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Fostering Breakthrough Thinking for Stronger Bottom-Line Results

When we asked about the difference between creativity and innovation, Kevin E. O’Connor, CSP and Consultant at Kevin E. O’Connor & Associates, Ltd., who credited his understanding to Nido Qubein, President of High Point University, offered, “Creativity is doing something in a different way; innovation is doing something in a better way. In our healthcare environment, better is better, and we get there with ideas that prompt us to think differently.”

Though in the typically complex healthcare environment, O’Connor notes that breakthrough thinking is not the result of leaders being the smartest or most commanding person in the room, nor is it imitating a particular process or trying the same methods over and over. Breakthrough thinking comes from leaders being the best facilitator they can be, and listening deeply with intent and curiosity. He states the leader is “the chef, mixing the people who will have the ideas they don’t yet think they have. It is the way they facilitate the meeting that will produce the results.”

Of course, innovation doesn’t start with a focus on the here and now. Innovation requires influencing a team to look beyond the current perspective and instead, keep a continuous intent toward future opportunities, and positively affecting those outcomes. Naturally, in an environment where the day-to-day demands can be so high, reorienting a team’s focus to the future can be met with roadblocks. To avoid some of the more common pitfalls to creativity and innovative thinking, O’Connor suggests three guiding principles:

  • Focus on being useful vs. striving for perfection
  • Commit to being fully present at all meetings
  • Avoid trying to change others without a willingness for self-change

In addition, to foster breakthrough thinking, O’Connor suggests leaders try to rethink meetings altogether and make meetings more interesting by getting rid of tables, one-hour timetables, staying seated and PowerPoint presentations. “Don’t be ordinary, don’t be boring, don’t ‘report out’…and have really good food!”

He also encourages leaders to tap into “drive-by” meetings, especially with physicians who have little time or inclination to sit for an hour-long meeting. “Catch them in the hall and plant a seed.”

Finally, O’Connor reminds leaders to not work to make team members happy, but to recognize that what they really want is to be included and a part of the process. “Involve early and often. A major complaint of team members is inconsistent communication, lack of notice, and being ‘told’ what to do.”

Experience this breakthrough thinking firsthand! Join O’Connor for Possibilities, Probabilities and Creative Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking for Complex Environments, July 30—31 at the New York Cluster. During this highly interactive seminar, O’Connor equips participants with practical tools designed to improve their team’s innovative thinking, future outcomes and bottom-line results.

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