Innovation: 8 Steps to Success

The ability to be or remain innovative depends on the organisation’s willingness to continue supporting not just new ideas and products, but also processes. Continuous innovation requires constantly changing aspirations, expectations and behaviour. There will always be vested interests rejecting change outright or supporting it half-heartedly, even if those vested interests were successful innovators of the past who now feel threatened by new ideas. McKinsey’s “The Eight Essential Elements of Innovation” identified the following requirements for consistently successful innovation: 1. Aspiration: NASA’s success in developing entirely new products – the basis of much of the modern world in electronics, communications and digitization was the result of the bold aspiration set by President Kennedy in 1962, to “go to the moon in this decade”. In a corporate setting, however, the aspirational challenge must translate into departmental targets, if it is to change behavior. When linking aspirations to targets, many organisations tend to focus on revenues created by launching new products or entering new markets; requiring them, like 3M, to reach a certain percentage of total sales within a given time. It is an obvious choice because new products and their associated revenues are tangible and easy to measure. It engages R&D, marketing and sales who can feel emotionally involved, as it challenges them directly to come up with something new. However, it overlooks two other important areas where innovation can have an important and beneficial impact on value creation: the business model processes and the workplace itself, which are more likely to be continuous and incremental in nature. There are four important advantages in having formal aspirations to improve processes and working conditions: It embeds the concept of kaizen – continuous improvement. Innovative improvements in working conditions affect everybody, leading to greater employee satisfaction and retention with resulting improvements in profitability. Every employee can propose new ways of doing things because they now have three areas where they can contribute: product, process and workplace. It creates a culture of innovation affecting everybody in the organisation, facilitating buy-in and reducing resistance to change. 2. Selection: Most organisations have too many creative ideas rather than too few, when it comes to new product ideas. They fail to select effectively from them in three ways: They play safe, filling their product development pipelines with relatively riskless projects, yielding incremental improvements. They spread their resources too thinly, instead of concentrating on those projects with the best returns. They fail to allocate/reallocate sufficient resources each year, with the resulting stagnation in innovation 3. Discovery: Effective discovery of innovative ideas and processes does not depend just on creative genius, however much we like to believe in ‘lightbulb’ moments. It is the result of a disciplined iterative process, involving the interaction of changes in technology and partnerships with customers to define what they are lacking or what they do not like about either product performance or processes for doing business with the organisation. It encourages the active use of prototypes to test and validate improvement hypotheses, be they for products or processes 4. Evolution: Established companies have much to fear from upstart disrupters, who threaten their dominance by introducing new products, based in part on different business models. They should be prepared to change their business models before the upstarts do it to them. Incumbents find it very difficult to do. This is because changing the business model requires changes in behaviour; creates political winners and losers in the organisation; and may incur expensive write-offs in plant and equipment, resisted vigorously by the finance function. Effective evolution even in companies with a track record of past success in innovation is often blocked by the ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’. Vested interests will fight such changes when it is not immediately obvious change is required. And when it becomes obvious change is required, it may be too late to do anything about it, as Blackberry’s, Nokia’s or Sony’s fall from grace demonstrated. AI and robotics are serious threats to all jobs not requiring creativity and compassion. However, jobs requiring both will not be affected at all; jobs requiring compassion, but a great deal of compassion or empathy, such as doctors, will change with AI providing the tools to diagnose better, faster and cheaper, turning doctors into the compassionate link between patient and diagnostics. Jobs requiring creativity, such as scientific research, will be enhanced by AI’s ability to screen and evaluate data faster, objectively and free from biases, leading to more discoveries. Proponents of blockchain believe all back-office jobs, regardless of industry, will be threatened by its introduction. Boards will have to understand how these megatrends will affect their business models and the employability of their staff; and evolve accordingly. 5. Maverick acceleration: Ironically, the caution created by good governance processes may stifle the organisation’s ability to bring a new product to market quickly. Some of the most important innovations have been the result of mavericks refusing to be cowed by the managerial processes of their organisations. For example, the Israeli subsidiary of Intel was able to insist the US operations were wrong to focus on increasing the speed of their computer chips, championing instead reducing their size, saving the company as a result. 6. Scale: Getting scale right is crucial. Some innovations are suitable for niche markets with small volumes; others are designed to serve mass markets with large volumes. The problem for innovators is how best to move from small start-up volumes to the much larger volumes expected once the market is fully developed. One of the reasons why incumbents find it so difficult to deal with disruptive innovation is their mismatch of scale. Their business models are designed to deal with mature markets with corresponding volumes, unit costs and achieved prices, whereas innovative disrupters start with business models to serve much smaller volumes, using fewer resources profitably. 7. Extension: It is now common for companies to work with outside parties to develop proof of concept ideas, prototype them jointly and develop trials to test whether they work as expected. Engineering and life science companies work with universities; FMCG companies work with customers to develop new concepts – for example, Unilever’s Sunsilk™ shampoos, co-developed with leading haircare experts from different countries. 8. Mobilization: This is achieved through providing a clear ‘line of sight’ between the mission, vision and values of the organisation and the role of […]

