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In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Mary Fiers, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, Tessie Hartjes, and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. All six contributors – sometimes accompanied by guest bloggers – are working on solving the problems of our time. Everything to make Tomorrow Good. This Sunday, it‘s Lucien Engelen’s turn. Here are all the previously published columns.

Whenever a topic in a certain branch or sector gets ‘hot’ after a long haul preluding to that moment, there often appear to be two schools about to approach and the needed pathways. I don’t think that this is a negative aspect nor is it wrongly influencing the developments. I actually think it is fueling the debate that we all should have in finding the segway onto our new situation. I often talk about the ‘current’ world and the ‘next’ world, rather than the ‘old’ and in ‘new’ world.

During the past 6-7 years, we’ve fiercely been trying to get the message across that healthcare is going to be changed under the influence of technology, the change in society, because it is a non-sustainable model and due to the fact that data is becoming a more important asset. Not only the importance of the asset itself but also the fact data is changing ownership and source(s); citizens and patients gathering more data themselves than any professionals before.

In my new book – Augmented Health(care), the end of the beginning – I elaborated on the three phases of innovation that I identified over the course of the past seven years: the first phase is to create awareness, the second one is to do the groundwork and the third one is the execution or upscaling of it.

Where things diverge in the current phase of innovation is the debate about whether or not we should stop talking and start acting.

So, first of all, I totally agree with that! As many of you reading my blogs and following my work over the past years would know my motto always has been “stop talking, start acting”.

So why bother? Well, I actually think that innovation and getting the message across is a sort of a cost cascade model. Once you get aligned with a certain group that starts to act/Implement innovations, you really need to address the second group. This is a typical innovative model would be substantially bigger than the first group of first adopters/believers. And then you need to do the same for the next group. It is NOT a sequential model; these are processes running in parallel. Innovation is not a process that one can plan and schedule in chunks, blocks or hard ‘cut-off’ points, it is neither about process or technology; it is about changing the culture of your organization. Some time ago I described this in my ‘innovation bulb‘.

So stopping the process of creating awareness in my honest opinion would be the worst thing to do. Once you reach that first group you -together with some out of that first group- have to make sure that they would start to influence, to inspire, to convince the next level of users or decision-makers.

This is not a ‘one or the other’ choice it’s a ‘and/and’ situation we have to cherish, many innovations, changes in society have failed over stopping the process of communication too early. Sure enough, we need results, action, real-life examples. But they were never the goal on which we would’ve finished, they were merely the end of the beginning.