What makes innovation thrive

14 Oct 2010 Sandeep Mehta

The blog post Why Innovation Thrives at the Mayo Clinic in Harvard Business Review has a few interesting points to learn about encouraging innovation as learned from the Mayo Clinic:

Yet in the extensive research my team has done to uncover the mystery of successful innovation, we’ve found few track records to rival that of The Mayo Clinic, in decidedly non-urban Rochester, Minnesota. The World Database of Innovation we are compiling, as a collaborative effort between my firm, Generate Companies, and several universities, represents over 20,000 hours of work to date. As well as over 200 in-depth case studies, it compiles the ideas of 4,500 or so innovation experts and consultancies.

And the lessons are:

  1. Scarcity of resources: scarcity of resources shows up in our database as the single strongest driver of innovation in organizations in general.
  2. Connectedness: Internally, Mayo has achieved a high level of connectedness among employees with systems and processes that enable — and oblige — everyone across the organization to find and connect with the expertise they need at any moment.
  3. Diversity: Their approach is sometimes called cross-functional teaming, and is now common in health care and corporate innovation practices.
Of the three factors, connectedness and diversity are challenging in distributed virtual R&D teams.  Here are two articles on managing and driving satisfaction in virtual teams.

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