​Innovation guide part 1: Inventive thinking is no newly discovered treasure

​Innovation guide part 1: Inventive thinking is no newly discovered treasure

Alex Freeman discusses why innovation is not new and asks if business and government leaders have an entrepreneurial mindset in the first article in a series on innovating across your organisation.

As business leaders we are routinely reminded of the ever decreasing tenure of firms in the Fortune 500. More and more we hear forecasts like “75 per cent of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.”

It’s a perpetually growing “innovate-or-die” narrative.

Innovation is suddenly a hot topic in Australian politics. Malcolm Turnbull, in his first press conference as Prime Minister Elect, told us that we need to be a nation that is “agile, that is innovative, that is creative.”

What is interesting about this statement is that innovation has been positioned by Turnbull and received by the nation as though it were a newly discovered treasure.

Innovation is not new

At least as far back as the 1940’s, economist Joseph Schumpeter used the beautifully Darwinian term “industrial mutation” to explain the macroeconomic evolutionary change that is generated by the revolutionary “creative destruction” caused by the innovation of our business leaders.

The excitement about innovation is because the prime minister’s statement gives business leaders confidence. Political leaders are listening and business leaders are encouraged, which means new government policies will better support innovation.

The question is will we get the full benefit of these changes? Once the policy settings are optimal, can all business leaders generate revolutions? Do they necessarily know how to innovate?

Not everyone knows how to innovate systematically

The answer to this question was made apparent at the recent Policy Hack event. Policy Hack was a brainchild of newly appointed Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Wyatt Roy.

The concept is a refreshing approach to community engagement but it is also about opening the minds of senior government officials to entrepreneurial ways of thinking.

There was a telling moment early in the day at Policy Hack when the quorum of 200 attendees was asked “who has never been to a hackathon event before?”

About 50 per cent raised their hands to acknowledge their first-timer status, which is remarkable when you consider half the audience were entrepreneurs who have almost certainly been to a hackathon before.

Read more: Gartner to enterprises: ‘May the algorithmic force be with you’

That means almost none of the government officials had been to a hackathon previously.

That’s not an indictment on those people, it simply illustrates there are a lot of senior government and business leaders who do not have a complete grasp of how innovation can be done. They may still be able to innovate but do not have a complete suite of tools in their innovation arsenals.

Driving innovation in your business

Over the next few weeks, CIO will publish a series of ‘how to’ articles with step-by-step instructions and advice on how you can drive innovation across your business.

Read more: 7 shifts that will impact sectors in the next 20 years

This guide will begin by explaining the 5 stages of any innovation program. We will then discuss the 10 types of innovation and highlight which ones have the strongest correlation with business success.

Finally, we will discuss when it’s the right time to innovate and present a case study of how a large enterprise organisation set up a structured innovation program.

Stay tuned!

Alex Freeman is one of Australia’s leading business growth and innovation experts. He is CEO of CloudCo.Asia. You can chat to him on Twitter.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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