In the momentous year that was 2020, here at Linear Clinical Research we had an early indication of the seriousness of COVID-19, thanks to a staff member who was visiting China and residing in the adjoining province to Hubei.
The trained nurse – who went on to become the head of China business development for Linear – not only played a crucial role in alerting the organisation about the rapidly developing situation in Wuhan, but also managed to secure 500,0000 N95 medical masks for Western Australia from China in the early days of the crisis.
That wasn’t the role she was trained for or there to play, but it was the role she realised she needed to readily adapt to and perform for us.
And it couldn’t have happened in an organisation beholden to a traditional or accepted way of doing things or burdened by excessive red tape.
It’s one significant example of the importance of investing in people who think creatively and have the capacity to adapt to any situation. That’s one of our highest priorities at Linear Clinical Research – not just investing in innovative thinkers but establishing a culture where the status quo is challenged, and people are empowered to be bold in their business and personal pursuits.
Innovation is a mindset that needs to apply to both process and culture. At Linear, we were early adopters of digital platforms – Google Cloud and Slack are a couple of basic examples – which set the scene for our team to become comfortable experimenting with digital platforms. “Seeking paperless” is a core strategic enabler which encourages staff to question manual, paper based processes that still permeate much of healthcare.
Something I’ve learned in my career is that it’s all too easy to let innovation fall by the wayside during times of prosperity – convinced that one shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. This can be particularly problematic in heavily regulated, risk averse industries such as healthcare.
But that overlooks how valuable an adaptive mindset becomes when things aren’t going well, or the unexpected happens.
At Linear, we thrived during the past year specifically because of our earlier investment in learning and innovation. We had the platforms, skills and most importantly, the mindset to adapt to novel, highly demanding COVID-19 projects at short notice, as well as being able to seamlessly move to a work-from-home model when it became required.
In addition to applying this mindset to who we are, what we do and how we do it, it also helped us think differently about who we worked with.
Innovation is also about partnerships as much as anything else. Our platform partners like Medrio and CRIO, our amazing oncology and haematology specialists that work with us and our customers like SPARK at Stanford and Beigene all share the same mindset. Identifying the values of our partners that align with ours has become central to our business development strategy as it allows us to co-create so effectively.
I’m confident that the most successful businesses, companies and organisations – medical or otherwise – over the last year have predominantly been those who were able to adapt quickly due to the earlier investments in developing these mindsets, long before the warning bells had arrived.
Western Australians have long done things differently, it’s part of our heritage and fabric as a ‘frontier state’. As we accelerate out of the COVID-19 pandemic, for business, the community and government, it is vital that we continue to double down on our investment in learning and innovation to help us develop new industries and tools to adapt and fight back against future shocks that will invariably happen.