An Employee Innovation Survey

The purpose of this CONFIDENTIAL survey is to determine whether employees have a voice in helping their organisations succeed. If you are an employee we would very much appreciate your views. If you’re not an employee please forward this survey to friends and colleagues who are. Innovation, in its simplest sense, means implementation of ideas that add value. There are many employee engagement surveys but not employee innovation surveys. Thank you for completing this one. You will be helping to determine whether employees have an effective voice.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZCZCZT7

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The best source of innovation is with your staff!

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According to David Thodey AO, Chair CSIRO “the best source of innovation is with your staff – they know the business and how to improve it”.  Staff at all levels who are creative can contribute useful ideas. We all have choices about how much thought and time we put into something. When our ideas and suggestions are not adequately considered we just seek to contribute elsewhere. IdeaSpies Enterprise is a new, fun and effective idea capture tool that’s designed to encourage ideas from staff. It’s been successfully trialled by KPMG Greater Western Sydney and was launched last month. Introductory pricing for initial subscribers ends on June 30 2018. www.IdeaSpies.com/Enterprise

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Fighting Tech Innovation’s Dark Side

Since we live in a machine age, the growing concern is that new technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, autonomous cars, and precision medicine are so powerful, pervasive and evolving that they can become uncontrollable. So how do we overcome it? New technologies can be potentially scary and bad. It’s a step into the unknown with uncertainty whether it may fail and it takes to integrate into society. Since we live in a machine age, the growing concern is that new technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, autonomous cars, and genetically customised ‘precision medicine’ are so powerful, pervasive, and fast-changing that they become uncontrollable. All this can put society and quite possibly the entire human race in grave danger. For instance, July 2017 saw Facebook abandon an experiment after two artificially intelligent programs appeared to be chatting to each other in a strange language that only they understood. The two chatbots communicated with one another having created their own changes to English which seemed to make it easier for them to work, but it was mysterious to the supervising human engineers. The chatbots’ bizarre discussions happened as Facebook challenged them to try and negotiate a trade with one another in attempt to swap items like hats and balls that were all given a certain value. But negotiations quickly broke down as the robots appeared to oddly chant to each other in a pattern of incomprehensible English that didn’t seem to be a glitch. Were the robots becoming uncontrollably too intelligent for their own good? Even more recently, Amazon’s voice assistant device, Alexa, let out unprompted creepy cackles. The device is designed to respond or act only when prompted by with a wake word that’s “Alexa” or “Amazon”, but this apparent glitch is happening without any prior interaction, spooking Alexa owners. Alexa is intended to be a domestic device in the home, so the use of voice assistants is often met with caution — voice commands are recorded and sent to the cloud for processing, a system that stokes a fear of eavesdropping, unintended or otherwise. Incidents like this and at Facebook, where an AI assistant seems to rebel against its owner, naturally furthers such concern. Upon that note, tech pioneer Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has  said, “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation.” He has also said, in relation to a self driving car ,“You’d test the living daylights out of it before you let it on the streets.” To counteract that and to control the different levels of future technological uncertainty before going to market, would be to apply regulations to the technology sector. After all, within any industry, regulation is necessary to keep things in check — it should not be too restrictive, but obviously progressive. However, there is a lack of government involvement within technological innovation because government ministers don’t understand it and they don’t know what to do about it. This is starting to change on an international scale with the World Economic Forum which is tackling the dangers of big tech. Within the UK, there are such organisations like Nesta, an innovation charity which works globally and always in partnership, as they do with Manchester University on the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR). They address the strategic intelligence, governance, and responsible research and innovation aspects of new and emerging technologies. Organisations supporting innovative entrepreneurs are London Innovators who help radical London-based entrepreneurs and GSMA supporting initiatives that shape the future of mobile communications and expand opportunities for the whole industry. There’s also N77 Society, whose recruited field experts as members assess advancing technological projects’  benefits or dangers to society. They all add a strong filter to adjust and cancel out technology’s bad with good. All organisations and societies in the the technology field can help develop an ‘innovation culture’ for larger regulatory bodies i.e. government to certainly promote the positive impact of innovations. It can inform and teach public officials who regulate technologies, business people who build them, and citizens who use or are affected by them — to craft inclusive policies that governments or companies can try out. Overall, technological innovation is necessary. We as humans constantly progress together as a society, country and a world. Throughout time, technology has enhanced our daily lives and we all take it for granted in all areas. Whether it be communication with the Internet and smartphones; travel with planes and motor vehicles or entertainment with televisions and music formats, it’s all there right before us. The attraction towards more advanced technological innovation is a belief in progress towards an improved or more advanced condition — a brighter future as we all move forward. Francesco Segramora 16 March 2018

