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Deloitte's Life Sciences & Health Care Blog

Beyond the buzzword: In pursuit of innovation

For 2015, I’m committed to improving my professional responsiveness and personally practicing more mindfulness in my day-to-day activities. So far so good, but it’s only the beginning of February! I’m always looking for ways to improve my chances of success and recently learned of one study that found that people who wrote down their goals achieved 50 percent more of them than those who did not write them down.

For CEOs and boards of directors of health care organizations who have committed to leveraging innovation to drive organizational performance in 2015, the challenge is similar: How to stay the course toward innovation and increase the probability of real success.

This challenge is made even more complicated by the array of thought-provoking and illuminating industry conferences that occur this time of year that focus on change and disruption – Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine conference, J.P. Morgan’s Healthcare Conference, Health 2.0, and the World Economic Forum confab in Davos. These sessions are educational and inspiring and give health care organizations a wealth of information to consider as they think about their strategies for the coming year.

Leveraging all of the information available in the marketplace can be overwhelming. Despite this, leading health care organizations must find a way to chart their course through unprecedented market uncertainty and consistently execute on innovation.

Unfortunately, “innovation” is a word that has found its way onto many top business buzzwords lists. Despite its possible over- and misuse, CEOs and boards might find it useful to regularly re-center on its full definition. I think my Deloitte colleague and innovation leader, Michael E. Raynor, describes innovation very clearly. Raynor says innovation is “any combination of activities or technologies that breaks existing performance tradeoffs in the attainment of an outcome, in a manner that expands the realm of the possible.”Innovation is not just about developing new products and services—it can apply to many aspects of the organization, including partnerships, market positioning, and customer relations.

Too often there is a wide chasm between stating the need or goal to innovate and implementing a process and platform by which to do so. Many of us have experienced the all too common scenario of an executive proclaiming to their team – “Go innovate!” – with nothing to underpin the statement.

For CEOs and boards of health care organizations, taking stock of where an organization is on the innovation journey is important. And while it may not be immediately obvious, it is also something that can be objectively measured. One place to start is by looking at successfully innovative companies.

When doing so, Doblin, a global leader in innovations and part of Deloitte Consulting LLP, found that 92 percent of innovative organizations have instituted a system of innovation built around four key components:

  • Approach: An organization’s method for establishing clear definitions for the work to be done in creating innovations.
  • Organization: The units that house innovation competency and the connections among those charged with driving innovation within the broader enterprise and the world.
  • Resources & competencies: The individuals who perform the work; the skills, tools, and training they need to perform that work capably; and the funding and time to fuel the work.
  • Metrics & incentives: The targets to guide performance, the measures to evaluate progress, and the incentives (monetary and otherwise) to drive supporting behaviors.

In pursuit of innovation

In pursuit of innovation: A CEO checklist combines Deloitte’s research and work in the market with health care organizations from all sectors. This series of questions, developed for CEOs and other senior leaders, includes essential components of a credible and broad innovation plan.

Health care organizations that have resolved to be more innovative or to differentiate through innovation can leverage the checklist to objectively evaluate progress, to challenge their teams and to accelerate the path forward.

In the end, the risk of touting the promise of innovation but not truly executing on the vision is one that CEOs and boards cannot afford to take. Progress toward an organization’s innovation goals in 2015 can differentiate the winners from losers – this checklist can be used to identify where CEOs and senior leadership should focus their efforts to ensure they don’t get lost along the way.

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Author bio

Jason, Deloitte Consulting LLP, serves as Managing Director of the US Life Sciences & Health Care Practice. With 20+ years of experience, he helps many of the nation’s top health care organizations navigate challenges including implementing latest technologies, creating operating efficiencies, improving performance and addressing industry reform. Passionate about others’ success, he co-led the creation of a talent development program for Deloitte and served as Dean of the New Leader Program.