Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast: A book review by Bob Morris

Think BIG:Start smallThink Big, Start Small, Move Fast: A Blueprint for Transformation from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
Nicholas LaRusso, Barbara Spurrier, and Gianrico Farrugia
McGraw-Hill (2014)

How almost any organization can transform itself with high-impact innovation

The success or failure of innovative medicine can be — literally — a matter of life and death. Hence the importance of establishing and then constantly strengthening a culture such as the one for which the Mayo Clinic has been renowned for decades. In this book, Nicholas LaRusso, Barbara Spurrier, and Gianrico Farrugia focus on the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation (CFI). For them, and for everyone at the CFI, “care” refers both to an attitude and to behavior that manifests that attitude. LaRusso is the founding medical director at the CFI and Farrugia is its founding associate director; both are physicians. Spurrier is CFI’s founding and current administrative director.

As they explain, “Transforming to a-new-and improved 21st century model of care experience is what we’re all about at CFI. We don’t seek new miracle clinical cures for medical ailments. That is also essential, but there are other parts of the organization working on those — including hundreds of physicians and medical researchers within the Mayo Clinic. Instead, we strive to integrate design, knowledge, and technology to deliver a better experience for the patient…It’s all part of what we, at the Center for Innovation, call Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast. We’re so dedicated to that principle that we trademarked the phrase.”

They wrote this book for senior-level executives and management teams both within and outside the health care industry, in much the same way Danny Meyer wrote Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business for senior-level executives and management teams both within and outside the restaurant industry. “It’s for those working in complex organizations that can’t quite seem to bring transformative innovations to market. It’s for those trying to get their complex organization to pursue innovation in a methodical way, with some structure and discipline but not with so much that transformative innovations become stifled or lose impact.”

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the book’s coverage.

o Mayo Clinic: The Snapshot (Pages 7-13)
o Moving into the 21st Century, and, Innovating the Mayo Clinic Way: Developing Your Own Model of Care (23-26)

Very Important Point: The term “care” in this context is comparable with “hospitality” insofar as client/customer/consumer/patient service is concerned. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of making them feel secure, welcome, appreciated, etc.

o At the Center of the Storm: Health Care Costs (31-36)
o Clearing the Way for Big Change, and, A Pattern of Resistance: Why Large, Complex Organizations Can’t Innovate (40-47)
o A Short History of Mayo Clinic’s CFI (55-61)
o The CFI Way: Thing Big, Start Small, and Move Fast (63-85)
o The Fusion Innovation Model (89-97)
o What Is Design Thinking? (97-99)
o Acquiring a Deep Understanding of Customers (104-108)
o The Power of Latent Thinking (108-110)
o Keep It Moving Forward, Please: Project Management (116-124)
o CFI on the Internet (140-143)
o The Innovation Accelerator Platform (149-156)
o Innovation the Mayo Clinic Way: Stepping on the Innovation Accelerator (170-171)
o Framing the Problem, and, Creating a Research Path (206-208)
o An Experience in Innovation (231-242)

I am deeply grateful to Nicholas LaRusso, Barbara Spurrier, and Gianrico Farrugia for the abundance of information, insights, and counsel they provide in this book. There are valuable lessons to be learned by leaders in just about any organization, what ever its size and nature may be. The material provides a blueprint — rather than a prescription — by which to establish and then develop a series of innovation initiatives that ensure continuous improvement of the organization, one with a workplace culture within which personal growth as well as professional development are most likely to thrive.

Those who sharer my high regard for this book are urged to check out Danny Meyer’s aforementioned Setting the Table as well as three others:

Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System
Joseph Michelli

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Atul Gawande

The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World’s Leading Health Care Organizations
Toby Cosgrove

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