The concept of innovation is mostly associated with methodology. Carrying out a certain process entails reaching new destinations, obtaining new innovative solutions and, as a result, creating new ways to tackle a problem.
By following this logic, we rely on the process and assume that by implementing certain practices the results will magically offer a better solution to a specific problem because of its innovative nature. But unfortunately innovation is not tantamount to success, although it can provide opportunity, challenge or openness to new scenarios.
Innovation seems to be a resource reserved for who can invest in it, like big corporations, or entrepreneurs who are naturally innovative. This supposition leaves out a wide range of organizations, companies and institutions that do not have the capacity of the first nor the abilities of the second. This is the reason why they navigate between what is already working and lukewarm initiatives which usually disappear in daily routines.
Apparently, minority groups meet the same fate. It’s difficult to channel the need for a solution that is well-developed enough to be sustainable and that has a meaningful impact which manages to make a difference. Even though there are exceptions, such as the case of the Háblalo app, a solution for people with speech disabilities which can be used by many different user groups. Along with its success, it has the capacity to be scaled and to continue building on its core value proposition. With apps like this one, the needs of various minority groups come together and they garner enough presence in order to allow innovation to come in, stay and continue growing organically.
Nevertheless, there is another way to handle problems that is not conditioned by the volume of users it has or the investment capacity to find solutions. It is related to the perspective from which we observe, understand and conceptualize. It is as simple as changing near sighted or far sighted glasses. However, something that seems obvious, almost never happens because it’s difficult to change an approach.
I had the opportunity to participate in the development of MeUp, an app that empowers transplant patients by helping them lead a healthy life by using the dynamics used in gaming. It was an incredible process to be able to co-create with patients, families, doctors, INCUCAI (National Central Institute for Ablation and Transplants) and the Argentine Transplant Society. After more than one year of work, I am convinced that the secret ingredient was the approach we had since the beginning of the project. One of the challenges was to consider pediatric patients, especially those who are going through the transition between childhood and the teenage phase, with all the difficulties that age has in itself and taking into account all the complex socialization variables. We were aware that in Argentina the loss index for this age group due to a lack of continuity in treatment was high. We then decided to reformulate the communication with the users and to apply a playful approach with the rules. No forcing, no guilt but instead accompanying the user with a playful proposal, a different experience that makes the person smile in a difficult situation.
Ever since the launch of MeUp, hundreds of users in Argentina and Chile have joined in, and we will soon be launching in Uruguay. During 2021 we have been working on an important update that will also include adult users and offer improvements in usability that we have been co-creating with all involved actors. The growth in users and interactions within the app is proof that it was worth putting our faith in a gamification approach for a health-related issue and taking the risk in order to change people’s lives.
For all these reasons, it’s essential that we develop the ability to change our approach. We should learn to observe reality in a different way, discover new points of view that allow us to understand problems from another perspective. Current technology and above all future technology has the enormous potential to change realities, improve quality of life and offer people new experiences. We only have to allow ourselves to find new ways.
– By Cristóbal Papendieck