Identifying potential solutions and generating novel ideas for change can sometimes be the hardest part of any quality improvement project.
So, we've created a quick-fire list of potential solutions to help you and your team get started:
1. Play the ‘no limits’ game
Pretend there are no limits to what you can do and envision an ideal world where nothing can go wrong. Strip away individuals, bureaucracy and personal fears, and state what changes you would implement.
2. Go small or go home
Whilst thinking big can sometimes help you to think outside the box, it can also be intimidating and/or cause you to overlook smaller yet more essential changes. Not to mention that patient safety is at stake if a big and disastrous idea is implemented.
This is why Life QI supports the Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) approach encouraging the implementation of small scale ideas that can be trialled quickly, with little cost, and with minimal disruption to patient care. If they work, great, then look to build on them. With this in mind it can help to keep your change ideas relatively small too, every day and easy to measure.
Make the situation less overwhelming by looking at the routine and everyday processes, and consider what small bite size improvements you could make to them.
3. Try looking at the problem from a different perspective
As great as our ideas may be, not everyone is going to agree with them, and our concerns are not always as relevant to others as we think they are.
Try looking at things from the perspective of someone who is affected by the problem in a different way. For example, the patient, a finance manager or an HR manager. Would they agree? Why not? What would their priorities or top concerns be?
4. Ask someone with experience what they think
See if someone has run a similar project or has particular expertise in the area that you're looking into. Ask them how they approached the problem and/or what solutions they believe in.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, connect, and act on someone else's idea (as long as you give them full credit!)
On Life QI, head to the 'People' area and search for contacts by typing in the relevant keywords into the search bar.
5. Come up with change ideas as a group
Contact your fellow project team members and arrange a meeting to sit down and collaborate.
Pool all your ideas together, pitch, discuss and debate. If there isn’t a clear consensus, try putting it to a vote to identify the most popular ideas.
6. Think about what you wouldn't do
It's a fact of life that people are usually better at saying what they don't like than identifying positive solutions.
There are two routes you can take with this:
The first is to write a list of solutions that you think others would suggest, but which you think are terrible. Make a note of why they won't work.
The second is to write down the opposite of what you want to achieve (for example, "We want to increase the number of patients leaving hospital with pressure sores by 50%") and to be as creative as you can in achieving this new goal. This will help you identify the changes to avoid in your project.
7. Play devil's advocate with every idea you have
This means poking flaws and holes in every solution that you come up with. From these problems you will soon find new ideas and concepts coming to fruition - debate is one of the most crucial paths to creativity.
8. Question even your most deeply-held beliefs
At times it’s the beliefs that we hold most dear that are stopping us from creating ideas for change. Our beliefs can make us intolerant to fresh perspectives and ignorant of very real faults in the present situation.
We don't necessarily need to discard our beliefs, but we can put them down for just a moment in order to let new ideas in and look at the problem from a different angle.
For example, if you strongly believe that money is the least important factor when it comes to implementing improvement initiatives, pretend for just a moment that it is the most crucial element.
9. Combine your ideas
Take two separate ideas that you have already come up with and think of a way to bring them together to form a hybrid. The more different the ideas are, the more novel your new initiative has the potential to be.
10. Review existing projects
Life QI is full of active and complete projects containing thousands of change ideas on hundreds of topics. Using the search function, you can easily find similar projects and benefit from their findings. Head to the ‘Projects’ area, remove the ‘My Org’s Projects’ filter and search for projects by typing keywords into the search bar.
Do you have any useful tips for boosting creativity and coming up with Change Ideas? If so drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.