2008 was my year of 'living dangerously'.
I left a comfortable yet challenging job, as innovation design director in the health care team of a large multinational corporation. I had clocked up a decade of experience in using design to change the strategic course of a 'super tanker'! Seeking a change, I followed my head and my heart to move to Barcelona and set up an innovation design consultancy together with my partner. We are called fuelfor and we specialize in health care innovation.
In writing this article I realize the significance of this moment; my experience of innovation inside a 117 year-old corporation is still fresh in my mind, as is my recent foray into innovation entrepreneurship as fuelfor takes its first steps in the world. It is an ideal vantage point from which to speculate on the future of innovation...
The future of innovation lies in...
seeing beyond existing boundaries.
Opportunities for innovation lie in the cracks. In a corporate setting, innovation often required connecting skills and knowledge across disparate and rigid business divisions, or establishing entirely new business lines just to nurture an innovation. Stepping outside the commercial health care domain I now see opportunities between the fragmented public, clinical and personal health care contexts. As fuelfor we decided to actively consult clients in all three contexts, offering a 360° view on health as a means for them to access innovation within their blind spots.
feeling comfortable with complexity and mess.
Once you step beyond existing boundaries, you soon discover how complex and messy the world really is! This need not be an obstacle, in fact when things are no longer black and white there is more room for creativity! Health care is one such complex territory. It is fundamentally a human experience, subjective and emotional, but incorporating science, technology and economy. One of the reasons I love working in this field is the chance to make sense of this rich complexity, it poses me a creative challenge. Design thinking and skills such as empathy, visualisation and experience design are entering the lexicon of business innovation as tools to tackle such complex problems.
creating your own models of partnership.
Tackling complexity works well when you bring diverse experts to think together. But I like how a multidisciplinary approach also forces each discipline to sharpen its individual contribution. Good partnerships bring out the best in each partner. As fuelfor we seek partners who excel at complementary aspects of health care innovation. In doing so, our assumptions about competition, ownership and identity are being healthily challenged. We feel a need to define bespoke models of collaboration to give and learn the most from each relationship.
It's exciting to see that today's business, design and engineering schools are redesigning curricula to equip graduates with the practical skills needed for boundary-breaking, messy, multidisciplinary innovation! I look forward to learning from this new breed of innovators and discovering what future they will lead us towards.