This October marks four years since G2 Innovation expanded into Australia and one year since we moved into The Powerhouse at Pivot City, Federal Mills.

Here are four things I’ve learned in four years running an innovation training company in Australia:

I love Australia

From the pristine beaches, to the tell it how it is culture, the smashed avo breakfasts and the appalling summer television. I love it all! (Okay the last bit not so much, but even formulaic American crime dramas can grow on you.)

Apart from its many landmarks and cultural attributes, I also admire and relate to the Australian ambition to be seen and noticed on a global scale. Australia punches above our weight in sport and Hemsworths, and it desperately wants (and needs) to punch above its weight in innovation too.

Australians love to talk about innovation and growth

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With this ambition for growth and recognition comes a lot of discussion.

In fact, if every Innovation Manager attended every innovation conference in this country, they’d barely be in the office.  Australian’s talk a lot about what we ‘should’ be doing, but we don’t rank highly in global indexes for innovation endeavours.

It’s like the few weeks leading up to the AFL finals. Everyone has an opinion on what the players should be doing, but only a few actually get on and do it.

Talking is a start, but the doing is more important. Empowering people to take innovation action by giving them the skills, mindset and confidence to do it themselves, is what’s important.

There is too much reliance on funding

Investment can make a huge difference to some businesses, but a sudden influx of cash can give the illusion of success. Working with constraints is far more conducive to creativity, hard work and resourcefulness. Grants can be so prescriptive that they limit opportunities for risk-taking and exploration - vital for innovation. 

Waiting for governments to change priorities or create a relevant funding stream is a ‘Playing Not to Lose’ mindset. Playing not to lose is letting the government be the scapegoat for Australia's lack of sustainable innovation and waiting (perhaps for infinitum) for a progressive stance on innovation. Playing to win is breaking the reliance culture and trialling and testing ideas without breaking the budget, finding creative ways to launch ideas without relying on external funding and taking more purposeful risks.

The golden rule of innovation is to focus on the problem, not the solution. Is the root cause of Australia's innovation problem the government? I think it goes deeper than that.

Remember when Design Thinking wasn’t a thing?

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Four years ago, when we said Design Thinking, we were met with blank stares. We were then, and remain now, resolute in the power of Design Thinking to create meaningful and profitable innovation. In 2018, Design Thinking is THE thing.

With Design Thinking’s growing popularity comes a wave of “Design Thinking” offerings from consultancies wanting to join the movement. Choice is fantastic but remember there’s more to Design Thinking than tools like “Persona Maps” and “How Might We’s”.

Done properly, Design Thinking is practical and easy to implement. It must focus on the real problem to be solved, involve data and person-to-customer research, be inclusive and collaborative, and combine a heavy dose of behavioural psychology with iterative testing and experimentation.. 

When implemented with rigour, Design Thinking achieves incredible results (as this recent article in HBR, Why Design Thinking Works, can attest. It also works beautifully alongside of Agile and Lean.

It’s been a crazy, busy, amazing four years, topped off with discovering avocado smashed with vegemite as well as four incredible training award nominations this year. I wonder where the next four years will take G2 Innovation Australia?

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