Accelerating Innovation in Ambiguity

HealthPay24 Employee Appreciation Lunch 2020

Recently, during a demo of newly available product options and analytics, the client exclaimed, “Wow, this is literally an unmatched pace of innovation!” For a Health IT company, this is the ultimate compliment.

This exchange got me to reflecting on what exactly it takes to drive change — not just incremental, but meaningful change. Change that translates into transformative innovation.

Companies regularly face complex problems that demand solutions to build a competitive advantage in a constantly changing marketplace. Innovation is central to any business’ sustainability.

In ordinary times, it’s not unusual for meaningful change to occur in fits and starts. But these are no ordinary times. An international health crisis has accelerated innovation. Years of digital transformation have been compressed into just a few months.

So, what is it that sparks an unmatched pace of innovation in the midst of immense uncertainty? When I read Deloitte’s article, “Passion of the explorer,” it really drove home the idea that the key differentiator is the pursuit of a quest with great passion.

Without passion, innovation is simply a failed aspiration. True innovation begins with an explorer mindset.

Embracing Ambiguity

Ambiguity creates possibility. It is unknown territory that has yet to be explored. Having an explorer mindset means being comfortable working toward ill-defined objectives. It also means accepting that the quest will likely change mid-course.

Without passion and the desire to explore, companies do not move forward. Solving ambiguous problems requires emergent thinking, forging into that unknown territory, and revealing new ways of doing things. Embracing ambiguity is risky, but the payoff can be game-changing.

Planting a Garden of Opportunity

Leveraging the explorer mindset requires a company culture that fosters meaningful innovation, inspires creativity, and stimulates passion. As pointed out in the Deloitte piece, “There’s no reason to believe that most people aren’t capable of developing the attributes of passion, assuming they are in the right environment.”

I envision the workplace environment as a garden of opportunity. By enriching the soil with flexibility, agility, and collaboration — and using passion as the fertilizer — innovation will grow and blossom and bloom.

  • Flexibility is proactive. A flexible company is one that has developed actionable contingency plans for hypothesized situations. It can make changes within the current organizational framework to adapt.
  • Agility is reactive. An agile company quickly responds and adapts to unexpected external circumstances. It is able to completely alter the organizational framework to effectively respond to an unplanned situation.
  • Collaboration among teams is essential to amplifying passion and driving outcomes. Passion is infectious and fuels team members to see more possibilities. Teamwork enables companies to thrive in ambiguity and discover ways to unlock new value.

Building a Passionate Ecosystem

For HealthPay24, building an ecosystem of technology partners that cohesively work together to improve the patient journey and drive better outcomes for all stakeholders is critical to our shared success.

The common thread that weaves through our partnerships is passion. The leaders of our partner companies are all hugely passionate, highly energetic, and very creative thinkers. Every single one embraces ambiguity, thriving on the white space it creates.

In our ecosystem, there is no doubt that if there’s something to be solved, we collectively possess the passion, the drive and the technology to solve it together.

It Only Takes One

Developing the capability to tackle ambiguity requires a dedicated effort to unleash passion and foster innovation. These are not easy tasks, but the results are worth it. It’s crucial to keep in mind that while ambiguity can accelerate innovation, complacency kills it. No organization can afford complacency.

Any one person in an organization can make a significant difference by bringing their explorer mindset and passion to the topic, to the challenge, to the possibility. With the support of a collaborative team, innovative ideas can be brought to life even in times of ambiguity.

CEO of Obsessed with intersection between healthcare & tech. Passionate about trust, transparency, & the patient experience.