The Face of New Innovation

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

~Rita Mae Brown

For the past 20-30 years, experts in the health and wellness industry have rolled out “innovative” programs and services based on the latest data and research. How have companies benefited from this “innovative” approach? Unfortunately businesses haven’t built healthy cultures based on this approach. That’s not to say that the programs and services haven’t improved as we’ve learned from science and experience. Our knowledge base about population health risks has grown tremendously. The problem is not the programs. The issue is making it a natural way of doing business. The current approach is simply to make it an employee benefit line item.

In fact, the landscape of building healthy companies looks like this: medicalize the workforce, shame people into changing without equipping them with the ability or motivation, and offer hundreds of dollars in incentives per employee to complete program tasks. The leadership teams, in turn, watch medical costs and insurance rates sky rocket, they experience a disengaged workforce (as much as 70% 1), and by and large their strategic initiatives continue to fail (70% fail2).

The new face of innovation isn’t a new program or gadget. It’s thinking 10 times bigger (something Google champions). So what’s 10 times bigger look like when building healthy companies? Here are 3 ways to leave the old innovation mindset behind:


  1. Hold the executive team accountable: Building a healthy company sits squarely in the lap of the leadership team.       In particular, the CEO. HR professionals know about human capital benefits and legal issues. But in order to build a healthy culture, the CEO must make it a priority and be held accountable.


  1. Call out the “pink elephant” in the room: Organizational auditing and analysis highlights in black and white what the values and perception gaps are between leadership and the workforce. Bridge the gaps and you’ll create an environment where the workforce naturally chooses healthy, productive behaviors without hitting them over the head with a stick.


  1. Systematic, Systemic, Sustainable:   Innovation means creating a new process (systematic) that allows the organization to align their health/wellness strategy with the organizational strategic plan (systemic). Between 6 months and 2 years, organizations will experience what an engaged, healthy organization looks and feels like. It will be a natural way of doing business (sustainable).


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