Take hope: innovators at work on aging, healthcare and education

While the headlines are bleak and the politicians’ campaign promises bland, I was made hopeful a the BIF3 Innovation Summit that ways to address some of our most critical problems – education, healthcare, aging – will be found and realized. And sooner rather than later.

Harvard Business School professor and innovation guru Clayton Christensen (few deserve that moniker but Christensen does) talked about his research and work into ways to innovative the health care and education systems. As an outsider looking in to these industries he seems to have been able to pinpoint root cause systemic issues and suggest needed new business models. To increase effectiveness and reduce costs, we need to focus on changing the system – and all its interdependent parts. Current efforts to improve efficiencies of individual pieces of the system are unlikely to solve the real issues.

Rachel Clarke’s transcript from the session provides more details. (Thanks to Rachel for her amazing live blogging skills.)

And for the aging boomers, of which I am one, Joseph Coughlin, director, Age Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared some of the work that his group is doing with the purpose of helping people live well and with vitality.

Most inspiring is that many changes good for society need not cost more than what exists. What will be needed, and perhaps this is what we should look for in our government leaders, is fostering an environment that is open to change. It’s unlikely that politicians have the innovation chops of people like Christensen or Coughlin or many of the other speakers at the BIF3 conference. Leave the innovation to the innovators. But demand that government leaders take the lead in mandating change.