The Innovation Statement

8 December 2015

The Innovation Statement: a new mindset for an era of ambiguity

Australia needs a significant shift in ideology when it comes to promoting innovation and entrepreneurialism, both essential to long-term economic growth. The Innovation Statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday was important to signify this inherent requirement to shift perspective in relation to our country’s future and welcome an ‘ideas boom’.  A more agile culture, a more nimble government and more tolerance towards risk, to capture but a few of the messages, aligns strongly with the business agenda.

Innovation is needed within organisations to create opportunities and differentiators for products and services by collaborating effectively and pushing boundaries in thinking. One commentator in the Australian Financial Review called yesterday’s statement the first intelligent set of policy initiatives to boost the innovation ecosystem that we’ve seen from government, noting that the real test now for Malcolm Turnbull will be how quickly he can turn these interdependent policy initiatives into law to create the ‘Ideas Boom’ that he spoke about. Part of the opportunity for businesses is to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach in the collective leadership mindset, one that is open to new ideas and accepts failure as a potential outcome and encourages debate and discussion.

Innovation and The Implementation of Change

Another key message relates to the link between innovation and risk, which is often a fundamental challenge towards the implementation of change.  As Ben Schulz, co-founder of Bastion Cycles, comments in The Sydney Morning Herald, innovation is really about managing risk.  He says “To have an idea is easy, to implement it is all about how much are you willing to risk to get it to market.” In reality, there is often a requirement upon leaders to make decisions in spite of a lack of cohesive information and in short timeframes. A willingness to take risks is central to agile leadership particularly given new priorities are emerging driven by an environment of complexity, uncertainty and rapid digital transformation.

Inevitably there will be questions about this announcement including the scale of investment and scope of impact.  However, one of the pillars of the Innovation Statement, and arguably the real call to action, is inspiration. Putting aside the skepticism, it is clear that the government is seeking to define a new leadership agenda and one that is weighted towards opportunity, change and creativity.

Leadership and Innovation

As advisors on change and leadership, this statement is a ‘sit back and think’ moment for leaders.  Ensure that you initiate discussions with your team on the culture you want to create and really engage your workforce around a discussion on innovation. Take a step back and challenge your own thinking to ensure that you have the discussion and feedback processes in place to ensure that all of your people have an opportunity to contribute. Formal or informal, the conversation needs to start, and now!  And remember, be agile and willing to change tack on the way – there is no silver bullet, but there are opportunities in ambiguity.

Kerryn Fewster

Kerryn is the Founder and Director of Change 2020. She has consulted extensively in the area of Transition and Transformation. She places emphasis on strategy development and solution implementation to minimise people and operational impacts associated with major change.

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