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Five Years of Open Innovation at Infoway: Lessons Learned

Posted on October 20, 2016 by  Fraser Ratchford

In this series of blog posts, we’ve been celebrating five years of running innovation challenges at Canada Health Infoway by passing on the knowledge we’ve gained from that experience. In doing so, we have pointed out our successes to show what has worked. Yet, we know innovation is just as much about taking risks and learning from failures as it is about emulating examples of success. So in this post, we’ve illustrated some of the ideas and tactics that didn’t quite pan out.

Challenges are a way to use incentives to encourage desired forms of behaviour. For example, by harnessing the excitement of competition and the desire to be recognized, participants are motivated to work towards completing the challenge objectives. Sometimes we don’t always anticipate the response to our incentives.

In the Data Impact Challenge, for example, much of a team’s performance was based on how quickly they submitted an answer to one of the challenge questions with a data-backed solution. We were trying to show that data-based policy decision-making could make use of existing data and be analyzed rapidly. Yet this emphasis on speed led some teams to sacrifice quality, and discouraged others from participating if they didn’t believe they were one of the first to do so.

What didn’t work: Five lessons learned from the ImagineNation Challenges

We also got used to some quirks of human nature that appeared again and again. For example, while videos are a powerful medium and ubiquitous today, we found some Challenges participants were reluctant to submit them as part of their entry. This may be camera shyness or a lack of technical know-how, but requiring videos was a hurdle many teams struggled to get over, even though recording video is never further away than a few taps on a smartphone.

On the lighter side: Five learnings about human nature from the ImagineNation Challenges

This blog series was produced to help celebrate ImagineNation Challenges 5th Anniversary. This is the sixth of seven blogs. To view other blogs in this series, click here.

Have a comment about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

fratchford 240Fraser Ratchford is a Senior Director at Canada Health Infoway and works with Infoway’s partners to electronically connect citizens to their health information, to their care team, and to other virtual health services and tools. Prior to his role at Infoway, Fraser held a number of leadership positions in health care. His major focus over the past 30 years has been digital health, working in various sectors including government, hospital and public health.



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