Guest Editorial

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There is an overwhelming amount of conversation, critical thinking, and popular media lately around the myriad opportunities for innovation. Perhaps, because of the dramatic acceleration of biological, therapeutic, and technological innovations in the past 2 decades, interest in the subject has grown exponentially. There is no leader worth her or his credentials who has not at one time or another acknowledged and celebrated innovation leaders across the enterprise. At the same time, although the capacity to innovate is certainly critical in these times, there is an equal and important organizational mandate to provide an infrastructure that encourages and supports creativity and innovation across the enterprise. It is the obligation of contemporary leaders to ensure that conditions supportive of the dynamics of innovation be as thoroughly addressed within and across the organization in a way that ensures that innovation practices can be encouraged and sustained.
Creating organizations of innovation is almost as difficult as the complex actions of innovation. Building the innovation enterprise suggests that there is engagement across the system, enabling structures and processes are wired into the organizational DNA and are a construct of the work of every member of the system. From governance to the functional elements of every department, the enablers of innovation must be consistently evident if the behaviors of innovation are to act and bear fruit. Leaders at every level and place in the system have to demonstrate a level of comfort with ambiguity, the dynamics of change, idea and action emergence, and just-in-time processes that respond critically to emerging, yet growing, demands pushing in on the periphery of the organization. Existing in organizations must be a level of openness, equity, and dialogue, all converging around opportunities to engage and embrace creation, shift, new insights, and previously unimagined opportunity.
In what way do organizations of innovation look and act different from traditional operating models? First, organizations of innovation see innovation as an integral element of their business/service model evidenced in their mission, vision, and values. So entwined are these drivers of innovation that organizational leaders cannot imagine that they would not be perceived as “pushing the walls” or driving toward the future. Second, infrastructures of innovation see their members taking the lead and include in that notion every member and role of the organization in systematic efforts to lead and advance the equations of excellence and innovation. Third, there is a symbiotic relationship in innovation organizations between collaboration, engagement, innovation, and impact (making a difference). There is an overarching value in the system for building and advancing strong relationships and for the constant and consistent use of metrics to assess and evaluate the value and impact of teams and their innovative efforts. Without these bricks and mortar of innovation and organizations, innovation becomes wishful dialogue, with little evidence of substance and sustainability.
This issue of Nursing Administration Quarterly presents a number of different insights related to systems engaged in the opportunities, challenges, and struggles of becoming energetic organizations of innovation. Contributions to this issue are as dynamic and varied as is innovation itself. Topics include understanding the power of framing, competition, and innovation; the impact of culture and innovation in an international setting; developing new models for nursing education; bridging gaps in health service; and integrating practice across a multiservice health system. All authors demonstrate a wide variety of considerations and approaches to addressing the challenges of health system innovation in a constantly shifting landscape. They provide for the reader some new and challenging insights and approaches to both the opportunities and difficulties in creating and leading organizations of innovation.
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