BIF Kicks Off Project With The National Association of Community Health Centers

On November 15, BIF launched a new project with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) which serves as the national health care advocacy organization for America’s medically underserved and uninsured and the community health centers that serve as their health care home.

Community health centers provide critical health services to vulnerable populations across the United States. One in fifteen Americans use the services of a community health center in both urban and rural areas. Today, community health centers serve 27 million Americans in over 10,000 communities.

As each community center is independent, NACHC provides critical services across the network –  including research, training, and technical infrastructure. Increasingly, NACHC is recognizing the power of community health centers to drive innovation on many different fronts – from how they serve patients to how they influence national policy.

BIF is excited to partner with NACHC to explore the innovation opportunities. At a meeting of primary care and community health networks in New Orleans, BIF’s Chief Market Maker, Eli MacLaren facilitated a day-long design studio to define the first phase of work:

How might we shift our lens to uncover innovation opportunities that will transform how we serve patients? How might we collaboratively innovate, going farther together than we can go alone?

Following this meeting, BIF will launch an innovation exploration, using human-centered research to define the job that stakeholders need to be done, i.e. what do they value? What will enhance their work, while driving opportunities for innovation?

This work will be packaged into a set of customer insights and opportunity spaces for driving innovation at the local and national level. NACHC works in conjunction with state and regional primary care associations, health center controlled networks and other public and private sector organizations to expand health care access to all in need.

 


The Integration Design Consortium

We’re in an exciting time, one in which a lot of leaders, educators, families, and students are engaged in advocating for a more equitable education system. Even still, young people are falling through the cracks.

It’s not their fault. We often hear about how students are failed by a broken education system, without fully acknowledging that we are the architects of the system. The onus is on us to change because getting to the outcomes we want for young people will mean transforming the way we operate. This isn’t easy and the answers aren’t straightforward. But now is the time for all of us—from educators to philanthropic foundations—to reclaim our imagination and creativity in service of our students.

In an attempt to do things differently, Carnegie Corporation of New York has partnered with the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) to design and run the Integration Design Consortium (IDC). The IDC is an experiment for the Corporation: rather than funding programmatic proof points, the IDC is giving leaders permission to test various integrative approaches to support students throughout their journey in the education system. It consists of five teams2Revolutions, Bellwether, Education First, FSG, and The Teachers Guildworking from the classroom to the statehouse to explore the structures, mindsets, and processes that can create a more equitable education system. Instead of funding these teams in isolation, Carnegie Corporation of New Yorkwith the help of BIFis supporting the IDC as a collaborative learning network, allowing teams to share insights in real time.

Teams working at the Integration Design Consortium convening

WHERE WE’VE BEEN

Since June 2017, BIF has been leading the shared learning agenda for the IDC—collecting learnings and uncovering insights from across the teams to share with the field more broadly. The collaborative structure of the IDC has allowed us to observe both what is happening in the individual projects, as well as how the five teams are engaging with one another.

We’ve used the collective structure to experiment with different ways to engage the teams—including gathering project updates and sharing them with the teams, convening teams in person for collective sensemaking, and managing self-organized, cross-project exploration groups that focus on specific areas of overlap. Testing these various ways of engaging the teams will help us understand how we might spark collaboration, inspire reflection, and encourage pivots based on real-time learnings. Ultimately, these insights can be used to create field-facing learnings and tools that can reduce fragmentation in education.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO FAR

It’s been over a year and a half since we first embarked on this grand experiment, so we wanted to share some emerging questions, reflections, and curiosities we’ve had over the past eighteen months.

Patterns of Fragmentation and Integration

At our second convening that took place in January 2018, we wanted to identify the key levers to integration based on the teams’ project experiences. These real-world examples provided a breakdown of the aspects that are most vital to creating a poor or an excellent state of integration, potentially helping us see how complex systems are changing over time. 

Changing Systems Requires Continuous (Un)learning

Monthly calls with teams have allowed us to peek under the hood of the individual projects and identify common themes that point to potential learnings for the field. One insight that we’ve recognized is that there is some amount of unlearning that needs to happen in order to rethink how the system can work.

