As leader of Cisco’s Hyper Innovation Living Labs (CHILL) I see first-hand the race for breakthrough ideas. Markets are moving fast, and everyone is trying to leapfrog the leaders. Yet, even as big companies become leaner and more agile, too many innovation efforts lead nowhere.

Even if the will and the resources are there, all companies, big and small, find the process of engagement with all the relevant stakeholders exhausting and time consuming.  By the time you’ve connected with end user customers, industry players, in-company stakeholders and sponsors, investors, subject matter experts, marketing, engineering… it’s almost time to start the whole damn thing again because no doubt the market will have moved.

We designed CHILL to overcome this through a process we call massive inclusion.  Anyone who can help deliver a disruptive innovation – from the frontline user to the CEO—needs to be there in person.  Here’s how we broke that down when we created a lab around Transforming the Patient Experience of Cancer Care last fall:

  • We brought the industry together: Walgreens, UCSF, Community Health Network, Vocera, Cisco and a large consumer wearable tech company
  • We placed on teams senior executives from those corporations who were involved in oncology, patient experience, digitization and innovation
  • We put them through eight rounds of prototyping and end-user feedback with 40 cancer patients, cancer doctors cancer nurses and pharmacists
  • We assembled a panel for them to pitch to of CEOs, CSOs and CIOs who had authority to invest in the outcomes

In a nutshell, we took two years of iterative development, socialization, and investment decisions and condensed it into two days. One of the outcomes is MyWays. This brand new startup was conceived, and received its first round of investment, from Cisco and Community Health Network, there in the Living Lab. It’s proof that CHILL is turning the traditional innovation model on its head.

Kate O’Keeffe explains the MyWays vision at a CHILL investors’ day.

Next week at Cisco Live, you can hear the MyWays story and meet its acting CEO, Mike Jordan, who will be joining me on stage at 2:00 on Wednesday June 28. The MyWays journey so far illustrates how CHILL enables large companies to move faster than the speed of start up.

Mike Jordon, left, discusses MyWays with Marlon Evans, CEO of GSV Labs, a Silicon Valley incubator.


What is so special about MyWays?

MyWays provides a social network environment to coordinate care and information for cancer patients and their caregivers. It engages with users on three levels—clinical, logistical, and emotional.

“There are a lot of tech-forward solutions in healthcare,” says Mike Jordan. “And there are tons of websites and applications that can help people organize meals or rides for people who are sick. But what is missing is a holistic way to guide people through a process that feels overwhelming.”

The MyWays app helps patients and care givers with the right help and information, when and how they need it.

When someone first hears the word “cancer” from their doctor’s mouth, suddenly their work life and their family life are turned upside down. They need to become an expert in their disease and they need a plan for keeping their life together while getting treatment. It’s all too much to absorb at once. The MyWays app walks people through the process step by step, and provides the right information at the moment users need it. The application looks at the process through the lens of the caregiver, who must understand the big picture while also dealing with a myriad of logistical details. And it provides an easy way for people to provide the specific support needed at any moment—from putting dinner on the table on chemotherapy days to taking notes at a doctor appointment.

Diane Flynn, a breast cancer survivor who provided end-user feedback during the CHILL lab commented, “I think it’s incredible that tools like this—that can be so empowering to both the patient and their caregivers—could emerge in such a short period of time.”

I hope you’ll join me at Cisco Live to see how the next stage of MyWays is unfolding and how Cisco customers are joining us on this journey. And how together, we just might change the world.




Kate O'Keeffe

Senior Director

Customer and Partner Innovation