Yesterday I met with the Digital Economy Development  to plan some upcoming Digital Action Planning Workshops for Small Business we are collaboratively running.

What I love about the opportunity to present these workshops is to provide small to medium business owners and managers with the strategies and concepts to be able to leverage digital technologies for innovation and competitive advantage.

It got me thinking of the Digital Action Plan that I developed when  first started at Learning Partnerships.

My strategy which we are about 95% complete in under a year included transformation of  100 % of our systems and data across the value chain to be accessible anytime anywhere and collaborative.  My strategy also included incorporating cloud technology, agile and lean methodologies to move quickly and regionally with new product and offerings.

Basically this is IT Speak for where possible I use systems that are easy to use, that I can sign up and start using in a matter of minutes and that talk nicely to each other. With this strategy I can test, adapt and improve innovations quickly and focus on my core business – creating and delivering awesome training and personal development.

In essence my philosophy is that Innovation is BAU (Business as Usual) and I love it.

The three pillars I have found instrumental in implementing a Innovation BAU culture are these are: 1: Culture eats strategy for Breakfast, 2( Pack a Kick Arse Arsenal) and, 3) Protect the Innovation Space.

Ironically one of my favourite new products and offerings is a Workshop on Developing Innovation Systems and an Innovation Toolbox Quick Reference Guide.

Click here to find out more information on the course and / or to obtain a complementary copy of our Innovation Toolbox Quick Reference Guide.

Innovation Quick Reference Guide .jpeg

You may also wish to try and see how your business measures up on the Digital Scorecard. The Digital Scorecard is designed to help businesses identify ways to improve their digital capability and become more competitive in today’s global digital economy.

1. Culture eats strategy for breakfast

funny-cowfoodFor Innovation to be BAU you need an  innovation culture and leaders that walk the talk. The business accepts risk, encourages creativity and challenging standard practice and leads with a growth mindset.

Ask” does our talent feel safe in expressing the ideas, challenging BAU and failing to find new ways to solve problems, serve customers and streamline business.” If not why, and what can you do about it? TalentBuy in is critical for innovation. At Learning Partnerships we have found that  quarterly planning days are essential in establishing buy in and developing engagement and coming up with better ideas. Innovation is a team sport.

For an innovation culture to work shared values are a core requirement. One toxic person can seriously upset the innovation cart. If you haven’t done this already start with a values and values to standards session where everyone contributes to the development of team values. It is an extremely valuable exercise that can really solidify understanding and team dynamics. One of our core values at Learning Partnerships is FUN and I think this is essential for us as a team to be able to – OK I am not going to lie at first it was interpretive dance but Pat felt uncomfortable dancing in the office.

2. Pack a Creativity Arsenal

Toolkit .jpgOur team love collecting and sharing tools for problem solving and innovation. Contact us for a a copy of our Innovation Toolbox Quickguide

A good arsenal helps a team or a facilitator stimulate ideas, identify root causes and be able to provide a structured process to get the most out of innovation.

Some of my favourites are brainstorming, Prototype on Paper, Rapid Research, 5 Whys, and User Day Packing, ideation, design sprint, decision tables and Ishikawa. For me its also about understanding my biorhythms and knowing when I naturally ebb and flow and get in the creative zone. Also I will own it I have a creative Pen and it seems I am more naturally creative with it. Who Knew.

At Learning Partnerships we also use Lean-Agile Mindset in all aspects of what we do, how we behave and how we interact with each other, our clients and our systems. While traditionally applied to software development it really has applications across all aspects of business and business model innovation.  This is a good article if you are interested in what this is all about. 

3. Protect the innovation space

Innovation .jpgIf your team are too busy being busy on the day to day things, there will be no time or energy for creativity and innovation.

Making time for innovation is probably one of the biggest hurdles a business will suffer so protecting the innovation space needs to be everyone’s mission.

To do this, you need systems and procedures to streamline operations and use data that you have in your organisation effectively across the value chain. Reducing the time and complexity will free up time for creativity and have the side effect of more engaged and productive employees. In his presentation on Creativity in Management , John Cleese provides an interesting overview on the winning aspects of protecting the innovation space.

Interesting Statistics from the ABS Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business indicate that considering how important Innovation is to business there is marked improvement that businesses in Australia, particularly those in the small to medium sectors could be making in making Innovation BAU.

The proportion of businesses that were innovation-active (i.e. those that undertook any innovative activity) in 2015-16 was 49%.

Manufacturing, Retail trade and the Arts and recreation services industries had the highest proportion of innovation-active businesses, all at 58%.

Overall, 43% of businesses introduced at least one type of innovation with organisational/managerial processes (23%) the most common type of innovation introduced.

Almost one in four businesses had innovation still in development (24%) as at 30 June 2016. New or significantly improved marketing methods was the type of innovation that was most likely to still be in development (12%).”

8166.0 – Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2015-16