Everything is ripe for innovation

The titles of this post might seem a little simplistic, and to a certain degree it is because it isn’t that easy. But, let’s consider the following story:

Ten years ago, Diane Brown found herself in a dreary hospital room, shocked that this kind of bleak environment was supposed to help her get well. Using her art-world connections, she persuaded a few friends to liven up some of these walls. A decade later, RxART is a thriving nonprofit that brings the work of world-class artists to patients whose spirits are lifted by the presence of colorful, inspirational contemporary art in their daily lives. Since then, artists like Jeff Koons, Matthew Ritchie, Alexis Rockman and William Wegman have lent their expertise to hospitals across the country.

A hospital room designed to heal kids. How cool is that?!

Jeff Koons art at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital

Jeff Koons art at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital

There are many other examples of hospital rooms being transformed through the use of design. For example, after noticing that children were often so terrified by the prospect of lying alone inside the huge, noisy machine that they often had to be sedated just to get through the experience, Doug Dietz put together a group of experts and created a pirate-themed CT scanner room created to ease children’s concerns.

As someone who had to be put inside a CT scanner as a teenager, I can tell you that seeing pirate stuff around me would’ve taken some of my attention off “what does machine do and how long is this going to last?”.

Below is a TEDx talk by Doug Dietz talking about a how simple change in the environment changed healthcare for children and their families:

When looking at these pictures, don’t you get a “why didn’t I think of that!” reaction? I certainly did!

After a recent workshop I facilitated for a group of engineers, I got an email from a group member telling me that one idea stood out the most out of all the ideas I presented to them, and he framed it in one question: how might I make it more interesting?

“It” can be an object, a product, a service, a business concept, an experience, etc.. Anything!

Interesting is a subjective word. To me, an idea that is interesting is one that deviates from the norm and resonates with the people who will benefit from it. In the examples above, the products themselves were not changed. Rather, the experience was enhanced to create a better overall outcome for children and their families.

Better outcomes…that’s what innovation is about!

The point:There’s always a better way”, is an innovator’s motto. A new way can be explored by shifting ones perspective. In the examples above, one person thought there was a better way. Another had to have an epiphany to look at his product from a different perspective. Both re-imagined an experience starting from a child’s point of view, and both approaches led to the same outcome for people: better healthcare experience.