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A new global standard to foster innovation

The ISO 50501 standard relates to the topic of innovation management and is expected to be launched in 2018 to provide the world’s first common standard for innovation processes. Experts from 47 countries have worked on this guideline for several years. They plan to endow companies with tools they can use to map their innovation management processes. Innovation management principles will describe what characterizes an innovative organization and will operate as guidelines for improvement. https://www.itonics.de/2017/12/new-iso-50501-to-foster-innovations/

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North Sydney Innovation Network events

North Sydney Innovation Network events

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10 Personal Innovation Lessons

Yes, innovation is extremely difficult. That’s why I love it actually. My personal mission is to simplify innovation so you, your colleagues and/or clients will be able to master innovation yourself. “How can I become a successful innovator?” is the most asked question to me offstage, after a keynote on innovation. Most people are well aware that their organisations are not able to stand still in this fast paced business environment. But a lot of people don’t know how to start innovation. Most of them are afraid to fail, ending up by doing nothing, until doing nothing is a bigger risk. That’s why I like to share with you ten personal innovation lessons to inspire you to become a successful innovator. Lesson 1: “Organisations frustrate their most innovative employees.” – Organisations are rules by best practices, procedures and regulations, which is completely understandable as they want to be the best in class in their current product-market combinations. As innovator you are continuously tweaking present offerings and coming up with completely new concepts. The unfortunate thing is that they hardly ever fit present best practices, procedures and regulations. Sometimes you get the impression that everybody within the company tries to stop you, instead of giving you a helping hand. Companies really know how to frustrate their most innovative employees. Innovation is always a struggle. My personal lessons learned was that I just needed ‘to learn to love the struggle’. That helped a lot. Lesson 2: “Most Managers behave like dogs. They bark at what they do not know.” – Or should I say “Most people….”? How do you behave yourself when someone reaches out to you to tell a great new idea? Do you really listen? Do you ask questions to understand what it’s really about? Do you postpone your own judgement? No. Most of us don’t. Something new never fits in our known patterns and routines. When dogs see something they don’t know they get frightened and start to bark. We humans are so alike :-). Lesson 3:”Managers say yes to innovation only if doing nothing is a bigger risk.” – The chance that a front-end innovation project actually becomes a success on the market is one out of seven. Why should a top manager say yes to innovations with a high risk as long as low-risk line/brand extensions will still do the job? He or she won’t. No, most managers say yes to innovation if doing nothing is a bigger risk. Lessons 4: “A manager wants to control innovation and that’s where it ends. A leader leads innovation and that’s where it starts.” – Managing innovation in a controlling way will never work, because per definition real innovation is a high risk venture with many uncertainties. If you manage real innovations like ‘a normal project’, it will never work. Getting an idea to the market takes a long time and the process is full of iterations. Trying to control it, in a conventional PRINCE-like structure will kill it for sure. Lesson 5: “Real innovative leaders give both focus and freedom.” – Leading innovation by giving both focus and freedom works much better. As leader make sure that your teams focus on the right strategic priorities and know what you expect from them. On the other hand, to be effective, you must give them freedom. Freedom to do it in an unorthodox way, with unorthodox partners, which keeps the passion of your innovators high. Lesson 6: Innovation is not a person or a department. It’s a mindset.” – When you outsource innovation to a person or to a department most of the times nothing materialises. Innovation affects the total internal value chain, and everybody is involved. It’s all about creating an innovative mindset: a way of thinking open to the world around you, which sparks new ideas and gives you the energy to take action. Lesson 7: “You can invent alone, but you can’t innovate alone.” – How many people do you need in your organization to get a new concept from idea to market launch? Right. A lot of people. You can come up with an idea on your own. but you need a lot of colleagues to develop it, to produce it, to do the logistics, to do the sales and of course do the invoicing for it. So connect your colleagues in your innovation project from the start. When they are co-creators they will be the strongest supporters. Lesson 8: “The best innovators are need seekers.” – Need Seekers, such as Apple and Procter & Gamble, make a point of engaging customers directly to generate new ideas. They develop new products and services based on superior end-user understanding. Studies confirm that following a Need Seekers strategy offers the greatest potential for superior performance in the long term. Need seeking is essential, because a good innovation is a simple solution to a relevant customer need. Lesson 9: “Think outside the box and present your idea inside the box otherwise nothing happens.” – Of course you are expected to break patterns. And originality helps. But when you present your idea it is wise to keep in mind that the rest of the organization is still as conservative as ever. Your senior management might praise you for your creativity. But, will they buy the idea and give you the resources to develop it after seeing a movie, a mock up or a flash mob? I have my doubts. Don’t bring them ideas, bring them business and growth potential! Lesson 10: “If there’s no urgency, innovation is considered as playtime.” – Most people in your organisation focus on the business of today. An innovation will only pay off tomorrow. A lot of companies consider innovation as ‘nice to have’, although they will hesitate to say this out loud. It’s considered by many executives as playtime, as long as there’s no urgency. That’s why in cost cutting programmes innovation will be one of the first activities to be killed. I wish you lots of success on your personal innovation journey. Please share your own innovation lessons  as a comment. by Gijs van Wulfen -Inspiring you to master innovation Also published in Innovation in Australia, BSI Innovation — Do you want to improve your personal innovation skills? Check out this hands-on training April 2017 in the proven FORTH […]

