Archives for posts with tag: innovation

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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Assumptions are one of the biggest creativity killers in organisations of all sizes.

They are those nasty things that sit around in the back of your head and stop your thinking going anywhere interesting. Chances are, if you have a problem you are trying to crack, you hold a whole lot of assumptions or pre-conceived notions that are boxing in your thinking.

For example, if you run a services business and you want to grow it, one assumption that you may be making is that to make money, you actually have to be working – given that’s how services work.

You provide something and your client pays you. But this old-fashioned business model means that to increase profit, you need to work harder or pay more people to work harder on your behalf. It’s a very limiting assumption.

So something I always bang on about to people is to actively challenge and crush any assumptions that they can identify.

In relation to the above example, I would recommend crushing the above assumption that to grow the business, you need to work more.

What if you flipped the assumption on its head and instead and asked yourself, ‘How can I make money while I sleep?’

This may sounds a bit crazy for any accountants and lawyers reading this post, but imagine the possibilities if you could create automated ways of doing the work for you. Deloitte Digital is a beautiful example of this crushed assumption in practice.

On the products side of things, I recently came across a nifty example of some assumption crushing in relation to vending machines. If you were to think about creating a vending machine, one assumption may be that it needs to be about one metre wide and around two metres tall – sort of like the ones we are constantly surrounded by at airports and office buildings.

But not the examples I came across in Tokyo and Strasbourg – they crushed those ‘size’ assumptions and came up with something completely different.

The folk in Strasbourg decided to crush the standard dimensions and created a monster vending machine that has more in common with a small convenience store than a garden variety vending machine.

A UNIQLO store in Tokyo threw that assumption out the window and created a machine that was an entire store! No need for overheads such as retail staff when it is all a self-serve vending machine.

So ask yourself;

What are some assumptions you hold onto in relation to problems you are tackling for your business?

What are the things that you take for granted and would never think of challenging?

Have you recently crushed some assumptions to help you generate breakthrough solutions to problems?

We’d love to hear about it.

Dr Amantha Imber

Dr Amantha Imber is a creative and innovation psychologist, best-selling author and founder of the innovation consultancy Inventium, who was awarded the BRW 2013 Client Choice Award for Best Management Consultancy in Australia.

 As a part of the world wide celebration of International Project Management Day, the Australian Institute of Management Victoria and Tasmania  are working with Management Training to bring a special event to Melbourne, the International Project Management Day Breakfast. Dr Amantha Imber will be the key note speaker. 

For more information on the event click here

 

As a professor of management at the University of Melbourne, and as an adviser to a number of companies I have witnessed firsthand the rise of innovation in businesses across Australia. It has become a hot topic given that Australia faces challenges in achieving and maintaining global competitiveness in terms of cost, service and quality in the post resources boom.

Innovation interests me as it is the ultimate competitive weapon for organisations. There is no ceiling on innovation; it can be applied in a broad range of ways, from achieving cost reduction through innovation in process management, to creating new streams of revenue.

Recently I have been involved in a combined study into innovation in Australian organisations conducted by the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Management, the findings of which highlight the importance of innovation. (see full report here)

We found that innovation pays off, and the benefits are even greater when organisations are systematic about it. The data captured by our large-scale survey confirms that organisations perform better when management embraces a structured and planned approach to innovation.

No single innovation lasts forever, but you can achieve ongoing advantage through the development of what we call ‘systematic innovation capability’.

Systematic innovation capability refers to a sustained form of innovation. Rather than haphazard or unplanned innovation, it is a continuous stream that creates value and a competitive advantage for organisations.

To develop this capability, a holistic and integrated approach to innovation across the entire organisation is required. It is important for organisations to create a workplace culture where everyone feels they have an opportunity to contribute to the innovation process.

We found that firms who embrace innovation as the key focus of their operations tend to achieve an advantage. They are more likely to have higher revenue growth, profitability and productivity.

Leadership is crucial. Effective leaders put in place the right strategies, know that systematic innovation needs to be properly resourced in terms of processes and people skills, and that staff must be incentivised and performance outcomes measured.

The key building blocks for successful innovation include:

  • managers get involved in innovation projects;
  • innovation is prioritised in the business strategy;
  • business strategy and technology are strongly aligned;
  • organisations are willing to take calculated risks;
  • teamwork is emphasised;
  • employees are highly skilled;
  • clearly articulated employee capabilities relate to innovation;
  • innovation involves many stakeholders, including customers (open innovation)
  • employees are rewarded financially for innovation contributions; and
  • competitors are benchmarked.

The study also highlighted that organisations which don’t embrace innovation are not just hurting their bottom line, they are also hurting their chances to attract and retain skilled employees. The lack of growth also limits development pathways for staff.

Innovation capability won’t develop on its own; it needs to be consciously formulated, resourced and driven into place. Some key questions to ask yourself and those in your organisation are:

  • Can your organisation survive and prosper without innovation?
  • Do you have a strategy in place for innovation?
  • Do you have the right resources, skills, and systems in place to achieve systematic innovation?
  • Does your business measurement system include prioritisation of innovation measures?
  • Are staff recognised and rewarded for their contribution to innovation?
  • Do leaders ‘talk and walk’ innovation, and lead innovation by example?

How do you approach innovation in your organisation?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our findings.

Professor Danny Samson

As an outspoken and passionate advocate for innovation and creativity in business (and in life), I’m often asked how organisations can foster and support the drive for new ideas and risk-taking. Australians have for too long now been complacent in the way we do business, and without a sincere and sustained effort to innovate and broaden our attitude towards new ideas and practices, many organisations will falter and fail in the coming years.

While most modern CEO’s are quick to agree that innovation is a key factor to future success, many also acknowledge that they are reluctant to encourage creative thinking in their employees. The fear of failure, particularly during an extended period of economic instability, is simply too great, and any idea that might contain an element of risk or controversy is quickly shot down.

Almost all great innovators in history – from Einstein all the way up to my grandmother, who invented the world’s first folding umbrella – will tell you that before they succeeded, they failed repeatedly, often spectacularly. But the fear of failing again didn’t stop them from coming up with new ways to succeed. How different might the world look today if Steve Jobs had decided just to play it safe and get a nine-to-five in tech support when, back in 1985, he was famously fired from Apple for being ‘too risky’?

Personally, I don’t like the word ‘failure’. I prefer to think of it as a first attempt at learning, an important achievement on the path to success. As an aspiring young singer who was told by both friends and teachers that I’d never make it out of the chorus and into the spotlight, I learnt first-hand that the people who tell you you’re going to fail and should probably give up aren’t always right, no matter how kind and honest their intentions.

Of course, great ideas aren’t worth the paper they’re scribbled on if they can’t be reasonably implemented and their value clearly articulated. But my advice to business leaders and CEO’s who want to create a culture of innovation for success is to be brave, embrace failure, learn from your mistakes and never say ‘never’ to a great idea simply because it’s risky.

Tania de Jong AM is a leading Australian soprano, social entrepreneur, innovation expert and international keynote speaker on leadership, creativity and innovation. She is the founder of Creative Universe, Creativity Australia, acclaimed singing group Pot-pourri and The Song Room.  

She is also the Diva in Residence and Executive Producer of next month’s Creative Innovation Global conference.

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