Innovation at the Mayo Clinic

Next week is my 300th Business901 podcast. It was a special treat for me to interview Barbara Spurrier, MHA, the founding and current administrative director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. She has advised senior leaders in Mayo Clinicthe health care industry for over two decades, serving as a champion for innovation in large, complex environments. She just recently co-authored an outstanding book on innovation, Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast: A Blueprint for Transformation from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. The book’s intent was not to solve the health-care crisis but more of a story on how a complex organization developed innovation in their workplace.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: Is that something that you would recommend for someone that wants to start innovation in their health care facility, or really any facility? Do you think that the same obstacles you faced will be very similar to what they may face?

Barbara: I think so, and I think that this whole idea – there was this study that was done by IBM on issues, there are CEO studies every year, where they interview about 1500 to 2000 CEOs from all industries. – and they indicated a couple of years in their big study that one of the things we all need to do, in all industries, is get so much more intimate with our customer, and really understand their needs to drive our innovation, and our product and service, development and delivery.

I think this idea of really trying to understand your customer, and get really close to that customer and understand their needs. I think we’re all at different places with that, and we can learn from one another. But I would say that would be a really important first step – to see how well you are connected to your customer, not using things like retrospective satisfaction surveys, but really getting into the indoctrination of ethnography, getting intimate and close to your customers, and creating models where you’re co-creating your models, your products and your services with your customer.

The other thing that that IBM study indicates is – sometimes what happens along the way is, we lose our creative confidence. It’s something that we have, of course, as kids, and a lot of things can happen to us over the years when things become routinized. This idea of building creative confidence of the individual and other companies in our organizations So, how is creativity and innovation expressed – and encouraging that in the risk tolerance is really important. I think we all need to build that as we move forward in the new world.

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