Accurate analysis around innovation activity in services and the services industry in the Australian economy is very difficult to track down. Firstly there are issues of definition of what the services industry actually constitutes and possibly lots of overlap with other supposed “non-service” categories such as Agriculture, Manufacturing and Mining & Resources. Secondly there is a paucity of understanding of how the innovation systems in services industries typically operate. In one sense the services sector has been a victim of its own success – because it has been steadily growing and has not been in decline like, for example, Automotive Manufacturing Sector, it has not ended up being the focal point for in-depth studies about its innovation characteristics. On the definition side, the Australian Bureau of Census and Statistics writes.. “a service industry produces services valuable to consumers as a final product, such as services provided by cafes and restaurants, or valuable to other service and goods producers as an intermediary input, such as wholesale trade and accounting services.” Hardly helpful!! While ABS reports that in 2012 services made up 71.2 percent of Gross Value Added economic activity and provided jobs for 86.1 percent of employed persons, there is only poor data and limited understanding about the operations of the many services sub-sectors, which are increasingly niche focused and which also increasingly defy simple ABS categorisation methods. As I started to look for detailed data and evidence to better understand the dynamics of the local services sector and its innovation practices I quickly started to draw a blank. I googled various variations on the theme of innovation research
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The more I research organizational innovation, the more I become certain that rule breaking is its basic tenet and rule breaking in a world controlled by systems thinking comes at personal risk. Over the last couple of months, I have stumbled across extraordinary stories about how individuals have taken dangerous personal risks with good intentions, to follow a hunch or an insight around their work that has been impeded by entrenched bureaucracy or prevailing popular organizational orthodox. I am focusing my research for the next couple of articles on this area to see if I can discover the conditions, circumstances, motivations and associated patterns that cause these acts of risk taking and what the outcomes might be. (At the end of the article I offer a contact email address if you have similar experiences you would be happy to share). Some importance context around this phenomenon to commence. Organizational innovation is very difficult because the creative endeavours and behaviours that go into firstly creating an idea and then secondly implementing it to produce innovation are subtle, nuanced and idiosyncratic. No two situations are the same when it comes to organizational creativity and like the very act of conception itself, it takes many little unique ideas to make a single implemented innovation. Yet the technology underpinning larger organizations demands the organization follow the same process by doing the same thing in the same way in the same situation every time. It does seem ironic
I don't ever want to hear another engineer say I am not creative after attending a presentation on innovation and creativity by Tristan Carfrae, Senior Fellow at Arup, the designers and structural engineers in the consortium who amonst landmark projects constructed the Water Cube for the Olympic Aquatic Centre at the Beijing Olympics and where the engineers on the construction of Sydney's famous Opera House. What was particularly interesting about Carfrae's presentation was his proposition innovation in the building industry is very difficult and when you look at the simple physics of his proposition, he has a point. Every building is a prototype that mustn't fail.
The word tsunami keeps appearing in my conversations with senior leaders around innovation and the future. Why? Because they like I believe disruption is now too weak a term to describe what is happening in business models in many markets and industries globally. Business model tsunami more appropriately describes the phenomenon as social media and the digital world emerge from the edge and enter mainstream business and our daily lives. Indeed, a senior executive from one of Australia’s leading insurance companies in a conversation this week likened the eruption of digital to
There is major disruption to markets and business models taking place globally as a result of the confluence of technology emerging into main stream behaviourial norms and the continuing global financial crisis. Thus, organizations need to focus on change and transformation as primary objectives to survive right now.
Creativity and innovation are the drivers in change and transformation.
Having worked globally helping hundreds of organizations to innovate, I have recently developed new ways of identifying what type of mindset is required, what the innovation impediments are, and how to remove them to make innovation actually flow in an organization.
The skills required to be innovate are without exception latent inside the organization, its leaders, managers and employees. All that is really required to unleash great innovation is some tools and a determined mindset.
Oh and confidence!!.. And this is where I know how to assist you.
Give me your best and brightest leaders and managers, allocate resources and watch how your own leaders and managers can develop an organization wide innovation practice and transform your organization into a 21st Century industry leader.
Click here to book a presentation on creating and leading an organization's innovation capability
with Ralph and receive his recent article on Innovation in The HR Industry