• Article
  • July 5, 2017

Leadership Tip: Don't be Afraid to Disrupt and Get Things Done

John Brownstein, Ph.D., has spent more than 12 years at Boston Children's Hospital and just recently hit his two-year anniversary as the institution's chief innovation officer. In this role, the entrepreneur and Harvard Medical School professor has focused on building new technologies, collaborating with industry and deploying a comprehensive digital health platform. All in the name of enhancing the health care experience for patients, families and clinicians.

As a leader who heads up a multi-disciplinary team of about 50 people at Boston Children's, Brownstein has two tips for children's hospitals as they strive to innovate.

Go ahead…disrupt

"Create an environment where people feel very safe and excited to bring up ideas, and no idea is a bad one," Brownstein says. "I know it's cliché and a lot of people say it, but if you create an environment that is top-down, you're not going to be able to change an organization as dramatically as if you really listen to how people work and where the natural transformation can occur. Everyone should know that it's OK to disrupt."

Get things done, and don't fear the do-over

"Don't get too swept up in overthinking every opportunity and strategy—just hit the ground running and get things done," he says. "And don't be afraid to either kill an idea or iterate or pivot. Better to do that than to spend a year or two strategizing on a concept just to find out that it was a bad idea."

Have a leadership tip or lesson learned? Email magazine@childrenshospitals.org.