9 Tips on How to Generate Innovative Ideas in Healthcare Simulation, From OSF Healthcare

Last week we covered Upcoming Sim Courses & Latest Updates From One of the World’s Leading Simulation Programs: Jump & OSF Innovation of OSF Healthcare. During our exploration of their helpful resources, we also stumbled upon a 2018 article covering “How to Generate Innovative Ideas in the Workplace”, (linked below) which we think has direct application to champions working in Healthcare Simulation program.

Written by Diane Driscoll, Manager for the Performance Improvement Division of OSF HealthCare, these 9 tips on why brainstorming is good for any institution that has a situation where they need to think outside the box on different ways of doing something. Such innovative exploration allows for team members to contribute to process improvements and provides a safe avenue to freely give ideas, even if they seem outlandish. Sound familiar?

Innovation in any industry takes a while to develop. You have to learn how to think differently, challenge the rules, collaborate with diverse groups of people, recognize that failure can lead to success and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. While it takes time to build a culture of innovation, it doesn’t mean you and your team can’t learn how to quickly come up with a variety of unconstrained ideas to solve a problem. Here are some brainstorming tips for you or your company to learn how to generate ideas and solutions to ongoing problems.


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1. Announce: When scheduling a brainstorming meeting, be sure to include a brief explanation of the problem and its history. This will help participants mentally prepare for the session and focus on the particular issue. The more specific and focused a gathering is, the better the results will be.

2. Diversify: When inviting individuals to a brainstorming event, consider people with different backgrounds and degrees of expertise. Sometimes a fresh outlook comes from someone who isn’t considered an expert or close to the problem. It’s also important to set clear guidelines to ensure all titles are left at the door.

3. Be Brief: Brainstorming meetings can be tiring and if you haven’t discovered a satisfactory idea after 40 minutes, it’s best to organize alike ideas and adjourn the gathering. Let the participants leave with the understanding that there will be another session. They can think about the problem further because great ideas can come anytime and anywhere—in the shower, car or in the park!

4. Exclude Negativity: At the beginning of the session, explain that “killer phrases” such as “it can’t be done” or “we don’t have the budget for that” won’t be tolerated. Provide two cards for each participant as they enter the room. One has a green circle on it, the other a red circle. When the flow of ideas is positive, participants hold up the green cards. If someone mentions a “killer phrase”, all of the other participants must hold up the red cards. This helps the group identify its “killer” behavior and lets participants know when they should be more supportive of others’ input.


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5. Segment: If more than ten participants have been invited to the session, break the group into teams of five or six people, and have each brainstorm the issues. Smaller teams remove some of the formality and make people more at ease. Feeling comfortable means sharing more ideas!

6. Be Clear: Write the objective of the meeting where everyone in the room can see it. You want to be clear that they understand the “why” of what they are brainstorming around and why it’s important to do that. For example, “How can we better understand the needs of our customers?” or “What can be done to improve the quality of this product?”

7. Acknowledge: Be sure to capture all of the group’s ideas. An interactive whiteboard is ideal for brainstorming since ideas are displayed on the whiteboard surface (which can stimulate additional ideas) and can be easily edited and saved to a computer file. Whichever tool you use to record your ideas, be sure that they’re saved for future reference. After all, what good is generating ideas if nobody remembers them after the session ends?

8. Facilitate: You need to have people facilitate the meeting. If the flow of ideas begins to fizzle then the leader should step in. Re-read every third idea. This may spark additional thoughts. Ask a participant to select a concept and give reasons why they like it. This will generate conversation around the approach and provide an opportunity to build on it. If you’re the session leader, keep an idea or two to yourself. When the conversation dies, share them to initiate more discussion.

And finally, tip #9 is to distribute rules for the brainstorming session:

    1. Do:
      1. Understand the exact issue, topic or operational area that is being focused on
      2. Allow individuals to complete their thoughts
      3. Build on existing ideas
      4. Be brief when stating an idea
      5. Organize, categorize and evaluate only after the session is completed Strive for quality
    2. Don’t:
      1. Allow idea assassins
      2. Make judgments, verbal or visual, as ideas are being offered
      3. Paraphrase an individual’s ideas when scribing
      4. Dominate the session

Read Diane’s full article linked before for strategies to unlock creative thinking via silent brainstorming, mind-mapping, passing the paper, and speaking with pictures only — as well as find additional resources on “How to Build a Culture of Innovation”.

Read the Full Article on Innovating via OSF Healthcare’s Website!


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