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Aussies Tackle Antibiotic Resistance

by: Melissa Raassina & Rebecca Morehouse In celebration of World Microbiome Day, we’re discussing all things microbes and antibiotic resistance! Many people are asking, what happens if antibiotic resistance continues to spread? And how can we prevent antibiotic resistance from spreading further? Why? Antimicrobial resistance, more commonly known as antibiotic resistance, is a big issue facing the population on a global scale. The potential for worldwide disaster is larger than one would think, with the current death toll sitting at 700,000 per year, and predicted to reach 10 million deaths per year, by 20501. What is antibiotic resistance? Antibiotic resistance occurs through the misuse or overuse of antibiotics in humans or animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that it’s the bacteria that become antibiotic-resistant and not the humans or animals. This means that when antibiotics are used, they not only kill the bacteria causing an illness, but they can also kill the beneficial bacteria which protect the body from infection. This leaves room for the resistant microbes which survived the antibiotic treatment to thrive. They are able to re-produce in large numbers and pass on their antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult for the microbiome to recover. The most concerning part is that these antibiotic-resistant bacteria can result in infections that are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria2. It’s important to note the vital role that antibiotics play in modern medicine – and that should never be debated or watered down. Antibiotics certainly have an important place in modern-day society. The simple access to antibiotics means that diseases and illnesses that once resulted in potential death or permanent damage, are now treated with a simple course of antibiotics that your doctor can give you in a 15-minute consultation. However, it is this simple access to antibiotics that has also resulted in overuse – and even misuse in some cases. Frequent use of antibiotics can cause an almost complete eradication of bacteria in your gut microbiome. This may take up to 6 months to fully recover – leaving the gut susceptible to a lowered diversity of beneficial bacteria and the colonisation of undesirable bacteria. Some of these “undesirable bacteria” in the gut and the rest of the human body can develop resistance to antibiotics, making it harder to treat bacterial illnesses. It’s this antibiotic resistance that is spreading on a global scale and causing very serious issues. What is the problem? According to the WHO, antibiotic resistance is reaching dangerously high levels in certain parts of the world. They list common infectious diseases that are now “at risk of lowered treatment options”. These diseases include pneumonia, tuberculosis, foodborne diseases and blood poisoning. Just think, one day you may go to the doctor with pneumonia and not be able to receive treatment because the microbes you host have become resistant to antibiotic treatments. A simple illness then becomes potentially life threatening for some people2. What a big step back to the past that would be! There are several contributing factors to the spread of antibiotic resistance, such as antibiotics bought without a prescription, the unnecessary use of antibiotics (such as to treat viral cold and flu), countries with no standard treatment guidelines, or even the sharing of antibiotics. As the Ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance stated in their report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in April 2019, “there is no time to wait. Unless the world acts urgently, antimicrobial resistance will have a disastrous impact within a generation3.” With the potential to set medicine back more than a century in a relatively short time period, antibiotic resistance must be recognised as a widespread and urgent issue requiring immediate attention from the many, not the few. What does the future look like? Do not fear, action is near. Although antibiotic resistance is not an issue that can be solved overnight, there are now researchers working to address the problem. One  group in Australia, led by the University of Technology, Sydney, is about to get to work on building a knowledge engine focused on antibiotic resistance. The Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)  financed a $1 million boost through its Frontier initiative for 26 researchers to work for an initial one-year period on tackling antimicrobial resistance. These researchers come from 13 organisations, including Australian leader in gut microbiome analysis, Microba. This group of researchers will work to develop an antimicrobial resistance (AMR) ‘knowledge engine’ that, by using smart algorithms and machine learning, will track, trace and predict outbreaks of AMR and inform interventions. Named OUTBREAK (One-health Understanding Through Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics Knowledge), and headed by Professor Steven Djordjevic of UTS, this software will be used to reduce the risk of AMR in humans and animals who often rely on many of the same antibiotic medications. As specialists in whole genome sequencing and metagenomics, Microba will provide key expertise to this project which will encompass a range of scientific areas to help produce the OUTBREAK system. This is potentially the key to saving millions of lives in the future. The buy-in from governments such as Australia’s, magnifies the impact that such software could have on a global scale. The  aim of OUTBREAK is to be able to see different and localised data streams, allowing the software tool to be tailored at a geographical or sector level. Not every town or city is the same, so they will have different risks and require potentially different solutions or plans of attack. Although in its infancy, this project’s vision is to  create  a worldwide artificial intelligence-powered network for AMR surveillance and mitigation. While this is no small feat, the Australian research team are certainly up for the job. Should they show strong promise, they may receive a second round of funding from the Australian Government to develop the software further. Through projects such as this, we see a relatively small group of researchers from a comparatively small population, taking on a global problem. To see real, tangible impacts in the lives of millions across the world will be something to celebrate together, indeed. References: 1 The Ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. (2019). No time to wait: Securing the future from drug-resistant infections. Report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Summary of recommendations and key messages, p.4. 2 World […]

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Is your Firm Prepared to Collaborate?

