By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
When you think of innovation, what does it mean for you? New ideas? New products? Doing something differently? For me it is simply taking an idea and putting it into action to create value; a time saving, reducing a process by two steps or a financial saving. The idea part is usually the easiest, we have these all day long, but executing it takes a little more thought. It also takes three very important things; Culture, Capability and Capacity.
Culture: this is where it starts and ends as innovation should not be the responsibility of just one person, because no one person has all the answers; some of our best ideas have been the result of ad-hoc conversations. Leveraging our collective intelligence and experience is something we consider an organisational strength, but to effectively allow this to happen all staff need to feel empowered to do so and speak up if they feel they can contribute or have something to offer; this creates the culture, and the ideas follow.
Capability: we all know someone who says “I’m not creative or innovative”; but at its essence, being innovative is just about solving a problem, and we all do this all day long! Understanding what the problem is and exploring it with different tools and techniques is where we invest a lot of time and energy. This in turn builds capability throughout the organisation ensuring as many staff as possible have the skills to explore their ideas. For a really inspirational quick watch, Google “Solar Cow” on Youtube; this highlights the importance of really understanding the problem and will definitely make you smile.
Capacity: as I said earlier, having the idea is the easy part, it’s the making it happen that requires the commitment. This has been a significant investment for our organisation but without the capacity to explore and nurture the ideas, they remain just that; an idea. This is about finding out what your “Innovation Space” is for you. For an organisation the size of IMPACT with over 180 staff, we decided we needed a dedicated space, so we created Innovate@108. Any staff member can visit this space at any time to explore and potentially realise their idea.
It is also important to realise that this does not just happen overnight. We have been on this journey for a long time and are still learning, but what we do know without a shadow of a doubt is if given the time and space, you will be really inspired by and proud of what your team can do.
In the meantime, if there is an idea you would like to discuss or a problem you’d like to work on, please reach out. If you are still working on your Culture, Capability and Capacity, we are more than happy to share ours. For more information please contact IMPACT’s General Manager of Innovation, Nathan Spruce, on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are IMPACT Community Services – let’s do it together.