We have all heard variations of “changing your mindset will change your life”. This statement has been backed by a number of studies on the influence of mindsets and cultural development surrounding innovation. When a group of people with similar mindsets comes together it forms a culture, and with the right mindset that culture could lead to innovation. But how exactly does it happen?
Dr. Oranee Tangphao is an expert in clinical drug development who worked in a renowned research and development facility in the US and was involved in a number of innovation project management. In the following paragraphs, she offers her perspective on healthcare innovation development in Thailand.
Creativity and Embracing the risks
Many people believe that the path to innovation is a rocky road that can only be navigated with a wealth of knowledge, technological advancement, and resources. However, Dr. Oranee sees an innovative mindset as the first and most important element.
Academics believe that over 90% of children are naturally creative but also that this number drops to less than 10% when they reach adulthood. This observation has raised some important questions, like how our maturing process hinders the development of creativity, how our creativity is affected by education systems, and how we can unlock creative mindsets.
In the age of globalization, most academics agree that innovation-focused countries tend to do better economically and developmentally. Taking risks is an inevitable part of innovation. When people come up with a new idea to solve an existing problem, the primary challenges they face are being open to change, embracing the risk of failure, learning from failures, and using failures to improve themselves, their team, and their knowledge to create better results.
Having the right incentive is also a critical part of nurturing innovation. With the right incentive system, people will be motivated to seek new ideas, overcome the fear of failing or not reaching the desired outcome, and free themselves from “low-risk, low-reward” projects. If a country or a company is looking to diversify their investment, their leaders should always consider both risks and rewards to promote innovative development.
There is more to learning than just memorizing
All learning endeavors can be categorized into 3 levels:
1. Information – can be found from various sources, such as books or the internet.
2. Knowledge – is the product of processing and understanding the learned information.
3. Wisdom – is gained by applying the learned knowledge to a new situation or circumstance and continuously improving.
Reaching the wisdom stage is essential for innovation. Wisdom creates opportunities to learn and confirm new methodologies in scientific settings as well as critical thinking. In the Thai education system — especially at the university level — students are often taught to find information and memorize it, making it hard to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom or very specific situations. The question is: How do we change the education system if we want graduates to reach their full potential and go on to become innovators?
To provide information so students understand enough to apply it to problems. The extent of the student’s knowledge is limited by the teacher’s knowledge.
To guide and challenge students to come up with questions the teacher doesn’t necessarily know the answer to. The scope of learning goes beyond textbooks and the teacher’s knowledge.
To memorize and recite what is covered in the classroom or in textbooks, and perform well in exams.
To research and analyze the information beyond what is learned in the classroom, textbooks, or from the teacher.
To complete assignments given and to fulfill basic work expectations and rules.
To adapt the existing knowledge and experience to solve problems by testing, learning, and improving. Rules can be adjusted according to the situation.
When faced with changes
Feel comfortable with status quo and averse to changes, uncertainty, or failures. Tend to avoid changes at any cost, based on self-interest.
Feels excited and eager to learn new things, search for answers, and challenge new ideas. Embrace failure as part of the learning process.
Gained based solely on education level, work experience, tenure, diligence, and power that comes with the position.
Gained through vision, communication, influence, and tangible achievement such as project progress.
Defined by job titles, income, job stability and social acknowledgement.
Defined by gains in wisdom as well as business and financial results generated by innovation.
Work hard and try their best to optimize the interests of the unit under supervision.
Expand the market and maximize the benefit of all stakeholders, including the competitors. Take an integrative, team-based approach to find mutual gains.
There are many other factors which could improve the education system. The key question we need to answer is: How ready are we to support innovation? Are we ready to break out of the status quo and accept the changes? What can we do to shift our society to an innovation economy in the generations to come?
Dr. Oranee Tangphao is an expert in clinical drug development. She holds an MD degree from the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, and trained in Internal Medicine. A recipient of the Anandamahidol Foundation scholarship for advanced education abroad, she received her Master’s degree from McMaster University, Canada. Dr. Oranee is Board Certified in Clinical Pharmacology (American Board of Clinical Pharmacology) through her training at Stanford University, where her main focus was on pharmaceutical product development. She is a former Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, and a clinical researcher at Stanford University. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Oranee has achieved multiple successes in her career in drug development and has taken on broader responsibilities. She currently holds the position of Chief Medical Officer at a startup in the US, and serves as a consultant for several public and private organizations in Thailand and the US. She is frequently invited to speak on developments in clinical medicines in both countries.