These calls have served as a touchpoint for project updates but moreso, they have allowed us to ask other questions, such as: What has surprised teams? What challenges have arisen in their projects? What have they been learning that informs us about the nature of fragmentation? Having this kind of visibility into teams’ internal reflections as they are in the midst of planning and implementing their projects has fueled the collection of insights—like the significance of unlearningin real time.

The Power of Relationships

At our very first convening, Todd Kern from 2Revolutions said that change happens at the speed of trust; and at our latest convening, David Garfunkel from FSG talked about the importance of building relational fieldsor the strength, depth, and quality of how we relate to one anotherto create lasting change for young people. In both cases, it was clear that the connection between people is key when doing system change work.

The IDC is by no means the first to say that relationships are important. However, what has been apparent to us as we’ve been doing this work is that relationships should be the goal, not just a means to an end.

WHAT WE’RE THINKING ABOUT NOW

Going Slow to Go Fast

True systems change takes time; we need to know when to move slow and when to move fast. But we’re incentivized, through both structures (like grant cycles and metrics of evaluation) and culture (such as a bias towards action), to actand measure our impactnow. If we reframe our idea of short-term success to bias more towards learning as opposed to measurable outcomes, we can give ourselves the time we need to create the change we want to see.

Moving slowly might mean taking time to 1) build trust and relationships, 2) understand the underlying social forces at play, 3) develop new skills and practice new ways of thinking, and 4) craft a clear, compelling narrative that motivates people to act.

Taking time to build relationships and understand the underlying social dynamics at play might mean taking a look around to see who is in the room (from leaders, to students, to constituents) and valuing both their roles as well as their lived experiences. Doing this can help create a sense of ownership over the work and help people shift from self-advocacy to collective advocacy. While this increased trust isn’t always necessary for the work, it does usually strengthen it.

INTERESTED IN THE WORK OF THE IDC? LEARN MORE!

To learn more about the IDC and see the latest learnings from the teams, visit the website at www.integration-design-consortium.org.

You can also find more information about integrative approaches and how the learning agenda operates in Carnegie Corporation’s new report: From Fragmentation to Coherence: How more integrative ways of working could accelerate improvement and progress toward equity in education. This resource—meant for practitioners at all levels of the education system, including those in the public, nonprofit, and business sectors offers practical insights into the causes, consequences, and potential remedies of fragmentation.

Read more about the five projects teams in their own words:

  1. Supporting Community-Driven Solutions to Achieve Equity and Improvement in Education | Rachel Lopkin | 2Revolutions
  2. Redefining Professional Development: Educators as Leaders and Learners | Larry Corio | The Teachers Guild
  3. To Improve the Lives of Students, Two Communities Learn to Relate Differently | David Garfunkel, Peter Senge and Jessica Pizarek | FSG, Systems Leadership Institute and PolicyLink
  4. Helping Education Leaders Build Coherence into Reform Strategies to Support Teachers and Student Learning | Jenn Vranek and Cristina Muñoz | Education First
  5. How Greater Continuity Can Help the Millions of Students Rotating Through Social Services | Hailly T.N. Korman | Bellwether Education Partners

 

By: Reid Henkel and Isabelle Yisak


Amazon: The Elephant in the Room

As an innovation junkie, Amazon is the elephant in a whole lot of rooms I find myself in these days. The number and variety of the rooms in which the elephant seems to be hiding in plain sight are remarkable.

Amazon either already impacts or is poised to disrupt many traditional retail industry segments ranging from books to food to consumer tech to prescription drugs. No retail segment is immune. And now Amazon has announced it will aggressively extend its platform more broadly into healthcare sending shudders through the entire industry. Amazon also weighs heavily in public sector economic development discussions with the announcement of two new locations in the DC beltway and NYC for its burgeoning headquarters functions and the devastating local impact of so many lost entry-level jobs as many bricks and mortar retailers either go out of business or downsize due to the growth of online commerce.

It’s beyond me how so many public and private sector leaders have ignored the elephant in the room for so long but one thing is clear, no one can ignore Amazon any longer. The question of what to do about it looms large for every leader. One thing for sure, it’s a good time to be an innovation junkie.

It’s been a retailers dream start to the holiday season this year according to Internet Retailer with total retail sales estimates between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday of $143.8 billion. On-line sales commanded 15% of total retail sales or $21.6 billion. Amazon is estimated to have sold 29% of the online total for a whopping $6.25 billion. Not bad for five days of work!

