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Launching the Social Network of Practicing Innovators

I am because we are. African proverb

We started with a tabla rasa of known connections among grantees.  A social network would be built from scratch.  On an initial conference call, three project directors realized they all shared loyalties to Johns Hopkins. While participants were polite, there was no clear sense that this was a group that would learn and advance practice together.  

Dr. David Shaw from Scripps reflected, “We suspended disbelief.  The reputation of the key players and foundation staff was enough motivation to get started. ”  

Notwithstanding a little doubt, we (the conveners) had BIG ideas.  We wanted to create a multi-layered learning process that advanced the grantee’s innovation projects at multiple levels and from many perspectives. Our approach would be useful to individual leaders, the innovation team as a whole, the sponsoring organization, and health organizations from across North America.  The lofty aim of the Foundation’s board was to unleash more transforming innovation in health and care across the country… and they were in a hurry.  

Additionally, we imagined the learning approach would be useful throughout the phases of bringing an innovation to life. We developed a three-stage framework to help grantees make sense of their progress, dubbed “Discovery,” “Vetting,” and eventually “Spread.”  

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