In case you haven’t heard, Tony’s ‘out’ and innovation is ‘in’. It’s the buzz word and policy brainchild that Turnbull hopes will tangibly boost our economy. No doubt there will be mountains and mole hills to overcome along the way – two standouts being Climate (aka Culture) and Capability. There’s a third cornerstone, Process, which you can read more about here.
Fostering the development of an innovation climate is a foundational pillar for building widespread and effective innovation. Where culture is the ‘vibe’ of a place, ‘climate’, is measurable and defined as people’s perceptions of their organisation’s culture. An effective climate for innovation is critical for new ideas to take flight, for teams to be supportive and supported, and for leaders to implement progressive ideas.
We’ve seen this work well in places like Silicon Valley, companies like Google and even in our own backyard. To improve climate, consider:
- Tangible initiatives such as formal events that celebrate good failure and encourage risk-taking.
- Encourage healthy debate, cross-departmental collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas.
- How senior leaders demonstrate that innovation is a priority.
Now, believe it or not, anyone can be an innovation dynamo! The skills for being creative and innovative are highly trainable and organisations that are serious about contributing innovatively to our economy need to invest in their people. There is no shortage of ideas (good and bad) but without the skills to test and progress these, the chance for innovation success is severely limited. This extends to our next generation of innovators, which is why building students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills will be a key priority of the forthcoming innovation statement.
It’s never too late to enhance your organisation’s capability for innovation, by:
- Formalising innovation training for all employees.
- Building resilience to handle failure and continue to innovate in the face of setbacks.
- Involving external people such as customers, donors and beneficiaries when gathering information and testing ideas.
Our national innovation journey is in its infancy and there’s room to grow. It’s critical that we get the fundamental basics right before prematurely implementing half-baked ideas, holding too many Shark Tank pitch events, or creating products and services that nobody wants.