Only 16 percent of business leaders responding to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey said that their company has been very or extremely effective in its innovation attempts to date. And while the survey wasn't targeted specifically to health care, it illustrates the challenges all fields face in achieving innovation goals.
The survey findings indicate that few organizations are meeting their goals because they lack the right executive leaders to drive organizational change. Likewise, many corporate boards don't have the skills and experiences needed to oversee innovation, while other issues aren't being addressed, such as talent acquisition and development and knowing how to measure and reward innovation.
The survey analysis shows that organizations are too focused on maintaining the status quo to transform their culture into one that supports innovation. As for who should be spearheading this change, nearly nine in 10 respondents named the CEO as the most important person, with the chief operating officer finishing a distant second at 40 percent followed by the chief information officer and chief financial officer. Only 13 percent identified the chief human resources officer as an important innovation officer, though the report noted this is a missed opportunity as retaining and developing innovative talent should be a HR function.
Survey respondents cite three competencies as essential for innovative leaders:
- Communicating a clear vision for the future.
- A continuous learning mindset.
- A collaborative nature that can be modeled by others.
Even with these leadership skills, CEOs and their organizations will need to do a better job of hiring, retaining and developing the right kinds of leaders to support innovation, the survey found. Just 14 percent labeled their organizations as effective in this effort. Reasons include a lack of clarity about what their organizations expect from innovative leaders and not defining what success looks like. Not measuring or rewarding leaders for their innovation-related achievement and lack of innovation strategy were other top concerns.
The report further notes that CEOs will need their boards to step up to push innovation throughout the organization. Only 16 percent of overall respondents say that most of their board members have the skills needed to oversee innovation, compared with 40 percent of the "pacesetter" organizations that responded. And only one-third report that their boards have a committee dedicated to innovation. For more on the role of hospital boards in supporting innovation in this era of disruption, read this Trustee Insights report.
4 Characteristics of Innovative Health Organizations
So, what does an innovative hospital or health system look like? Here are four of the 12 cultural attributes shared in the AHA Center for Health Innovation report Leading the Charge for Disruptive Innovation:
- Be comfortable and competent in blurring the lines between two or more traditional health care business sectors.
- Be willing to partner with nontraditional health care business sectors to pursue innovative solutions that solve a critical job to be done.
- Be willing to believe what the data are saying about what patients want instead of relying on instinct and experience alone.
- Be willing to base strategic business decisions on what patients and communities need rather than what financial needs dictate.