A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. ~Harry Truman
Difficulties are in the eye of the beholder – is it a difficulty or a challenge? If you’re an optimist, you’ll view a difficulty as a challenge that represents an opportunity.
Then it’s a question of what to do with the opportunity. Health is rich in opportunity because we’ve got so many challenges. Jane Chen found a challenge and turned it into an opportunity to save the lives of premature babies fighting for their lives. And like most innovations, we can look at her solution and think ‘why didn’t someone think of that before?’
Innovation isn’t about the world-shattering, big and bold new thing. That belongs to the world of inventions and is the stuff of TV and newspaper headlines and awards for the greatest invention. And where would we be without them? In health, we’ve relied on invention to help us progress.
But it’s the progression of invention through innovation that’s really at the heart of what we do to improve quality. Innovation’s likely to be, like Jane Chen’s cheap and effective incubator for premature babies, an amalgam of other ideas improved upon for a specific purpose.
Innovative thinking comes from thinking laterally, and from people who aren’t afraid to look past the status quo and ask what can be done differently.
They have self-belief and want change for the better.
At Ko Awatea, we’re running some outstanding courses that focus on these qualities. Right now, the first face-to-face session is kicking off the six-month intensive Improvement Science Professional Development Programme from Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).
As the name suggests, this is about improving quality and it’s from improving quality that we can get some outstanding innovation – initiatives that could result, for example, in eliminating neonatal deaths from central line bloodstream infections, or reducing residential care falls.
And next week is the Breakthrough Series College from IHI. This uses the collaborative model as a way to spread outstanding improvement through an organisation.
When we think about the ‘Saving 20,000 Bed Days’ and ’10 Wicked Issues’ projects and others in the pipeline, we’ve got plenty of opportunity for innovation.
We’ve got the professional development to back it up and the people and partnerships to bring it all together for the community.
In my journeys around the region and within CMDHB, talking to a huge range of people from all sorts of different sectors, I have a real sense that while we’ve recognised the difficulties, we’ve also got a lot of optimists who’re making opportunities out of the difficulties.