Spring is recognized as a time of “new beginnings,” and this rang true for this cohort of HFA fellows—both literally and figuratively.
The HFA ideation report is one of the three key program deliverables that are due near the end of each HFA phase to both report on the work that’s been done in the months prior and preview what’s next. This year’s ideation report draft was due days before spring started and proposed a way forward that marked a first for our program: advance two solutions into the implementation phase with fellows largely working in teams of two on day-to-day details, versus the traditional approach of four fellows focusing on one solution.
As the program director, an unapologetic planner, and a lover of protocol, I’ll admit this proposal was a lot for me—and others—to consider.
First, it’s bold. This class of fellows has four months left, and I’ve witnessed once how fast that time flies. Second, there are practical matters like the budget, and we had to very strategically assess what is possible for each idea knowing those figures would not change. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly from my perspective, we are one team, and preserving a collaborative dynamic is essential to our success as a program.
While our HFA leadership team evaluated all of these factors, we were equally struck by the passion, pace, and persistence with which the fellows were already developing both solutions. Our lean startup mentality reinforces that we must remain open to pivots—even when they take us out of our comfort zone—as long as the business case is there. In this scenario, there was significant clinical interest in both solutions—our most important guidepost—and the fellows were very united in their desire to keep advancing both ideas in dynamic duos while finding ways to continue creating and working regularly as a team.
Why am I writing this? Before introducing both solutions, I felt it was important to intentionally acknowledge this difference from years past and what drove it. As a program, we’ll continue striving toward the smallest number of solutions for implementation (with our eyes on the prospect of one) given the fellows’ short tenure. However, this year, there was a clear case—and the right team dynamic—to try two.
I also think it’s essential to acknowledge that innovation isn’t easy. There is no completely clean and correct playbook for creating something new (or running a program that seeks to do so!). This is why I believe our blog shouldn’t just highlight the obvious wins and polished lessons learned. Instead, it should also convey the tough decisions, uncertainty, curve balls, and other challenges we face on our journey.
We’re incredibly excited to introduce you to both ideas in the next post. This year’s full ideation report will remain an internal document for now since it contains the designs, business plans, etc., for two concepts we’re carrying forward. Alternatively, we’ll share the one page summaries of each solution as they stand today, and the fellows will also blog about some of the ideas they didn’t advance in the coming weeks in the spirit of sharing ideas left behind.
Until then, let the implementation (of two ideas!) begin. And to end on two related inspirational notes from Silicon-Valley based author, speaker, entrepreneur, and evangelist Guy Kawasaki, consider:
“A good idea is about 10 percent, and implementation and hard work and luck is 90 percent.”
What’s the mantra that explains why your work exists and that guides it? At MedStar Institute for Innovation, ours is—“Think Differently.” For the HFA implementation phase, ours just may be—“Sustainability Requires Flexibility” (because “Build While Flying” is too much for this protocol lover!).
Mandy Dorn is the Director of Health for America at MedStar Health.