Coming up with great ideas for new and innovative solutions that can improve health and care services is a great way to start the innovation process. However, it is not always easy to know where to begin, how to go about generating, refining and testing ideas, and if you will be supported by your organisation.

The culture of the organisation can be described as ‘the way we do things’ and it is the values and beliefs system that drives behaviour. So, a culture that values innovation will display behaviours that enable, support and welcome new ideas, products and services.

This resource will support you to:

  1. Find ideas for new innovative products and ways of doing things

  2. Learn how to generate new ideas

  3. Explore if the culture in your organisation is open to new and innovative ideas

We hope that you find it useful and would welcome any feedback or suggestions for improvement.


Where to find ideas and support for innovation

Innovations in practice

The below tools will help you identify innovations that are currently being tested and implemented.

Generating ideas for innovations

The following sources provide or generate ideas for innovation:

  • Centre for Collaborative Health Care Research Centre - work with partners to co-produce and conduct applied research to decrease health inequalities
  • Clinical Research Network provides infrastructure that allows high quality clinical research to take place in the NHS
  • The Kings Fund - supports and commissions research and analysis from top thinkers in the country to improve health care and to promote understanding of the health and care system.
  • Hackathons – a two day event where people from different backgrounds collaborate on a focussed problem or idea in health and care

The Innovation Agency support and deliver hackathon events for our health and care partners. These support the development of solutions to issues that the health and care system face: Innovation Agency Hackathons.

  • Open Innovation – making greater use of external ideas and allowing own ideas to reach beyond own boundaries


Social Platforms for ideas exchange

Sources of innovative ideas for implementers and inventors to find and share, for example:

Learn how to generate new ideas

Have you wondered where do good ideas come from? Steve Johnson explains in this Ted Talk.


There a a number of guides and tools that support creative thinking and generation of new ideas; you may find the following useful:

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement offer guides and tools for coming up with new solutions and perspectives.

Thinking differently guide provides and tools for frontline leaders and team to rethink care delivery.

Edward De Bono’s six hats method for creative thinking.

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to focussing on positives to enable ideas and self determined change, find out more in this YouTube video:


Story boarding is a quick way to get a sense of projects and what needs to be done, and it can help generate new thinking.

Process Mapping can provide you with a tool to view the process and systems so that you can identify where you need innovative thinking.

Fresh Eyes – seek out and use the wisdom of others.

Business coaching and mentoring – finding space to think in a busy complex world.

How to develop a culture of innovation

The following are some tools and guides around organisational cultures that support innovation. These are useful in understanding and assessing your own organisational culture. 


NHS England’s practical guide to strengthen innovation at board level throughout the NHS.

Michael West and his team at Aston OD Ltd, in partnership with the Kings Fund, developed an organisational development tool to assess the culture – a good place to start with culture change.

The North West Leadership Academy develop leaders in membership organisations in the North West.

The NHS Leadership Academy offer core national programmes for leadership development.

NHS Employers support an expert resource providing access and ‘how to’ do organisational development resources.

Leadership and management skills development: benefits of investment.

Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer at NHS England, on strategies for innovation.


If you are interested in reading more about this topic, the library services at Lancashire Care have pulled together a comprehensive literature review which you can find here.


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