Last week I got the chance to present about a social innovation that would be a real contender to make the shortlist for my top five 'all time' list: Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) working with Formula One team Ferrari to improve the handover process of a child from surgery to the Intensive Care Unit. It has everything that I look for in an innovation, it's genius yet simple, it's creative but implementable and it has instant impact but is also hugely scalable.
The event was the Public Sector Show. The perfect setting to discuss an innovation that didn't require anyone to design a new product or service. The genius in the innovation lies in the fact that GOSH identified an opportunity to learn from a totally different setting. They cross pollinated and in doing so improved their own processes and performance.
My intention for using this seminar to discuss GOSH was to stimulate a new way for public services to look at innovation. Innovation isn't about super creative people who wear converse trainers, eat sushi rolls and lounge around on bean bags all day. Innovation is something that everyone is capable of, it just requires you to look at things slightly differently and explore how you can widen your normal frame of reference.
My challenge to my seminar group was to help me further populate my top five list with another ground-breaking innovation. Can teachers improve their teaching by working with marketing professionals? Can social workers learn from spending time with the Avon Lady? The field of cross pollination is a relatively untapped source of innovative ideas but is surely one that is worth exploring especially in a sector where a lack of creativity is often cited as a barrier to innovation?
I am confident in the potential that cross pollination of ideas can have but I wanted my seminar group to challenge and question this theory and below are a selection of the questions that came my way along with my on the spot answers.
- Would commercial organisations be interested in working with the local council on cross pollination projects? Commercial organisations are looking for a new way to do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and more effective ways to engage the local community beyond 'traditional' charity relationships. This offers partner organisations great CSR and learning opportunities.
- How do we garner internal support from our own organisations? Demonstrate it has value albeit on a small scale and then find an internal champion to help you disseminate the idea through the organisation. Show that it has value!
- We are up to our necks in work, how can this really help us? The truth is that cross pollination might not work for your organisation but if there is a chance to improve the way that you do your job in order to help you and others then it is surely worth exploring?