Change is the lifeblood of a good health system. It is also an imperative as health systems are increasingly asked to do more with less: demands for services increase as budgets contract. Innovation in health is not just an option, it’s a necessity. Innovation means doing things better, trying out new ideas, stepping outside of our comfort zones and mobilising all our resources and assets. This is the message from the Innovation and Improvement Hub for South East Sydney Local Health District and its Innovation Manager, Jocelyn Hickson. Jocelyn spoke to staff at the Albion Centre recently at one of our regular Tuesday forums.
Innovation needs rebels – rebels don’t wait for permission to lead, innovate and strategise. They go ahead and do it! Without rebels, the story line never changes. We need to foster new ideas, and that means stepping into the unknown, into that unfamiliar space where the magic happens! What does it mean to be a rebel? One foot in the system and one beyond. Pulling in assets, ideas, knowledge and connections rather than pushing them down, working at the edge of the system so we can see the potential and make connections that we couldn’t do if we were at the centre.
There is a big difference though between rebels and troublemakers. Troublemakers are me-focussed, angry, pessimistic, energy-sapping and alienating. They create problems and work alone! Rebels on the other hand create, are mission-focussed, passionate, energising, open to possibilities, attract others and work together. They are connected. While it may not be the way we usually thing about power, people who are highly connected have twice as much power to influence change as people with hierarchical power. When we seek to spread change, we are often drawn to relying on our strongest ties – those that are close to us, “people like us”. It works because we are more likely to be influenced by those to whom we are most strongly tied. However, in contrast, when we seek to spread change through weak ties, our impact can be profound and more widespread– building bridges between groups and individuals who were previously different and separate. We create relationships based on a common purpose and we can mobilise all the resources in our organisation, system or community to achieve our goal.
These were just some of the ‘disruptive’ ideas that Jocelyn put forward in her presentation, leaving those of us present with much to think about. If you would like to see the slides from Jocelyn’s presentation, you can find them here.