When necessity plays the mother of reinvention
Image courtesy of Wikiquote.
It was 375 BC when Greek philosopher Plato released his text ‘Republic’, bringing us the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. A few thousand years later, and never has Plato’s enduring wisdom felt so relevant. Neither, quite possibly, have his words been so frequently used. Certainly, these are challenging days for many. Days where constraints grow on both our personal lives and our organisations. And yet, they are also days of a steady and beautifully emerging wave of innovation from some of Australia’s fastest business minds. And how refreshing to be writing those words not about one of Australia’s established corporate darlings, nor one of our nation’s well-known entrepreneurs. No, in today’s most challenging of climates, we’re referring to your local bar – now a local off-license. To your favourite café with their new take-home menu. To the yoga studio, live streaming classes to existing customers, and reaching a brand new audience in the process.
These businesses have pivoted their models, launched new services and established new channels to market in, quite literally, weeks. Agility for everyone For those who may be reading this from larger or, arguably, more complex organisations, we admit that smaller businesses should generally find it easier to pivot than their larger brethren. However, could it also be the case that we're using size and complexity as an excuse? Many of us have worked in organisations – irrespective of size – where the advantages of innovation and speed to market seem to have been forgotten or dismissed. Many businesses lack new product and service development frameworks. Some surround their frameworks with convoluted processes, leaving those attempting to innovate frustrated. Others, with time at a premium, prioritise only the day-to-day. We understand it’s not easy to find time to think about our businesses differently – we’re no different to the next organisation. However, we firmly believe that this time of change should be a catalyst for everyone to challenge themselves - and their organisations - more than ever. New ideas don’t need to be revolutionary, but even micro improvements could be the difference between thriving and surviving over the months ahead. So, gather your team. Gather your video conferencing gear. Gather your best ideas. Zoom ahead! Three simple steps to help ignite innovation… even from home! 1. Create a team inspiration board Anyone familiar with the TV series Top Gear will know about their ‘Cool Wall’. Each week, presenters bring pictures of recently launched cars and pin them along a continuum on the wall, ranging from what can politely be described as Brilliant at one end, to Not So Great at the other. While this one works brilliantly on a big, shared office wall, it can work just as well remotely. Ask your team to capture pictures of articles, advertisements, products and services that inspire – for reasons good or bad – and post them to a shared social media board. Encourage comment and debate as to how these examples can be related back to your own business. It's a simple, fun and engaging way to provoke innovative discussion amongst your team. And, with a plethora of platforms such as Workplace and Trello available, it’s cost-effective too! 2. Make time to identify Inhibitors of Innovation If there are known blockages inhibiting innovation in your organisation, take the time to identify what these are and how to overcome, within the constraints of the organisation. At Emmet, we regularly use our 6-lens framework to help clients identify these, but there are many frameworks out there to help guide your early thinking. If you’re just getting started, something as simple as a search on Google will help you uncover a myriad of ideas. If you’re looking for a little extra help, reach out to your Emmet account lead. We’d be happy to help get you moving. 3. Establish weekly or monthly innovation workshops Create a regular time to step back with your team, asking them to bring their ideas, big and small, to improve customer service, shave costs or highlight a new idea that could help boost revenue over the months ahead. The rapid adoption of technology like Zoom means that these sessions can also give your teams an opportunity to see each other’s faces and discuss something other than the front page of today’s news! We hope this inspires you. In times of crisis, creativity often flourishes. Necessity, said a wise person, is the mother of invention. If you can, take this opportunity to shine a light on your teams’ ideas and creativity. And, if you need a helping hand along the way, we’re here and happy to help. Stay safe.