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By Ivan Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer and Innovation Evangelist, edison365

Learning the lessons of innovating throughout the pandemic from one of the Netherland’s leading mental health providers.

It’s tough out there right now. Organizations are having to find new ways of engaging with their employees and customers to maintain service provision. Nowhere was this more true than for Kwintes, one of the Netherland’s largest mental health providers. With the support of edison365ideas, Kwintes’ innovation lab generated many fantastic ideas from staff and service users. 

Prior to COVID-19, Kwintes had already implemented ideas such as Tinbot Tessa through their innovation lab. Tessa is a small robotic helper that provides daily support to clients with reminders to take medicine or get out of bed, as well as providing an extra form of companionship. Following the success of Tessa, they wanted to open up the innovation lab to their entire employee base to see if there were any other ways they could improve the quality of care they provided to clients. 

So what can anyone in any industry learn from Kwintes’ experience? I sat down with Sonja Brouwer, ICT & Program Manager at Kwintes, and discussed our top three lessons for innovating during a crisis. 

Lesson 1: Your employees are at the heart of your business, let them be the brains

Sonja explained that through their lab, powered by edison365ideas, they were able to centralize and standardize their innovation processes, which meant employees can suggest their own ideas quick and easily.

“The whole organization can use edison365ideas, we put it on our portal. That means the whole organization can log into it and put ideas into it, no one is excluded. Everyone can do it. For us, about 2,200 people use edison365.”

“Everyone I’m talking to whether it’s our employees, our clients or the board really likes that ideas can come from the organization and that it’s not just the board making decisions on their behalf.”

Senior management is often seen as the sole drivers of change. They run the business, overcome its challenge and champion change. This doesn’t mean they’re the only people with ideas though. So, who should be your innovation heroes if not your senior management?

What Sonja is explaining above is that when you open up your innovation processes to your employees, they are immediately more engaged and invested in your business decisions. With this investment from your employees your organization is opened up to ideas and insight of the granular challenges faced on the frontline. In Kwintes’ case, they were able to get ideas from staff who spoke with patients daily and had an in-depth knowledge of the challenges the patients were facing regularly.

Lesson 2: Don’t launch and leave

"Don’t just launch your solution and leave it for a year with the same information. It needs to evolve, otherwise you’ll get this curve that starts with lots of engagement then gradually disappears and gets to a very low level.”

“That’s what we did! We put the information on to the idea about what was going to happen with it, so that it still stays alive.”

During this discussion, we learnt the importance of continual investment into your innovation processes. Many organizations start out with a brilliant launch plan, communicating the process, the how’s and the why’s, getting their employees engaged and excited. Once launch is over they start to take a back seat, hoping that the process can sustain itself. This doesn't work.

If your employees are expected to invest their time into putting ideas on to the platform, management must reflect that to ensure that the platform is engaging and enriching. Keep it updated with information about the progress of ideas, reward employees for their contributions. Keep them involved throughout the entire process, the minute you stop communicating with them, is when your process reverts back to the unengaging suggestion box in the cafeteria.

Lesson 3: Let employees build from the bottom-up 

“If we also leave it open so that people can put ideas about anything on to the solution, we can still capture those things that maybe we haven’t thought about driving a [strategic] direction but can still benefit the business.”

Sonja pointed out that Kwintes made a deliberate choice to adopt a bottom-up innovation in their lab. They were initially worried about the results but found that employees really enjoyed having the ability to discuss other challenges they were facing.

While innovation is typically viewed by organizations as a top-down process with management setting the challenges and employees responding with their suggestions, giving employees the freedom to contribute ideas, democratizes the whole innovation process and enables good ideas to come from anywhere. 

With edison365ideas and their own lab, Kwintes now have a robust process that gathered 22 ideas from employees in it's last run. Using the underlying software, Kwintes is able to triage and evaluate these ideas to identify which ones will support their service provisions alongside Tinybot Tessa and maintain their mission to be innovation leaders in healthcare. 

Want to know even more? 

To learn more about Kwintes' experience with innovation, I recommend watching the full web chat with Sonja. During this hour long discussion she shared the impact Tinybot Tessa had on their clients and the future of the innovation lab at Kwintes.  You can register to watch the entire webchat here.

About Kwintes: 

Based in the Netherlands, Kwintes employees work 24/7 to support patients with psychosocial and psychiatric problems, supporting them to become more independent with guidance on living, learning and working, along with helping patients with their finances and providing structure in the day. 

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