We say all the time in the health industry that we must work together. No one medical professional, no one hospital, no one organization can bring real change alone. The problems we face, we say, are too huge for any one section of our industry to tackle.
But when it comes down to our day to day practice as professionals, living our desires for collaboration are much harder. We get busy in our own bubbles. We don’t have spaces in our yearly rhythms of conferences and continuing education to talk to one another across disciplines. We stay in the comfort zone of what we know. And the outcome is that we keep doing the same. You in your corner. Me in mine. But we all can do so much better!
For this reason and many more, I was so glad to be invited earlier this month to be a part of d16, Diatribe Foundation’s Executive Innovation Lab on Diabetes and Obesity in San Francisco, CA.
It was an opportunity to sit with a deep concern of the American Diabetes Association—that by 2040, 1 in 10 adults world wide will have diabetes.
It was a gathering that focused particular interest on Type 2 diabetes and the role that obesity plays in the worldwide epidemic and even more specifically in our American context.
It was a gathering that sought to bring together persons of interest from across the health care and business sectors with great interest in quality of life for those persons living with diabetes.
It was a gathering that gave us permission and space to think outside the confines of “what has always been” with a big push toward real solutions.
It was a gathering that happened thanks to the generous support of the Diatribe Foundation and the visionary leadership of its founder, Kelly Close.
Our objectives were clear: “Through productive, interactive workshops and discussion, participants explore how design thinking can help us tackle diabetes from a systems approach and increase engagement at the intersection of healthcare and technology.”
An important tool for our work emerged from design thinking or more specifically the Stanford D school approach which believes the best ideas are found at the intersection of technology, business and human values. The goal is to find an unexpected range of possible outcomes to take in to apply to real life situations with real people, then to reflect upon learnings. The foundational belief of such a process is that those “big solutions” we are all seeking are in fact, are much closer to our reach than we might suspect at first.
So, together with my colleagues from public relations, pharmaceutical companies, health insurers, technology companies university academia, medicine, marketing and even theater and other creative arts, for three days we worked together to identify and ideate on how best to tackle the issue of Type 2 diabetes and obesity by drawing on one another’s wisdom and challenging one another’s preconceived notions.
I returned home from this gathering re-energized for the work ahead at the American Diabetes Association, both because of the new collegial bonds formed with my fellow participants but also for how this workshop challenged me to think in new ways about what persons living with or at risk for developing diabetes might need.
I’m also excited that at this gathering we committed that this was not a “one and done” event, we’re being assigned to work groups to continue the conversation. With so much more sharing to come!
Thanks to all the participants at d16 that challenged me to think in new ways and a special thanks to Kelly Close and the Diatribe Foundation. Keep up the good work – and I’m honored to be working alongside you all!