I’ve just returned from the final day of the Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children. The highlight today was a keynote by Mike Evans, a physician who has created a number of extremely successful viral videos on health-related topics.
His talk was of interest to me as both as a health researcher, and as someone who is actively involved in knowledge translation (KT). I think the most important thing that he discussed was the idea that failure is ok, and even crucial to success in both research and in KT. He talked about making a Minimum Viable Product, which is basically the best thing you can duct tape together, warts and all. You then constantly evaluate and tweak the product, with each iteration sucking slightly less than the one before. It’s the model that Peter and I have used here at Obesity Panacea (www.obesitypanacea.blogspot.com was very different from the blog you see today!), and continue to use as we play around with Youtube and Twitter and podcasts.
But Dr Evans talked about using the Minimum Viable Product idea to go from an idea to having a working healthcare intervention in a span of just 90 days. In other words, do a bit of homework, talk to your target audience, then try out a basic intervention. Then evaluate, build on what worked, and drop the rest. I can see some hurdles with that approach (just getting ethics approval in <90 days can be a real challenge sometimes) but I think it makes sense, especially when compared with the alternative of spending years developing an intervention that may be tossed aside or irrelevant by the time it is ready to roll out. During his talk Dr Evans also showed one of his videos, this one focusing on making life harder as a means of embedding physical activity into your day. I personally use almost all of the strategies in the video, and I think it does a great job of getting the message across.
As a last thought on the conference, I just wanted to say congrats to Mark Tremblay and all the organizers, as well as the folks at Active Healthy Kids Canada (especially Lindsay Whiting) for putting on a great conference. Hope to see you all again soon.