The motto for many companies (especially startups) is “innovate or die.” We often take on new projects, implement new technology or establish a new program with the goal of taking our company to the next level. And for some, it’s simply to keep our business in the game.

When thinking about a new innovative venture, we establish a budget, decide on the team to lead and then implement the project. But before that, we ask ourselves and key stakeholders in the room, “can we afford to do this project, buy this software, build this building, etc?” But oftentimes we fail to examine the less tangible costs of innovation – the drain on staff, the stress on internal resources and the effects this “new thing” will have on other aspects of our business. Innovation is expensive and I am not just talking about dollars and cents.

Of course, there are some tremendous benefits to innovation. It can lead to dramatic cost savings, profitable new products and a competitive advantage. And for many, the primary benefit of innovation might be survival. But with many things in life, you need to look before you leap.

Recently at Jupiter Medical Center, we became the first community hospital in the country to adopt the IBM Watson for Oncology technology. IBM Watson for Oncology is a powerful tool and a cognitive computing platform to provide insights to our physicians that helps them deliver personalized and evidence-based cancer treatment. Purchasing and implementing Watson for Oncology represents a significant investment for Jupiter Medical Center, and demonstrates our commitment to pioneering new approaches to medicine and health care. And it is not an investment we took lightly.

For us, the cost of Watson has been more than sticker price of the technology. We had to coach and onboard team members, focus additional effort and time from a marketing standpoint and we are still working to fully integrate Watson with our other operations. We prepared in advance for this, but there was an additional “cost” nonetheless, though ultimately, the benefits will far outweigh the costs – material and otherwise.

So before implementing a new innovative technology, program or initiative, you need to ask yourself, do I have the necessary resources (money, time, people, etc.) the organizational infrastructure, leadership and culture to support what I am trying to do? In the coming weeks on the blog, I will examine in greater detail all aspects of what you need to do to prepare yourself and your organization for the next big thing.

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