INSEAD Participant Interview

Leaving INSEAD equipped with tools in innovation and healthcare


Harry Majewski

Access Health and Community

"Thanks to all our activities, we are getting a reputation for being in the innovation space. People are hearing about what we are doing." Harry Majewski speaks about how the Innovating Health for Tomorrow equipped him with tools in innovation and healthcare, changing his mindset in the process.

Can you please introduce yourself?

I am the CEO of Access Health and Community, a primary health service in Melbourne, Australia.

I’ve been in the role for five years and it represents a career change. Before this I was a medical researcher, a head of a university department and then Head of a University School Medical Sciences for 10 years.

However, I wanted to work in the not-for-profit space. The Board of what is now Access Health and Community wanted a change agent and so I took on the role of CEO. We largely look after disadvantaged people and my task when I joined was to create an excellent primary health service with the aim being to ensure our patients have access to quality services.

We are engaged in a lot of strategy and research. A big part of this is developing an innovation culture to produce outcomes that help people directly. We do lots of little things and we see differences in peoples’ lives from that.   

Why did you decide to attend the Innovating health for tomorrow programme?

Moving into my new and current role was one of the main reasons.

I believe that governments can’t afford healthcare of the future because of demographics shifts. This means we have to do things differently. Inherently, health professionals are conservative and not change agents and I wanted to move our small organisation of 300 staff into a different space. This was the reason for attending. I wanted to be equipped with tools in innovation and healthcare.

When I joined, we were struggling with innovation. I came to an organisation whose mindset was one of low confidence with regards to innovation and doing it ourselves. Innovation was something you that you read about in magazines. There was an innovation focus, but we talked about it broadly rather than as process innovation.

Your mission was to change this mindset then?

Lots of what I engaged in when I joined was relation innovation. The whole healthcare landscape was a very competitive one, with many not for profit organisations competing for funding. I wanted to change our relationships so that we could get collaborative working relationships, rather than relying on funding each time. I focused on this during the first three years of my role.

Much of this work meant trying to change the mindsets of my colleagues from different services and systems; to get them to want to work with us, rather than compete with us. It was about building bridges so that we could talk to one another and develop something together.

How did you use the knowledge gained in the programme when you went back to work?

When I came back, the first thing I did for my managers was run a Darwinator exercise. We spent days doing it; going through all the stages. Through this exercise, a few projects floated to the top. We adopted one of those and it made it through to completion. This particular project was one involving iPads and Google translate. Specifically, to help translate for patients who didn’t speak English. Indeed, 30% of patients in our health service don’t speak English as a first language. This was particularly the case in the dental service and was causing issues as it made it difficult to organise patient care.

What the project did was transform care. We didn’t invent any new technology, we simply used existing technology for a different application. This little project helped change attitudes within the organisation. People started to believe we could do something different that makes a difference to peoples’ lives. This came straight from the programme at INSEAD.

We’ve since attended two conferences to present the project and today, many dental practices across our State use this type of technology.  All this grew from little beginnings at INSEAD.

What it set up was a ‘can do’ attitude; an attitude that made us believe we could be an innovation centre and that it didn’t mean we had to think of anything complex. Quite often the innovation we use, we borrow from other people. We have the confidence to think in that way.

What was the next step in this journey?

The next step in our innovation journey was our interaction with Swinburne University in Melbourne. We approached them and said we weren’t looking to run a project with them, but rather build a relationship with them. We wanted to talk with their engineers, their designers, their IT people and well as their health people to discover how they could interact and collaborate with us.

We created a Kickstart fund into which we put some money to fund projects – a total of 50,000 dollars. The idea being to see what outcomes this would have. Again, we used Darwinator to explore possible projects. We asked our staff what projects they wanted to work on. In the first year (2016), we ended up with 56 projects that staff said they wanted to work on. 20 took place.

What we discovered during this process was that most projects didn’t require money. They simply needed people from Swinburne to connect with our clinical staff in the health service. So, lots of the work wasn’t even funded. It was quite exciting to see we could amplify the relationship. It wasn’t a relationship built on money. It was something quite different.

Things have moved on since then and we are a little constrained in our activities. We are a small organisation; smaller than the University. Lots of innovative ideas have come from the Darwinator exercise. In some areas we have a real innovation culture and there are lots of things happening all over the place. And these aren’t CEO led anymore; they are done at local units.

People have got used to thinking in that way. The mindset is now one of innovation and design thinking.

This has also been helped by Swinburne University who has a living lab. We partner with them to make use of their design thinking expertise. In the last financial year (June 2016 to June 2017), we had 130 staff and students working together.  