Both the online percentage of retail sales and Amazon’s share continue to grow showing no signs of slowing down. Just because in-store retail sales also grew over the Thanksgiving holiday don’t be fooled into thinking traditional retailers are safe. We’re at the top of a long cycle of economic growth and when the next inevitable downturn starts retail is always one of the first industries to take a hit and it always gets hit hard. The transformation of the retail industry to online and mobile is still in its early days and the impact on communities and the retail workforce will accelerate over the next five years.

Amazon isn’t just the elephant in a lot of work-related rooms, the pachyderm has also found its way into my home, literally. Never mind the growing number of packages I trip over on the porch when I get home after work but the other night on the local news I watched a segment of a weekly series called Tuesday’s Child featuring a heartwarming story about a local child available for adoption named Alexa. Every time Alexa’s name was mentioned throughout the segment another less human Alexa in the room piped up making her presence known and reminding me that Amazon really is in the room!

Perhaps the best evidence that the elephant is on the move and can’t be ignored is today’s Amazon healthcare announcement. The healthcare industry has been on emergency Amazon watch for the last several years. Every Amazon announcement has been parsed to handicap the odds that Amazon would try to work its disruptive magic on the heavily regulated healthcare industry. Every comment from Jeff Bezos about Amazon’s healthcare intentions sends industry stocks reeling. To say healthcare institution leaders are nervous is an understatement.

There was no ambiguity in today’s announcement from Amazon about their healthcare industry intentions. Amazon announced the launch of a new healthcare service platform called Comprehend Medical. It’s a predictable platform play by Amazon to stampede aggressively into healthcare.

Comprehend Medical is touted as a healthcare service platform which will aggregate patient EMR data, apply machine learning and artificial intelligence, and then provide institutional health care players and professionals with the information and tools necessary to make better more economic healthcare decisions. And oh yeah, it will also integrate the world’s largest product commerce engine. Incumbent healthcare institutions and companies have good reason to shudder at the sound of the elephant’s footsteps approaching.

Disrupting healthcare won’t be as easy as disrupting bookstores or big-box retailers for Amazon. There are many institutional interests and regulatory moats making it more challenging. As Amazon sees it, our current healthcare system is vulnerable and ripe for disruption. It leaves too many individuals and families behind and delivers a fragmented, confusing, overspecialized, unaffordable, and painful experience for far too many consumers. Healthcare institutions and professionals are too slow to disrupt themselves and to take advantage of new emerging technologies to transform customer experience. Our healthcare system as currently comprised is also unsustainable financially. The elephant likes what it sees with lots of room to forage for value creating opportunities that leverage Amazon’s superpowers.

I am curious to watch how Amazon architects its Comprehend Medical platform and service offerings. I’m concerned about privacy issues, control and use of individual healthcare data and believe that the long-term winning play is more like Apple (focus on consumers) than Microsoft (focus on the institutional market). It will also be interesting to see how Amazon handles the growing public backlash to its market size and influence including the risk of increased regulation or antitrust actions to slow the behemoth down.

It’s always best to recognize the elephant in any room. Ignoring elephants is an unwise strategy in an era where cycles of disruption are shorter placing a premium on reinvention, new business models, experimenting with emerging technologies and transforming customer experience. Everyone loves innovation until it affects them. Today, innovation affects all of us. If we try to ignore it, wait it out, or lean against it we leave ourselves increasingly vulnerable to disruption. The only winning strategy to avoid disruption is to innovate from a position of strength while we still can and not from a position of weakness when it is too late.

We also have to be clear-eyed about the impact of innovation on real people and communities. That doesn’t mean we should block innovation and the promise of leveraging exciting emerging technologies for good, it means that we need to recognize the impact on real people, institutions and communities and enable them to leverage emerging technologies to get better faster and to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.


Reimagining the Disability Services System in RI

BIF kicked off a new project with The Sherlock Center on Disabilities and five service providing agencies in RI to reimagine the services offered to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the state.

Driven by a deep sense of commitment to better serve individuals with disabilities, they seek to transform the current provider-driven service model into one that puts personal agency and self-determination at its core.

