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Dawn Bailey


An American Idol Approach to Innovation

When thinking of innovation, change it up… how, when, and where you think of it

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 15:14

At a recent Boston University-hosted event, leading healthcare professionals pitched innovative ideas on how to solve the nation’s most pressing problems on a tight budget. Eight teams had two minutes to describe their innovation projects and their importance, as well as the project’s funding cost, choosing from just $12,500, $7,500, or $2,500.

As on the singing competition American Idol, participants at the Boston University event texted in their votes of support. The teams who won received the following prizes:
• $12,500 prize to build an online network for healthcare professionals to exchange solutions to complex medical problems
• $7,500 to introduce e-cigarettes to wean the homeless off tobacco
• $2,500 to re-create a program that addresses patients’ basic resource needs as a quality care standard

Among the health systems participating was Baldrige Award recipient Henry Ford Health System.

Managing for innovation is a core value in the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence and its importance cannot be overestimated (even if you are given just two minutes to propose an innovation). According to the Criteria, “innovation means making meaningful change to improve your organization’s healthcare services, programs, processes, operations, healthcare delivery model, and business model, with the purpose of creating new value for stakeholders. Innovation should lead your organization to new dimensions of performance.”

The Criteria contain even more learning about innovation that can be part of strategic thinking at any organization in any sector. For example, when thinking about innovation, consider:
• Does your organization have a supportive environment for innovation that can be further supported by a performance improvement system?
• Does your organization have a process for identifying strategic opportunities?
• Does your organization have an environment and learning culture that support the pursuit of intelligent risks?
• Does your organization have the ability to rapidly disseminate and capitalize on organizational knowledge to drive innovation?


Given these considerations, if you had two minutes and a tight budget, what innovative idea would you pitch for your organization?

This column first appeared Nov. 12, 2013, on Blogrige.


About The Author

Dawn Bailey’s picture

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience (18 years at the Baldrige Program) working on publications and education teams. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.