Remain Nimble to Evolve

Hank Adams, global director for health at HDR in conversation at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit with Garrett Miller, vice president of strategic marketing and creative director for healthcare, education and government with Herman Miller; Peter Ruppe, senior vice president of footwear at Under Armour; and Matthew Von Ertfelda, senior vice president of food and beverage for the global operations of Marriott Corporation.

Adams:  One of the issues that faces healthcare is how rapidly both the industry and the patients are changing and the rate of change in technology increases all the time. How do your organizations remain nimble in terms of how you respond to your industry? How do you make those adjustments over time, and what can we learn from that in healthcare?

Build A Team to Establish the Vision

Von Ertfelda: I was one of the co-founders of the company’s first innovation discipline which was inside strategy and innovation. The goal seven years ago was to create an internal catalyst for change that allowed us to think further and beyond to challenge the status quo. To look at opportunities for long-term value creation.

For us it was about unlocking a culture of innovation, creativity and originality, and internally defining an innovation blueprint for the company that allowed us to grow and expand our thinking.

That team was focused on creating environments that supported innovation, defining the innovation vision and mission, setting up values, and introducing processes that allowed us, as a very successful but still large company, to actually behave like a small company. In many ways revisit our roots as a root beer stand 90 years ago and excavate those values around courage, daring, experimentation, pushing upstream, going against the grain, and capture that in a strategy message that we could use to guide our own activities, but then use it to address corporate antibodies that sometimes support whole thinking versus new thinking and widening of the aperture.

That was a mission we took on seven years ago and has since spread across the broader organization. I think that is one way to get at rethinking is to dedicate a team and look at how you can interface that team over the disciplines to deliver not only short term, but also long term focus.

Be Present, Be Aware and Listen

Ruppe:  In this society, as distracted as we all are, one of the skills that we all want to master is to be present. Start there. Pay attention to everything around you. Ask deeper questions about why we are seeing certain behaviors and think about what it could be. Stay open and curious.

We’re a relatively young company. Our average age is about 29. We have a lot of folks that can easily get distracted, but there’s a lot of talent there that grabs onto a central theme and idea that they can rally around quickly and can buy into it. What we want is to make sure the shared consciousness is really high. We think about the ways we’re present, but then make ourselves aware of what’s really going on and what we want to do about it?

Every company and every business has a tendency to want to routinize behavior, get into a way of operating that gets more and more efficient, that is a natural thing we do. But how do we make sure we are thinking about it and staying conscious of it and saying is that serving us and working for us, because we can lock into it, can make money off it, but pretty soon that success will be the thing that is our demise. We want to think about always being present, being aware, and getting that awareness to be shared and being influenced by those around you in that process.

Miller: I completely agree — listening, being aware and being present. In developing products, there can be a pretty long runway from when you’re first trying to solve a problem to when you have a commercialized product. In that time, things can change.

So what’s very important is not only to stay present, aware, in direct communication with users and market, but also to have courage to stop doing things when they’re no longer the right thing to do.

What that requires is making sure the people that are in leadership roles that champion these projects are championing a solution to a problem, not championing the specific product or idea they have. As things change and evolve, the incentives are tied to making sure they can drop what’s no longer the right thing and start again or, they can immediately change course if that is what’s required.

They need to be aware that things are changing constantly, and you need to empower people to step up and say, “You know what, I’m going to do something different.”

Von Ertfelda:  There’s something there that you can’t get at unless you can clear that runway. We can be overwhelmed, like slow strangulation with all of the work, and sometimes it’s about removing the distractions to get at what really matters to the end user.

Hank Adams | Healthcare | HDR
Global Director, Health