What healthcare can learn from Elon Musk's approach to innovation

Regardless of the storm of personal and professional drama that seems to follow CEO Elon Musk, there is no denying the vast success of Tesla, which has not only led the auto industry's charge toward electric vehicles but also boasts over $1 billion in annual revenues.

As such, there are several valuable lessons to be learned from Mr. Musk's and Tesla's approach to innovation, according to the Harvard Business Review, especially in healthcare, where many hospitals and health systems are forging new paths in establishing innovation ecosystems and initiatives.

The company's "fascinating multi-pronged strategy for fundamentally changing an industry," per HBR, spans every level of said industry: "overturning the core product architecture, positioning themselves in key bottleneck components and resolving system-level limitations that slow the adoption of the technology."

While these elements are crucial and all but guarantee major success in innovation, Tesla has gone beyond merely innovating within an existing industry to become a singular force of transformation due to Mr. Musk's knack for accumulating "innovation capital."

Innovation capital is based on who you are and know, what you have done and your ability to draw attention to your ideas, according to HBR — and when gathering this capital, the focus is on building recognition and longevity, rather than earning money. Mr. Musk, for example, generates massive amounts of innovation capital by relentlessly building excitement around his company via social media, public displays and demonstrations, and making bold claims about its products, like when he suggested embedding rocket thrusters into a Tesla's structure might allow it to fly.

Due to this far-reaching innovation strategy, "investors are seeing the potential of Tesla's future as the company's market value now exceeds the combined market value of GM, Ford and FiatChrysler," per HBR. "Innovators should take note."

More articles on innovation:
Spectrum Health receives $15M to establish pediatric innovation center
Innovation stakes have never been higher, IT leaders agree: Accenture report
NIH awards U at Buffalo $21M for medical research, clinical trials

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