Most product and technological innovations come from knowledge-intensive industries like computers, biotechnology, health care, and national defense. In those industries, the ability to collaborate, both within and across organizations, is a must. Collaboration has been shown to reduce risk, speed products to market, decrease the cost of product development and process improvement, and provide access to new markets and technologies. Collaboration is a capability that many companies would like to leverage in their particular business. But even though those companies may be strong competitors in their respective industry, the ability to practice collaborative behavior can be elusive. In order to develop that capability, management must clearly understand the behavioral dynamics underlying competition, cooperation, and collaboration. Competitive behavior is driven by organization members’ desires to achieve as large a share of the rewards available in a given situation as their energy and abilities will allow. This motivational assumption is explicit in economic theory: Individuals and firms act in their own self-interest, and they seek to maximize their returns. When the primary purpose of engaging in an activity is the economic reward it will bring, psychologists refer to the underlying motivation as “extrinsic” – the reward comes from a source external to the doer. On the other hand, when an individual engages in work or other activity for the sheer enjoyment of it, he or she is said to be motivated “intrinsically” – by the activity itself and not the external reward of pay or a promotion. Although few activities are undertaken purely for either their intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, the primary form of motivation that drives an individual is important in differentiating among competitive, cooperative, and collaborative behaviors. Participants in many settings, from business to politics to sports, expect fellow participants to learn and follow the basic rules of the game or activity. Those who do not are quickly spotted as people who are not to be trusted. Unfortunately, cheaters can and do win on occasion, so the level of trust that exists among participants in competitive situations is an important determinant of how they behave in those situations – how they treat the other party, how they handle relevant information, how they negotiate, and so on. The minimum level of trust that organization members expect of their superiors is that they will apply sanctions as specified in the rules (both the organization’s rules and general moral and ethical principles). A higher level of trust exists when superiors can be counted on to allocate rewards in a similarly fair and principled manner. In short, organization members in competitive situations seek sufficient trust to assure that basic rules and traditions will be followed. Cooperation occurs when one person or group helps another in carrying out a task whose outcome benefits both parties. The primary determinant of cooperative behavior, with respect to both individuals and organizations, is that the desired or chosen task cannot be accomplished alone. Sometimes, individuals and groups are forced to cooperate in order to survive, such as in ancient societies based on farming, hunting, or fishing. In today’s world, however, most cooperative ventures arise because the parties choose to work together to accomplish their mutual objectives. Parties engaged in cooperation still act in their own self-interest, but their interdependence requires different ways of making decisions and handling information than in competitive situations. Both individuals and organizations must come to grips with the issue of trust in cooperative situations. Cooperation succeeds when the parties bring their respective resources to the venture and then jointly determine how to leverage and use those resources. If one of the partners exploits the situation in some way, then the overall venture cannot be successful and may not be sustainable. Most cooperative ventures, even those in which the parties trust each other, are secured by contracts. Contracts protect the cooperating parties against risk and damage. In recent years, the phenomenon of “co-opetition” has been growing. The word itself refers to simultaneous cooperation and competition. Advocates of co-opetition argue that the maximization of total benefit occurs when firms cooperate in the generation of wealth (creating the pie) while still competing for their own share of the enhanced outcome (dividing the pie). From a game theoretic perspective, co-opetition is the rigorous search for mutually advantageous agreements that lead to a higher potential gain for both parties. Strategies following co-opetition principles rely on complementary value-adding behaviors such as, for example, those between Microsoft and Intel or those between credit card companies and airline frequent flier programs. Such programs benefit two or more parties without constraining their individual efforts to obtain maximum returns. Similar strategies have been used in other settings involving bidding, negotiations, and customer and supplier relationships. Co-opetition strategies highlight similarities in the underlying motives of both competitive and cooperative behavior. That is, in either a competitive or cooperative approach, the primary outcome that each party is pursuing is an improvement of its own position. Co-opetition is behavior that is extrinsically motivated, calculative, and self-serving. Collaboration is a process of shared decision-making in which all the parties with a stake in the problem constructively explore their differences and develop a joint strategy for action. Collaboration can be directed toward any mutually desired objective: solving a complex problem, resolving a persistent conflict, creating a new business, and so on. Collaboration works best when certain conditions are present, such as when the relevant knowledge base is complex and diffuse, and therefore the parties must work together to combine knowledge and develop joint solutions. Also, it is crucial that relationships are voluntary and the parties care for and are committed to each other. Overall, collaboration is most effective when competent, mature individuals/organizations treat each other fairly and value their relationship as much as their own self-interest. Collaboration differs from competition and cooperation in two main ways. First, cooperation is motivated by the benefits each party expects to receive from combining ideas, information, and resources. Therefore, while cooperative behavior may be enjoyable in its own right, it is primarily extrinsically motivated. Second, because cooperative behavior ultimately involves the pursuit of self-interest, it requires periodic or even continual assessment by each party of the amount of trust and commitment of the other party. In collaborative relationships, on the other hand, each party is as committed to the other’s interests as it is to its own, and this […]

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Actor-Oriented Organizing for the Digital Age

