In 2019 VHA introduced its “pollination approach” to problem solving by rolling out a series of Design-Thinking based facilitator training sessions organization-wide. Known as VHA FastLabs, the model, which was developed with innovation consultancy AdapativeX and borrows from thought leaders like Google, AJ&Smart and IDEO, has been gaining momentum and fans. In May 2021, the FastLabs model, which aims to build innovation capacity within VHA, was presented at the International Conference of Integrated Care. Recent survey results of VHA staff and service providers who have been through a FastLabs or a modified Design Thinking activity show that:
- 100% of participants agreed sessions were more effective than traditional roundtable brainstorming.
- 96% agreed the session produced meaningful outcomes that have been or will be tested.
- 75% of participants have recommended using FastLabs to a colleague—suggesting good organizational transferability and “pollination.”
VHA’s Head of Innovation Engagement, Pam Stoikopoulos, adds that FastLabs tools provide a common language and framework for how VHA innovates, moving it away from a looming cloud of ambiguity and towards a disciplined and structured way of understanding and empathizing, defining the problem, generating ideas and then testing and learning from the ones that hold the most promise.
Work has also begun on expanding FastLabs beyond the organization to include Ontario Health Team (OHT) partners. “We recently held a FastLabs facilitation education session for project team members of East Toronto Health Partners OHT,” notes Stoikopoulos. It went so well, she says, that VHA is considering offering it to other OHTs the organization is a member of. “COVID has set the pace of change over the past year to warp speed,” she adds. “I think FastLabs and other Design Thinking tools help mobilize people and test ideas quickly which is why demand for these skills and approach is growing.”