“Our highest hopes are to re-design the system of supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “said Mary Madden, Conversion Institute Facilitator at the Sherlock Center,” and to impact the quality of their lives in very real terms. The BIF Summit has set the stage for a powerful shared learning experience, moving us out of our silo and into the realm of possibility.”

Speaking to her personal motivation for participating in the work, Maya Colantuono, Technical Assistance Specialist at Sherlock, shared the following: “My 10-year-old gets around in a power wheelchair and uses an app on her iPad to communicate. These differences have not gotten in the way of her having the same childhood experiences as our other children. As she moves toward the adult service system, it is our imperative to ensure that she continues to be a fully engaged and valued member of our community.”

Leaders from participating agencies acknowledge that current service offerings are not sufficiently providing the individuals they serve with the supports needed to have and build a great life. They are committed to a more inclusive and person-centered transformation of the system of services for people with disabilities in RI. As one participant put it during the project kickoff meeting, the shared aim is to “get past our agencies to create more agency” for individuals with disabilities to lead and take charge of their own lives.

Participating agencies are Perspectives Corporation, Whitmarsh, West Bay RI, Looking Upwards, and The Cove Center / The Groden Network. Funds from RI’s Department of Labor and Training are being used to finance the work.


Personalized Medicine by Design

Business Innovation Factory (BIF), in collaboration with The School of the Possible founded by Dave Gray, Hatch founded by Yarrow Kraner, and Overlap founded by Michael Dila, is launching a project to explore the opportunity for a transformational personalized medicine business model.

Leveraging a network of networks we will start with a four-month exploratory phase of work to establish a deep customer experience foundation upon which we plan to design, prototype and commercialize a new model that empowers individuals and families to improve their own health and wellbeing. Our intention is to start-out-loud and to work iteratively and collaboratively to inform the development of a repeatable and scalable model. Our intention is to catalyze a personalized medicine movement.

Our U.S. healthcare system is leaving too many individuals and families behind. It delivers a fragmented, confusing, over-specialized, unaffordable and painful experience for far too many of us. Healthcare institutions are slow to disrupt themselves by leveraging new emerging technologies to transform the customer experience, and the healthcare system as currently comprised is unsustainable financially.

Healthcare is ripe for disruption. It is up to all of us to make sure that we disrupt it on behalf of those being left behind by today’s system. It is up to us to imagine a new healthcare system that puts individuals and families first. We need a new system in which families have access to the information, tools, and resources necessary to improve their own health and wellbeing. We need a new healthcare system that puts us at its core.

In the exploratory phase of our Personalized Medicine By Design project, we will establish a strong foundation of understanding of today’s healthcare customer experience. Any transformational personalized medicine business model must start with an understanding of the job-to-be-done from the customer’s point of view, not primarily from the perspective of today’s healthcare institutions and system. We will not be admiring the problems of today’s healthcare system, they are well known. We are seeking to understand how individuals and families experience the current healthcare system and their pain points as a jumping off point for imagining how we might transform, not tweak, it. A rigorous human-centered exploration phase will inform the design and prototyping of a transformational personalized medicine business model with healthcare consumers and families at the core.

We won’t start with the question, “how can we improve today’s healthcare system.” Building on a deep understanding of healthcare customer experience as an actionable foundation for design we will start with the question, “Can we imagine a new healthcare system that is in service of helping families better manage their own health and wellbeing?” We won’t get bogged down worrying about scalability and how to change the current system until we have demonstrated at a small scale that there is a better way that is financially viable. Let’s figure out what we want to change to before we obsess over how to change the way it works today. It’s time to create the conditions to imagine, design, prototype, and commercialize a transformative new patient and family-centered business model unconstrained by how healthcare works today.

I have been waiting for the stars to align for personalized medicine and to lead this BIF project for a long time. Over my career, I have engaged in and have every black and blue mark imaginable from working in and trying to change every aspect of how today’s healthcare system and business models work. Our passion at BIF is making transformation safer and easier to manage. As a leader in the healthcare industry, a strategy consultant, a government bureaucrat, and as the founder and Chief Catalyst of BIF I have led teams working on the mindsets, muscles, and tools to enable business model transformation and healthcare has always been my home industry.

