November 11th, 2015

Week 4 – Ideation

By mary

IMG_2163-e1444943275904-1024x768Week 4 for the online learning innovation lab (MCOLi) was the final step before shifting to a test-and-validate mode around a specific idea. We gathered the entire team together in San Francisco (we are normally geographically distributed). Our mission was to prioritize our top ideas, select an initial one, and plan our first experiments.  We came into the week with 6 ideas that had survived an initial culling process, as shared in our last blog post.

Early on in the project, we came up with a set of filters to help us prioritize ideas.  Last week, we ran a simple group exercise where we loosely scored each idea against our key filters. You can see the results here (1=good, 2=OK, 3=bad):

IMG_5422-e1444943645681-768x1024Given how little we *truly* knew about the viability of each idea, the scoring was more useful for how it forced thoughtfulness and a mental judgement, rather than the output of the numbers themselves.

We also asked our advisors Dr. Dave Cook, Dr. Dick Berger, Barbara Baasch-Thomas, and Dr. Farrell Lloyd to critique the ideas.  After these steps, we found ourselves with two ideas: "Interactive Slideshare" and "Mayo Talk." However, we did not have consensus between these ideas. Quite the contrary.  The primary criticism of each idea (from different detractors) was that they were too incremental an improvement.

We posed a challenge to the team: take either idea and "stretch" it with more imagination.


The team deconstructed the essentials of Mayo Talk and also went back to some of the fundamental insights we had picked up during our customer development interviews:

- case learning is almost universally everyone's favorite way to learn

- everyone is so busy, an effective solution likely needs to be extremely efficient

- case review, as we witnessed with some team rounds, are a lightweight, compact, information-rich way in which practitioners share and interact around knowledge

- many Mayo Clinic medical practitioners seek out new, interesting cases to learn from, whether through grand rounds, conferences, or other means

  • Mayo sees interesting/complex cases that other healthcare organizations would be fascinatedto see

We asked ourselves a question. If we took the case as the fundamental "unit of learning," could we create an effective, lightweight platform?  

The team was split as to whether a case-sharing platform would more interesting as an education tool versus a practice tool, but legal liability risk nixed the latter idea. We also knew that this could not just be about creating a library of cases, but rather creating interesting interactions around cases.

To cut to the chase, the team decided to choose the case learning concept as our starting point.  The summary of the concept, as it stands today, is as follows:

"Briefcase" is a platform where groups can form to load, view,  share, and interact around interesting cases. The cases would typically be 1-4 minutes in length, presented through a mix of audio, images and text.  We imagine that groups could be formed by practice teams, medical school alumni groups, national speciality organizations, and more.  The members of a group could interact around a case, but ideally anyone on the platform (which would include many healthcare organizations) could view both the case and the discussion in a read-only mode.  Our hypothesis for the business model is that group organizers would pay to set up and host their group.

We would be lying if we said that the choice of this idea was without controversy.  There are some big risks which we will get into next week.  However, one of our core principles is to strictly limit opinion-based debates, and instead gather real data. That is what comes next.

Our last steps for the week were two further actions:

1. Identifying the core assumptions and risks around the idea. This helps us prioritize our learning goals, and thus the experiments we need to run.

2. Imagining a wide variety of research activities and experiments, some simple and some complex, that we could run in order to gather validating or invalidating evidence.

As an amusing sidebar, one of the other activities of last week was to tentatively rename our little group.  We realized that MCOLi is a bit of a homonym to E. Coli.....

This week, we have started the process of putting "Briefcase" through its paces. -More to come next week! 

We also have a request for you! Please add a comment to this blog or email us if:

1. You know of existing case sharing or case learning tools we should know about

2. You have a team that might be interested in joining a trial for this concept. We will be picking one or more speciality/groups areas to first gather cases and then have people kick some tires.

Tags: Ideation, Weekly Updates


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