In ‘Beyond inspiration: how to make innovation ‘real’ we emphasised the value of setting a vision for your team and offered some practical ways to invigorate innovation within your business.

In this article we set out four approaches that aid the process of turning businesses plans into action.

As organisations, we all have our own priorities and uniqueness. However, we’ve found that there are four forms of action available that are generally applicable across the board, each of which complement each other in different ways at different times.

What’s common to each of these paths is that they facilitate an increased boldness and an imperative to collaborate with others in the right ways, to accelerate innovation and speed time to validation.

We’re moving, ideally, towards the realisation that success is not just about protecting your market. There are times in which you should consider how to leverage and develop small business innovations into your own; and more than just competing for local market share, how can we create international demand and growth around the experiences that Australia builds?

What are the options for being innovative?

Here are four types of approach worth considering.

1. Innovative companies

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”   C.S. Lewis, novelist

When to use it?

If your business is open to new competition and disruption or the world seems to be changing more quickly than you’re currently adapting to.

What is it?

Pragmatic ways to get started if you wish to lift the level of lateral thinking and innovation across your business.

How to do it? 

  • Have the group leadership understand the new landscape and prioritise changes.
  • Review what’s working well in your transition. Draft an innovation strategy that addresses gaps and priorities, including how to drive the result through hiring and talent, measures, funding, acquisitions, rewards, processes, tools and techniques, data, and reporting.
  • Communicate – from the top – the message that innovation and experiments are encouraged, rewarded and welcomed.
  • Encourage feedback, ideas, and co-creation with customers and partners at all levels. Balance focus (“What problem are we solving?”) with curiosity (“What would be a different way to think about this?”).
  • Ways to gauge your results may include measuring the number of new ideas, number of experiments, amount of customer feedback implemented, number of new products or services, new partnerships, new processes, or amount of internal disruption to current ways of working.
  • Focus on a few early wins to help change the culture. Highlight successes to encourage others to follow.

2. Open innovation & start-ups

“When the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

When to use it?

When you want different ways of interpreting challenges and innovating, or you require speed to market.

What is it?

Leveraging start-ups or working with start-ups, external developers and other parties to solve a problem. You set the challenge, which they then interpret and deliver. This may involve offering or leveraging the APIs of others.

How to do it?

To engage with start-ups and the developer community, you could:

In the last 12 months at PwC, our team has designed, participated with or led more than 40 such engagements.

Some of our greatest successes in partnering with clients have come from the cultural change generated across the organisation as well as the commercial results.

We expect to see a growing number of start-up or crowd type-matching services or mechanisms for collaborative innovation with the community in Australia.  Examples from the US include software developer community Challenge Post or business development marketplace Switch Pitch.

3. Disruptive growth

“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday, will be sufficient for tomorrow.”  William Pollard, physicist

When to use it?

If your team is too busy in its current environment to think freely and view problems with ‘fresh eyes’, or when the need is too great to be addressed within current time schedules.

What is it?

The Moonshot approach, championed by Google, says a tenfold improvement is sometimes easier that making something 10% better. This approach is best utilised if you seek radical growth or exploration in a new space, and a person or small team is charged with determining a whole new business line or growth play in a short period.

How to do it?

  1. Set a clear brief, deadline and required shape of the outcome.
  2. Form a team. Include external representation or leadership to ensure outside-in thinking and disruption to current ways of working.
  3. Determine which approach to use (e.g. design thinking, open innovation), develop new insights and identify the problems that, if solved, will deliver the brief.
  4. Seek the perspectives of experts, customers, users, partners, stakeholders or market pilots to increase the likelihood of success.

4. Innovation spaces

“Chance favors the connected mind” [and organisation] Steven Johnson, author

When to use it? 

If you want to nurture or incubate different ways of working. This could apply to internal projects, community or customer engagement, or researching or co-creating with partners.

What is it?

The creation of a working space with appropriate tools to facilitate multi-functional teams across an organisation or collaboration/co-creation between organisations, partners, suppliers or researchers. 

Types include:

  • Internal hubs facilitated with new people or processes.
  • Co-creation spaces to deliver collaboratively.
  • Incubators or accelerators (see above).
  • Research and development focus centres.

Whichever approach you choose to take, the greatest learnings – or epiphanies – can come from external feedback and validation.

Let’s keep one eye on the vision, focus on what we’re solving for, and team up wherever we can to help build Australia to become one of the most innovative countries in the world.

Meet Kate Eriksson and the PwC team at the Amplify Festival in Sydney on 1 June 2015.



Kate Bennett Eriksson

Kate is a former partner at PwC Australia and was its head of innovation and disruption.

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