Digital technologies are transforming the global economy. In his pioneering book Being Digital (1995), technology futurist Nicholas Negroponte described how the old industrial economy would be eaten away by a new digital economy. Moreover, digital technologies make it possible for members of an organization to self-organize and thereby avoid the delays, distortions, and other damaging effects of hierarchically organized systems. Established companies recognize that digital technologies can help them operate their businesses with greater speed and lower costs and, in many cases, offer their customers opportunities to co-design and co-produce products and services. Many start-up companies use digital technologies to develop new products and business models that disrupt the present way of doing business and take customers away from firms that cannot change and adapt.   Digital technologies play a role in all aspects of operating, controlling, and coordinating the activities of organizations. Broadly speaking, they are used for automating and augmenting tasks, communicating internally among organization members and externally with customers and partners, and in collaborative decision-making among digital and human agents. At Tesla’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, technicians work alongside 185 robots made by the German firm Kuka Robotics to assemble the electric cars. By using artificial intelligence “reinforcement learning algorithms,” the robots are able to switch tools and perform certain tasks far better and faster than their human co-workers. Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic use robots to augment a variety of surgical procedures in heart, head, and neck operations. The surgeons perform those operations by controlling surgical micro-instruments attached to robotic arms.   Both intra- and inter-organizational transactions and communications have been performed digitally for a long time. Walmart exemplifies a highly digitalized supply chain connecting its stores, distribution centers, and suppliers. Currently, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are used by companies to communicate with their customers and other stakeholders, and digital platforms such as Facebook at Work and Microsoft’s SharePoint allow for internal communication and for collaboration with partners.   Digital technologies are also used for learning, decision-making, and design. E-commerce companies such as Amazon, Google, Airbnb, and Uber study the data trails of consumer behavior to design markets for greater efficiency and build new markets. Intelligent digital design tools such as Autodesk are used in engineering and creative industries. Those tools typically offer 3D representation of the objects under design, and they allow designers to simulate the operations and performance of alternative design choices. In semiconductor manufacturing, the designs are digitally transmitted to equipment that manufactures the product. With continuing development and wider adoption of 3D printing technologies, the design-to-manufacturing process will become fully digitalized across many more industries. The U.S. Army, for example, is currently experimenting with the 3D printing of food in order to feed troops as they mobilize across difficult geographies. Some companies employ digital design tools in collaborating with their customers. Lego provides toolkits on its website that enable entrepreneurs and customers to submit product ideas and start new Lego brick-based businesses.   Digital technologies are not only changing how organizations operate but also the way we think about organizing. A traditional organization is arranged hierarchically – that is, control and coordination are achieved through an authority (reporting) structure in which superiors plan and coordinate the activities of subordinates, allocate resources, and resolve problems and conflicts. A hierarchical organization can be effective in stable and predictable environments because the organization does not have to regularly innovate or adapt to change. Many of today’s environments, however, are not stable and predictable; they are volatile, uncertain, complex, and even ambiguous. Such environments are characteristic of knowledge-intensive industries like biotechnology, computers, healthcare, professional services, and national defense. Organizations operating in these types of industries must be agile and innovative, and their success depends heavily on the agency of their members. A hierarchical organization inevitably instills a hierarchical mindset among its members. Members understand that they are being paid to do a particular job, and they look to their managers to set goals, formulate plans, and approve the quality of their work. As a result, organization members become psychologically as well as economically dependent on the hierarchy. In addition to the friction created by “relay managers” who merely pass along information, hierarchical management styles tend to reduce intrinsic employee motivation to take initiative.Hierarchically managed organizations, in short, are constrained in their ability to innovate.   My colleagues and I (Strategic Management Journal, 2012) have developed an organizational architecture that is appropriate for knowledge-intensive sectors where organizations must continuously learn, innovate, and adapt. We call this architecture “actor oriented” because it places a premium on human capital: the organization members themselves and the other people and organizations with whom they interact. Actor-oriented organizations rely on self-organizing, with only minimal use of hierarchical mechanisms to achieve control and coordination. Our architectural scheme is composed of three elements: (1) actors who have the capabilities, mindset, and values to self-organize; (2) commons where the actors accumulate and share resources; and (3) protocols, processes, and infrastructures that enable multi-actor collaboration. We believe that actor-oriented organizing is a new paradigm for designing and managing organizations. It is best used in situations where exploration and innovation are desirable or required. It enables actors to share knowledge and engage in collaborative problem solving. In actor-oriented organizations, control and coordination are based on direct exchanges among the actors themselves rather than on hierarchical planning, delegation, and integration. Although hierarchy is present in actor-oriented organizations, these designs mainly rely on lateral, reciprocal relationships among actors for control and coordination. Dr. Charles Snow Chairman, Organization Design Community Professor Emeritus, Penn State University  

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The power of your gut- a hot topic in health!

The gut microbiome is emerging as a “hot topic” in health care right now, and scientists are amazed at the connections being made between our gut bacteria and our health and wellbeing. The bacteria and other organisms that reside in our gut have been implicated in a number of diseases ranging from colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis, through to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression, and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. An innovative company is empowering Australians to understand the power of their gut and how it influences their body and mind. Microba, founded in 2018 by two professors from the University of Queensland, is using modern scientific tools to help people learn more about their guts. At the same time, Microba is furthering our understanding of how the gut is contributing to various diseases. The reason that the gut microbiome is connected to so many different health conditions is that the collection of organisms in our gut are a metabolic powerhouse, able to produce and breakdown a vast array of different compounds that have various effects on the body – some beneficial, and others detrimental. It is estimated that the gut microbiome harbours between 2 million and 20 million different genes and each of those genes is a blueprint for making something in your gut. When you consider that the human genome contains an estimated 20,000 –30,000 genes, it’s easy to see that the gut microbiome has a far greater potential to be producing many more compounds than our bodies can. It’s for this reason that some people in the medical community are referring to the gut microbiome as the “forgotten organ” of the body. For example, some organisms can produce beneficial compounds like short-chain fatty acids, which are used as energy for your intestinal cells to stay healthy and resist disease. Other organisms produce detrimental compounds like trimethylamine and lipopolysaccharide which have been linked to heart disease, inflammation and type-2 diabetes. The exact influence that your microbiome has on your body depends on the unique composition of your gut. This is where Microba comes in. Microba can send you a sampling swab that you use in the comfort and privacy of your own home to collect a small amount of material from the surface of your used toilet tissue. You return the sample back to Microba’s lab, where they use DNA-based metagenomics technology to identify the relative proportions of every organism in the sample, as well as their metabolic capacity – an indication of how well your gut can produce and degrade the various compounds that have been shown to influence our health. This new technology has only been commercially available for 1-2 years – other tests that have been available previously are using different methods such as cell culture and PCR, but they only identify a subset of the organisms and don’t report on the metabolic functions of your gut.  Only the technology used by Microba can give you this detailed level of information. Microba uses this data to generate your Insight™ report. This report is provided as an interactive online experience, and each element can be clicked on to reveal what the latest science is saying about that aspect of your gut. The report provides you with both a high-level overview of your gut microbiome, as well the option to dig deeper, and walks you through all of the different species identified in your gut and what they are doing. It also provides you with food ideas tailored to your gut microbiome, based on the prebiotic fibres that will feed the potentially beneficial microbes that are below optimal levels. To help you understand the report, Microba provides a free 15-minute phone call with a Microbiome Coach to talk through your results and answer any questions you may have. To support you further, Microba is working with a network of health care practitioners who have undergone training to further understand these test results. This means that you can seek out additional support from gastroenterologists, GPs, dietitians and other health professionals in your local area. Many Australians are doing just that. In less than a year, Microba has issued over 5,000 kits to people who want to learn more about their gut. Some have had astounding success with their results and in conjunction with support from health care professionals, have used the information in the report to see complete remission of their gut symptoms. Others are discovering that their gut microbiome isn’t the source of their concerns and are then able to focus on other areas of the body to manage their health. Microba acknowledges that the information currently provided in the Insight™ report is best used to guide thinking and support the decisions being made about your overall health, rather than being a diagnostic. A key goal of Microba is to bring science to life with an easy-to-use test, and provide access to anyone who wants to explore their gut microbiome from the privacy of their own homes. In offering this test, Microba is aiming to further their understanding of the gut and how it impacts health. Users of the test can opt in to the Future Insights program which allows researchers at Microba to look for patterns in the gut and their overall health. The goal of this program is to reveal connections in the population between the gut microbiome and health states and attempt to isolate the mechanisms of some of these health challenges. In doing so, Microba hopes to turn these discoveries into treatments and use their knowledge of the gut to improve the health care options for millions of Australians who have gut issues. By Dr Ken McGrath, Technology Liaison Manager at Microba

