Abundance: A Landscape for Change in Healthcare

by LeAnna J. Carey

Abundance: A Landscape for Change in Healthcare
I had the privilege of interviewing Ayelet Baron during the 2014 BEI, Back End of Innovation conference where she converged the concept of abundance and business agility. Ayelet is not only a futurist, but inspires action within the healthcare community by challenging all of us to think differently. She is the Chief Instigator at Simplifying Work, where she helps organizations thrive in the 21st century through her writing, speaking and life’s work.

Imagine what could happen if we changed our mindset and decided to see the possibilities that are right in front of us, in healthcare today, and all we saw was abundance. Business as usual in healthcare is over because we live in an open and connected world. We are living in an era of abundance that demands business agility and human-centered design to survive. Innovation is no longer a buzzword but a reality of how we stay relevant. And one of the biggest challenges we face is that in 2015 we are still using practices that are stuck in the 1900s. 

Think back to the 19th century, where we did not have enough, and lived in a world of scarcity driven by economic depression and war; we had to take from others and had a deficiency mindset. In the 20th century we reshaped management practices based on scarcity where we needed to compete to survive, and now in the 21st century, with a mindset of abundance, we discover unique opportunities to create new markets, products and services. Interestingly, healthcare is part of the mix because it is scrambling to meet new expectations from informed consumers.

Abundance in Play

The pharmaceutical industry is tasked with taking the path of understanding a disease to bringing safe and effective new treatment paths to patients. Not unlike other industries, pharma companies must also meet the critical challenge of agility. It is estimated that the collective annual R&D spending by large pharmaceutical companies is around $50 billion. The drug development process is lengthy; drugs typically have a ten-year development cycle, and most don’t make it through the complex process. And yet, the world is changing faster than ever with pharma facing new challenges when it comes to data, access and new ways of defining value.

Unfortunately, from a scarcity mindset, some of these challenges are overwhelming, because the focus is on competing for scarce resources and are based on different notions of fear. From an abundance perspective, the opportunities to revolutionize are incredible: putting the patient first and thinking beyond the product perspective to what is happening outside in the world – how do we develop solutions and services, not just drugs? In other words, how do we leverage Telemedicine, mobile devices, gaming, and different ways of giving therapy and ways to heal to bring about more wellness? The opportunities are in front of us and all we need is curiosity and a willingness to listen and seek out unusual partners. While the 20th century was about competition, this century is about collaboration and the ability to co-create.

One noteworthy example of innovating from an abundance mindset is Theranos, the brainchild of Elizabeth Holmes, who has spent the past 11 years revolutionizing blood diagnostic technology. Her approach uses only a fingerpick drop of blood at a fraction of current cost for needle draws. Holmes’ vision was so disruptive that she didn’t want the $70B US blood testing industry to know about it until she was ready to launch an entirely new market of consumer health technology. Rather than spending the past few years talking about innovation, Elizabeth was rolling up her sleeves creating a breakthrough and is now considered the youngest female self-made billionaire. Her solution will fundamentally change health care around the world with a completely accessible diagnostic testing capable of running hundreds of tests with a tiny amount of blood and at a fraction of the cost of traditional tests. This will impact an ecosystem of healthcare providers.

Conscious Leaders Drive an Abundance Mindset

Agile organizations embrace 21st century management practices. Conscious leaders see opportunity everywhere and don’t need to formalize innovation in a function. They have conscious leaders who understand that hierarchies no longer serve them and collaboration is key to future relevance. These leaders recognize that there is an abundance of innovative technology, which will drive a more efficient understanding of drug development, improved outcomes, and cost effectiveness.

Organizations that make a commitment to thinking from a perspective of abundance will optimize strategies by collaborating across industry walls and including the voice of the healthcare consumer to continuously generate and manage insights. And as this graph shows, they will lead their organization into the 21st century with relevant practices. A great example of such a leader is Sheila Babnis, Global Head of Strategic Innovation at Roche. She has introduced these new practices and established an Innovation start-up as a new corporate function, developing the strategy, incubating a portfolio of over 50 solutions resulting in 5 major changes in how business is done, building communities, managing a global team and building a network of over 100 innovators across the company.

Ayelet Baron is revolutionizing work through her speaking, writing and workshops by helping leaders build 21st management practices and prepare their organizations for future realities. As a Futurist at Simplifying Work, she is focused on pioneering more people-centered ways to work that leverage new ways to connect, collaborate, partner and innovate. She is an Innovator in Resident with Roche/Genentech’s Strategic Innovation Product Development group. For more than a decade, Ayelet climbed the corporate ladder at tech giant, Cisco Systems where she held a number of global, executive roles focused on growth strategy, led strategy and competitive positioning and most recently was the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for Cisco Canada, where she helped position Canada as the second largest revenue country at $1.9B.

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