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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Why Isn’t Everybody Doing It?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

SheepThat is a very dangerous question for a leader to ask when evaluating options. Yet it is one I hear far too often in the healthcare realm. It encapsulates a rejection of innovation, evolution and learning all in one terse, often rhetorical, question.

A common context for this question, often prefixed by, “If this is so great…,” is when discussing semantics and semantic technology. Although these concepts are not new to some industries, such as media, they are foreign in many healthcare organizations. Yet we know that healthcare payers and providers alike struggle with massive data integration and data analytics challenges just like media conglomerates.

The needs to: combine siloed information; drive an analytics mindset throughout an organization; and support the flexibility of a constantly changing IT environment are common in large healthcare organizations. Repeated attempts by organizations to meet these needs betray a lack of consensus around how to best achieve a valuable result.

Further, the implication that how most organizations solve a problem is optimal ignores the fact that best practices must change over time. The best way to solve a problem last year may not be the same this year. The healthcare industry is changing, the physical world of servers, networks, disk drives, memory is changing, and the expectations of members are changing. What was infeasible years ago becomes commonplace. Relational databases were all but unworkable in the 1970s due to a lack of experienced DBAs, slow disk drives, slow processors and limited memory.

In the same way, semantic formalization and graph databases were too new and limited to deal with large data sets until people gained expertise with ontologies while system hardware benefitted from another generation of Moore’s law. In the face of ongoing innovation, the question leaders should ask when approaching a challenge is, “What advancements have been made since the last time we looked at this problem?

Innovation Technology Strategy Leadership SignpostLeadership requires leading, not following. Leaders mentor their organizations through change in order to reach new levels of success. Leadership is based on learning, open-mindedness, creativity and risk-taking. The question, “Why isn’t everybody doing it?” is the antithesis of leadership and has no place there. In fact, if everybody is doing something, a leader would be better off asking, “How do we get ahead of what everybody is doing?”

Leaders must be on the forefront of pushing for better, faster, cheaper. Questioning the status quo, looking for new opportunities, seeking to leapfrog the competition, those are key foci for leadership.

As a leader, the next time you find yourself limiting your willingness to explore an option because everybody isn’t doing it, keep in mind that calculators, computers, automobiles, elevators, white boards, LED light bulbs, Google maps, telephones, the Internet, 3-D printing, open heart surgery, and many more concepts that are accepted or gaining traction, had a day when only one person or organization was “doing it.” Challenge yourself and your organization to find new options, new best practices and new paradigms for advancing your strategy and goals.

Our Odyssey of the Mind Concludes for the 2009-2010 Season

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This was the first year that Sarah and Michael were on separate teams.  Sarah and her team chose to do this year’s classics problem, Discovered Treasures, while Michael and his team chose this year’s technical/performance problem, Return to The Gift of Flight.  The older team, being high-schoolers, competed in Division III.  Michael and his teammates were in Division II.

The  teams worked hard.  Lisa coached both teams so she had twice the fun from previous years.  The house also contained twice the cardboard and other assorted paraphernalia as usual.  As the year progressed it was clear that the two problems required very different strategies in terms of planning and execution.


Two Teams, Two Divisions, Two problems, One day

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It’s that time of year again – Odyssey of the Mind Regionals.  This year Sarah and Michael are on different teams and Lisa is coaching both!  The crunch to the deadline is twice as frantic.  In celebration I was motivated to take a few minutes to reflect on the relative peace that has descended on this competition eve.

Here is my poem to honor all the hard working teams and their incredible coaches:

Twas the night before regionals and all through our home
Not a creature was stirring from cellar to dome.
The sets were all folded and ready to pack,
Plus a few rolls of duct tape nearby in a sack.

The team mates were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Omers danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Were hunting for the elusive competition site map.

To move through our house was unequivocally tough,
As we hunted and searched through piles of stuff.
Every surface was covered no matter the place,
Like chairs and counters and a telephone base.


Technology Luddite?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In a recent blog post, Tony Kontzer is discussing a San Francisco Chronicle article about Jaron Lanier.  The article discusses Jaron’s concern regarding limitations imposed on people by virtual reality and Web 2.0 structures.  The article mentions that some people have labeled Jaron a “Luddite”.  Tony goes on to say that the term isn’t a bad one and that Luddites serve an important role, balancing the Pollyanna vision of technology’s value against its potential risks.

Although I agree with Tony’s defense of Jaron’s position, I think the “Luddite” term is being misused in Jaron’s case.  In fact, I disagree with an assessment that Jaron’s comments, as well as the well-articulated theme of his book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” equate to those of a technology Luddite.

Let us consider a definition.  Merriam-Webster includes in their definition of Luddite, “one who is opposed to especially technological change.”  However, Jaron’s point is not one that opposes technological change.  Instead, he is concerned that specific uses of technology and underlying limitations within the virtual (digital) world limit our human interaction and experience.  The limiting factors are imposed by computers and software.

Jaron’s thought process, bringing in examples from both his technology and musical backgrounds, does a great job of describing how computer programs constrain us.  Developers have experienced frustration when extending functionality as they try to add features to an existing program.  Separate from the technologists’ issues, and this is key, computer hardware and software limitations also impose boundaries and set expectations for people who interact with computers.

It is this latter aspect, the unintentional or intentional limiting of people’s uniqueness due to the design and implementation of software, that concerns Jaron. I emphatically agree with him on this point!  I believe that most of us would accept that the setting arbitrary boundaries around self-expression and creativity in the physical world can lower the quality of life for people.  If the digital world does likewise might we end up in the same place?