Heiko Hornung, our Director of Technology, Data and Innovation, reflects on the journey to our freshly launched innovation strategy.
When I started at D-tree about five years ago, it didn’t take long until I found messages in my inbox or had conversations at a conference where someone outside of the organization proposed to try out a new digital system, use a new tool, or discover more about a great idea by doing some field research under one of our programs. And these were no cold calls, but proposals relevant to D-tree, with at least a hint of a value proposition and sometimes even the prospect of funding initial activities.
Coming fresh out of an academic context, where it can be easy to jump on new ideas, I enthusiastically jumped onto one or two of the earlier opportunities, only to find that some of my colleagues who had been around longer didn’t share my enthusiasm. “Oh, we get requests like this all the time” or, “we cannot spend any resources on this” were typical reactions. Initially disappointed, I soon realized that simply jumping on every opportunity that came our way was not a sustainable approach to innovation. It was crucial for us to have a clear and focused innovation strategy in place that aligned with our organizational goals and objectives.
Fast forward a few years and we have just launched our first innovation strategy. We are now establishing a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating, and implementing new ideas that are aligned with our vision, mission and values.
We define innovations as new solutions that significantly contribute to reaching our vision of a world where everyone has access to the healthcare they need to live longer, healthier lives, and they should aim at widespread adoption in low- and middle-income countries. Through developing a strong understanding of our own innovation capacity and culture, we articulated strategic goals and initiatives that will strengthen our foundations for innovation and build our innovation muscles. Our strategic goals target internal capacity, external resources like partners to implement innovations or experts to support, and good process execution.
We believe that having an innovation strategy is essential for organizations that want to remain relevant and effective in their work. The strategy will guide us to take a systematic approach to ensure that innovation efforts are purposeful, effective, and sustainable, while being true to our vision and values. We are confident that our innovation strategy will help us identify and implement new ideas that can have a significant impact on the communities we serve.