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Testing the impact of Systematic Innovation training in the NHS

Testing the impact of Systematic Innovation training in the NHS

| On 07, Dec 2018

John Sainsbury, Pauline Found, John Bicheno, Darrell Mann


The study was inspired by the twofold challenge, posed by Birdi, Leach and Magadley (2012), to determine whether TRIZ training is as effective for managers faced with management problems, as it is for engineers faced with engineering problems, and whether having a control group of non-trained participants strengthens the study design. An experiment was designed to consider the following null hypothesis: ‘training NHS Employees in Systematic Innovation has no more effect on problem-solving abilities and perception of a domain specific problem, than business as usual’.

The study was an attempt to counter the weaknesses of previous studies of innovation in the public sector, outlined by De Vries et al. (2016), in the form of a mixed methods experiment, with a link to theories of innovation (Amabile, 1983, 1989; Mann, 2007).


The study was a single site, small scale, feasibility of a randomised control trial in which the impact of Systematic Innovation training was tested on managers in their attempts to solve real NHS problems, alongside a control group, who continued to work on their NHS problems through ‘business-as-usual’. Following ethical approval, participants completed baseline measures on their perception of the problem and self-scored their innovative skills. Measures were repeated one month later.


Participation included two groups, one in each study arm. Pansensic, a word-scraping, analytical software tool was used to undertake a text-based analysis of: i) sentiment, and ii) problem-solving language, cross-referenced with that used by Myers Briggs profiles, to create a depth of understanding of both sets of participants during the phases of the study. Due to low numbers and heeding Kahneman’s (2011, p.114) advice to be wary of ‘finding certainty, consistency and coherence from what is experienced’, the null hypothesis was neither accepted nor rejected.

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