I recently presented and facilitated a summit event for 100 people to explore the future of clinical data management using a suite of creativity and innovation techniques with my colleague, friend and associate Steve Gorton. The issue of data management is complex and contentious. As an illustration of this, the NHS recently withdrew a strategy to sell patient data to interested parties, after it asked the public to opt OUT of an imposed strategy rather than to opt IN. This serious misjudgement of public opinion has caused outrage and has required the NHS to reconsider its strategy. It is self evident that the collection of large volumes of health data has potentially huge health benefits if treatments for diseases can be found from this. However the strategy also has some potential downsides if moral hazard creeps in, with insurance companies using the data to hike insurance fees for certain classes of people, the potential for it to be used in recruitment and so on. It seems that the reaction is made up of a number of concerns for ‘data leakage’ coupled with concerns about who owns the data and therefore who can benefit from its sale to third parties. Treatment of this topic as if it is a benign issue has cost the NHS a lot of money and an equivalent amount of credibility. The topic is complex with many unknown and unknowable parts. It’s what Steve and I call a ‘wicked problem’:
So, what did the clinical data management managers make of the session? Rather than providing a suite of creativity tools, we offered them the chance to immerse themselves in three ‘creativity states’. All good proprietary creativity techniques are based on some underlying ‘states of mind’, which occur naturally when people are in the mode of ideation. The three we offered are shown below. These were found to be easier and quicker to access than the recipes for creativity offered by the product based creativity consultancies.
To bring these alive delegates explored “The future of clinical data management”. They were asked to produce the most interesting and most unusual ideas to unpick the topic and “drain the Clinical Data Management swamp”. One theme was “Defining the role of clinical data management so everyone understands where the future lies”. Why? Because it is felt the rest of the system does not have much awareness or understands the key role that Clinical Data Management plays within the developmental process. Our first step was to break the wicked problem down into some more manageable chunks given the short time allocation. This is how we ended up:
The headline outputs that are shareable from the session broke down into the “Most Interesting” ideas for further development and the “Most Unusual” ideas to act as provocations for more detailed thinking:
Most interesting: “What would be the outcome if Clinical Data Management were to go on strike?” – developed from the reversal principle – this produced a rich seam of ideas, some of which have real value to the participant’s own companies if developed
Most unusual: “Redefine and develop the brand so it remains current and up to date (like the annual Formula 1 team rebranding)” – developed from the projection principle. This pointed participants to consider ideas in the arena of PR and marketing, not natural areas of strength for the profession
Whilst these require further development (and the groups went on to develop a broad range of more specific ideas within the event) the aim was/is to get people thinking wider from at least two perspectives and come up with some really practical and pragmatic ideas that generate traction.
This type of approach enables people, teams and organisations to stand back from the “wickedness” and begin to separate “the wood from the trees” and disperse the fog of confusion. Importantly it is about creating value to help things happen quicker, for less investment and more satisfaction within the role.
Would you like to find out more about how these and similar approaches allow you think further and faster outside current wisdom and experience? We’ll offer a pack of materials to help you. Just mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching. Contact via email@example.com or +44 (0) 7725 927585. Check out our online Leadership programme for FREE via The Music of Business Online.