Context-Driven Innovation

InnovationInnovation has been a recurring topic of late (for me) and the subject came up again earlier today during a casual conversation.

While it is actually quite normal for me to touch on Innovation (I examine Innovation as a topic frequently in public conferences, private training sessions as well as teaching the basics as part of Mini-HI (Mini Health Informatician) what made the conversation special was that I was sharing the core principles on non health(care) related subjects (to be precise, I was applying it to Organisational Improvement and Product Development) and the people I was having the conversation with were very surprised at how the underlying principles are applicable to virtually any disciplines.

The reason(s) being? I was sharing on Context-Driven Innovation and as the name implies, is not only pragmatic but sustainable because it is innovation applied to the underlying needs (hence the contextual part).

To be clear, I didn’t invent the term “Context-Driven Innovation” (because it ready existed when I coined the term), what happened was (due to the nature of my work) I derived a set of “Innovation ideology” over time (through research and relentless practical iterations) and realised that the core principles derived are contextually relevant to the subject applied (hence deciding to call it Context-Driven Innovation).

I did made a determined push on this topic (in this region) back on 3rd August 2016 when I authored the theme (and general scope) for a local Health Innovation related contest / challenge that was aspiring to go regional, although I parted ways with the organising partners, they continued to use my theme of Context-Driven Innovation and some of my contents. To quote a portion of what I wrote back then;

XYZ Challenge 2017 brings together people and organizations across the entire ecosystem to develop new ideas for innovation that will improve the delivery of health and care services for the people (wellness) and patients (healthcare) across the entire continuum of care.

Jointly organized with the A and B the XYZ Challenge 2017 serves as a platform to germinate and empower professionals from the various disciplines to collaborate and leverage each other’s expertise & experience (e.g. Pairing clinicians with techies sharing similar innovation interest) to develop quality solutions that are context-driven as to ensure sustainable adoption, benefiting both the health(care) providers and consumer/patients.

As one can observe, the above paragraphs provides a guideline of sort on some parts of the prescribed Context-Driven Innovation but the context portion is missing. To properly explain the contextual portion, we need to first examine what Innovation is.

A popular definition obtainable off the Internet is the Merriam-Webster dictionary version where Innovation is defined as “a new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods“.

I respectfully disagree.

To truly illustrate the underlying reasons of my disagreement would take time, hence, it will be another topic for another day. What I will try to do here is briefly (and holistically) illustrate why, by giving an example using IoT – which is at the time of writing this article, touted as a great driver of innovation.

To ensure semantic understanding, the definition of IoT (according to Wikipedia) is;

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

Did you know that first IoT device was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s? Let us re-examine Merriam-Webster’s definition where Innovation is defined as “a new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods“.

Simplistically put, IoT is not new but it is indeed a driving force for innovation.

At this point, I would like to introduce my definition of Innovation;

“Innovation is the use of tools (analogue and/or digital) to extend one’s reach (capabilities) or to bridge a gap as to meet an underlying need”.
Dr. Adam CHEE, 2017

So where does the contextual portion comes in? To explain this part, I would invite you to read an older article of mine – Use Case vs. Process vs. Workflow – Which is the secret ingredient?, it briefly illustrates the concept of workflow (which is related but not the same as user-cases or processes).

With the understanding of what workflow truly is, I would like to finish this article by introducing my definition of Context-Driven Innovation;

Context-Driven Innovation is the optimisation of Workflow and (could include) the utilisation of tools (analogue and/or digital) to extend one’s reach (capabilities) or to bridge a gap as to meet an underlying need”.
Dr. Adam CHEE, 2007

Till next time.

About Adam Chee

Health Informatician
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