OA places #1 in UIC competition; Lean Culture Hacking through industry-specific Bootcamps

Congratulations to our Digital Health Bootcamp graduates: Aefaaz Ali Mansoor Ali Siddique, Ankita Gosain, and Mohammad Abdelmaid who recently ranked #1 at UIC College of Business (COB) student expo competition. Bootcamp instructors were Florence Cusi, MD, Ephraim Caangay, MD, Raymundo Ginez, MHCI, and myself.


Outcomes. Within 15 weeks, the team helped shape components of our digital health platform (DHP) vision to improve how family members communicate and care for aging parents as a whole (aka dyad). We were inspired by Topol (2019) - Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again and see opportunity in the complex chain of interactions of “dyad <-> family <-> physician(s)”.

Details. Specifically, the team extended our current Microsoft Azure Cloud approach using AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities but innovated further using a hybrid approach of classical ML as well as deep learning (DL) to classify mobile messaging and also auto-suggest hashtags. This created a small learning system that can localize to a family’s specific jargon.

Bottom line - it empowers family caregivers to interact in a more consistent, relevant, and timely manner using familiar tools such as messaging.

Bootcamps as cultural evolution. As a UIC Capstone sponsor, this is our third team being awarded the top prize. We were not always this way. We started with less formal internship-style student assignments. We assigned safe projects and tasks off the critical path. However, we observed that the students did not engage as well and it was difficult to communicate how our industry sector works and what methods and tools you will actually need outside of the classroom. We needed to evolve the approach.

We evolved towards a structured boot camp to fully engage faculty and students, maximize team output, and mitigate previous project risks. Examples of these risks are 1) industry immersion, 2) team formation, and 3) technical skills ramp. We stacked our team to ensure there was coaching and mentoring to address these concerns early and often until a team can get a sense of full context, momentum, and delivery flow. We pushed up access to subject matter experts (SME) and assess technical skills day one. In the end, a boot camp externalizes your values, culture, and a possible way to explore H2 and H3 possibilities. Huh? What are these H2 and H3 things?

Lean Culture Hacking as H2/H3 exploration via Capstone projects. Earlier this year, I wrote about Lean Culture Hacking in relation to the classic Mckinsey - 3 Horizons (i.e, H1, H2 and H3) thinking and Steve Blank’s lean innovation perspectives. Blank more recently reemphasized:

However, today many Horizon 3 disruptions can be rapidly implemented by re-purposing existing Horizon 1 technologies into new business/mission models.

Blank offered four options for H1 or incumbents to survive H3 disruptors:

  1. Incentivize external resources

  2. Acquire external innovators

  3. Rapidly copy

  4. Innovate better than the disruptors   

Start Small, But Do Start. Capstone projects offer a low cost and risk-mitigated approach to address points #1 and #2 pragmatically. These projects are nice small bets you can make prior to placing larger bets.

The Bootcamp is the interview. Additionally, boot camps offer parallel recruiting benefits. Resumes and even on-site interviews cannot match real-world observations captured over a boot camp. 

Your Own Learning System. Although it may take one or two attempts to achieve something that fits your own culture, the downstream benefits of coaching, teaching, learning, and co-creating far outweigh the boot camp and setup costs. Once the habits stick, a continuous improvement cycle will sustain. Boot camps ran effectively can be celebrated too!


Co-create with us. At ONTOADAPTIVE, LLC (OA), we are passionate about making a real-world impact where humans and cognitive technologies meet. We approach industry problems, engage clients, and build products with a “culture hacking” mindset. In a fast-moving digital world full of AI hype and cognitive technology, we believe in a human first approach to lean innovation. Drop us a line.

Happy New Year !!! Will you Innovate at the Edges in 2019?


The ONTOADAPTIVE (OA) team wish all a productive year with Innovation at the Edges in 2019. What do I mean by that?

Lean Culture Hacking - A Replay. In May 2018, I wrote about Lean Culture Hacking targeting problems in Digital Health. A number of colleagues asked - Why is this idea important? How does it relate to Innovation within the Enterprise? How can I get started internally? Before I answer in detail, let me share a simpler story.

