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The Profile of a SoapBox Innovation Partner – Peter Parsan, Dynacare

Dynacare uses SoapBox to connect employee insight to key decision makers. Employees can share, vote, and comment on ideas that will impact the organization’s top priorities, and leaders can add responses to the ideas that are moving forward to keep everyone in the loop on progress. Read more about how Dynacare uses SoapBox in the case study.

Our Customer Success team helps our customers build a program to support the growth of their SoapBox community. One of the most important elements of that program is the Governance structure (read more about the Key Elements here). Each community appoints Innovation Partners, who are leaders responsible for evaluating, responding to and implementing ideas.

In this interview, we’re sharing what goes on behind the scenes for one of our most successful SoapBox Innovation Partners.

Meet Peter Parsan, the Innovation Partner at Dynacare, one of the most active and successful Partners using SoapBox. He’s been an Innovation Partner since the start of the SoapBox program at Dynacare last October. 


I’d love to learn more about your role at Dynacare. How long have you been an Innovation Partner and what types of ideas are you responsible for? 

I’m the Director of the Project Management Office (PMO), which reports to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). We’re responsible for enterprise and transformative projects. I’ve been at Dynacare for almost a year, and have been a SoapBox Innovation Partner since the platform was launched in October 2015.

The types of ideas that are assigned to me mostly have a technology aspect. The PMO provides an interface between the technical and business parts of the organization, which means that I can communicate with the technical teams in non-technical speak and try to facilitate ideas that way.

However, not all of the ideas assigned to me have been technical which is great as I get to wear my “business” hat. For example, one of the ideas that I was assigned was to look at implementing a recycling program at some of our offices.

How are you using SoapBox to help your projects or objectives? 

The great thing about my role is that the PMO sees things happening from an enterprise view. Having that viewpoint gives me a good perspective on the various SoapBox ideas. Often I find that there are ideas percolating at a corporate level, and SoapBox has helped enable us to make more informed decisions around those ideas. There are always more projects and initiatives in an organization, than it has time to allocate resources or dollars to do. What SoapBox helps to do is to focus some of those projects based on feedback from employees.

I’ll give you an example. In 2015, Dynacare implemented an Employee Portal – a major project that went live last December. The focus for us was to make it an opportunity to further connect the various parts of the organization.

When employees launched their internet browser, it would go to a home page of their choice and the employee portal was one of the pages that they could choose from. There were discussions at the Steering Committee whether we would have all browsers default to the employee portal. 

The discussion evolved into one around whether we should make that decision on behalf of the organization and if we did, how would that be perceived? 

Dynacare-Idea-#322Well guess what? A project team member submitted the idea into SoapBox to make everyone’s default page the employee portal. The idea received the threshold number of votes and was assigned to me as an Innovation Partner – I knew right away that we had a winner.  It became easy to justify and say we’re moving forward with this idea as soon as possible. 

Using SoapBox, I was able to say to the SoapBox community, “we heard you, we’re actioning this.” Second, I was able to say “we heard you, we did it and it didn’t take us a long time,” when we completed an idea. 

That ease of use creates a lot of value. It says to the SoapBox community that we’re listening, ideas can be accepted and they don’t have to take months to be implemented. It was a rapid turnaround time.

From a senior level executive perspective, the idea had already been identified, but the real challenge for the Steering Committee was that they didn’t want to impose this on the community. From the ground up, SoapBox showed that people wanted this as well – SoapBox enabled us to make more informed decisions that consider the multiple perspectives.

And did you hear back from the Employees? What was the reaction after you implemented the idea?

A fantastic reaction came back. People commented on both SoapBox and on the Employee Portal. Many people wrote in to say that it was a great idea, that they had wanted it and that the portal became a central point for them when they start their day. 

The key here is that SoapBox was the enabler. Let’s say we didn’t have SoapBox. Perhaps the project team would have identified the opportunity to make the default home page the Employee Portal, the Steering Committee would have endorsed it as well, but how do you communicate to an organization of thousands of employees that this decision was made with consultation? That we didn’t just go ahead and do it without thinking about the community? 

I think SoapBox creates a real two-way dialogue. This was something that the organization wanted and when we did it, the organization appreciated it. 

You’re an all-star when it comes to managing ideas and engagement. What are some tips for others in your role on how they can better manage and implement ideas?

I think it boils down to a personal philosophy. When an idea comes in, there’s often many different reasons identified why you can’t do something. When an idea comes to me, I don’t look at it from the perspective of why it shouldn’t be done. I look at it from a perspective of why it should be done, how can we do it, and how quickly can we do it. 