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The 5 main pitfalls in taking your business global and how to avoid them

Do you have a proven business and are you looking to expand globally?  Do you see the potential for your product offering overseas? Expanding into new markets and serving new segments does have its risks but also the rewards.  Taking your startup business global seems like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. There are five main pitfalls many businesses fall into when trying to expand overseas. They; Don’t know where to start – To many businesses expanding internationally it is like battling a giant monster that they don’t know how to defeat.  They are left frozen and procrastinating.  They don’t even know where to start. The task just seems too overwhelming. Believe they don’t have the time – Running a business is busy work. There are always lots of things that need doing now!   Time is our most precious resource and business owners/ managers are always running out of it. Many businesses believe they don’t have the time to invest in expanding internationally. Think it is too complex – Setting up a new international market does have it complexities.  There are new geographies, languages, cultures, currencies, legislation and time zones to consider.  Many startups and SME’s just think it is too complicated. Assume it is very expensive – Given the perceived complexities and time requirements many businesses assume it is going to be very expensive.  They assume there will be lots of establishment costs and the returns will take a long time. Feel it is risky – Because of the number of unknowns the whole idea of going global just feels risky.  Not able to be there “on the ground” dealing with issues that might come up scares even the most courageous entrepreneurs. According to Cynthia Dearin, Founder of International Business Accelerator and Speaker at B2B Rocks conference in Sydney (6&7 June 2019): Only about 5% of small to medium enterprises (SME’s) in Australia operate internationally or service international clients. Based on my experience with Australiance and taking several of my own ventures to APAC/Europe from Australia, I believe that businesses  put international expansion into the “too hard’ basket and never do anything about it. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 10 simple practical actions you can start doing to get moving in the right direction. Set the goal to “go global” – Everything begins with setting an intention.  Set a 1 or 2 year goal to expand into a particular international market. Start to take little actions – a lot of what has us paralyzed and procrastinating is not knowing.  Just start.  That action will begin to slowly build momentum. Learn from others that did it – Speak to other businesses and founders that have expanded overseas. Find out what they did. Make going global a priority – Dedicate a percentage of your time and resources to this goal. Like everything in life and business it can be “figured out” Get expansion experts – You don’t have to do it alone. There are many international expansion experts who can assist you. Find and speak to them. Find government assistance – Find out what assistance you could get from the government like the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG). Limit your investment – Think about your go to market strategy.  Think of other ways you might enter a market but limit your investment for example through joint ventures, partnerships or acquisitions. Select a specific segment – Start off with a small, specific segment to test, learn and improve rather than try and take a market by storm. Do your homework – Before you enter a market, make sure you do your homework and understand the customers’ needs. Possibly do some customer interviews to learn of any differences in customer needs. Manage your risks – Identify and manage your risks.  Each business will have its own unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Play to your strengths and opportunities. Manage your weaknesses and threats. Do you want to expand your business globally?   At the  B2B Rocks  conference on June 6 & 7 2019 in Sydney we have several events that are designed to do just that.   Click here  to learn more about this event. IdeaSpies is a Partner with the event and you can get 20% off your tickets with this code IDEASPIESFRIENDS
  By Leo Denes Founder Australiance

