Bench International

Innovation Needs a Makeover

Innovation Needs a Makeover

Insight by: Tracy Donegan

For those who do not follow fashion trends, the skinny jean is no longer in vogue. In the post-pandemic, remote work world, form-fitting pieces, like the skinny jean, have given way to loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

Likewise, innovation as “a thing”, which used to be all the rage, has given way to innovation as a trait in the post-pandemic world. Previously, it was popular for healthcare organizations to form a department or partner with an incubator to design innovations that would modernize the delivery of healthcare. While organizational outfits for innovation may add longer term value, they are not well-suited to the agility and ingenuity that has been necessary to prepare for and be successful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world has shifted from “a day in a life” to different days in a different life, where the certainty of tomorrow is only that it will be completely different than today. Leadership and workforce traits that made organizations successful in the past will no longer be a proper fit for the future.

Recruiting leaders with traits that bring about innovation and cultivating those same traits in the workforce, rather than designating a team for innovation, is an investment in the future. Some traits to search for and value include:

          • Resolve – Moving away from thinking that “failure is not an option” to solving the problem is the only option. Success is simply not avoiding failure; rather, success is solving the problem in a way that addresses root causality and is sustainable. At the height of the pandemic, many organizations were able to maintain operations by allowing staff to work from home. Post-pandemic, some found the practice to be cost effective and better for staff morale.
          • Ingenuity – Reinventing the mundane. In times of rising inflation and escalating costs for talent, healthcare organizations need a way to leverage existing resources. When hospitals were challenged with surges in COVID-19 patients, conference rooms became available space to be utilized for patient rooms, rendering their original purpose irrelevant.
          • Consensus Builder – Shortening the team development life cycle by skipping “storming” and “norming” and going right to “performing”. This can be done by building and maintaining good relationships with peers and vendor partners. During the pandemic, lives depended on the speed to which multi-disciplinary teams could solve problems. In times of crisis, teams that already have a level of comradery may outperform those who do not.


Just as the emphasis on form-fitting clothing has changed to comfort and practicality, so too the innovation style that is fashion-forward for today has shifted from achieving innovation to being innovative.