What we are trying to achieve by engaging in such a partnership is to see how we can do things differently. Collaborating and working with others produces outcomes you can’t get to by yourself. You draw on others’ expertise.

The programme learning has had a trickledown effect?

We are population health driven and try to look at it in different ways. For example, my managers have been adopted Blue Ocean thinking.

In one case, there was a large amount of money being made for a new drug and alcohol service in the State. We are one of the smallest services and I asked my manager to think of how we could deliver the service differently. What is the major problem in the State? Is abuse due to drug use? They came back and said it was because people were abusing prescription medication. More people die from that than from car accidents.

It was turning population health thinking on its head. When we put that into our funding proposal, we got it and the big players who were traditional didn’t. I think it’s because we were able to look at it differently.

Managers are getting used to thinking in an out of the box way. This was helped by the INSEAD programme, with the little touches of blue ocean strategy it brought. It’s getting them to think differently.

The masterstroke was to run a duplicate of the Darwinator with 25 managers. We spent time doing it and a lot of them got it. I was proud with the results. Had we done it in a traditional management framework, it wouldn’t have worked. Essentially, we created a mini INSEAD programme.

For us, the results were quite meaningful. They were not theoretical and we were able to apply them in the organisation. It got some of them onto the right wavelength. When we started to interact with Swinburne, it amplified it. We had research students and staff interacting.

Even areas that are not innovation orientated are starting to think of things in different ways. For example, we run occupational therapy services and we wanted to redesign the patient experience. I felt it wasn’t changing and so I sent two staff to the USA to see how others approached care. They came back saying we are far ahead!  It wasn’t what I expected but still it helps drive the energy to improve further.

We are in a rapidly changing environment. There is pressure to bring in more money through the door. At the same time we have to try to keep the innovation spirit in that environment and ensure there is space to do it. There is emotional buy-in to it now.

Innovations that we started will produce millions of dollars of new income and looked after 1000s of patients in a better way.

Was attending the programme more about getting a refresher, or gaining new insights?

At the time of joining, we were undertaking an innovation project that I hoped would run smoother if I joined the programme.

In fact, what I was exposed to was a whole range of tools I knew nothing about. These enabled me to see the much broader framework for the project. I took these tools, and the other learning back to my organisation, and applied these broadly and not just for the project.

Fast forward to today and I am about to start a new project, for which I will applying the Business Canvas technique. I will be going through the project and refining it based on that.

So the tools are used day-to-day. These are also tools that some staff have got familiar with using as well.

What did you think of the class makeup?

What I noticed in retrospect was that it was good having a lot of people in the class who worked in health. In the Blue Ocean Strategy programme, which I also completed, the group was very mixed. This made it much more difficult to work in a group situation. In the STICH, people had health backgrounds and that made the interactions much more positive. I still correspond with them.

There was an openness to share views and experiences and the class interactions were very positive. The first module was held at the beginning of the year and the second in May. This gave us the chance to work on applying the learning in between. Coming back, when you meet for the second time, it bonds you more. Coming back a second time cemented a lot of the learning and the relationships.  

What are the main tools you have been using since?

We use the Darwinator and the Business Canvas frequently. They are the two principle tools we work with.

In terms of design thinking, we allow our University colleagues to control that. It’s their expertise and they’ve stunned us. For example, we asked them to design a waiting room of the future for our clinic. They produced an animation to explain the patient experience. It came out of the blue, but hit all the messages we wanted to put across. We were so impressed by it, that we are creating a cartoon family which we use to engage with patients to make sure they are looking after themselves.

Once you engage with people such as those at the University, you realise there are lots of surprising things that can come out of that relationship. I don’t think there is anyone else producing animations as a business for healthcare. The quality is outstanding.

What this reinforced was the idea that in healthcare, it’s not all about having the latest treatments, it’s about how you treat the patient: how do you engage with them and whether or not the patient follows their treatment.

Thanks to all our activities, we are getting a reputation for being in the innovation space. People are hearing about what we are doing.

Interested in INSEAD's Innovating Health for Tomorrow programme? Have a look at the web page.

Innovating Health for Tomorrow is the result of the Trust’s longstanding partnership with INSEAD to provide management education for healthcare professionals. INSEAD is a Flagship Partner within the Trust’s 2020 strategy and a key component of the Trust’s goal to advance knowledge and innovation in seeking to transform health care systems. The Trust works across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region in making a difference in human health through multiple social impact interventions. Currently within the Trust’s partnership portfolio there are over 70 active programmes run with partner organisations. For more information about the Trust and its activities, please visit

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