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Innovators as Integrators

We assume that innovators are never short on ideas, that their problem tends to be focus and follow-through. But I would like to challenge this common storyline. In my years of talking with innovators, I have met many who fit the garage-dwelling idea junkie. But I have met just as many who don’t come at innovation with their own ideas. They are a different type. They are the trend watchers, industry integrators, and incessant networkers. Instead of starting with their own ideas, they listen and pull the pieces together into an innovative solution that no one would have ever considered. Let’s call these innovators “Integrators.” (Or Collaborators if you use the language from Simon Hill’s Future Shaper’s article on Innovation Archetypes.) It is the Integrator that this article is focused on. For these innovators, one of the most important tools in their arsenal are the curations of content that help them to go through many ideas quickly to find the ones they want to bring into their laboratory. A curation is defined by Google as “the action or process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection or exhibition.” Curations are finely tuned collections that allow the user to quickly synthesize what is being presented because the rules behind the “selection, organizing” are clear and understood. This means that the user has a high degree of trust in what they receive because they know the value provided by the person or persons in the curator role. For Integrators, the quality of the curations available to them will, in large part, dictate the effectiveness of their innovation efforts. So for all of you Integrators out there, I would like to highlight a unique innovation curation platform I recently discovered. It is called IdeaSpies! This unique platform is the brainchild of Lynn Wood of Sydney, Australia. Her vision is to share innovation that inspires action. What I found so fascinating about this platform is that its whole purpose is to pull ideas out of people and make them available for the global community to benefit from. Many of these ideas are already in some sort of product form. But others are simply ideas people have had and implemented at a local level (like the Chinese principle who created a dance routine to help his kids get exercise). Whatever type of idea you post or find, the role it plays is vital. Say you work in a company that is looking for innovative ways to plug into the energy sector. You might search “solar” on IdeaSpies and look through more than 10 ideas related to innovation with solar power. It could be that one of those ideas is what that Integrator needs in order to design their next break-out innovation or develop a partnership to work with those already doing it well. Curations like IdeaSpies are launching pads for many innovators who are intuitively looking for the right pieces to build their future solutions. So how do you know if you or someone you work with is an Integrator? Let me share with you a few key characteristics to be on the lookout for: 1 High Empathy: Integrators easily walk in the shoes of others. They can set aside their own perspective and look at the world through the lens of those they are spending time with or studying. 2 Media Consumption: These innovators consume huge amounts of information. They are always on the lookout for new ideas and insights from the world around them. 3 Natural Integration: As their title indicates, these innovators bring disparate things together in creative ways. They can look across multiple industries, target markets, cultures and perspectives to pull together just the right ideas for their new creation. 4 Constant Networkers: One of the ways that integrators gather their information is by incessantly networking with others. They are the ones who are actually excited to attend that conference or networking happy hour. They feed off the energy that others bring to the conversation. As you consider these characteristics, I want you to do an inventory of some of the innovators in your life. Do a few of them fit into this category or share some of these characteristics? Maybe you relate to this profile I have described. Now consider how the typical narrative of the lone innovator in their garage and how it fails to describe their approach, interests and skill sets. How can you equip this set of innovators to do their very best work? Maybe a first step would be to introduce them to IdeaSpies and encourage them to share what they find! By Jon Hirst This article was previously posted on www.thefutureshapers.com on 30 April 2019 https://thefutureshapers.com/celebrating-the-integrators/

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How AI and LMS are positively disrupting the workplace.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dominating the workforce more than ever and at a rapid pace – the rise of AI and automation is greatly redefining our future and the future of working. A report commissioned by Google indicated only 9% of Australia’s listed companies are making sustained investments in automation, compared to 20% in the US.  While many fear AI, it should in fact be viewed as an opportunity to positively transform the workplace. Workplaces across any industry should take this opportunity to refocus on the advantages they bring such as quality learning and development, team building, human connections and skills to safeguard jobs. According to a report commissioned by Udemy, the biggest challenge for 78% of Learning and Development (L&D) Managers is keeping their employees’ skills up to speed with change. With the rise of AI and automation being implemented in the workforce, leaders need to be quick to jump on the L&D wagon to prepare their organisation and staff for the upcoming changes. Businesses will need to start building teams that are equipped to lead and push the boundaries  of automation to their advantage. To effectively implement the right tools to cater to your L&D needs, there are plenty of effective Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the market. However, the LMS is never one size fits all. To maximise the potential of the LMS, we need to move away from the one-dimensional programs and look at a  more human-centred approach, mapped against the business culture, team and leadership influences. Here are 5 reasons why AI and LMS should be implemented in the workplace: Boosts Productivity LMS with personalised learning programs delivers learning tools and outcomes that can be tracked and reported which will greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of teams.  A best-of-breed LMS allows this by using an AI style rules engine drawing on rich metadata on the staff member as a result of robust integration with the HR information systems. This approach not only helps an organisation align its objectives with its learning strategies but it also produces an effective and automated business process allowing its learning and development professionals to focus on improving the learning systems and content. Automation provided by the LMS means they can focus on developing the system and learning, not simply serving it.  Having quality LMS systems like the one’s Androgogic use from Totara will provide better training and essentially equip a team with the right skill sets and knowledge required to work effectively and efficiently, essentially boosting productivity. Rich metadata can be captured such as individual job roles, business unit, associated cost center data and leave status which are used by the LMS’s AI-style rules engine to automatically apply learning pathways appropriate and required for each staff member. 2. Measurable results and reporting When investing in LMS programs and implementing changes to internal learning and development, the question organisations often ask is about return on investment. The LMS is a cloud-based system which stores information accessible to all staff and allows you to easily collate data and measure the effectiveness of the program. This data includes completion rates, engagement, time, course results and grades which will all be congregated into reports conducted by the LMS. Not only providing quality and consistent training with a personalised approach, LMS systems are cost effective when it comes to maintaining in-house software systems. 3. Cost effective Traditional training programs like seminars and facilitations generally require high costs like travel, printed materials, cost of program instructors, venues and other on floor expenses. Implementing a high quality LMS program delivers a resourceful tool that is readily available for employees anytime, anywhere, saving time away from the desk! The Capterra LMS Industry User Research Report found the top reasons users selected LMS software systems was based on functionality (53%), followed by price (32%), support (5%), company reputation (3%), and software popularity (3%). 4. Deliver content instantly Implementing LMS programs allows you to centralise training programs under one consolidated platform. Housing all your learning materials and courses in one place makes the delivery of training more convenient, allowing employees to acquire new knowledge and skills at their own pace, instantly and in a personalised way. 5. Continuous learning In today’s era  of ongoing digital and technological advancements, employees need to be continuously upskilled, training programs need to be incessantly evolving and engaging. A Careers and Learning report commissioned by Deloitte indicated 83% of employees say job training is important to them and push for their organisations to shift to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression. Having the LMS system readily available allows for a more flexible workplace where employee development, learnings and growth are core. Importantly, training provided with LMS systems  increases employee satisfaction. By Alexander Roche Founder and Principal Educational Technologist for online learning infrastructure and services company Androgogic servicing Higher Education, VET, K12, corporate and government markets with over 1 million learners on Androgogic hosted systems.   

