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Building an Innovative Culture – Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center

by Elise Olding  |  January 20, 2011  |  3 Comments

Last month I had the pleasure of going to Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center with Jim Sinur and Brian Blau from Gartner. What a candy store of ideas! Just being there made me feel inspired and more innovative.

There’s a lot going on but one thing that struck me was how having the innovation center has influenced the culture at KP. It also makes me wonder about the old chicken and the egg debate – what came first, the innovative culture or the innovation center? I suspect every organization has innovations that are just waiting to burst out, but they get lost in the effort of trying to be heard. At Garfield, these ideas can be tested, walked through, analyzed, improved and then once polished and road-tested rolled out. The 37,000 square foot facility is inspiring in itself. It takes role playing to a new level and enables the inclusion of spatial aspects. In emergency situations a second can make a difference between life and death, so where the equipment and monitors are is critical.

Selected things I found interesting:

Non-technology solutions: An informative wall board has been designed for the delivery room. It contains information about the Dr., nurse and a checklist of the activities that will take place during the delivery process. These activities are on cards. As the activities occur, the cards are turned over to show that they have been completed. This is a great way of giving the family information about what to expect and ensuring that all the steps were completed.

Technology solutions: One of the issues for doctors is logging in and out of computers. This is regulated by HIPPA as they are not allowed to leave a screen on that could display patient information. Additionally doctors’ hands are scrubbed and touching things compromises the sterility. They are working with facial recognition technology for doctors to sign into computer systems. The log off can be set to sign off after a short time as well. This is an example of small steps to save doctors’ valuable time and meet regulatory requirements.

What I liked about the center was that in many cases a problem was presented – without a solution – and the work focused trying multiple solution options and continuing to iterate and refine them to come up with the best solution for implementation. It is a collaborative and iterative process.

My take away was that innovation comes in many forms. (My other take away is that pictures taken with my smart phone camera don’t translate well to blog posts! Sorry.) What’s important is to bring people together, encourage them to come up with creative and out of the box ideas, try them out, critically assess the value and continue to iterate or kill them. I think the spirit of innovation does become a component of an organization’s culture – which continues to fuel the cycle.

IDEO partnered with KP. See Improving Knowledge Exchange for Better Patient Care for a case study.

If you are in the SF Bay Area, Garfield offers public tours, it’s worth the time.  May your innovation spirit be inspired!

Category: bpm-strategic-planning  gartner  organizational-change  strategic-planning  

Tags: bpm  gartner  healthcare  innovation  process-design  process-improvement  

Elise Olding
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a Research Director covering the complex challenges of organizational change and business transformation from a people perspective. Her areas of focus include organizational change, communications strategies and emerging trends in employee engagement from a hands-on practitioner view. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on best practices to achieve sustainable change and business transformation. She is a member of Gartner's Business Process and Transformation team. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Building an Innovative Culture – Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center

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  3. […] little while ago, I enjoyed reading the trip reports that both Jim Sinur and Elise Olding published on the Gartner blog about innovation at Kaiser Permanente.  Institutionalizing […]

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