I worked at Eli Lilly and Company in the 1980’s and will never forget the opportunity to witness first-hand how genomics might transform healthcare when I got to attend the opening of the world’s first commercial-scale recombinant DNA manufacturing facility. I was wowed by Lilly’s fete of tricking e-coli into producing human insulin at scale. Fast forward to today when the cost of mapping our own personal genome is rapidly approaching $100 and companies are already being launched that will offer us the opportunity to map and store our genome for free if we allow them to monetize our most valuable data set, our double helix. What if we made sure that we controlled our own healthcare information and who and how others can access it?

As a road-warrior strategy consultant, I worked with the visionary Mark Levin, founder of Millennium, who was early with a personalized medicine vision to transform the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry in the 1990’s. Mark’s idea was brilliant but the technology hadn’t advanced enough for a transformational business model to take hold. I never forgot the boldness of his vision and have always believed that it would ultimately come to pass. I believe that personalized medicine is now a viable business model with the potential to transform healthcare. We can already see its transformational potential in the diagnosis and treatment of many forms of cancer. The changes we can now see in personalizing cancer care and treatment will expand to other diseases and care paths. The promise of personalized medicine is within reach and hugely disruptive to every aspect of today’s healthcare system. What if we made sure that personalized medicine business models were designed with individuals and families at their core?

As a geek wannabe, I’ve always lived in the space between emerging technologies and new business models. Emerging technologies including genomics, big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, blockchain and all things digital are at a stage where they can actually be deployed in service of new human-centered business models. They are all capabilities in our sandbox ready to be combined and recombined to enable a personalized medicine vision. I was troubled when in 2011 the National Research Council declared that personalized medicine was an antiquated term and should be replaced by the more technology friendly label of precision medicine. I’m certain new technologies will continue to fill our business model sandbox enabling us to more precisely diagnose and treat disease. Today, these new technologies are out ahead of the business models to deliver their value at scale, and their development is predominantly shaped through the lens of today’s healthcare institutions and not customer experience. We need to transform from a sick care to a wellness model. To transform healthcare we will have to put the personalized back into precision medicine.

Our collaborative exploration of personalized medicine opportunities will put individuals and families at the center of our design process. It will bridge the exciting space between enabling agency at the consumer level and leveraging emerging technologies to transform customer experience and outcomes. Join us. We’ve created a Personalized Medicine by Design Facebook group to welcome other purposeful networks like School of the Possible, Overlap and Hatch, companies and institutions that want to play and any individuals interested in project updates or engaging in our exploration process. Let’s transform healthcare together.

Personalized Medicine by Design Facebook Group


Catalyzing Reactions from BIF2018

There was something palpable in the air surrounding BIF2018. Like many summits that have come before it, our focus has always been to create more community than event. To share in our purposeful networks to catalyze a reaction and spark greatness within the audience, to go out there and bring a renewed sense of hope, belonging, and courage allowing participants to go home and spread their learnings with others.

Usually, by the time the Summit hits us in full force in September, we at BIF are too focused on ensuring everything falls into place to fully grasp the impact of the two-days we have set in motion. It is only until well after the stage lights have dimmed and the hoards of changemakers who have descended upon our great city of Providence have scattered back to their collective outposts across the U.S. that we get the chance to fully reflect.

But this year, there was an undeniable sense that something was different. More exciting. That the change we’ve been so desperately seeking for our most vital social systems might finally be breaking through to an even higher ground. It could just be that the timing couldn’t have been better, that this was exactly what we all needed as a community. Or perhaps this year, in particular, the caliber and diversity of both story and storyteller were far and above what we could have ever hoped for.

Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say that all of us have left changed. Inspired. Hopeful. Ready to self-organize and create the conditions necessary for all of us to freely combine and recombine our capabilities to make the world a better place.

And that change starts with you, our community, through words, actions, and movements, Here are some of the takeaways shared by our audience.

