‘I can now appreciate that just as it would be unthinkable to send an elite athlete into a race without a coach, so many of us should be drawing upon coaching to optimise our performance and steer ourselves through our challenges.’

Dr Wendy Minks writes:

Innovating is a skilled process that is learned through experience. The hurdles we encounter and the decisions that we make determine the rate and quality of our progress. Navigating these hurdles efficiently is crucial but can be exhausting and we can find ourselves steered off course or languishing rather than progressing with forward momentum.

We can expend too much energy and time as a result of making poor decisions. Broadly speaking, if we reduce the time an innovation takes to develop and its cost, then we reduce the risk of failure. Ultimately, making the right decisions improves the quality and chance of success of our innovation.

My background is in surgery, and it is through my surgical experience that I have developed Rhinamite – a medical device designed to stop nosebleeds. Nosebleeds are a frequent cause of A&E attendances and costly ambulance callouts, sports injuries, and a distressing and sometimes very serious recurrent problem for a significant sector of the population.

When I came to coaching I felt in limbo, frustrated with the lack of progress I was making in getting Rhinamite to market. I wanted to find a way to make my innovation a success, undertake my clinical work, and enjoy family time rather than feeling that these were in conflict.

Finding space and structure

The coaching sessions with Lorna Clarke allowed me to assess how my various roles and responsibilities sat within a busy lifestyle – having 3 children, innovating, and working. Lorna is perceptive, intelligent, and experienced as a coach. I appreciated how the sessions were tailored specifically to my situation and focused on what would provide the most value in the time we had together.

The coaching provided the space and structure to think about my situation in depth. Through our work I was able to understand more about my values, strengths and how I could optimise my drivers. This provided greater confidence, and motivation to move forward with my innovation with a sense of satisfaction, rather than feeling I was leaping hurdles with frustration.

I also developed a new understanding of the extent to which so many of us work against ourselves when we are under pressure and that simply appreciating these characteristics can allow us to right ourselves and progress in a more streamlined way.

Gaining trust in my instincts

Over the past year, we have appreciated the intensity with which our healthcare service is required to run. We have also had insight into the vital role that rapid innovation holds in a pandemic.

It is so important that those who have expert insight into a particular field, are provided with the time and skills required to innovate in our area of expertise. Not only does this lead to better patient care through high-quality innovation, but the process of bringing about positive change through innovation is known to reduce levels of burnout in healthcare staff.

As women, and particularly mothers, we most likely already have very sophisticated systems for working and succeeding. Yet often we may be trying to negotiate historical systems which can be difficult to fit into.

Coaching helped me to develop a far better insight into myself as a female innovator and gave me the confidence to trust my instincts and the direction I need to take. Whereas I had felt that I was floundering with my innovation at the start, I am now progressing well and feel on track again.

I can now appreciate that just as it would be unthinkable to send an elite athlete into a race without a coach, so many of us should be drawing upon coaching to optimise our performance and steer ourselves through our challenges. I know that I will be seeking further coaching for Rhinamite as progress continues.

Interested to find out more?

Due to the success of the pilot programme, the coaching team have agreed to an ongoing special coaching package of 33% off their normal rates for a limited number of women within the Women in Innovation community. 

Are you interested? Register your interest in the Women in Innovation special coaching package here. Please make sure you read the Coaching FAQs and make your 1st and 2nd preference of coach based on their bios.

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