Creating A Culture That Supports Innovation

The demands on many NHS organisations are significant at present.  On a fairly regular basis we hear about the need for change, improvement and doing things differently.


I recently had a conversation with someone who was getting a little frustrated by the fact that any time they suggested an alternative way of doing things they encountered resistance.


Now it is clear that not every idea and suggestion can be taken and acted on.  At the same time if people feel like they will just get a no when they suggest a different way then eventually they will probably just give up.


The negative response to ideas while not uncommon is a little hard to get to grips with, especially in health where all major breakthroughs have come from experimentation and research.


Perhaps the reason why ideas hit a brick wall is not because they are not worthy of consideration but instead because the culture is not supportive of innovation.


Maybe it is felt that the stakes are too high and as a result there is an overly cautious approach taken.


Yet we all appreciate that there is a big difference between encouraging innovation and being reckless.


In a culture that supports innovation we might:


  • Have a way of collecting and properly evaluating ideas before dismissing them out of hand


  • Support  small scale trial of the innovative idea that provides some insights and learning.  This might lead to the idea moving to the next stage or necessitate going back to the drawing board.


  • Recognise attempts to innovate whether they worked or not


Of course if the stakes are simply too high at a given point, nothing might happen.  In these situations what matters is that people have their ideas acknowledged and an explanation given as to why something can’t move forward right now.


Sometimes people don’t appreciate what else is going on but are more likely to offer up suggestions in the future.


The Bottom Line:  While every innovation idea is not going to result in implementation, leaders can still do a lot to show that they value and are seeking to actively encourage innovation.


Goals and Achievements help healthcare organisations to consistently deliver great performance.  Learn more here.