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Innovation is Combination

Much has been made about the difference between innovation and invention. One writer went as far as to argue that Steve Jobs development of the iPod wasn’t an innovation because it was dependent on so much that came before it. A real innovation, so the argument goes, must be truly transformational, like the IBM PC, which created an entire industry. The problem with these kind of word games is that they lead us to an infinite regress. The IBM PC can be seen as the logical extension of the microchip, which was the logical extension of the transistor. These, in turn, rose in part through earlier developments, such Turing’s universal computer and the completely irrational science of quantum mechanics. The truth is that innovation is never a single event, but happens when fundamental concepts combine with important problems to create an impact. Traditionally, that’s been done within a particular organization or field, but to come up with breakthrough ideas in the 21st century, we increasingly need to transcend conventional boundaries of company and industry. Transforming Alchemy Into Chemistry Everybody knows the story of Benjamin Franklin and his famous kite, but few have ever heard of John Dalton and his law of multiple proportions. What Dalton noticed was that if you combine two or more elements, the weight resulting compound will be proportional to its components. That may seem vague, but it did more for electricity than Franklin ever did. The reason that Dalton’s obscure law became so important is that it led him to invent the modern concept of atoms and, in doing so, transformed the strange art of alchemy into the hard science of chemistry. Once matter could be reduced down to a single, fundamental concept, it could be combined to make new and wondrous things. Dmitri Mendeleev transformed Dalton’s insight into the periodic table, transforming the lives of high school students and major chemical corporations alike. Michael Faraday’s chemical experiments led to his development of the dynamo and the electric motor, which in turn led to Edison’s electric light, modern home appliances and even IBM’s PC and Apple’s iPod. Which of these are inventions and which are innovations? It’s impossible to tell and silly to argue about. What’s clear is none are the product of a single idea, but are all combinations of ideas built on the foundation that Dalton created. Merging Man and Machine In the early 1960s, IBM made what was perhaps the biggest gamble in corporate history. Although it was already the clear leader in the computer industry, it invested $5 billion — in 1960 dollars, worth more than $30 billion today — on a new line of computers, the 360 series, which would make all of its existing products obsolete. The rest, as the say, is history. The 360 series was more than just a product, it was a whole new way of thinking about computers. Before, computers were highly specialized machines designed to do specific jobs. IBM’s new product line, however, offered a wide range of capabilities, allowing customers to add to their initial purchase as their business grew. It would dominate the industry for decades. When Fred Brooks, who led the project, looked back a half century later, he said that the most important decision he made was to switch from a 6-bit byte to an 8-bit byte, which enabled the use of lowercase letters. Considering the size of the investment and the business it created, that may seem like a minor detail. But consider this: That single decision merged the language of machines with the language of humans into a fundamental unit. In effect, the 8-bit byte transformed computers from obscure calculating machines into a collaboration tool. Learning The Language of Life Much like Dalton came up with the fundamental unit of chemistry, a century later Wilhelm Johannsen developed the fundamental unit of biology in 1909: the gene. This too was a combination — and also a refinement — of earlier ideas from men like Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and others. However, for scientists of the early twentieth century, a gene was little more than a concept. No one knew what a gene was made of or even where they could be found. It was little more of an abstract idea until Watson and Crick discovered the structure and function of DNA. Even then, there was little we could do with genes except know that they were there. That changed when the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003 and unleashed the new field of genomics. Today, genetic treatments for cancer have become common and, with prices for genetic sequencing falling faster than those for computer chips, we can expect gene therapies to be applied to a much wider array of ailments over the next decade. Yet these new developments are not the product of just biologists. The challenges of gene mapping required massive computing power. So researchers working on genes needed to work closely with computer scientists to put supercomputers to work helping to solve the problem. A New Era of Innovation The confusion about innovation and invention reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about how innovation really works. The idea that certain ideas are flashes of divine inspiration while others are merely riffs off of earlier tunes sung long ago fails to recognize that all innovations are combinations. Over the last century, most inventions have been combinations of fundamental units. Many important products, from household goods to miracle cures, have been developed through combining atoms in new and important ways. Learning how to combine bytes of information gave rise to the computer industry and we’re now learning how to combine genes. The 21st century, however, will give rise to a new era of innovation in which we combine not just fundamental elements, but entire fields of endeavor. As Dr. Angel Diaz, IBM’s VP of Cloud Technology & Architecture told me, “We need computer scientists working with cancer scientists, with climate scientists and with experts in many other fields to tackle grand challenges and make large impacts on the world.” Today, it takes more than just a big idea to innovate. Increasingly, collaboration is becoming a key competitive advantage because you need to combine ideas from widely disparate fields. So if you want to innovate, don’t sit around waiting for a great eureka moment — look for what you can combine […]

