By Steve Moran

It is well-known that many technology companies have a program that allows their scientists to spend 10%-20% of their time on innovation — the idea being that when everyone is focused on the projects they are supposed to be focused on, great opportunities are missed.

One of the most famous examples of this is the today-ubiquitous sticky note developed by 3M. It’s a fascinating story, because not only did it come out of innovation free space, it actually came about as the result of a complete failure to create something very different.

Innovators in Senior Living

As I was reading about innovation free-time, I got to thinking about where innovation in senior living comes from. Here is the list I came up with:

  1. The vendor community is always looking to create something new and better that operators will find valuable and buy.
  2. Many senior living leaders are in their own right innovators: new building designs, new programming, new ways to get paid and work within the health care payer system, new systems to manage businesses.
  3. Many larger senior living organizations are hiring strategy and innovation leaders to figure out new and better ways to do senior living.

What If?

There are a few organizations that operate under the premise that every single person is a scientist who has the ability to innovate and advance the cause of the organization and hopefully make the world a better place. I am not sure this has been done in any senior living organization, but if it has, I would love to learn more about it.

I found myself wondering what it would be like if a senior living community went to their line staff and line supervisors and gave them time, maybe a half day or a day, to explore new ways of making their jobs better — but even more broadly, making the community better.

I have this vision of taking two or three or four team members on the front line, bringing them together, and asking them to simply think about what would make their jobs better, what would make their departments better, what would make the lives of residents better. Then allowing them a framework to make that happen.

I suspect you would end up with happier residents, happier staff, higher occupancy, and higher profitability.

If you want to try this, I would love to come facilitate it for you. Let me know.