During the Fall of 2019, I took the I&E Certificate’s Capstone course with Professor Aaron Dinin. The class was designed to expose participants to the challenges of the “discovery” process of an intractable problem.
Our semester-long case study was the U.S health care system. While I first understood the class to be a form of “health care consulting,” through which we would make recommendations for innovating the space, utilizing our fresh eyes to see opportunities for positive change from the outside that the people operating on the inside would be too immersed in the current system to perceive. This vision was quickly shattered, recognizing how one cannot simply understand the U.S. health care system within a matter of weeks to the point that they can make a tangible impact. It was humbling to realize how complex it really is and how each actor is simply pursuing its own best interest.
The final segment of the class was focused on innovation, taking what we had learned and applying it to the field of health care. As a member of the stakeholder alignment group, we initially brainstormed the idea of holding a “stakeholder summit” to bring the various actors together to find common ground. However, we learned that these types of meetings already happen frequently in hospitals, and that certain actors are prohibited by law from participating. Furthermore, we realized the significant constraint of out limited time and knowledge as students. So, we decided to innovate in the area we all know well: the Duke education system. Specifically, we wanted to innovate the class itself that we had participated in over the previous months. As our final project, we devised a syllabus for I&E Capstone next year to better fulfill the desires of students taking the course. We incorporated opportunities to hear from health care entrepreneurs, learn through case studies, get initial presentation feedback from leaders in the field, and begin the discovery process within our own fields of interest. We felt these innovations would cause students to leave the I&E Capstone, and the I&E program as a whole more prepared and motivated to become an entrepreneur within an intractable problem.