A good quote to sum up the innovation process comes by way of Graham Gibson, the renowned science fiction writer.
the future already exists, it’s just unevenly distributed
At the heart of this line of thinking is the work of Martin Weitzman, who popularized the notion that innovation often has little to do with inventing new things, but taking what already exists and applying it in new ways.
It’s manifested itself most clearly in the success of Apple, who haven’t really invented anything new, yet have obtained unheralded wealth due to their ability to take what already exists and apply it better than anyone else in the marketplace.
In my work with the NHS it has become evident that there are pockets of excellence throughout the service, but that disseminating this excellence is incredibly difficult.
So spreading knowledge of what is working well is a pretty important job. It’s into this landscape that a new site is launching called The Academy of Fab NHS Stuff.
It’s a project backed by noted healthcare commentator Roy Lilley, who wanted a platform to help share the good things that are happening in the NHS.
“For as long as I can remember I have been dreaming of a time when all the good things, ideas, innovations and concepts, that are the backbone of the NHS, could be shared.The NHS is full of enthusiastic, clever, keen, passionate people with a strong sense of vocation. They want to do the right thing and to do things right.
The Academy of FabNHSStuff is the place to share ideas about doing it right, boast about the good stuff and if you have a problem, the place to search for an answer. I want to make FabNHSStuff the first port of call to show off (why not), to make us proud and put a smile on the faces of the people working right across the NHS; to make services better, more efficient and above all fun,” he says.
The project was born out of the Apollo Nursing Resource that aims to capture what nurses do and support those who wish to improve their own performances.
Apollo has been live for approximately a year and has already gained around 11,000 regular users.
Projects are submitted by users, with viewers then able to read about the success story, rate it, comment on them and contact the instigator for help in implementing it elsewhere.
The site is an independent project, and whilst this does provide some benefits in the sense that it has no cultural or bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, there are also some weaknesses inherent in their position.
Disseminating the idea
The first is in actually populating the site. There are no shortage of improvement projects operating within the NHS, and whilst many of them have great intentions, I feel that many suffer from a lack of awareness.
When I spoke to the team at the Fab NHS Stuff, the impression was that promotion of the site would largely be dependent upon Lilley’s personal network.
I’ve no doubt he’s very connected, but I wonder if that will be enough to sustain the venture in the longer term. After all, the problem they’re trying to tackle is the difficulty the NHS has in spreading good ideas, so I don’t think it can be counted upon to spread organically.
Should design matter?
My second quibble with the site is the design. I’m very much of the opinion that content matters more than looks, but I’m well aware that in today’s world, design does matter, and the design of the Academy looks rather basic.
Hopefully they’ll manage to polish this up a bit as it would be a shame for it to get off to a poor start over something that really shouldn’t matter that much.
Overall this is a project that is very much needed, and so I certainly wish it the very best of luck. Hopefully it will prove to be a useful tool in helping ensure that good practice is spread far and wide.