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What do we mean by “innovation”?

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While innovation is now very topical it doesn’t appear to be a well understood term. Some people support innovation, others are frightened of it and many just don’t care- they think it’s someone else’s responsibility. Innovation is interpreted differently in different situations hence some difficulties in communication between different groups such as academia and industry which could impede progress. Some forward-thinking members of the LinkedIn Group Innovation Management (approx 40,000 members around the world)  recently suggested general definitions and  voted on them. There are 33 definitions in the list below. Interestingly some said we shouldn’t have a general definition, that it’s specific to the situation. One member also said “Everyone loves innovation but no one wants to change”. For those of you who are interested in a general definition the 2 favourites are below followed by the definitions proposed. Top definitions 30. The result of a creative process that creates value for society 11.  The process of bringing new, problem-solving ideas into use Definitions proposed. 1. Anything that improves anything 2. Ideas applied successfully 3. New ideas, successfully applied 4. Doing things in a new way, or creating new things, that have a significant impact. 5. The creative development of solutions to real and important problems of customers, which are profitably brought to market 6. The beneficial utilization of knowledge and creativity, in order to discover and realize what does not yet exist. 7. The creation of value from ideas (which are new to you) 8.  A successfully implemented and widely accepted invention, which can be material and non-material, an object, process, phenomenon and/or their combination. 9. Creative thinking that adds value, or in two words, meaningfully unique 10. Creation of a viable new offering 11. The process of bringing new, problem-solving ideas into use. 12. Creating new value or capturing value in new ways 13. The actual use of a nontrivial change and improvement in a process, product or system that is novel to the institution developing the change 14. Profitable change 15. The act of introducing something new in something or in somewhere. 16. An idea that meets its market 17. Activity that brings a new repeatable (scalable) concept to customers.” 18. Research is the transformation of money into knowledge. Innovation is the transfer of knowledge back into money 19. The process of creating a product or service solution that delivers significant new customer value 20. The process of idea realisation 21. The result of: connect ideas from different sectors + current insights + solve a pain point 22. New business with new money 23. Successful commercialisation of an idea which adds value to any stakeholder 24. A change in culture. 25. Creating progress that brings important improvement in our quality of life. 26. The process of taking an idea from a state of Conception to a state of Commercialization (value creation 27. Successful adoption* of value-added change** (novelty) in economic, social and environmental spheres 28. The successful usage of new ideas or ways to fulfill certain needs. 29. Something new or different that provides greater value or benefit. 30. The result of a creative process that creates value for society 31. The use of new ideas, or existing ideas in a new context, to result in change which delivers value 32. Commercializing novel ideas 33. Created value for social change Photo: A new glow in the dark bike path in Canberra Australia. www.ideaspies.com/glow-in-the-dark-bike-paths/

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