Innovation is a Way of Thinking. Here’s One Example.

This just in: Innovation ≠ technology. Do you sometimes fail to make the distinction? It’s an easy oversight, but one that’s important to correct. While innovation sometimes includes technology, it’s much bigger than that. The creativity we need in the world encompasses more than apps and data. Consider the story of Doug Dietz, whose design and development work at General Electric resulted in next-level MRI technology. IDEO founder David Kelley and his brother, IDEO partner Tom Kelley tell Dietz’s story in Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. In the book, Dietz’s story begins after the MRI hits the market. Dietz was invited to see an MRI machine in action. Instead of the enthusiastic reception he anticipated, he instead saw that the machine was terrifying to kids. Young patients were so frightened, in fact, that as many as 80 percent had to be sedated to undergo the scanning procedure. The machine was a technological triumph, but it still needed a little work. By applying principles of design thinking to the patient experience, Dietz and his team were able to learn what made the MRI frightening for young patients. They cast a wide net for non-medical, non-technological solutions to their problems. Ultimately, they made their MRI more effective by making it less scary. Using decals, they transformed the MRI machine to look like a pirate ship. And they created a story for kids to listen to as they underwent a scan. It reminded kids to stay still while on board the ship – much friendlier than the former instruction to hold still while the machine was scanning. These innovations did more than put a friendly face on scanning technology. They reduced the need for sedation. And, in doing so, they sped up the MRI’s capacity to serve patients. Chances are good that your organization is using technology to innovate. But innovation shouldn’t stop there. Are you applying innovation beyond technology in your business? Stay tuned as THINK and OpenIDEO help you explore new ways to uncover what your members really need and create breakthrough ideas on how your organization can meet those needs.