At the end of the day, it’s about listening to the collective voice of the organization. That’s what SoapBox is doing. If somebody is telling you something and enough people are telling you the same thing, then you have to find a way to listen and to act on what they’re telling you. 

It’s not good enough to say, we do it this way, here are all the reasons why we do it this way and why we’re always going to do it this way. The point is, when people share a pain point, a suggestion, a better way of doing things, it’s about how to take that and say how can I move this idea forward. It’s the philosophy of how can I make this idea a reality. Not dwelling on what’s going to stop me but rather what are the barriers that I need to overcome or remove to make the idea something real.

It sounds like you have an open mind when presented with an idea. Is there something about leadership or the culture at Dynacare that makes it easy for you to take that perspective? 

The Executive Team is incredibly supportive of nimbleness, a culture of advancement, and a culture of improvement. It comes straight from our CEO. She is always thinking about the customer: what can we do for our customers and how we can make their lives better? Our customers are our patients, but as an Innovation Partner, the employees who write and provide ideas are my customers, too. 

It’s interesting because we are a heavily regulated organization because of what we do. We have many external standards and audit requirements that we have to comply with. Part of the trick in being an effective Innovation Partner is to determine how do you navigate that terrain of regulations? How do you still abide by all the rules and regulations and respect them but still find a creative way to achieve your outcomes? 

So, how do you navigate that terrain of regulation? I’m sure you see a lot of great ideas that don’t comply with current processes…

Yes, there are definitely many of those ideas. I think it’s about engaging the right people and having the right level of discussion. If an idea gets trapped in a certain circle because the right people aren’t involved to make the decision, then the idea gets stuck. Personally, I don’t hesitate to go to the right decision maker when I feel I need to. 

Dynacare-Idea-#398For example, I’ve been assigned an idea about system timeouts happening too frequently in certain instances. And, I get it; it’s frustrating to have to re-login when you’re in the middle of doing something. Obviously it was a real pain point for certain parts of the organization. 

In these types of situations, the first reaction of course could be that we can’t do anything because we’re regulated and this is the regulation we have to follow. The easy answer for me would have been for me to accept this mindset and relay that message to the community. 

What I did instead was ask questions. Who’s regulating timeouts? Which regulation does it apply to? Are there parameters that we can work within? In addition to that, I engaged our Director of Corporate Quality, and our VP of Legal & Risk and asked about our risk here, and how they felt about the idea, and if they would be supportive in extending timeouts. 

It’s about engaging the right people, getting input and getting their buy-in. That way we can work on this idea, assess the risk, and so long as it’s not a mission critical business risk, let’s see how we can address the issue that has been raised while still complying with the various regulations. 

Any idea that you thought was inspiring or exciting for you? 

Dynacare-Idea-#135This idea is in progress. Before implementing this idea, we would do backups of data for a main system during a part of the day/night that caused some interference with business processes. The idea in SoapBox suggested conducting the backups at a different time of the day/night so there is no impact to business processes. 

We took this idea one step beyond. Within Information Services and with the support of our CIO, we believed that there was a better way to do this. We looked at current-state technology to provide an automated backup process that wouldn’t impact production. That way the backup will be a behind the scene activity that will not even be known to business. 

When we responded to the community, the reaction was fantastic. The comment we got back from the original ideator was great, stating “this will make such a difference to us.” We’re currently testing and are planning to have this installed by the end of the second quarter. 

I love that you took the idea one level further to solve the real pain point. Anyone else could have just moved the time and you took the time to find a solution. 

I don’t take credit for the solution. My part was bringing the right people to the discussion, challenging them and asking them “do you really understand the pain point?”

That’s the other key thing.

If you ask me what I would recommend to another Innovation Partner or Innovation Champion, I always say “put yourself in the person’s shoes.” When someone is bringing an idea forward, it really means something to the person.

Put yourself in their perspective and think about what they’re asking. And when you do that it gives you insight into thinking about solutions as opposed to what we individually can bring to an idea.

Amazing! We like to think of SoapBox as a place where people can collaborate and it’s not about whether the initial idea fits the bill 100%, it’s about what can the power of the collective do to build that idea up. 
I couldn’t articulate that any better, it is exactly that. Bringing the minds together and creating a solution that by ourselves none of us could have come up with.

Read more about the Dynacare Innovation Program in our Case Study. 

Harness the power of employee ideas.