In a world that celebrates success, the idea of rewarding failure may seem counterintuitive. Failure and the learning that comes from it from it are essential ingredients of success, something that innovative organizations understand. They create environments where failure is expected and the only “true failure” is a failure to learn when things don’t go as planned.
Throughout history, innovators and enlightened leaders have observed that failure begets success. “The fastest way to succeed is to double your error rate,” said Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, a company Fortune recently ranked one of the most innovative. “Success is 99 percent failure,” legendary car builder Soichiro Honda said.
I write and speak often about how organizations can create a culture of innovation. Encouraging appropriate risk-taking is an important dimension of an innovative culture and organizations struggle with how to create environments where employees can learn from failure. How can they take small, safe risks or even big and bold ones, but in controlled ways?
To an innovator, “Oh, that will never work” may be the five worst words in the English language. Few things chill innovation more than people who reject new ideas in their infancy. Innovative organizations understand the dynamics of failure – not only why people fear failure, but also why it’s important. They value failure because of what they can learn from it. Employees are expected to take intelligent risks and are given the “air cover” from leadership to risk failure.
This is another in the numerous “death of Google Health” stories that have been appearing since Friday when the Google blog announced the pulling of the plug. I must admit to being more than a little pissed off with Larry Page or whomever it was within Google that made the decision. After all, Google Health was only introduced a tad more than 3 years ago (premiered at HIMSS in Feb 2008; launched officially later that year). And just nine months ago they hired a new product manager and debuted some interesting new features connecting to the new wave of personal sensors. I know that Wall Street has been telling Google to focus on fewer products and that Page as new CEO has decided to do that but for a company as rich as Google the effort involved in keeping Google Health alive would be trivial. And props here to our friends at Microsoft who are integrating HealthVault into their wider health care business.
With the very notable exception of HealthVault and (hopefully) some new innovation from Dossia, we are now dependent on a number of small companies to maintain the emerging data utility layer. The data utility layer in health is the place that is going to collectively store all the data that is being generated. Apparently Google didn’t have the real patience for two rapid developments.
First, with a combination of the Direct Project and the stipulation in the meaningful use regulations that EHR users share data with other providers and with patients, individuals are going to find that more and more data about themselves is available and easily accessible. Whether or not it’s a Farmville-type hit, the ability to capture all that information in one place is very important. Currently it’s also very time consuming to put together so very few people do it. But I do know of instances where people have laboriously entered lab values into Google Health just to store them. Sooner rather than later that data will be available much more easily in machine readable format, and as those barriers to use fall so the desire to look at that data will increase.
This week I spent quite a bit of time at the very new and very fancy Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington DC. It’s next door to a very large medical office building (110+ docs) in which KP is showcasing its current integrated care model, and how far its come in its mid-Atlantic region. The Center is a pretty fascinating place–part tech and idea showcase and part meeting room. Certainly no other health care organization that I’m aware of has spent so much on a place designed to stimulate the imagination and enhance conversation–under the nose of the folks on Capitol Hill. I won’t get into here whether this is how money should be spent in health care but on balance I’m a fan. (FD KP is a sponsor of the Health 2.0 Conference I co-run). Instead I want to try to give you a feel for the place, and why it fits their vision and what it’s trying to demonstrate.
I took a tour with some colleague journo/blogger types led by the always expressive Robbie Pearl (CEO of the Permanente Groups in N Cal and now DC too–the airlines thank him!) and with Phil Fasano, CIO of the whole organization. Robbie is not shy in voicing his opinions (as you’ll see) and Phil occasionally trots out the voice of caution to reel in Robbie’s vision a tad. It was great fun.
What was also fun was the cocktail party at the grand opening. There I met three of my favorite DC-based ladies in health: Deven McGraw, Regina Holliday & Cindy Throop. So we’ll start with that fun video, and then there’s a whole lot more from the tour of the center after the jump. All these videos are pretty short.
After that fun and games, lets head to the tour. This is a series of videos of me and a few others testing out the displays, and listening to Pearl & Fasano, as well as asking them a couple of pointed questions.
But I’ll take the tour in order….after a quick thanks to Holly Potter, Danielle Cass, Ravi Poorsina & center boss Julie Norris who with a ton of their colleagues worked their butts off keeping hundreds of visitors informed and entertained.
