 

What are your thoughts on innovation leads? Do you have one in your organisation, if so, what has been your experience? 

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