Are you innovating or lagging?

by Christina on January 21, 2011

I’ve been spending time with some amazing family physicians out here. One of my favorite teaching points this week was about the diffusion of innovations.

To me, one of the most exciting things about primary care (and yoga too for that matter!) is the opportunity for innovation. How to motivate people? How to counsel on food and exercise? How to connect with kids and teens? How to tease out the cause of chronic pain and what to do for it? How to integrate new technology to improve health (iphone/ipad apps, blogs, social media)?

Primary care docs (and yoga teachers) have both the challenge and opportunity to see the big picture of what is going on in a person. This unique perspective can lead to new ideas and new ways of doing things, and there is great potential for innovation.

This is the theory on the diffusion of innovations:

At one end of the spectrum, there are the innovators and early adopters. At the other end are laggards (“traditionalists”). Innovators come up with new ideas and challenge the status quo (and risk being wrong), while laggards/traditionalists safely resist change.

Where do you fall on this curve — do you tend to be an innovator or a laggard? What are some things you’ve been an “early adopter” of?

To be more innovative, we need to hang out with innovators (just like if we want to be happy and successful, we need to hang out with happy and successful people).

This reminds me of what Richard Freeman wisely said in regards to one’s life and yoga practice:

“Do not get lost in your own practice or school of practice… Do not isolate yourself in your micro-isolated community where everyone agrees with you.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nobel January 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

You said, “Innovators come up with new ideas and challenge the status quo (and risk being wrong), while laggards/traditionalists safely resist change.”

I see where you are coming from, but strictly speaking, this is not true: There is no way to “safely resist change”. If one resists change, one risks being proven wrong/becoming obsolete. This is true not just in medicine and yoga, but in all areas of life. So the only “safe” way is innovation through constant critical reflection.

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Christina January 23, 2011 at 2:21 am

Hi Nobel, thanks so much for you comment. You are exactly right: it is not “safe” to resist change. What I really meant was that resisting change can FEEL safer. Any change is scary, but NOT changing is actually the riskier thing.

And yes, this of course applies to so much more than yoga and medicine (those are just the two things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately)!

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Claudia January 24, 2011 at 12:52 am

Christina!! hellooo I met Roberto and he sent your “hi”, so sweeeettt 🙂 wish we can meet soon.

I have so much faith in you being an MD AND an ashtangi, I think you embody innovation, and the not being “safe” part will be taken care of by Ashtanga? Nobel is right to bring that up…

I think especially in the field of medicine, in the US, it is SO necessary to have some of this, innovation, some deeper looking ,some reflection, some new ideas… glad you brought the point to the table

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Christina January 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Claudia! I’m so glad you and Roberto met – I was asking if he had run into you yet!!! I’ve been loving reading your blog from Mysore…

When will you be back in New York? I’ll be there next week for the whole month! Would be great to see you/practice with you.

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