Adding up the Bill for Unpaid Caregivers

How might we develop a model of organizational innovation that is meaningful, accessible and impactul?

That’s the question VHA asked in 2017 when it began framing a new model for innovation. They began with Design Thinking (DT), a user-experience centred approach championed by California-based company IDEO, and Google’s Design Sprint—which takes DT and concentrates the steps of UNDERSTAND-DIVERGE- CONVERGE-BUILD-TEST into an intense four or five day endeavor.

In the not-for-profit world though, carving out a week for already time-strapped teams can be challenging. “Probably the biggest obstacle I faced in running a Design Sprint at VHA was finding four days where the core team were all available,” notes VHA’s Head Solutions Strategist, Pam Stoikopoulos, “so I sought out something even more concentrated.”


She first began looking at how other organizations were applying an innovative approach to problem- solving as part of her Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE) program at the Smith School of Business and discovered some common themes. “I interviewed innovation consultants from The Moment, J5 and Performance Coaching, and organizations who are considered thought leaders including Klick Health and York Region. Despite their differences they all emphasized the need to make innovation part of day-to-day activities and to provide people at every corner of the organization with the tools to do just that,” she says.


Pam’s attendance at a York Region Innovation Community of Practice session opened her eyes to creating a core team of innovation evangelists. “The session focused on giving people practical strategies to solve problems in a way that was energizing. It was exciting to watch,” she adds. Inspired by York Region’s iLabs, a 90-minute to two-hour problem-solving session any trained facilitator could lead and any business unit could capitalize on, Pam got to work on developing a similar “innovation pollination” program for VHA. “What’s so refreshing about the innovation space is that it’s completely open. No one is hoarding their great idea or process but are happy to share and have them adopted by others,” she says.


Pam discovered the Lightening Decision Jam (bit.lyƒ


 SmartJam) created by German firm AJ & Smart, an accelerated process for defining problems and developing solutions which is deeply rooted in the Design Sprint process and can be done in one to two


hours. Together, with Toronto innovation consultants at Adaptive X, who also led the first two sessions, elements were tweaked and refined and the VHA Fast Labs were born.


In 2019, approximately 30 facilitators from all departments of VHA graduated from the Fast Lab program and are part of VHA’s


ever-growing Innovation Community of Practice.


A number of Fast Labs have run with the Human Resources, Communications and Innovation, Quality, Best Practice, Research and Education (iQBPRE) departments. Participants of the sessions have been very enthusiastic: “It’s really such an accessible format,” notes Research Manager and facilitation session participant, Dr. Emily King.


“This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter of innovation at VHA,” says Vice President of iQBPRE and Chief Nursing Executive,


Dr. Kathryn Nichol. “Uncovering creative and better ways of doing things is really everyone’s job here. Fast Labs empower people with a new approach and practical, invaluable tools to achieve this so that we’re not just talking about it, but engaging people in a way that is powerful and empowering.”


VHA is committed to playing a key role to champion the needs of our clients and families, the wisdom of our teams and the value of home and community care in the transformation of the Ontario health care system that is underway.

To help ensure we are effective champions and partners, we are dedicating additional resources to help us actively participate and lead in the formation of Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) and other integrated care delivery systems (ICDSs).

Courtney Bean, who has played a key role at VHA for over 10 years, most recently in the role of Director, Client Services, and as a member of our Senior Management Group, will be leading these efforts in the newly created role of Vice President of Integrated Care & Partnerships.

Courtney is already actively involved in many of the OHTs and other ICDSs VHA is participating in, and is also well connected to many in the sector through his positions with the Ontario Physiotherapy Association and the Alliance of Professional Association of Community Therapy Services, so he is very well positioned to jump into this role.

Courtney was trained as a physiotherapist at the University of Toronto where he is now an Adjunct Lecturer. He completed an orthopaedic residency in California through the Ola Grimsby Institute while working at Kaiser Permanente in Occupational Medicine and is currently completing his doctorate with the Institute.

Courtney is also currently completing an executive health care innovation fellowship (EXTRA) with the Canadian Foundation of Health care Innovation.

Noted VHA’s CEO Carol Annett, “Courtney’s extensive experience in collaborative initiatives with partners will position us well for the future, and his dedication to client-and-family- centred care will help ensure that VHA’s commitment to our clients and families remains at the forefront amidst all of this change.”

Courtney is a great dad of twin teenagers and an avid powerbuilder and at 5 am most mornings you will find him at the gym liGing far more weight than he should. This developed power serves him well in the heavy liGing required in his role at VHA!


VHA staff participate in a Fast Lab session

  • Toronto Logo
  • United Way Logo
  • ACAC Logo
  • BPSO Logo