Outside Innovation

Ministry Health Care is a large organization spread over northern and central Wisconsin.  Communication is always a challenge and collaboration on projects is problematic.  When a project is centered around a campus, our usual mode is to host large gatherings soliciting input and feedback.

Our electronic health record is a huge project involving multiple medical campuses.  I was contemplating how one obtains a collaborative atmosphere when a project spans a large geographically area when I happened to read a book by Patty Seybold titled Outside Innovation.

Patty Seybold offers the following description of Outside Innovation:

“It’s when customers lead the design of your business processes, products, services, and business models. It’s when customers roll up their sleeves to co-design their products and your business. It’s when customers attract other customers to build a vital customer-centric ecosystem around your products and services. The good news is that customer-led innovation is one of the most predictably successful innovation processes. The bad news is that many managers and executives don’t yet believe in it. Today, that’s their loss. Ultimately, it may be their downfall.”

Outside Innovation provides multiple examples of how companies have used their customers to produce truly customer focused products. I was particularly intrigued reading how software had been successfully developed in a collaborative atmosphere.  Viewing our clinicians and staff as one of the customers of our EHR, I began to see how we had another avenue to build a collaborative atmosphere for our project.

We used Quickbase, a web based system wide resource available to us through Intuit, to construct a wiki variant.  A wiki is a type of website allowing visitors to add, remove, and sometimes edit the available content (you may be familiar with Wikipedia).  We place proposed EHR content and policies on the website and then invited our clinicians and staff to review and comment.  Though the proposed content cannot be edited, an adjacent comment section is in a forum format allowing each author to be identified.  We have found comments from one author invites others to post their own thoughts.  The comments are then incorporated into updated content.

Communication and collaboration within an organization must be in many forms.  The concepts outlined in Outside Innovation is another tool we can use to improve our effectiveness.

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