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Innovation: Starting small.
The power of 1%

By Alida Rossi, Director of Customer Excellence, AbbVie Australia

Are you looking at developing a culture of innovation at your organisation? Is that already making you feel tired and inadequate? Well, join the club! That was me eight years ago.

When we think about innovation, the temptation is to go big. Our first instinct is to seek out a breakthrough or find something disruptive that’ll immediately change the organisation’s culture

But I’ve found the opposite is true.

You have to start small and chip away. An organisation has established habits, processes and mindsets that can be very hard to break. Being a change agent is hard. Mountains are eroded over time, and moving an organisation is an incremental process too.

That’s why I think it’s really important to focus on the one-percenters.

1% People:

These are the people who will help you innovate and create change. If you’re trying to develop an innovation culture, you first have to establish what innovation is ­– what it looks like in every part of your organisation –then encourage and reward it.

The next thing you need to do is get senior management on board. This is where your one-percenters come in.

From the get-go, 99% of senior leadership may be very cynical about the value of an innovation. To create change, you need to identify the most senior person you can influence, and bring them on your innovation journey. This one-percenter can champion your innovation, and recruit other senior management. Soon you have momentum and your innovation is on the path to success.

1% Effort:

Human behaviour is VERY difficult to change. For instance, if we’re told we need to take 20,000 steps a day, we’ll likely see it as too hard. We won’t even try and fall short before we even begin. But, if we’re asked to get up from our desks and walk around a little when we’re taking a call on our mobiles – that seems small, easy, achievable. In this case, I don’t have to feel guilty or berate myself for not reaching the big goal, I can incrementally increase my steps per day, and gain momentum as I enjoy the health benefits that brings.

So, it’s all about looking for the one-percent, incremental innovation that can create sustainable change, both inside your organisation and beyond. Often, an innovation is a one-percenter for your organisation, but for the end user it could be a massive multiplier.

At AbbVie, we had an example of this in the early stages of the pandemic.

Lockdowns were happening around the country and overnight the introduction of telehealth was providing big challenges for our dermatology patients and their health care professionals (Dermatologists, nurses and clinic staff).

One of our in-field Dermatology team members noticed this, along with the lack of support available to both patients and HCPs. These initial insights led us to conduct a virtual workshop, where we brainstormed ideas. From this we developed a one-page ‘Virtual consultation checklist for dermatology patients’ that we could provide to patients to support an effective telehealth consultation with their Dermatologist or HCP.

Because it was a simple tool, we were able to roll out a pilot using the checklist within 5 weeks from ideation. It was so successful the checklist is now being modified to help support patients and HCPs in other areas, including Urology and Gastroenterology.

This is a great example of a one-percenter – a small, literally one-page document – that’s had a huge, positive outcome for patients. It means they’re better prepared for telehealth consultations, giving them more confidence and a better all-round telehealth experience. At the same time, the checklist supports HCPs to have more effective consultations with their patients who are (quite literally) on the same page.  

Small innovations, big impacts – never underestimate the power of the 1%!