  1. Stranger in a Strange Land: An Educator’s #BIF2018 Adventure by Trevor Aleo
  2. Reflections: One Month Post BIF by Deb Mills-Scofield
  3. BIF2018: How Connection Drives Innovation from Greg Satell
  4. BIF2018: Connecting, Catalyzing And Colliding Communities by DK
  5. How Our First Instincts Can Hamper Our Capacity To Act Wisely And Innovate by Kare Anderson
  6. Design + Strategy = A New Good Story by Eli MacLaren
  7. Let’s Catalyze Something Bigger Than Ourselves by Founder & Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan
  8. The Biotech Innovation That Will Transform Society Has Arrived: An Interview with Andrew Hessel

Our goal? We want to come together to strategically build a roadmap for transformation through our collective networks with you. Don’t know where to start? If you have a vision, we have an approach.

Schedule Time with BIF


10 Steps to Transform the Patient Experience

The healthcare industry is disrupting, and many organizations are struggling to keep up with the times. Often times, business model transformation feels harder than it has to be. Business model innovation isn’t about practices, it’s about next practices. Here are 10 small next practices to help you start:

 

1) Access

Patients and families must have easy access to unlimited and trusted information and must know that the most convenient care is also the most personal care. Even with telemedicine, it is much more valuable to the patient or family member knowing that the patient has a relationship with the doctor.

 

2) Meaningful return beyond clinical assessment

Care can’t just have tangible returns like shots and prescriptions anymore. Because so many families have to take time out of work and find transportation to the doctor’s office, there must also be meaningful, tangible and relevant returns on health and wellness and in order to make the benefits outweigh the costs.

 

3)  Motivation to engage in self-wellness

Patients and families must be encouraged to continue their journey outside the doctor’s office by providing both information and motivation to be independent agents of their own health. Patients will become better agents of their own health if they are encouraged to learn from all experiences, including mistakes and failures. Wellness should be led by the patient, in partnership with the knowledge and resources of the doctor.

4) Patient/Doctor relationships must exist outside of the paradigm of care

The patient-doctor relationship is framed by visits to the doctor’s office; the doctor usually only sees the patient when they are sick. In order to break down this silo, it is important to see patients as people with hopes and dreams, thus building rapport, trust, and engagement.

 

5) Bridge the gap between physical wellness and the development of personal goals

Current doctor-patient interactions are framed by the scope of preventative care. These interactions have the potential to unlock further value if the discussions centered around both their physical and personal development.

 

6) Patients need actionable goals

In order to provide actionable goals, it is crucial that physicians focus on healthy habits of the entire family, not just the single patient. These actionable goals must address both existing conditions as well as elements of wellness. Furthermore, it is evident that there may be more pressing matters than simply educating patients and families on wellness such as socioeconomic or social determinants to health.  

 

7) Overall positive customer experience and perspective on clinical visits

A positive patient experience is one in which the end user trusts that the information and service received has their best interest at heart. Additionally, patients and families must have an experience that leaves them feeling comfortable, engaged and validated through meaningful connections, cultural competencies, and a family-centered environment.

 

8) Patient/family centered interactions and environment

It is crucial for medical centers to recognize that the patient exists in a family. In order to value the patient as a member of a family, the physical space and staff interactions must be designed around the fact that the family is the unit.

Patient Experience Lab at BIF

9) The clinic must reflect and understand the cultural values of the community

It is necessary for a practice to understand the cultural values of the community. These values need to be reflected in both the facility and in interactions between patients, families, and staff to make patients and families feel comfortable and welcome.

 

10) Ease of navigating the clinic – language/ welcoming environment

It is evident that families want to be able to navigate the healthcare system in the language that they are comfortable with. In order to accomplish this, patients and families must receive medical services in their own language and have assistance in following medical resources so that they have the proper knowledge to make informed decisions about payment options, medical treatment, and wellness plans. This should be reflected in a welcoming environment.

 

Are you ready to transform Healthcare? Learn more about Business Innovation Factory here, or email us at eli@bif.is


Breaking the Silence from the (Unintended) Consequence of Political Correctness

At BIF, one of our core beliefs is that a good story can change the world. By sharing our insights and perspectives, we can connect, inspire, and transform to enable purposeful networks. Guest contributor Ann Keehn shares her thoughts and emergent takeaway from BIF2018:

One emerged theme from BIF 2018:

Breaking the silence from the (unintended) consequence of political correctness.

