Re-thinking Innovation

Telstra (Retired)
Telstra (Retired)

We’re often told that to be more internationally competitive, Australian businesses need to be more innovative. But what does that really mean? A new report from Microsoft, Joined-Up Innovation, looks at how innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity are deeply connected.


Innovation is not just about ‘new-to-the-world’ science and technology breakthroughs. If your business develops a new business model, new management systems, new ways of reaching customers, or new ways of getting people to work, it is innovating.


Importantly, innovation of any kind will improve productivity, resilience and growth. The Federal Government’s 2012 Innovation System report found innovative Australian businesses are 78% more likely to report increases in productivity over the previous year.


Microsoft’s report highlights the important role small businesses play, and how we need to “foster better connections between SMEs and other parts of Australia’s innovation ecosystem.” This can have a major impact on Australia’s success – because small businesses contribute significantly to our economy, and as they are also less risk-averse they have a better ‘cultural capacity’ to innovate.


So what should you consider if you want to be truly innovative? Here are a few insights from the report:

  • Learn from each other: if different businesses within your network can learn from each other’s individual successes (and each other’s mistakes) the result can be far more valuable. Read the success stories of McAsh Oysters and the Balmain Boat Company .
  • Speed up results: innovators are bringing products to market much faster (and sometimes testing them in market) by forming collaborative groups, using social networking technology (such as crowdsourcing) and outsourcing production.
  • Encourage mobility: getting the right people at the right time is a challenge. To help attract innovative talent, make it simpler to move between businesses, between business roles, between geographic borders, between research groups and commercial firms.

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