At one of the NIA’s quarterly events, Fellow Charles MacKinnon presented on his approach to assessing whether potential customers are ready to adopt innovation. Here he shares how he uses a behaviour change model to identify opportunities that are most likely to lead to uptake. One would think that if you have a great innovation – end users tell you they love it, the benefits case is proven, efficiency gains are evidenced, you are on an accelerator programme – then job done, surely the product should just fly out the door!

However, in my experience it turns out this is not necessarily so. If the prospective customer is not ‘adoption ready’ then much effort will be wasted.

In developing a pipeline of opportunities, I believe we need to focus on careful mapping of prospective organisations to ensure they are ready to adopt.

This blog is my personal method for understanding customer opportunities and how close they are to being able to make the decision to adopt innovation fully in digitising Continuing Healthcare.My approach is steeped in the world of behaviour change and the COM-B model of how people – and therefore organisations – engage in change[i]. COM-B is a ready to use methodology focusing on the Capability, Opportunity and Motivation of people and organisations in behaviour change projects.

Most digital innovations implicitly require some level of change, and this is complex. So, in preparation I ask myself some straightforward questions, which I outline below, to ensure the organisation is ready to adopt my innovation.

Before adopting this means of assessment, I had pages full of ‘opportunities’ where people were really, really happy to talk and talk! But I wasn’t making any concrete progress.

After going through this COM-B approach, the pipeline of opportunities became six!

Alarming from a business point of view as it was great to be able to talk about the hundreds of opportunities – most of which were not going anywhere – to now only have a few organisations to focus on.

But the proof is that two of the six opportunities concluded to a contract within three months, and I have added three more opportunities into a hopefully more robust pipeline.So, here are the questions I map onto the organisations and opportunities to determine if they are ready to adopt my innovation:

  1. Does this organisation have the capability to take on my innovation? Where capability is termed as having the knowledge, skills and abilities to make this change possible?
    • Is my innovation aligned to any of the published forward-looking strategies of the organisation?
    • Is there anyone in the organisation given responsibility for evaluating innovative approaches?
    • How is an innovation case developed, by whom and have they done it before?
    • Who brings the innovation and business case to the decision-making body?
    • What is the decision-making body in the organisation with operational and financial clout?
    • Have they adopted digital innovations?
  2. Does this organisation have the opportunity to adopt the innovation? Where opportunity is termed as outside factors which can make this change possible.
    • Is there a budget available to spend against an appropriate business case – or can budget be allocated/reallocated or funding sourced?
    • Are there any national or policy requirements to improve (eg NHSE direction, clinical imperatives)?
    • Are there any outside incentives to drive improvement (eg QIPP, Quality premium, Exemplars)?
    • Is there patient pressure to improve?
    • Is there access to other functions/executives such as finance, performance, quality to discuss your innovation with?
  3. Does the organisation have the motivation to decide to adopt the innovation? Where motivation is termed as cultural and automatic processes in the brain which direct behaviours towards decisions.
    • Is there a want to do this from the frontline staff?
    • Is there a motivated project lead who understands the decision-making process and is willing to work with you on a business case?
    • Is there an executive sponsor/board member bought into this change?
    • Is there a timeline that can be agreed on?
    • Is there a person empowered to deliver an outcome who has the ability to contract with your organisation?

This is a lot of work to do in exploration, however once you start to break your thoughts down, you realise you actually know quite a lot of this information – you perhaps have just never put this into your spreadsheet or database of opportunities. And, once you have done the work, it becomes crystal clear where to focus your efforts.

[i] Michie.S, Atkins.L, West.R, (2014) The behaviour change wheel: A guide to designing interventions, London: Silverback publishing. www.behaviourchangewheel.com