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10 Misconceptions That Hold Back Healthcare Innovation


To revolutionize the healthcare business model, we need to pay less attention to so-called Superstars of innovation, and instead focus on building a great bench.

I'm not sure about you, but I'm getting tired of Steve Jobs. Sure, he was an innovation icon. But, in my view, the media and pundits are creating unrealistic expectations hyping and promoting the Jobs/Branson/Musk iconography.

The reality is that most people do not have an entrepreneurial mindset, most new products and services will fail, an infinitesimally small number of startups will get any meaningful venture capital, and most businesses will fail. Add to that the fact that innovation, like most things,is usually evolutionary. The iPhone would never have become a reality without all the technical and design innovations that preceded it. Listen: Most people will fail at entrepreneurship.

Sick care professionals are trained to be knowledge technicians or managers. Yet, the model is dead. Few are leaders, even fewer are entrepreneurs, and even fewer still are innovators or ever will be. We need to pay less attention to those Superstars who drop out to play in the pros and shift focus to building the bench. To do that, we need to challenge some assumptions:

1. You need to be "all in" to contribute.

2. Doctors have no business learning the business of medicine. They are having a hard enough time keeping up with the art of medicine.

3. Entrepreneurship is about starting a business, instead of creating user-defined value through the deployment of innovation.

4. Our present educational system is built and performs to deliver graduates with market defined creative and innovation competencies.

5. Low achievers will always be low achievers and we should stop wasting time on them and instead teach to the top 10% and learn to pick the winners early.

6. Innovation is a random act of creativity.

7. Necessity is the mother of not just invention, but innovation as well.

8. Innovation needs to managed, not led.

9. Intrinsic entrepreneurial motivators are much more important than extrinsic motivators and really can't be taught.

10. The innovation ecosystem is rigged against the little guy.

According to Adam Grant, author of "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World", we all have good ideas. We just don't know what to do with them.

He notes, "Geniuses don't have better ideas than the rest of us. They just have more of them." The same holds true for companies that get impact from their R&D budgets.

I've thrown away all my black turtlenecks. We need a different uniform for those who want to play innovation Moneyball.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice