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What's it all about?

How does the FIGs Committee define Innovation?

Innovation: the process of creating something new that has significant value to an individual, group or organization.
-J. Higgins, Innovate or Evaporate, 1995

Why is innovation important?

Innovation is vital to our workplace. It helps us make good use of our resources, while continuing to improve the quality of our services. Creative thinking has led UMHS to be a leader in clinical care, research, and education. No matter what type of work you do, there are opportunities to innovate.

Potential outcomes of the types of ideas that FIGs funds include:

  • Improved safety, quality & service
  • Improved patient & staff satisfaction
  • Improved efficiency & reduction of waste
  • Differentiation from competitors
  • Improved financial performance

An innovative idea introduces a new process, method, tool or device. If you think you have a great idea, it's innovative and can make it work, what do you do now?

First, it's probably a good idea to make sure your idea meets our definition of innovation above! Next you'll want to check to see if it has been submitted in any previous FIGs round. Click here to see our list of past awardees.

Now How do I get started?

  • Brainstorming can be a great way to come up with new ideas or to think about how to solve a problem.
    • Consider bringing a group of people together to brainstorm about how to solve a problem or make an improvement
  • Here are a few questions to help get you started:
    • Is there a problem that we would like to solve?
    • Who should be involved?
    • What assumptions are we making?
    • Are there ways that workflow in our area could be improved?
    • How can we make better use of our resources?
    • Are there opportunities to improve communication and cooperation?
    • How could we improve safety and provide more patient-centered care?
    • Could my idea benefit UMHS in the future by being implemented in other areas?

    Brainstorming Guidelines (Source: http://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html)

    • Define the problem you want solved clearly, and lay out any criteria to be met.
    • Keep the session focused on the problem.
    • Ensure that no one criticizes or evaluates ideas during the session. Criticism introduces an element of risk for group members when putting forward an idea. This stifles creativity and cripples the free running nature of a good brainstorming session.
    • Encourage an enthusiastic, uncritical attitude among members of the group. Try to get everyone to contribute and develop ideas, including the quietest members of the group.
    • Let people have fun brainstorming. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible, from solidly practical ones to wildly impractical ones. Welcome creativity.
    • Ensure that no train of thought is followed for too long.
    • Encourage people to develop other people's ideas, or to use other ideas to create new ones.
    • Appoint one person to note down ideas that come out of the session. A good way of doing this is to use a flip chart. This should be studied and evaluated after the session.

If your idea meets our definition of innovation AND it hasn't been awarded FIGs bucks, send in your application and our committee will perform a thorough review!

If you have further questions, contact FIGSs Administrator at figs-info@umich.edu for assistance!

If you have an idea, you may want to review some tips that will help you develop a successful application:

  • Gather the right team:
    1. Consider the downstream effects of your idea on the workflow of others
    2. A diverse team can help anticipate barriers, estimate costs, build consensus, and implement your idea
    3. A common response from supervisors who hear about an application from a staff member that was not accepted is: "I wish I would have seen this application before it was submitted. I could have provided more information that might have helped!"
  • Do some research:
    1. Is there already work being done to implement this idea?
    2. Are there other teams currently trying to solve this problem?
    3. Does your idea coordinate or integrate with enterprise-wide Information Technology (IT) that currently exists, or will it fit into future IT plans?
    4. Should this idea be directed to another program, group or department?
      1. The Patient Education Advisory Council should be contacted with requests for funding for patient education materials. (http://www.med.umich.edu/i/pteducation/peac.htm)
      2. Should departmental operational funds be requested for this idea?
  • Anticipate barriers (i.e. time, resources, technology, Institutional Review Board approval, etc.)
  • Estimate the costs and consider whether there are hidden costs

Remember: FIGs does not support employee salaries and benefits!

Maybe your idea doesn't quite match the FIGs criteria and you need an alternate funding source for your project. Here are some additional contacts for funding or partnership opportunities:

Other potential UMHS funding or partnership opportunities:


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