How do you build a culture of innovation?

We are so proud to have Epic Pharmacy named as one of Australia’s most innovative companies in this year’s Australian Financial Review 50 Most Innovative Companies List.  This recognition not only relates to the launch of our digital products Medication Manager and Chartflow , but the way we have embedded innovation within our culture.  These products required great collaboration between the pharmacies and the Epic Digital team, and it’s been fantastic to see their shared commitment to delivering not only on our core value of Innovation but also on our Purpose value, the delivery of exceptional healthcare.

Here are some extracts from our submission around our approach to innovation and the role culture plays, I hope you enjoy reading them and get some take outs you can apply in your own business.

The approach to innovation at Epic Pharmacy has always been relatively simple, in that innovation is viewed as anything that increases our ability to achieve our overall business purpose – the delivery of exceptional healthcare

Innovation is one of our long term corporate values which drove the rebrand of the business several years ago. (EPIC = Energy Purpose Innovate Connect)

Those values are at the heart of everything we do, and are communicated constantly via a variety of formats. We hire on values, fire on values and reward on values, so there is no one in the company who isn’t aware of their importance.


Our reward and recognition program celebrates people who live our values each and every day, and has illustrated over many years that recognising positive contributions is a highly engaging behavioural driver.   All recognition is linked to our values, and delivered via a variety of platforms including everyday recognition, where our online portal allows anyone in the business to acknowledge and thank someone for the contribution they have made, and culminating in our annual peer nominated awards program which celebrates those team members and teams who have best embodied each of those four values. We receive hundreds of nominations each year, and innovation is always a hotly contested category!

Recognising and celebrating the successful contribution that new ideas have made to the business each year has ensured high visibility of the importance that we place on innovation, and forms a great way of highlighting the number of ideas both big and small that are developed and implemented each year.

Hanwen Guo from Epic Digital accepting the Innovation Award for Chartflow in the 2015 Epic Awards
Hanwen Guo from Epic Digital accepting the Innovation Award for Chartflow in the 2015 Epic Awards from CEO Andrew Reid

We are also very open about the fact that there is no shame in the failure of an idea, only the failure to have one and not suggest it. We are open in sharing ideas that haven’t worked to remove any stigma associated with putting forward an idea that ultimately doesn’t succeed.

We believe in an agile ‘fail fast’ approach, so once an idea passes that initial test it is implemented in a basic format as quickly as possible and assessed as to whether it is delivering the planned outcome or not. If it is, it’s deployed across other sites where it can deliver value, if it’s not the reasons why are assessed, and it’s either tweaked and retested or discarded and the reasons why explained to the parties involved.

Our long term utilisation of the Gallup Strengths Finder program has ensured that we understand the need to ensure a balanced approach is taken when constructing a team to work on a new innovation. In particular it’s important to ensure the presence of those who are more deliberative or reflective to balance out the enthusiasm and passion of those who don’t wish to anything come between their idea and its successful implementation! We’ve found that taking the time to construct a well balanced project team greatly enhances the chances of successful delivery.

We don’t create specific roles or teams to carry the responsibility for innovation, as we believe that the best innovations come from the identification of pain points and thinking around how those could be eliminated in a manner which adds value to our overall business goals and strategy.

The people experiencing those pain points are the best ones to shine a light on them and to suggest and contribute to potential solutions, and we make sure they have the opportunity to have those conversations both within their own teams and with people from other teams or business units. Many a great idea has stemmed from someone from a completely separate business unit seeing the way a process is structured, asking the question as to why it is done that way, and then challenging the thinking of ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it’.

Illustrating that innovation is a welcome and expected behaviour, no matter what your role is within the business, ensures that everyone sees it as a natural part of their job, rather than something restricted to select people.

Celebrating our successes and using storytelling to highlight the benefits our innovations have delivered has insured that innovation is always front of mind for our people.

I’m so thrilled to be able to share this success story, and want to thank our incredible Epic team for their ongoing  passion for finding  new and better ways of delivering exceptional healthcare.  



Newer Story:

Introducing Medication Manager for Hospitals

August 24, 2016

Older Story:

The importance of aspirational role models

August 08, 2016

Leave a Reply