A recent Innovation Survey we conducted with Melbourne University highlighted a prevailing lack of business leadership as the primary impairment to workplace innovation and business profitability in Australia. In light of this, I sat down on Tuesday with Federal Minister for Small Business the Hon. Bruce Billson, innovation expert Professor Danny Samson and a select handful of accomplished innovators for a roundtable about how we can better foster a culture of innovation in Australian workplaces.

Below are some simple steps we all agreed business leaders could take to ensure a profitable and sustainable culture of innovation…

Be at the main game.

Don’t wait for innovation to happen to your business – go out and find it! Look everywhere from your own backyard to the far corners of the globe. Inspiration for innovation is everywhere but it won’t just fall into your lap.

Show your hand.

Be a mentor. Get a mentor. There’s a serious cultural flaw in Australia of great innovation being a closely guarded secret. Sharing smart innovation and the processes that inspired it generates more and better innovation – it’s a healthy and productive cycle.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Be willing to invest time, energy and resources into the cultivation and execution of innovative ideas. Keep an open mind to new processes and approaches and don’t be scared of failing – if you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not truly innovating! Really great ideas are often inherently risky – if they weren’t, everyone would be doing them.

Know When to Call Stumps.

Make sure you’re measuring the impact of new initiatives. If you’ve given it everything you’ve got and it’s just not working, shut it down and move onto the next great idea. There’s no point clinging to an idea that’s not working out purely because you’ve already invested in it.

Are you a business leader struggling to cultivate more innovative business practices? Or have you already successfully found ways to innovate in your workplace?

Which Australian businesses or organisations do you see as leading the way with innovation?

Tony Gleeson is the CEO of the Australian Institute of Management – Victoria & Tasmania.

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