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Celebrating Everyday Innovation

February 22nd, 2017 / Laura Blumenthal

“Innovations aren’t always glamorous. Sometimes it’s the small change that can make a big difference for patients and outcomes.” This is one of my favorite quotes from a recent alum of the Innovation Catalyst program. CCI had the privilege of launching our 5th cohort just last week. In this program, Catalysts (as we like to call them) build capability in human-centered innovation and design by applying the methodology to a strategic problem. Over the next five months, the new Catalyst cohort will learn how to collaborate with patients, colleagues, and other stakeholders to redefine, co-design, and transform healthcare delivery as we know it.

To some, transformation in five months may sound like a tall order. But transformation has to start somewhere! We often don’t give each other enough credit for our results, because we have this sense that for something to be truly innovative, it needs to stun the senses—emit light, ring bells, blow whistles…have an icon of an apple on the back of it. But so many innovations arrive without any kind fanfare.

They are “unglamorous,” seemingly simple. Like hosting dance music breaks in the waiting room, a mirror at the front desk that reminds staff to smile, a phone charging station for patients, visual displays with patients’ estimated wait times at different points in their visit, or starting each staff meeting with peer-led shout-outs of appreciation. These are the kinds of efforts that Catalysts learn to initiate, encourage and notice in others, and celebrate. Learning to recognize and celebrate the “everyday” wins in human-centered innovation is vital because of the iterative and ongoing nature of the work. It fuels us to keep on keepin’ on.

And yet it can be so easy to overlook those unglamorous, everyday innovations. It takes a lot of mindfulness to spot them. I’m trying to get better at recognizing them in my day-to-day by taking photos of things I come across that make me look twice. Things that take me by surprise, make me smile, or make me go, “huh…” My hope is that the longer I do this, the more I’ll start to notice and celebrate everyday innovations in our work here at CCI. Time will tell!

If you come across everyday innovations you’d like to share, please send a photo or article via email or Twitter to @wearecatalysts to share with our Innovation Catalysts, and I’ll also put them on my blog!