Building a sustainable innovation engine


This workshop will get you started with a 5 step process to build a sustainable and humming innovation engine for your healthcare organization as published in the Medical Practice Management Journal.

Why have this workshop?

Many healthcare organizations have or are creating innovation units. However, the results are not always as expected. That is, these innovation units are often cost centers that do not contribute to the organization’s goals or bottom line. It does not have to be.

Use our five-step process to provide structure to the innovation process and turn it into a revenue generator. You will achieve this result by increasing the engagement of clinicians, reducing the number of projects in the pipeline, creating alignment between the ongoing efforts and the strategy, and increasing the number of implemented and diffused next generation and breakthrough projects.

For more details see the Journal of Medical Practice Management  article on this 5 step process.

The outcome of the workshop is a clear plan of action that describes where you are and what you would like your innovation engine to look like, including the road map to get you there and a milestone plan to guide you along.

The 5 step process

Step 1: Articulate the strategic goals of the organization together with your clinicians

Provide guidance to the clinicians engaged in the innovation process as to the key areas for focus. Rather than starting 100 projects executed by each of 100 physicians that cover 100 different directions, focus your innovation efforts toward the same objective, for example, being the leader in telemedicine services.

Step 2: Define the process your professionals have to follow to transform ideas into reality

Next, create a process to bring ideas to reality.  Hansen and Birkinshaw explain, the innovation process is a value chain, with the weakest link determining the overall outcome. If you are excellent at idea generation, but weak in implementation, your innovations will not have a chance to benefit the organization. Use the healthcare scan Organizing for Innovation developed in collaboration with the institute for Healthcare Improvement to learn how to strengthen the weakest link in your innovation process.

Step 3: Build an educating innovation unit to support the innovation process

Engage clinicians and staff and teach them the process that works to bring ideas to practice.

Healthcare organizations can learn from the entrepreneurial community on how to guide and support a broad range of complex innovation projects, and narrow these down effectively. No one tells entrepreneurs to start or quit their start-up; intrinsic motivation drives their behavior.

Accelerators are effective in terms of time to market and profitability, when they provide training, connections and support for start-ups. Your innovation unit can take on the same training and connect function as accelerator programs, and guide busy clinicians through the innovation process and help them make the assessment whether their ideas are actually worth pursuing further. See here for an example of such a course.

Step 4: Track and trace the performance of the innovation activities.

Innovation activities are to accomplish strategic goals. It is difficult to hold innovation units accountable for the success of an innovation project, because its success cannot be predicted and the execution is not under their control. Instead, hold them accountable for ensuring sufficient projects are initiated, unsuccessful endeavors are stopped, and fully supported projects are executed quickly. In other words, the innovation units should track and be held accountable for the innovation process, pipeline, and portfolio and for ensuring the sum of activities is sustainable and enables the organization to achieve its strategic goals.

Step 5: Incentivize desired behavior

Innovation will rarely be as urgent as the daily activities that occupy healthcare professionals. Without incentives, innovation activities are easily delayed or forgotten. With a process and an innovation unit in place, use incentives to encourage clinicians to participate in the process, contribute to the organization’s strategic goals, quit unpromising projects and share successes with the rest of the organization.

Who should attend?

This workshop is for healthcare organizations with or without an innovation unit that struggle to generate a positive return on investment from their innovation activities.

The best group of participants is a combination of 6 to 25 innovators, clinicians, and executives. That is, decision makers who are involved in the execution of the organization's strategy and clinicians and staff who know what it takes to act upon opportunities and bring ideas to practice.

What will you get out of the workshop?

The objectives of the workshop are to:

  • Create a common understanding of the innovation strength and weaknesses of your organization
  • Analyze the current portfolio of innovation activities
  • Define the innovation process and the role of innovation in your organization
  • Ensure engagement of interested clinicians in the innovation process
  • Agree upon a road map and milestone plan to create your sustainable innovation engine

The objectives of the 5 step process are to:

  • Turn innovation into a revenue generating activity
  • Create and maintain alignment between the ongoing efforts and the strategy
  • Reduce the number of projects in the innovation pipeline, while increasing the throughput
  • Increase the number of successfully implemented next generation and breakthrough projects
  • Diffuse successful innovations effectively and efficiently, to benefit most from the results

Workshop duration
1 day

4 weeks

$4975 for the workshop
including preparations

Implementation of the 5-step
process is excluded

What is the agenda for the workshop?


Workshop to get started with building a sustainable innovation engine

1.       Welcome

2.       Outline of the strategic goals.

3.       Brainstorm about all the ongoing activities and projects of the past 2 years, that were related to achieving these strategic goals. Include formal, informal, failed, unfinished, and successful initiatives.

4.       Map all the ongoing initiatives on a portfolio grid.

5.       Identify the areas where there are too many and were there are too few initiatives.


6.       Discuss the results of the Healthcare Innovation Management Scan.

7.       Create small break out groups to discuss how to improve the organization’s weakest innovation capabilities.

a.       Define the two to four weakest capabilities and create breakout groups for each.

b.       Select four to six representative initiatives identified under #3 to derive lessons learned and success factors.

c.       Discuss lessons learned and success factors.

d.       Define what needs to be done to strengthen the capability and to enable promising initiatives to succeed, while quickly eliminating less promising ones.


8.       Share outcomes with group.


9.       Wrap up, in which a pilot project is formulated to start building towards a sustainable and humming innovation engine

a.       Define the goals of the pilot (for example, create alignment, develop innovation process, develop training and support programs, design incentives).

b.       Assign teams to execute the pilot(s).

c.       Define the resources the pilot(s) will receive.

d.       Discuss the results the pilot(s) are to deliver, including the check-in frequency.



Plan your workshop

Please contact us for more information or to schedule your workshop. 

Who will be your facilitators?

Dr. Margaret Cary 

Dr. Cary is a versatile and engaging speaker and coach who involves audiences with her presentations tailored for maximum impact.

Dr. Floortje Blindenbach-Driessen

Dr. Blindenbach is an experienced facilitator, who is looking forward to work with your organization, aligning expectations,  creating a sustainable innovation engine, and defining the path to implementation.

If you have questions about the workshop, please email me at

What is next?

The outcome of the workshop is a clear plan of action, that will get you from where you are to where you want to be, within a specified time frame.

In case you would like help executing upon this plan of action, we gladly discuss how we can assist you with the implementation.