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Exploring the edges of possibility

17 July 2019 at 5:50 pm
Gabrielle Martinovich
Janet Sernack and Gabrielle Martinovich from ImagineNation, identify key trends not for profits can take advantage of to embrace innovation, in the latest in their series about rejuvenating to survive and thrive for social benefit.

Exploring the edges of possibility
17 July 2019 at 5:50 pm

Janet Sernack and Gabrielle Martinovich from ImagineNation, identify key trends not for profits can take advantage of to embrace innovation, in the latest in their series about rejuvenating to survive and thrive for social benefit.

In our previous article we looked at activating innovation beyond simple business improvements for NFPs to thrive in a disruptive marketplace. In this article we consider global trends which can help you scale your innovation aspirations.

One of the key success factors in developing an innovation strategy is having a supportive organisational culture that facilitates and enables its delivery. 

Developing an innovation culture involves exiting a business-as-usual mindset and moving to a growth mindset where it’s crucial to explore both what is possible and discover what might be. Developing your people to have an open mind and a willingness to explore, discover and experiment with different ways of thinking and acting is at the core.  

Yet not for profits experience what’s been dubbed an “innovation-aspiration” problem with 80 per cent of the top 145 not-for-profit leaders saying the sector needs to change practices in order to make greater societal gains, and only 40 per cent believing they have the capacity to do so.

However, by adopting innovation as a critical strategic, systemic and competitive growth lever for your organisation, you stay a step ahead of the competition. 

So, rather than sit on the innovation permafrost fence, take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities from these major trends:

  1. Global social entrepreneurship movements

What if you could enlist a new generation of volunteers to your organisation? Imagine what creative ideas and inventive ways of doing things they could bring to your organisation and how they could add value to your clients. 

This creates an opportunity for your organisation to advocate for both economic and social changes that align with your mission and values. It could create a fresh new source of intrinsically motivated, and resourceful staff and volunteers. 

It would result in a values alignment which delivers a triple bottom line that embraces people, profits and the planet.

  1. Emergence of new business methodologies and blended learning options 

What if you experimented with new business models, how might you then scale and leverage your organisation for greater impact? 

This creates an opportunity for your organisation to experiment with lean start-up, human centred design and agile business methodologies to develop new business models and revenue streams by scaling and leveraging existing assets in exciting, profitable new ways.  

It would result in generating continuous learning to improve your ability to adapt quickly and maintain the agility to deliver valuable client results faster.

  1. Creative thinking strategies 

What if you experimented with critical and creative thinking strategies, how might this enable you to think differently about providing high value solutions to your clients and community? 

This creates an opportunity to boldly disrupt and challenge yourself and your organisation. To let go of your habitual and conventional ways of doing things and replace these with a client-centric lens. 

It would result in delivering an improved client and people experience to ensure their loyalty and advocacy.

  1. Digitisation, globalisation and collaboration 

What if you left your comfort zone and your office, connected to like-minded organisations across the globe and established win/win relationships for sharing market intelligence, learnings and strategies?

This creates an opportunity to apply digitisation to connect and share data between devices, across boundaries and organisations. It can also change the basis of competition for valuable resources as organisations can now cluster, collaborate and compete as industry ecosystems. 

It would result in shared resources and increased collaboration, for the good of the whole organisation.

  1. Global demographic shifts

What if you initiated creative conversations with diverse groups to imagine new ways of generating value and impact to new clients, how might this enable you to better effect social change? 

By enlisting our “modern elders” (baby boomers) to draw on their wisdom, skills and experience you enable a majority group to contribute in ways that make the world a better place. 

It would create a huge pool of high-quality independent volunteers and advisors to mentor and coach the new generation of millennials who are seeking more meaningful work, autonomy and equality. 

  1. Five generations in the workplace

What if you connected with workplaces that now consist of five generations working together at the one time to generate creative ideas and innovative solutions?

It would inspire and harness different thinking and approaches, provide increased efficiencies and improved productivity, and workplace dynamics. 

It would result in gender and diversity as opportunities for fresh and creative approaches to engaging, enlisting and empowering communities. 

  1. Shifts in client expectations and concepts of value

What if you developed a customer-centric strategy, how might this help you to be of better service, deliver higher value now and create a sustainable future? 

A customer-centric lens creates a platform for understanding and empathising with clients to meet their expectations, needs and wants through data, choice and connection.

It provides organisations with valuable feedback to gain a different perspective of what is needed from your service.

So be bold, brave and courageous. Although the continually changing business environment is tricky to predict, seizing possibilities and unleashing the potential of your people are critical success factors to scaling your innovation aspirations.

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. 

See also:

Creating positive and valuable change through innovation

Why innovation is important to social enterprises 

Gabrielle Martinovich  |  @ProBonoNews

Gabrielle Martinovich is an innovation strategist and facilitator at ImagineNation.

Janet Sernack  |  @ProBonoNews

Janet Sernack is the founder and CEO of ImagineNation.

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One comment

  • Lea Corbett says:

    I don’t think we talk enough about how hard it is to get NFP boards to be bold, brave and courageous. Crafting a supportive organisational culture has to include the board but in my experience many board members in NFPs are recruited for their risk management and compliance focus. Don’t get me wrong, these are also important skills and attributes but I do wonder if the balance is right. Great article though. I particularly like trend/opportunity #5 – enlisting our “modern elders” (baby boomers) to draw on their wisdom, skills and experience. This is exactly what MAP Consulting Group is all about – harnessing the experience of mature age professionals (MAP) to partner with NFPs to build impact!


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