What is it?
When thinking about potential new ways of doing things, we often quickly dismiss some ideas believing them to be impossible BUT it can be valuable to challenge this thinking and you will find that ‘impossible’ ideas may be possible, or at least give you valuable different perspectives on what can be achieved
Sometimes it is called ‘Innovation provocations
When to use it
That’s impossible! is a tool you can use when the ideas that have been proposed are simply variations on what already exists.
That’s impossible! helps people to move away from focusing purely on the current reality and can really help stretch people’s thinking to produce different potential solutions.
For example, when you sense that people are reluctant to set ambitious goals for improvement when they say things like:
- ‘It’s simply not possible to…’
- ‘Well, there is no way that you can…’
How to use it
- Make a list of things related to the issue that is currently accepted as being impossible, such as:
It is impossible to get laboratory results instantly
It is impossible to know if a patient is going to turn up for an appointment until they present themselves at reception
It is impossible to get someone home exactly when we plan to
- For each item on the list, have a short session to generate ideas. Ask:
How could we make that possible?
How could we do it at least some of the time?
Is anyone else, maybe in a different sector or industry, already doing it?
How could we come close to doing it?
- For example: “It is impossible to know that a patient is going to turn up for an appointment until they present themselves at reception…”
Some ideas of how that could be made possible:
- You could call patients to see if they are coming
- A large sign near a telephone in the car park could ask patients to ring when they are in the car park
- Patients could have a special code to enter a car park that identifies them and notifies the clinic
- Patients could have a swipe card for a special car park or clinic entrance – after swiping the card on entry, a signal alerts the department that they are on their way
Implementing That’s Impossible!
Review all the ideas. Use the Six Thinking Hats® tool to get down to the final few ideas.
Run several small-scale tests to learn more and see what works in practice (PDSA)
Share the findings. Consider using stakeholder analysis and communications matrix
Implement the best ideas
Other useful tools and techniques that may help you; Brainstorming, Simple rules & Process mapping
That’s Impossible! Tips
Because you are working on something that is widely regarded as being impossible, be prepared for stronger than usual negative thinking as you begin using this tool. Be sure to emphasize the rules of idea generation: suspend judgment, go for quantity, build on others’ ideas, etc.
Capture all ideas for possible later development: don’t let laughter put you off suggesting that someone tries something thought to be impossible often results in laughter… until someone tries it