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We’ve had the same conversation about innovation countless times over the past few years. “We want to be innovative!” says the executive or manager in front of us. And every time, we ask the same question. “Why?” When we’re not met with a blank stare, which occurs more than you might think, the person often answers by explaining that their company needs to find “new ways of doing things,” adding that their organization needs to “shake things up.”
My colleague Jacquelyn (Jackie) Crane and I have been helping life science companies manage “solution innovation” for several years now across a diverse group of pharmaceutical and device (biopharma) companies. And given that I have a few more miles on me than Jackie, I’ve also had the pleasure of helping companies manage product and solution development as both an external advisor and as the executive in charge of innovation and solution development on the client side. Today, our consulting, insight and project management work, which we house within the Corvus Solutions division of Think Patients that Jackie leads, is still focused in large part on helping companies manage, pilot, evaluate and launch these “solution innovations.”
Several years ago, I was growing frustrated with the number of “innovation” projects I was seeing that generated a lot of initial activity but that ended up going nowhere in the end. In a moment of curmudgeonly disgust, I described these go-nowhere projects to a client as “snow globes”, because they looked pretty and shiny, and you could shake them up and see a lot of activity, but as we both knew, they were never going to get any bigger than what you could hold in your hand today. The client laughed at the term, and then retold the story enough that it stuck within their team, and ours.