George Carlin wrote, “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure that’s the way to fight discrimination. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”

Alan Simpson noted that “Political correctness is like wearing duct tape on your mouth because if you really are a person filled with hate, prejudice, and bias […] then that stuff comes through like a fissure through a volcano.” As a young boy, Alan Simpson’s father (a Boy Scout troop leader) took his son, Alan, to the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp (a part of our American history we were so powerfully reminded of in Julian’s songs) to hold troop meetings because “those imprisoned were also American boys.” It was during this time that Alan Simpson and Norman Mineta (an imprisoned Japanese American boy) began their life-long friendship; Alan became a Republican senator and Norman a Democratic congressman – both fighting for freedom of speech and against discrimination.

I heard several of the storytellers putting out their own story, unpacking their own biases, and asking us to have the courage to have the conversation. Name it, talk about it, find a way to make it better for all. They called for a greater recognition of structured bias in our systems, but also the recognition that “we” are the systems. That it begins not with solving the problem of the 100,000 homeless population in a city, but one person handing a token to and seeing that one man or woman who is currently without a home.

I am more hopeful for America’s future when I hear that many conversations are taking shape. That individuals are having the courage to stop the censorship, to take off the duct tape, and to have those often uncomfortable but always enlightening conversations. Sam Siedel’s image of the two worlds back-to-back and Yolanda’s poem reflect these ideas because they retain the complex beauty of our world while challenging us to see in a new way.

Ann Keehn
Health Services Director of Operations & Senior Consultant
John Snow, Inc.

John Snow, Inc., and our nonprofit JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., are public health management consulting and research organizations dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world. Our mission is to improve the health of underserved people and communities and to provide a place where people of passion and commitment can pursue this cause.

Share Your BIF2018 Insights With Us 


Design + Strategy = A New Good Story

In 2010, my mind was blown by the inaugural TEDWomen — I mean literally blown. My brain hurt, and I was off-balance and discombobulated, as my brain raced with many powerful insights. I was grateful for the plane home, so I could process and make meaning of what I’d heard, creating a new practice:

Whenever I leave a conference, I make a list of no more than 5 insights that are so powerful that I must act on them. I create an intention for what that action looks like, define the barriers and risks of acting in new ways, and hold myself accountable for starting.

As Chief Market Maker at BIF, I am blessed that two days of innovation storytelling is part of our annual Fall cycle, and so this practice continues for me after each BIF Summit. I am also blessed that I get to process the learnings and insights with a team of Experience Designers, and incorporate them into our work with institutional leaders. Not everyone is so lucky, and it had me wondering how this formula of inspiration, design, and strategy could be useful to our audience too, so I wanted to make a proposition.

Here’s why:

I regularly facilitate conversations about business model innovation. I use BIF’s methodology to teach teams and groups how this methodology can make transformation safer and easier to manage. The goal is to inspire confidence in transformation (versus the well-known approaches to incremental innovation) and to teach a few fundamental behaviors required to be successful:

  • Transformation requires shifting your lens from your core business model and taking a human/user-centered approach.
  • Recognize that your initial solution design is only partially right, and move as rapidly as possible to real-world prototyping to fix the rest.
  • Focus on scale only once you have figured out what the “it” is; too often, we let questions of scale surface and create resistance to trying something new before we even know what the new is and how it works.
  • All of this is relevant to the design process — a process of seeing anew and a bias towards action.

The second part is the internal strategy, meaning:

How do even seasoned innovation leaders create the conditions for and the permission to do transformational work?

The reality is that one of two conditions will exist in institutions. In the most ideal and least common, the CEO will recognize the institutional imperative to explore new business models as part of the innovation agenda. In the least ideal and most common, the innovation leader (Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, etc.) will want to ensure that transformation is part of the innovation portfolio, but unfortunately, their efforts are not supported, resourced, or declared at the leadership level.

Then what?

