This Week Health

February 17: Today on Townhall Reid Stephan, VP and CIO at St. Lukes interviews Todd Dunn, Vice President of Innovation at Atrium Health. Clay Christensen was an American academic and business consultant who developed the theory of "disruptive innovation", which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century. What entices someone to work in innovation? How do they make sense of that world? Culture is an essential element. What advice would you offer someone who is trying to create a culture of innovation at their workplace? What innovation initiatives are Atrium Health leading today?

Transcript

Today on This Week Health.

I often say that empathy is the heartbeat of healthcare. And I also think it is when married with curiosity, the two foundational principles of great innovation. So I think you have to create a servant leadership mindset in your organization where your leaders truly care about the people who they serve as their boss or manager.

Welcome to This Week Health Community. This is TownHall a show hosted by leaders on the front lines with ???? interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell, the creator of This Week Health, a set of channels designed to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. We want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Hillrom, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now onto our show.

Hi, there. I'm Reid Stephan, VP and CIO at St. Luke's Health System in Boise, Idaho. And I'm joined today by my good friend, Todd Dunn who's the Vice President of Innovation at Atrium Health. Todd, welcome to This Week Health Community show.

Thanks Reed. It's always good to connect with you buddy.

All right. Just a few questions. I'm always fascinated by the career arc of others and I've found great personal insights and understanding when I learn more about the path that others have taken to get to their current role. Will you take just a few minutes and share with us just your education background and the path your career has taken that led you to the role you have today?

read an article from Cisco in:

And I started talking to Roy about how Intuit does innovation. I thought, oh my word, that's what I want to do. And so when I left McKesson, they went to GE, I had the opportunity at GE to raise my hand to Beth Comstock, who is a chief marketing officer and say, Hey, I really want to participate in this innovation thing you're trying to create. And she was kind enough, what a great leader Beth was and my boss was a good enough guy to say, yep. Go ahead and do that. And I started making that transition when GE merged a division with Microsoft, I had the opportunity to join Intermountain Healthcare and become the Director of Innovation. And so that transition, kind of the dual role at GE and then off to Intermountain and here we are.

Yeah, that's great. And I know that's how you and I met. Was at Intermountain through one of the CHIME innovation workshops. You just been a great colleague and mentor ever since then. Speaking of clay Christiansen. The great, late Clay Christiansen. You've always been an advocate for his theories and his approach. Of all the things that you've learned from Clay and his work, what's one that has really impacted and benefited you the most?

The way that Clay used theory to make sense of the world. And Clay had this great saying. A great question creates space in the brain for new learning. And so when I thought about his theory, especially the jobs theory, because I was fortunate enough to interact with him and the authors when they're writing, competing against luck.

And the thing that struck me on theory was it helps us make sense of a chaotic world. And in a lot of people say, oh, it's theoreticals. Like, whoa, wait, stop. Before you go there. The germ theory helped Louis Pastour create the first vaccination. Fast forward that to today, cell theory helped us better understand the body.

The theory of relativity helped us understand things. So when you look at something like the job's theory and it helps us understand consumers and causal reasons of why they do things. Then we can innovate more effectively. So just the way that he would frame up the ability to understand things through the lens of a theory, which basically teaches you how to think, but not what to think, is the most impactful thing from him that I learned was learning how to think.

Beautiful. Thank you. You and I, as we've talked over the years, you often advocate that culture is the essential element of innovation. What advice would you offer someone who is trying to create a culture of innovation at their workplace?

I often say that empathy is the heartbeat of healthcare. And I also think it is when married with curiosity, the two foundational principles of great innovation. So I think you have to create a servant leadership mindset in your organization where your leaders truly care about the people who they serve as their boss or manager.

And I think that that is not an adjective. That is a verb. What does it look like? Does it look like taking time and understanding people because that creates a safe space for people to do the second thing really well. And that's to be curious. In my opinion, curiosity is embodied in the shape of a question.

When's the last time a boss said, what do you mean by that? What can you do? Can you tell me more? And really engaging people in active dialogues that tells them that their voice is really appreciated, I think is the key to it. Because I had a question. I mean, the question really sparks everything.

Why does it work this way? What do we need to change to better satisfy the consumer or the customer or the company? And I would say that the behavior expectation that I think is necessary in the leadership ranks is every time meeting have the leader ask about the consumer. If the consumer is the nursing team and in turn, sit and listen and encourage the team to ask a lot of questions.

We do question bursts. We do assumption bursts. We do some of these activities, but I think those are it R eid. Because if you don't have those, all the tools and the language and the methods are just kind of window dressing. And the curiosity thing just changes the world. But if you don't allow people to safely be curious, because you're empathetic towards what they're struggling with, you're going to have a hard time being a great innovation company.

Yeah, amen. And I just, I love that mantra of empathy being the heartbeat of healthcare, it's just, it's so true. And this concept of maybe let's be a little less certain and a little more curious. I mean, that's, that's just a catalyst, so.

There's a syndrome. Something that came out of Microsoft a number of years ago called the hippo syndrome. Hippo. Highest paid person's opinion. If you got that syndrome in your company, it's really hard to innovate. And the hippo opinion doesn't ask questions. It makes statements and it barks, and that thinks that employees are there to just give answers to whatever's being told. So be careful with the hippo syndrome. Eliminate it.

Yeah, I love that. There's a humility that's just instinctively critical to this work. So thanks for sharing that. Okay. Last question. When you think of the innovation work that you're leading at Atrium today, what are you most excited about?

Putting a system in place. I think that historically innovation has been a job of the few. And I truly believe that it has to be a responsibility and capability of the many. How do you do that? You put a system in place and I think it's been disconnected from struggles. And so I think to connect it to a struggle that should support the delivery of the strategy, you've got to have a system in place. The m ost exciting thing to me is getting the system in place. There's some exciting projects, but it's the system that really thrills me because it allows us to lift our game. It allows us to get people engaged in solving small problems at the team level or big chewy business model problems and allows us to kind of back into the, the innovation people don't have to be out front is because you've enabled everybody else to be the best that they can be. That excit e s me.

Yeah, me too. That was Todd Dunn, Vice President of Innovation at Atrium Health. Todd, thank you for your time and as always, just appreciate your great insights and your perspective.

Thanks Reid. Always good to see ???? you.

I love this show. I love hearing from people on the front lines. I love hearing from these leaders and we want to thank our hosts who continue to support the community by developing this great content. We also want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Hillrom, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. If you want to support the show, let someone know about our shows. They all start with This Week Health and you can find them wherever you listen to podcasts. Keynote, TownHall, ???? Newsroom and Academy. Check them out today. And thanks for listening. That's all for now. ????

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