Nurturing Innovation for Growth, Health and More Independence

Nurturing Innovation for Growth, Health and More Independence

“Do you know what my favourite renewable fuel is? An ecosystem for innovation.” – Thomas Friedman

With digitalization, artificial intelligence, an aging population and an ever-increasingly connected world, advances in health care are happening at warp speed. And while innovation is a buzzword in many health circles these days, VHA is going beyond the hype and taking innovation to a deeper level through the development of an overarching organizational innovation strategy.

“We’ve always been a leading-edge care provider,” says VHA CEO and President, Carol Annett. “When Barbara Blackstock-Cody began this organization in 1925 with just 14 homemakers, she couldn’t have predicted what the world or VHA would be like today. But inherent to her legacy was a vision of a better future and a constant push towards progress,” she adds.

VHA is anchoring innovation in the organization and connecting it to the bigger picture around us. Our approved plan develops an ecosystem that:


  • Creates a fertile foundation for innovation through development and refinement of VHA innovation structures that support strategically linked initiatives;
  • Reinforces actions and behaviours to nurture, support and protect innovation within VHA;
  • Constantly prompts us to evaluate outcomes, determine what’s working, what’s not and encourages us to pivot accordingly.

Expert Insights:

VHA leaders learned more about fostering an innovative culture through a series of Thought Leader Workshops. Megan Mitchell and Lee-Ann McAlear, who head up the Schulich Business School’s Strategic Innovation and Leadership Program; Daniel Rose of The Moment, an innovation consultancy; and Marguerite Mcleod-Fleming of Innovation Culture Group all shared their insights on a range of innovation topics. These included characteristics of a creative work culture, effectively leading innovation, design thinking and managing change.

“We have lots of vehicles to generate innovation at VHA, and we have lots of brilliant and creative people working here who know where we need to innovate and how best to get started,” notes Dr. Kathryn Nichol, Vice President of Quality, Best Practice, Research and Education, as well as the Sr. Sponsor on the initiative. “We’re really looking to take innovation at VHA further by embedding it in every aspect of our culture. The education sessions—which also included a tour and presentation by the game-changing office space company Steelcase—offered a fresh perspective on how to do this and generated lots of excitement,” she adds.

Sr. Communications and PR Manager, Pam Stoikopoulos, who was seconded for six months to work with the leadership team to develop the plan, will be sharing some of VHA’s learnings and insights at the Ontario Community Support Association’s (OCSA) conference on October 17, 2018 in her workshop, Connecting the Dots: Making Innovation More than an Ad-Hoc Adventure. For more information visit

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