Friday, 10 April 2015


At the recent LGPro Annual Conference - #LGPRO15 - for local government in Melbourne there were four advertised themes - leadership, empowered communities, A Better Self (AKA personal development) and 'New Thinking' - but the focus in each session was something else again - innovation. It was thought provoking to take one concept and dice it so many ways...

To get to the heart of the matter, sometimes it's worth asking the dumb questions - why do we innovate?

The text book definition of innovation cited was 'changing or creating more effective processes, products and ideas'. Hard to argue with the merit of that!

We've all heard about when Kodak made a spectacularly bad call when they decided to ignore digital photography - and how they foundered as a result. In these sessions we also heard a number of accounts of what large corporations are doing to encourage innovation - and there's the rub - despite their obvious advantages in skill, technology and scale, the advantages of larger scale of these organisations poses another challenge - inertia. It's relatively straight-forward for small businesses led by an entrepeneur to be innovative. Start ups and smaller companies live by their wits and have to overcome challenges like lack of scale, people, systems, resources constantly.

With larger organisations, the very systems, hierarchies and people told to perform a role in particular ways - combined with human nature - can kill innovation stone dead. Some people will defend the status quo for various reasons, like..
  •  Things suit me now
  • I find it hard to keep up with constant change
  • This is my world, my role is my status, 
  • This is the procedure I was told to follow, 
  • I don't make the rules here and
  • Pecking order rivalries
The unspoken theme of this conference was how do we recognise this inertia to do the same things all the time, and how do we tap into the creativity of our people?

Having asked the dumb questions, stand by for some posts touching on some answers.

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