22 Sep 16 03 Apr 17

Innovation in OCA: searching for new ideas

Innovation – a buzzword or essential for MSF OCA in a changing world?

We will always face challenges caring for patients and delivering programmes in difficult contexts. So solving problems and seeking continual improvement are critical for the health of our patients and the future of MSF.

This means not only improving our medical care but all aspects of our programmes, from logistics and IT to communications and security management. There is potential to improve all aspects of programme delivery and support.

Innovative ideas

For MSF OCA, it is essential that we try different ways to innovate – making space for trial and error, learning by iterating, and seeking to scale up the best solutions to have a real impact on how we work.

But how will we innovate? Excuses are often offered for not trying new things: We are too busy, new ideas are often not approved, innovation is not our priority or we choose the first new idea instead of truly seeking better possible solutions.

If we continue with business as usual then many field problems will remain unresolved. In OCA we believe that staff identify the key problems which, when solved, will lead to significant change.

Solving problems

We have so far introduced one new innovation process called the Sapling Nursery. More initiatives are currently being explored and tested, such as the Co-Labs, an experiment in MSF ideation.

In 2015 MSF OCA also launched a one off OCA Dreamfund to invest in solutions for key infrastructure problems from which several projects grew.

Sapling Nursery

So, what is the Sapling Nursery? An incubator, a chance to plant seeds with small funding and a limited time to see if there is merit in the idea. The best ideas can then pitch for further funding and field testing.

Further information about the sapling nursery can be found here.

Continual improvement

Currently we don’t know the best process to foster innovation. What we do know is that more than one approach is needed and that, in addition to learning what works and why things didn’t work, we will also evaluate and improve the way we innovate.

We owe it to the patients and communities we work with to find better ways of delivering care. Your ideas will make this happen.

Other humanitarian innovators

Other links of interest