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Creating positive and valuable change through innovation

14 May 2019 at 8:48 am
Janet Sernack
Staying true to your purpose and mission remains at the heart of any innovation effort, writes Janet Sernack and Gabrielle Martinovich from ImagineNation, in the first of a four-part series about rejuvenating to survive and thrive for social benefit.

Creating positive and valuable change through innovation
14 May 2019 at 8:48 am

Staying true to your purpose and mission remains at the heart of any innovation effort, writes Janet Sernack and Gabrielle Martinovich from ImagineNation, in the first of a four-part series about rejuvenating to survive and thrive for social benefit.

Operating in an increasingly complex, fast moving and constantly evolving environment is disrupting and challenging our “business as usual” ways of working. To survive and thrive in playing fields of the future, organisations need to know how to adapt and innovate.

One of the key critical success factors is to stay true to your purpose, mission and values, whilst bravely and boldly embracing a strategic, human centred and systemic approach to innovation.

Doing this enables your organisation to meet its goals and desired business outcomes, as well as create positive and valuable changes that result in social, fiscal and community benefits that meet the needs and wants of your community, customers and clients.

According to recent Commonwealth Bank research on levels of business innovation activity in the Australian NFP sector, 70 per cent are improving and a further 25 per cent are “innovation active” when assessed against the international guidelines used by the OECD.

Similarly, Fundraising & Philanthropy shows the sector is taking a leading role when it comes to adopting innovation with around 40 per cent of NFPs implementing large-scale innovations compared with 55 per cent actively improving their organisations on a smaller scale.

Although this preparedness for innovation is ahead of any other Australian industry, NFPs still need to find new and significant ways to boost efficiency and productivity in order to improve community outcomes and to be truly innovation active.

Reframing challenges as opportunities to innovate

In this series of four monthly blogs, by ImagineNation™, we will outline how to rejuvenate to survive and thrive for social benefit through innovation. We will describe why innovation is the key critical success factor to enable NFPs to survive and thrive in the future, as well as what to do to initiate a change-led innovation strategy and some suggestions on getting started on the implementation.

Rejuvenate to thrive

To thrive means identifying the key barriers and inhibitors to change, as well as letting go of old paradigms and ways of thinking to fast track your organisation on the innovation and rejuvenation journey.

As largely people-focused organisations, the first step involves unlocking the potential of your people and your clients. Doing this enables your organisation to:

  • develop new business models that reduce dependence on grants, funding and donations;
  • work more strategically with philanthropic efforts to co-create ecosystem solutions;
  • be curious and imaginative in finding creative and better ways of doing things;
  • develop critical digital dexterity to build your capability in extending your reach to build stronger communities;
  • find new ways to deliver outcomes for your clients and your triple bottom line (people, profit and planet); and
  • harness your people’s innovation potential to build a culture and an organisation that can adapt, grow and thrive through disruption.

The Orange Sky story

Fast growing NFP, Orange Sky Laundry, is one such organisation, driving community connections through helping homeless people clean their clothes. Fast forward four years from when it first launched and Orange Sky continues to scale, having expanded their services to include 26 vans operating across Australia at 185 locations, with 1,200 volunteers washing and drying 7.4 tonnes of laundry, and delivering 150 mobile hot showers.

As an ever-expanding service, Orange Sky continues to be on the lookout for how they can add even more value to their clients. They do this by utilising their own curiosity and empathic listening to their volunteers and client feedback, to explore new ways to use their vans for commercial purposes, including washing and drying clothes for cafes or drop-in centres, and employing the people who would usually use their service.

Taking the first step

With increasing poverty levels, homelessness and fierce competition for housing, funding and donations, we need to commit to developing the confidence, capacity and competence that enables and empowers us to see, think and do things differently.

For things to change, it starts with bold and decisive action in taking that first step. To cut and break through requires organisations to focus on generating and sharing business models which are scalable and sustainable. It also requires:

  1. customer centric leadership by improving management disciplines, customer focus and intimacy with your clients;
  2. collaboration internally through developing your strategy, leadership teaming and networking skills, externally through building cross-sector and aligned ecosystems; and
  3. alignment and engagement by developing an adaptive innovation culture that embraces people, systems and processes to generate real value to clients.

Take a moment to consider – what are you willing to boldly think or do in your organisation to prepare your people to make the fundamental choice between seeing the future as a series of threats or as a field of opportunities?

About the authors: Janet Sernack is the founder and CEO of ImagineNation, a global network of future thinking innovation leaders in innovation consulting, culture, leadership and team development, and coaching for individuals, teams and organisations. As a Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and as an ICF PCC executive coach, she is acknowledged as a global thought leader on the people side of innovation. She presents free monthly webinars, blogs regularly, and presents an online ICF CCE Coach for Innovators Certified Program.

Gabrielle Martinovich works with businesses experiencing significant growth, change and complexity to define their strategy and connect with their people, partners and customers to deliver authentic dialogue and strong partnerships. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and board chair of the Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre.

Janet Sernack  |  @ProBonoNews

Janet Sernack is the founder and CEO of ImagineNation.

Gabrielle Martinovich  |  @ProBonoNews

Gabrielle Martinovich is an innovation strategist and facilitator at ImagineNation.

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