Building on my own experience as a seasoned intrapreneur and the work BIF has done to explore the entrepreneur experience, (a) we know how hard it is; and (b) we have a few recommended strategies:

  • Stories mobilize others to act. Share them early to test the waters. Grow them to build ground and resources. Make them visual. Make them personal — enabling others to connect through authenticity and vulnerability.
  • A sense of a belonging is hard to find within — there is a reason innovators are known as rebels and disrupters. Search for tribes. Carve out gold in the grey space — physically and virtually — across business units, silos, and disciplines.
  • You have to earn the freedom to act. Be prepared for resistance, and confront it with listening ears. Recognize that you won’t win all the time, loss happens. Know when it matters.
  • Strengthen your organization’s response system through your own actions. Overcome self-doubt. Reframe failure as intentional iteration. Have patience, and be eternally optimistic.
  • Differentiate know-what and know-how. Recognize the two types of knowledge building. Be prepared to unlearn and de-educate, especially while working within existing organizational constructs. Draw from life experiences.
  • Make it easy for others to invest. Be strategic in finding executive sponsorship. Create an opportunity to vet and evaluate routinely. Seed a sense of collective contribution.

So how does this relate to your BIF2018 experience? Because here is what is going to happen:

  • You will hear stories from 32 storytellers who will blow your mind, inspire your thinking, and shift your lens.
  • You will connect with your tribe, and be incredibly optimistic about the possibilities to transform.
  • Without the strategy part of the equation, you’ll go home and be disenchanted with the ho and the hum of business as usual.

That’s where we come in.

Following the Summit, I will happily jump on the phone with you to: (1) quickly help you identify the key challenges/barriers to transformation; (2) define the core behaviors and strategies that will help you navigate them; and (3) help you frame a narrative for how this design and strategy might come together to alter your institutional trajectory.

Design + Strategy = A New Good Story.

It’s all part of making transformation safer and easier to manage. Welcome to the community.

New call-to-action


Let’s Catalyze Something Bigger Than Ourselves

September is a beacon of light for us every year. At BIF, we pride ourselves in living and breathing the human side of innovation day in and day out, but it’s really our Annual Collaborative Innovation Summit that reminds us of our shared purpose.

It touches our souls, refreshes our outlook, and energizes us for the hard transformation work ahead. For those of you that are new faces in the crowd, you’ll soon experience what we mean. And for those who have returned year after year, I can’t thank you enough for strengthening our growing network of human-centered innovation junkies. Together we can change the world.  

We believe in the power of random collisions of unusual suspects, or what we at BIF like to call making a RCUS, to tap the limitless potential in the gray spaces between us. There’s no telling the heights we can reach together by coming here and connecting outside our usual silos, from all walks of life, experiences, and viewpoints – all catalyzed by the 32 incredible personal stories of transformation we’re about to experience on the #BIF2018 stage. Every year I’m reminded that this isn’t just about who attends or even who is up on stage, but that it’s about catalyzing something bigger than any one of us. It’s about engaging and collaborating as a purposeful network to unleash the adjacent possible. To connect, inspire, and transform.

True to our vision, #BIF2018 continues to remain more community than event. Our community knows that innovation is a team sport and understands the value of connectivity. We can’t get better, faster if we don’t do it together. To make change a reality, it’s up to all of us to make it happen. I believe in the untapped potential in all of us and look forward to these two days every year, knowing that the best is yet to come. Let the inspiration begin!

BIF2018 Collaborative Innovation Summit

One of our core beliefs is that a good story can change the world.  We’ve never prescribed what our storytellers have to say and nor will we. At #BIF2018 we are modeling how to enable self-organized purposeful networks. It’s up to us to accept the responsibility to convert random collisions from the Summit into powerful and purposeful collaborations. You decide what your takeaways are, what insights to act on. How to engage and inspire others. Inspiration is personal and it’s up to participants to decide where it comes from, who to connect with, and how to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose. Let’s make a RCUS at #BIF2018, because that’s how the magic happens.

I have high expectations for where we can go from here. Transformation requires an emotional connection to the work. When we feel connected and involved in the story, there’s no telling what we can do together. The time for transformation is now. Let’s make our networks more purposeful and committed to transforming our important social systems, including healthcare, education, and public services.

Together we will catalyze something bigger than any of us individually. The more we connect, share, and experiment together, the greater our impact will have on more people’s lives. What if innovation isn’t about inventing anything new after all? What if it’s about creating the conditions for all of us to more freely combine and recombine our capabilities to make the world a better place?

If a good story can change the world, let’s start with our own. Welcome to #BIF2018!

Forbes Named BIF2018 Top 5 Conferences To Expand Your Mind