First up, Robbie Pearl on the current state of the KP.org health record and why we shouldn’t have to put up with less; what he called the 19th century state of medicine. And I can assure that is on display in my wife’s OBGYN office every time I visit.Continue reading…
A while ago at an IOM meeting I mis-spoke and called Geisinger, “Kaisinger” and it kinda sounded right. Well now those two Epic users with another similar Epic user (Group Health) have teamed up with Mayo (home grown IT) and InterMountain (3M + homegrown + GE) to share patient data. Now it hasn’t happened yet — this is the announcement of what is to come (although KP is inter-operating with the VA in San Diego). But they’re going to use NHIN standards. My understanding is that they’re going to start with moving data using CCD (a subset of the records) and then move to access full patient data via common medical identifiers. Of course while this is great news, the chances of a typical California Kaiser patient showing up in rural Pennsylvania isn’t that high. But if they can do it across the country, why can’t they and others do it across the street? In other words resolve what Jonathan Bush calls the Paper Aeroplane method of interoperability. After all that type of random showing up–even for Kaiser patients in a Sutter run ER–is a big deal. Let’s hope this announcement is a big spur, and allows others to join.
“How do you inspire and enable innovation in a large organization?”
That’s the question I grapple with daily as director of Kaiser Permanente’s health care innovation center. I’ve observed that it isn’t sufficient to have a dedicated Innovation Center, an Innovation & Advanced Technology Group, or in-house Innovation Consultancy design group – all of which Kaiser Permanente has. The real question to solve is: “How do you create a culture that enables innovation throughout an organization?”
To explore answers to that, this week I am joining with physicians, nurses and design thinking, quality and innovation experts from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and Kaiser Permanente for three days in South Devon, England, at the NHS Horizon Centre for Innovation, Education & Research in Healthcare, to share successful failures and best practices in innovation.
One contribution the NHS already has shared with the extended health care innovation community is a guide that helps leaders enhance the conditions for innovation: “Creating a Culture of Innovation.” Given that organizational leaders’ behaviors have a disproportionate influence on creating a culture that either hinders or aids innovation, Lynn Maher and Helen Bevan of the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and Paul Plsek distilled the organizational research on innovation into a helpful “how to” guide outlining the seven dimensions of culture that support innovation. These principles, summarized below, can be applied to any organization.
So how can you begin building your own innovative culture — and how have we used these principles at Kaiser Permanente?
Risk-taking: Establish a climate in which people feel OK trying out new ideas by not shutting down ideas before they’ve been vetted. Leaders should demonstrate they are more interested in learning from failure than punishing people for it.
To foster innovative thinking at Kaiser Permanente, our Information Technology leadership created an Innovation Fund, an internal program that provides seed funding and support to teams of doctors and employees to facilitate the rapid prototyping of novel IT ideas and diffusion of successful innovations. Leadership also created iLabs, an innovation lab that serves as a technology research, advisory and software prototyping group that works with Kaiser Permanente innovators to help develop technology solutions for health care.
Resources: Resources are meant in the broadest sense of the term here. The traditional definition signifies an organizational commitment to innovation, but resources need not always be concrete. Time, permission and autonomy to innovate may be what is needed. For example, Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Fund not only provides seed funding, but access to mentors and tools to jumpstart innovation.
Technology isn’t a quick fix. Just ask General Motors. In the 1980s, the auto giant spent $50 billion to automate and computerize its plants in an effort to compete with Toyota. Today, GM is emerging from bankruptcy while Toyota still leads in producing high quality, fuel-efficient vehicles.
What happened? “The Japanese have a great way of describing the error that General Motors made,” said Thomas Kochan, co-director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. “It’s workers who give wisdom to these machines.”Continue reading…
“It’s about time,” declares Jay Crosson, MD, a recently retired physician executive at Kaiser Permanente, in his foreword to The Story of Sidney R. Garfield – The Visionary Who Turned Sick Care into Health Care (Permanente Press, 2009). “For too long,” writes Crosson, “Sidney Garfield has stood in the giant shadow cast by his more celebrated partner and friend, Henry J. Kaiser… (whose) name and fame live on, mainly in association with the only nonprofit organization ever incorporated by the builder of more than 100 for-profit companies – Kaiser Permanente. But the physician whose extraordinary vision and daring innovations in health care delivery gave birth to that same organization remains largely unrecognized beyond the select circle of medical historians and the heritage-minded physicians and staff of Kaiser Permanente.”
Sidney R. Garfield (1905-1984) is indeed one of the great under-appreciated geniuses of 20th century American medicine.
Starting out from the humble beginnings of a 12-bed hospital in the middle of southern California’s Mojave Desert, where he tended to injured industrial workers on the California aqueduct through the early years of the Great Depression, he not only went on to create the nation’s largest private, nonprofit, vertically integrated health care organization (Kaiser Permanente); he virtually reinvented the economics and organizational structure of health care delivery by envisioning and demonstrating the manifold advantages of the prepaid, group practice model – a model that many today view as a necessary element of effective health care reform.Continue reading…
– Peggy Latare, MD is Chief of Family Medicine at the Hawaii Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, and the physician lead charged with the implementation of KP HealthConnect in the Hawaii region. For over two years she has used Kaiser’s online tools on a daily basis for communicating with and caring for her patients.