Dissemination of Innovation: The Will to Change an Organization

James W Dearing, PhD

Summer 2008 - Volume 12 Number 3


"Absolutely amazing stuff. Social network maps like this provide a whole new view of the organization. How long will it take you to do this?" asked the Associate Medical Director.
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"Let's do it. What'll you need?"

I was confused. "You mean, collect this kind of data here to get a sense of what's going on? Or everything, the whole process, of collecting formative data, assessing priorities among caregivers, getting feedback on prototype interventions and revising them, and then intervening and following up? Or just a proposal?"

"Not a proposal. We need to move the needle. This could save us millions."

That's when it hit me. I work in an organization where there is a will to change: improvement, innovation, Plan Do Study Act, with emphasis on the act. The question, then, is whether it is a learning organization--a sign of greatness--or just an innovative organization--a sign of being good at core objectives. Collectively, do we listen? Do we communicate across departments, facilities, and regions to transfer successful practices? Do we document experiences to pass on the knowledge gained for those who follow us? These simple questions reflect the pathways and qualities and persistence of innovation dissemination of mutual understanding and two-way communication, not just a one-way transmission of information. Dissemination occurs when the state of the art--what practitioners do--affects the state of the science--what researchers do, and vice versa. Organizational dissemination is fundamentally a learning process.


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