by Michael Levy, DHIT | April 21, 2019

Why is digital health transformation failing? More to the point, why is digital transformation, in general, failing? Find out why in the first in a series of articles exploring the essential makeup of the next-gen mindset.

“A problem is nothing more than a gorgeous opportunity to discover an even better solution.”

— Robin S. Sharma

Discover First! That is my motto (or at least, one of them).

My approach to life and to entrepreneurialism is the same: discover, learn, grow, pivot. These qualities are nothing less than an expression of my existence. I am a discoverer. I am curious about the world around me. I seek understanding. Before I look for a solution, I must objectively research and fully define the problem. In everyday situations, this will happen in the blink of an eye. For more complex situations, discovering first will allow you to build an effective solution to a real-world problem; and the repeated practice of discovery ensures consistent, positive outcomes as the problem and need will inherently change over time.

Why is digital health transformation failing? More to the point, why is digital transformation, in general, failing? One of the reasons is the reliance on the 20thcentury top-down models of leadership and operations. These models fail to discover. While they were once the hallmark of the American Dream, they have become outdated and are standing in the way of the current American Desire. The top-down models put all the emphasis on the WHAT – valuing profit above all else. The current American Desire centers around the WHY. We desire to live a life of purpose, where we align our passions with our livelihoods. The shift to a more collaborative economy provides the environment in which this intent occurs. This collaborative ecosystem attracts other people who share the same passions. Taking this approach, the WHAT you do will change frequently, but the reason WHY you do it, will never change.

The “top-down” model, by definition, puts the result first: what should effectively be the final step of the process is now the starting point. The “discover first” model flips that misguided paradigm. We prioritize an understanding which will inform the following solution – Discover First makes the solution the endpoint.

Over the past 20 years, organizations have invested heavily in entrepreneurialism and innovation by creating incubators, accelerator programs, innovation hubs, and academic entrepreneurial programs. These programs do two things: they try to build new business models and they try to attract investment; the priority is an economic outcome only. These organizations have missed an opportunity to define entrepreneurialism and innovation in a more meaningful way. Entrepreneurialism and innovation can be the new human operating system – a system with a human-centered, Discover First mentality. We must discard all previously held beliefs. The future is uncertain, and no longer can we rely so heavily on the past to navigate a path forward. We need to have a way to do so without knowing where the end point lies. This is the essence of the #nextgenmindset: #discoverfirst.

In the 21st century, anybody can be an entrepreneur. The prevalence of information technology makes it easier than ever for an innovation to be brought to market at scale from anywhere in the world. Since the next-generation mindset is one of purposeful intents, our biggest challenge is: where do we place our efforts when no final destination is known? Thus, entrepreneurialism and innovation are not a destination, they are part of the process of discovery – this is our new reality.

The Discover First, next-generation mindset directly opposes the old models which put the product first. We allow the product to be the result, not the starting point. This begs an interesting question: if you allow the ending to happen at the end, what do you start with?

Michael Levy

President, DHIT