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Collaboration is the new competitive advantage

In 1985, a relatively unknown professor at Harvard Business School named Michael Porter published a book called Competitive Advantage which explained that, by optimizing every facet of the value chain, a firm could consistently outperform its competitors. The book was an immediate success and made Porter a management superstar. Yet more recently Porter’s thinking has been called into question, most notably by Rita Gunther McGrath in her book The End of Competitive Advantage, which argued that sustainable competitive advantage is no longer possible and advised firms to seek out transient advantage. In truth, neither view fully represents today’s business environment. Certainly, companies like Apple and Southwest are still able to dominate their industries, but the source of advantage has changed. We no longer compete in a resource economy, but a semantic economy where firms that can build, manage and widen connections win out. Shifting From Assertiveness To Empathy The old economy was relatively simple.  Every business had various cost centers and revenue streams that were largely separate and distinct. So Porter’s strategy of breaking down the value chain to its component parts made a lot of sense. By optimizing each business driver, you could minimize costs, maximize profits and increase margins. What’s more, this optimization process had a cumulative effect. By creating the right incentives, such as pay for performance and letting each business unit “eat what they kill,” firms could invest back into the business, increasing resources that would lead to further competitive advantages. Even a small edge, compounded over time, could be decisive. Yet today, success is not driven by the resources you control, but those you can access. Increasingly, rather than owning resources and capabilities outright, we use platforms to access ecosystems of technology, talent and information. The path to success no longer lies in clawing your way to the top of the heap, but in nudging your way to the center of the network. That’s why Geoff Colvin argues in Humans Are Underrated that the most critical 21st century skill is empathy and calls for a shift in emphasis from “knowledge workers” to “relationship workers.” In a world of exponentially increasing complexity, no one person or firm can do it all, so those that can work well with others have a distinct advantage. A Radical Shift Toward Design Another major 21st century transformation has been the shift from atoms to bits. In the old industrial economy, value was mostly created through massive capital spending on plants and equipment. This was a huge barrier to entry that reinforced and propagated competitive advantage through economies of scale. Yet today we’re seeing a radical shift toward design as a driver of value. After all, Google’s algorithms don’t cost any more to run then anybody else’s and Apple’s products don’t have significant capabilities that rival products lack.  Rather,it is their products’ design—how they interface with both users and other products and services—that makes them valuable. What’s more, with advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and robotics, the same trends are beginning to drive the economics of even wholly physical products. When production becomes automated, every product is an informational object with design at its core. This development is so important that many are calling it a new industrial revolution. Finally, as Jon Kolko points out in Harvard Business Review, the emphasis on design is just as important in how we run our organizations as it is in how we develop products. Everywhere you look, design has become a central driver of value rather than an afterthought. Breaking Down Silos And Networking The Organization We’ve come to take it for granted that we live in a connected age, yet the truth is that much remains separate and disparate.  As Gillian Tett explains in The Silo Effect, all too often we work in highly specialized areas that are unable to integrate with each other. When dealing with highly complex environments, these silos create distinct disadvantages. For example, she cites Sony’s inability to integrate its far-flung divisions as the reason that, despite its various efforts to create a digital music player, it lost out to the more holistically designed Apple iPod.  She also points out that silos contributed to the recent financial crisis, because important risks were tucked away in little noticed parts of the economy. Yet Tett also argues that silos aren’t inevitable and points to Facebook’s policy of having every new employee go through a six week “boot camp” as a way to create connections across the organization.  (We had a similar policy at my former company and had similar results.) Every enterprise today needs to think seriously about how to network their organization. Notice again the stark contrast to Porter’s vision of value chain components. In his view, by optimizing disparate parts, you make the whole stronger. Yet today, agility trumps strategyand we need to think in terms of networks rather than nodes. The New Economy Is A Social Economy Clearly, the world has become more complex. Economic development, technology and globalization have all helped blur the lines of old boundaries to such an extent that we desperately need to reexamine old rules, processes and practices.  We can no longer take anything for granted. That means we need to break free of the reductionist approaches of the past. The basic premise of Porter’s competitive advantage—that you can increase the whole by optimizing each of the the parts in isolation—has become untenable.  Rather, we need to use platforms to access ecosystems of technology, talent and information. At the same time, machine intelligence is quickly replacing human cognitive power much like machines began to replace muscle power over a century ago.  More and more, what drives value is the ability to collaborate with both humans and machines.  That is where advantage lies today. That’s why today’s economy is a social economy with collaboration at its center. In the past, we could dominate by accumulating resources and driving efficiency, but now agility and interoperability that rule the day.  We need to shift our focus from assets and capabilities to empathy, design and networked organizations. by Greg Satell Innovation Advisor, Author and Speaker DigitalTonto

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Taking advantage of free publicity

