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Case Study

How Western Health harnessed frontline ideas through “Shark Tank”

20 Minute Read


The challenge

Organizations often struggle to provide emerging leaders with engaging, hands-on development opportunities. This leaves leaders under-developed and their ideas under-leveraged.

The organization

Western Health (WH) operates 3 acute public hospitals, a day hospital and a variety of community health services in the western region of Melbourne, Australia. With approximately 7,500 staff and 750 volunteers, WH provides healthcare for a region with a population of more than one million people.

The approach

Launch an idea incubator program that guides participants to articulate an original idea to improve patient care, refine and develop their idea with feedback from multidisciplinary peers, and pitch the idea to an executive panel. Through the experience, participants develop presentation skills, a better understanding of resource stewardship, and relationships across the organization.

The results

Since launching the inaugural “Shark Tank” cohort in 2019, $50,000 has been invested in the 4 winning projects. Fifteen participants have gone through the program with a 100% retention rate.



How Western Health encouraged innovation among emerging leaders

Western Health launched a shark tank development program consisting of five 2-day workshops over six months. During the program, each of the 15 participants proposed and refined an original idea to improve patient care at the organization. At the conclusion of the program, the participants presented their ideas to an executive panel, who ultimately decided on four ideas in which to invest the $50,000 dollars. The remainder of this publication details their approach to launching the Shark Tank development program.


The three steps

How leaders at Western Health launched an effective development program where participants refine and pitch an original idea to improve patient care with three key strategies:

  • Step

    Set clear expectations to attract the right participants

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  • Step

    Create an environment to help participants to develop their ideas

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  • Step

    Select winning ideas for investment now and later

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Empowered frontline leaders and leveragingtheir ideas for improving patient care 

Through the experience, participants developed a variety of business and leadership skills and cultivated relationships across the organization. The organization harnessed innovation from frontline, and built a pipeline of detailed and vetted projects to fuel future investment.


Invested in participant ideas
(so far)

We never imagined how powerful the lasting impact the program would have on making interdisciplinary connections across the organization. It was the icing on the cake.

Executive Director, People, Culture and Communication

Western Health

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