These are extraordinary times in the health IT industry. New innovations enter the market every day. Technological changes are solving problems and disruptors are redefining healthcare delivery at an exponential rate.
Over the years, as I have served in various leadership roles in technology-driven corporations and currently, as CEO of HealthPay24, I’ve learned valuable lessons and developed a deep passion for fostering a culture of meaningful innovation.
Meaningful innovation entails moving beyond the churning out of ideas and innovating just for the sake of innovation. It means ensuring that new ideas are: intentional, solve real problems, are properly implemented, produce tangible results, and ultimately, position a company and its customers for long-term success.
Essentially, there are six guiding principles that cultivate meaningful innovation within companies and organizations.
Value Diversity of Thought
Diversity unlocks innovation by creating a setting in which a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds stimulate divergent thinking. By having similar thoughts in a room, you end up with mediocrity. When leaders solicit ideas from everyone at every level of an organization, regardless of job title, they unleash the possibility of solving new problems. When an organization values diversity of thought, it sets a higher bar for truly meaningful innovation.
Focus on the Customer
Solving customer needs and pain points are what drive meaningful innovation. From the customer perspective, new technology only has value if it provides a solution to their problem. By developing products and solutions that focus on customer value, outcomes, and satisfaction, companies will naturally reap the rewards of business growth.
An effective way to sustain a meaningful innovation approach is by using “customer- informed roadmaps.” This involves creating a client council made up of customers and partners who have a vested interest in the problem being solved. The council acts as an advisory board, providing feedback on the roadmap, the company, and the outcomes.
Shift Gravity to the Frontlines
Fostering meaningful innovation should involve having employees in all functional areas clearly understand the customer experience and take ownership of customer problems. Shifting gravity to the frontlines means getting technology developers and engineers, who are typically removed from face-to-face contact with customers, as close to the end-users as possible.
For example, our Chief Product Officer recently spent a week onsite with a new customer as the power users were being trained before going live. This experience provided valuable insight into how our customers interact with our product, what they like and dislike, and what outcomes they expect to achieve. This information will enable HealthPay24 to make product improvements that are genuinely meaningful to our customers.
Demonstrate and Articulate the Benefits
Just because you have a breakthrough product does not mean that your customers know what to do with it or how it will benefit them. Innovation in and of itself is not just features and functionality and software – it’s a solution to a real customer problem. The simple truth is that no one will buy your product if they don’t believe they need it. The key to meaningful innovation is to understand how it benefits the customer and then ensuring that they can articulate how it solves a challenge they’re facing in their own terms.
Create a Sense of Urgency
A sense of urgency is imperative to fostering innovation and sustaining growth. This inner drive is an impatience that motivates individuals to get things done and take care of problems immediately. Creating urgency instills the thought process that there is no time to be complacent or lackadaisical – you need to grab each opportunity while it’s there because if you don’t, someone else will. And if you fail, fail fast and learn from it and move on.
Establish a Climate of Innovation
In my experience, there are two key factors that underlie a supportive environment that encourages and embraces innovative thinking: trust and positive energy.
- Leaders instill trust in their teams by believing in their abilities, communicating desired outcomes and giving them the freedom to get things done. When you put your confidence in someone, they will aspire to achieve the highest levels of innovation. A foundation of trust lifts people up, builds bonds, and creates a safe environment for divergent thinking.
- While the phrase “attitude is everything” is a bit cliché, it is unquestionably true when it comes to fostering a supportive environment for innovation. People with positive energy, who have ideas and are optimistic and stay positive throughout the challenges of product development and implementation, will incite more positive energy and creative ideas. A positive attitude is contagious and has a multiplier effect.
At a time where innovation is growing at a rapid pace, there are incredible opportunities for companies to push the boundaries, disrupt business as usual, and drive meaningful technological change. Adopting these guiding principles into your culture of innovation may spur on your teams to reach greater heights.