When social media started to become popular free publicity was freely available. Many online businesses spread awareness by growing followers, particularly on Facebook. More recently Facebook has been taking advantage of its market leading position by charging businesses to reach their followers. This has led to the need to find other ways of getting free publicity. Instagram become the social media platform of choice for businesses with visual products such as fashion and dining while Twitter is used to spread ideas as well as information on products and services. More recently LinkedIn has become an effective channel for sharing ideas and information. The best way to get free publicity is to get your idea or innovation featured in a post or article if you can. If it is featured you should leverage it by sharing it on your own social media to get more free publicity. Independent validation is very helpful in building interest and trust as well as awareness. I’m often surprised how few businesses take advantage of this opportunity and presume it’s due to lack of digital marketing experience. Marketing people know that a successful business starts by spreading awareness which creates interest, then sales then repeat sales if the product or service is good enough. It’s easy to sign up for Google alerts and be advised when your or your organisation’s name or innovation is mentioned in the media. Presuming the mention is positive you can share it to all your social media to take advantage of the publicity by broadening its reach. For example an IdeaSpies article in 2018 about Lauren Hanford’s FHIT fitness program idea was shared by their marketing and PR agency  Taurus Marketing and it sparked attention from a reader who is a communications strategist. She directly contacted Lauren to be part of a media campaign by the Australian College of Nursing which led to a Today Show TV media feature. Similarly, if your name or your organisation’s name is mentioned on social media, connected with favourable publicity, like it plus, where possible, comment on it and share it. This will extend the reach of the publicity. It’s also a thoughtful way to acknowledge the support you have been given. These guidelines for getting free publicity on IdeaSpies through a post or article, which you can then share, should help. Free publicity is much more valuable than paid advertising in creating awareness. Lynn Wood Chief Idea Spy E:  lynn.wood@IdeaSpies.com W: www.IdeaSpies.com

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What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has not only impacted the way we live but also the way we work. “Internet of Things is the network of devices that are connected with each other and exchange data by interacting with each other.”  All the devices and objects used are connected to an IoT Platform which integrates the data from all the devices and analyses it to share valuable information. Robust IoT platforms can tell which information is useful and detect  relevant patterns. IoT has altered the way we interact with the things around us and has led to exponential growth in opportunities in many industries including agriculture, infrastructure, heavy industry, transportation, oil and gas, mining and healthcare. How IoT is playing the role of catalyst for various industries? IoT Platforms have helped various organizations to reduce costs by improving the efficiency of the processes, utilizing assets in a better way and increasing productivity. With the real-time monitoring of assets and an improved tracking system, better and quicker business decisions can be taken. Smart wearables and smart devices have been a major byproduct of IoT. Using real-time data  systems have become more responsive. Data plays a crucial role in IoT, hence having a large storage capacity is very important. Many threats can be avoided with the help of real-time alerts using IoT. With real-time updates of the workers at a site,  safety is improved. Smart cities using IoT have more efficient traffic, transportation and water management services. IoT is a major part of Industry 4.0, the 4th industrial revolution, which is improving all our lives by helping us make better quality decisions more cost effectively, both personal and business. To succeed with their IoT projects, CIOs and business leaders should thoroughly examine and understand how IoT works. By Sanjeev Verma Sanjeev is the CEO  of Biz4Intellia, responsible for leading Biz4Intellia’s global business strategy and operations. He has been an Internet of Things (IoT) enthusiast from the beginning of his professional career. Sanjeev loves to read and write articles related to disruptive technologies.

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4 ways to avoid burnout in small business

How many cups of coffee do you need to get through your workday? If the answer seems to keep climbing, while your energy levels only drop, you might be suffering from burnout. Burnout in leaders and small business owners is incredibly common due to the long hours and high-stakes decisions required to run your own business. Given the effect that burnout can have, it’s important to take steps to mitigate it to ensure the health of both you and your business. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re burned out, look for these common signs: feeling a lack of purpose or drive, feeling a loss of confidence, experiencing excess cynicism, increased mistakes on a daily basis, and physical exhaustion or even sickness. Here are few key ways to reduce your small business burnout: 1. Lean on others. Whether you have a formal mentor, a partner, or a wise friend, asking people for advice can be a great way to take some of the burden off your own shoulders. And it’s been proven that business owners who have mentors are more likely to find success in their business. In addition to leaning on others, it’s important to trust your employees and colleagues with other tasks. If you have too much on your plate every week, it’s likely past time to delegate a few tasks to a capable employee. 2. Establish a work-life balance. Do your best to assign yourself acceptable working hours, and only work within them. Working weekends, responding to a critical email at midnight, and planning the next day’s events won’t give you the proper time away from your work you need. Not only will setting healthy boundaries help you avoid burnout, but time away from work can clear your mind so you work more efficiently and require fewer hours for the same tasks. 3. Remember why you started. If you’re feeling just plain demotivated, take some time to reflect on why you started. Try writing down a mission statement or set of values for your business. Thank about your motivating factors for going it alone. Was it for more freedom? Greater opportunities? To be able to give back, or support the ones you care about? Reconnect with your original motivations.  Not only that, but do your best not to get too caught up in the results, rather than enjoying the process. 4. Get Organized. The last and most obvious step if you’re still struggling with too many tasks that can’t be delegated and have to get done, is to make your processes more efficient. Organize your desk so you don’t waste anymore time searching for notes or files. Set up a time management calendar with every task for the week, and simplify communications with your team by using a project management software. You’ll be amazed how much time staying organized saves you. Brigid Ludwig Content Marketing Specialist, Seige Media www.fundera.com

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