Prompted by the Innovation Leadership Management program created by ICDK in Silicon Valley, DTU Business and Stanford Universtiy, Denmark’s largest university hospital, Rigshospitalet, has now launched IdéRiget (A Wealth of Ideas) a new program that ensures all innovative ideas are heard and considered – short circuiting the hierarchy of management in the process. “Exceptional” is the verdict from innovation experts.
In describing the challenge facing Righshospitalet, Executive Director, Torben Stentoft, asks a question:
“What happens when one of our employees comes to us saying I have this great idea, why don’t we change these things around, get other departments involved and perhaps get some external assistance from the private sector?”
Before launching IdéRiget the answer to this question was hard to come by. There simply wasn’t any dedicated forum where innovative ideas could be submitted, vetted and perhaps developed. This was the challenge that Stentoft and some of his colleagues brought with them to the Innovation Leadership Management course, dedicated to assist health executives address and realize their “innovation intent”, that in Rigshospitalet’s case later turned into IdéRiget.
Also participating in the Innovation Management Leadership Course was Hjalte Aaberg, Chief Executive Officer of the Capital Region, the administrative body that owns and operates the hospitals in the Greater Copenhagen area:
“We have successful processes around turning medical research into treatment, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into other organizational improvements. Good ideas are often inconvenient in that context. The Innovation Leadership course was instrumental in getting us to realize how exciting and rewarding it can be to apply innovative mindsets to our every-day scenarios.”
In collaboration with Stanford University, UC Berkeley and the Business School at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), ICDK Silicon Valley developed the Innovation Leadership Management program that takes public and private health care executives through an innovative process tailored around the concrete challenges they face in the work environment.
“The course wasn’t just fluffy “inspiration” it was a hands-on tool enabling us to make a difference. One of the important lessons was that if we really want to achieve this, we have to provide a framework that nurtures and allocates the necessary resources for this to happen,” says Stentoft.
When he returned from Silicon Valley with this team, they were ready to execute IdéRiget and issued a hospital wide call for innovative ideas and input. The feedback received was overwhelming; in a very tough elimination process, the ideas were narrowed down from 71 to 30, finalizing at 10. The employees behind the chosen 10 projects have now been reassigned from their regular jobs for six months to focus on realizing the ideas to be presented to a juried panel in September. Professor and innovation expert at DTU Management Engineering, Per Langaa Jensen, calls the project exceptional.
”It’s not unusual that the hospital sector focuses on innovation, but I’ve never before seen such a consistent, systematic effort that places the ideas and input of the employees front and center.”
Torben Stentoft calls it short circuiting the management hierarchy:
“In an organization with 8,000 employees and an annual budget of 6.5 billion DKK (US$1.2B) a certain organizational hierarchy is obviously needed, but IdéRiget has really succeeded in reaching across this and impact the work environment to a degree where everybody feels empowered to bring their ideas out in the open.”
One of the ideas arose from the desire to be able to weigh fragile, bedridden patients without having to lift them out of bed. The solution currently being developed is a “bed scale” that will give the exact weight of the patient in bed without having to move them, resulting in both time saving and optimized patient care.
“This is a project with an idea that seems pretty straight forward, but actually turns out to be a very complex challenge that also involves collaborating with external vendors,” says Stentoft.
No need to reinvent the wheel
The head of the Capital Region, Hjalte Aaberg, welcomes stronger public-private partnerships:
“Participating in the Innovation Management Leadership Course was a unique opportunity to include other industries in this challenge. We can also learn from premium airline management; for example, how to implement more efficient ways of servicing customers,” says Aaberg.
During the course, he worked with a group whose innovation intent was to create a management system within psychiatric treatment, spotting new trends quickly while finding methods of increasing staff involvement in this.
Aaberg sees projects developed during the course as easily transferable to other hospitals:
“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel 27 times at other hospitals. If a project from our group or others like IdéRiget end up producing the ideas that we successfully implement, then it’s obvious that we can take the lessons learned from this process and use them in other locations too.”