H1, H2, and H3 walk into a bar. H1, H2 work together. H3 agrees to meet H1 and H2 out for drinks after work and start to talk shop. H3 says - “I have got this awesome idea ABC - if you join me we could start a new company and …”. H1 retorts - “It will never work. I have over X years of industry experience and it is dead on arrival (DOA) - plus we got too much we have to get done now. H2 intercedes - “Hold on H1, let’s hear H3 out, I wonder how that maps to our current business - maybe we can start small and get an internal champion to sponsor us.”

Innovation at the Edges. You may have been some part of similar conversations - maybe even succeeded or failed after an attempt. You may even relate to either H1, H2, or H3, maybe even all together - and you should. Here is why.

The cast of H1, H2, and H3 represents the classic Mckinsey - 3 Horizons of Growth (Baghi, Coley, White) model as shown below. This model helps visualize how companies approach value creation in markets they serve over time.

Mckinsey 3 Horizons (Baghi, Coley, White)

Mckinsey 3 Horizons (Baghi, Coley, White)

More recently, Blank has adapted the “3 Horizons” model to emphasize that industry leaders differentiate by fostering cultures that can both: 1) execute proven business models and 2) search and validate new ones continuously in parallel. H1 represents your core business models while H2 and H3 represent incremental and disruptive innovation respectively.

What changed so much from the classic perspectives to now? H1 no longer guarantees a 5 to 10 year comfortable horizon. Being good at H2 and H3 is no longer optional. As shown below, organizations must raise their awareness on where the edges are and all the H1, H2 and H3 overlaps. More importantly, the edges are dynamic - constantly changing how H1, H2 and H3 intersect with more accelerated timeframes.

Mckinsey 3 Horizons (Baghi, Coley, White) - Modified (Albarracin)

Mckinsey 3 Horizons (Baghi, Coley, White) - Modified (Albarracin)

As individuals, you may need new communication tools in order to facilitate conversations effectively between the H1, H2, and H3 edges. We all need to proactively seek those edges where H1 can meet H2 or H3. Innovation is not a department - it is habit. It is about cultures that foster those habits.

What about Digital Health? Within U.S. Healthcare, innovation is like oil and water. The industry is highly conservative, regulated, and risk averse. At times it can feel like there are 10x more barriers than there are opportunistic entry points.

Here is where Digital Health holds promise. Although many have claimed to have defined the term Digital Health, I personally align most with Topol’s original vision of Digital Medicine. Additionally, I align with Sanders (Health Catalyst, 2018) in that Digital Health Platforms (DHPs) may help disrupt current fragmented health systems approaches. DHPs improve our Digital Trajectory, with patients providing context beyond what ~3 clinical encounters per year can offer.

Digital Health and DHPs are a cultural transformation. The DHPs are diffusing faster than H1 incumbents may acknowledge. In 2018, Roche’s $1.8 B acquisition of Flatiron Health is providing oncologists exactly this DHP experience assisted with curated data, AI and machine learning to improve clinical decision support. Expect more of that in 2019.

The Digital giants are coming. Amazon, Microsoft, and others are eager to make disruptive plays in Healthcare.

Key Takeaways. So for 2019, will you Innovate At The Edges? Here are 3 Lean Culture Hacks you can take into the new year:

  1. Talk the talk. When discussing “Innovation” with others, try using “3 Horizons” model in your conversations and see what resonates. Read up on my Lean Innovation and Digital Health references above.

  2. Dog food it, Experiment. Define some problems to solve in Digital Health. Host a student innovation team to start with H2 or H3 ideas and experiment.

  3. Live it. Form a Digital Health innovation team or engage an innovation partner to get more H1, H2, and H3 culture hacking the real thing and at risk.

At ONTOADAPTIVE, LLC (OA), we are passionate about making a real-world impact where humans and cognitive technologies meet in Digital Health. Drop us a line.