Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation's Methodolgy

In the lead up to BarnRaise 2015, we will be posting guest content from people and organizations working at the intersection of design and healthcare. We hope that these posts illuminate different approaches to utilizing design to problem solve in the healthcare space and get everyone excited for collaborating this fall!

Image from Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation website

What might not be widely known about Mayo Clinic is that innovation has been at the core of its being since the Mayo Brothers began their practice over 100 years ago. Through the Center for Innovation (CFI), our mission is to “transform the experience and delivery of health and health care.” To achieve this goal, the CFI brings together people from diverse disciplines to use human-centered participatory research and design methodologies.

By blending the physical spaces of an innovation studio with that of a traditional outpatient clinic, CFI is an active laboratory where health care services can be envisioned, modeled and implemented within a functioning clinical environment.

At the core of our methodology, we work to innovate by using design thinking, deep collaboration and rapid experimentation to co-create an unparalleled health care experience. One thing that we have learned is that the key to innovation diffusion is co-creation and the relationships between people. Without that element in place, our innovations mean nothing.

The beginning of all innovation at CFI is observation. It’s a strategy to understand the context of an issue from a human perspective, encompassing interactions with people, spaces, and objects. You find that people act in unexpected or unarticulated ways through observations, and you can find that every behavior reveals something about its context, and get to the root of a problem.

Sometimes the most challenging part of innovation is to find if you are asking the right questions, and if the problem presented is truly the problem, or merely a symptom of a deeper issue.

Which leads to another point. Observation is more than mere watching; it is an intensely active process which begins with the idea that there is meaning, whether trivial or profound, in everything that we witness. When you have that frame of mind, you can skillfully and methodically observe your surroundings and find surprising insights, unintended uses and behaviors, and even workarounds and adaptations that are unexpected.

Innovators must find new ways of communicating with greater clarity, ore substance, and higher appeal to the senses if they are to be successful. In a way, this need for sense-making is a latent need that design is particularly equipped to meet.

Innovators can distinguish themselves by breaking the mold of traditional business communications. Lengthy project documents can be replaced by prototype demonstrations. Face-to-face discussions, augmented with models, drawings, or pictures can replace the run-of-the-mill presentations. These examples operate at an important emotional/sensory level of decision-making.

Knowing your core mission will enable your methodology to take shape and begin to discover new and unexpected innovations. 


Read more from Mayo Clinic CFI on their approach to design and innovation:

5 Key Elements of Design Thinking

5 Rules of Brainstorming

3 Steps for Observation in Innovation

4 Considerations in Observation with Innovation

3 Ways to See Prototyping in Health Care Innovation

The 2 Rewards of Prototyping


Check out the Mayo Clinic CFI Transform 2015 conference happening this fall from Wednesday, September 30 - Friday, October 2. Tickets for students are only $299.


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