Kate O’Keeffe
Senior Director
Cisco Hyper Innovation Living Labs



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. 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.

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 is the Managing Director of CHILL, Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Labs. The mission of CHILL – which is anything but – is to drive disruptive innovation with and for Cisco customers, bringing together diverse corporations and interests with the goal of generating ideas that will lead to breakthrough services, businesses and products. You can find Kate on Twitter @Katecokeeffe