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5 big questions on innovation

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Steven Bowman, Author & Global Business Advisor , No More Business As Usual

Steven Bowman, Author & Global Business Advisor

Steven Bowman has an extensive background in the nonprofit arena. He is one of the world’s leading governance and senior executive team specialists, having previously held positions as national executive director of the Australasian Institute of Banking and Finance, CEO of the Finance and Treasury Association, general manager of ExpoHire (Australia) Pty Ltd, assistant director of the Australian Society of CPAs, and…
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?

Your own personal leadership is essential. From our point of view, leadership is about strategic awareness, where you are willing to be aware of the future possibilities, are nimble enough to turn to advantage any of these possibilities, and wise enough to know that your personal points of view are what creates your reality. Leadership and innovation do not come from policies, procedures or structures. It all starts with you. In the case of any organization, the culture of innovation and change starts with the CEO. If the CEO thinks they can train innovation by external advisors, workshops, incentives and rah rah talks, and the CEO does not choose this him or herself, then the culture of innovation cannot be created. And the hallmark of any really good CEO is their willingness to be strategically aware.


What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?

The main reason why organizations and cultures do not embrace innovation and change is because they have already decided what innovation and change is and is not. They have already defined the elements of innovation and change, even if those definitions begin with “I don’t know how to innovate and I don’t like change.” These are just definitions. There is extensive misunderstanding and misapplication about what innovation is. Most think it is about the new and the funky. Rather, it should be more about a state of being, a constant state of curiosity. It is actually about being aware and being willing to be the change that is required. It is about being the question from a sense of intense curiosity, not as a business imperative. Innovation is just a point of view. A fixed point of view about having already got it right in terms of market share, services, products and innovation leads to examples such as HMV, Kodak and Blockbuster. Any enterprise that thinks it has got something right, and is not willing to see different possibilities, is destined for the same fate.


How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimized?

We have chosen to function from no definition of what innovation is. We look for possibility in everything. We don’t just look for the now, we also look for the future. It is about sustainable future and sustainable reality. Over last few years we have started to embrace the philosophy of being Pragmatic Futurists. A Pragmatic Futurist is about creating future potential possibilities ( Being a Pragmatic Futurist and expanding the power to shape your future is more important than ever in our world of accelerating transformation. We keep ourselves aware of the changes that are coming and how they will affect us and our business, as well as our clients’ businesses. We develop strategies to thrive in the coming new environment. Our business now has a global reputation for being innovative and inspirational, when in fact we are being the question and being curious. Another innovation process we have been developing very recently has been the philosophy behind Benevolent Capitalism, where we put our attention on maximising possibility, not just maximizing profit. This has had a huge impact on growing our businesses and our profitability/wealth.


What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

3D printing. 3D printing – also known as additive manufacturing – is part of a rapidly growing market whereby a print head deposits very thin layers of resin on top of each other in a specified fashion to create a 3D object based on a digital model. 3D printers are already in use among many businesses, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals to consumers goods, and have generated a diverse set of use cases.


Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?

It is always tempting to use iconic global organizations such as Apple, Virgin, etc. However, we often find that some of the most innovative organizations tend to fly under the rdar. I would nominate Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG), and Bidwell Training Center (BTC). Strickland is nationally recognized as a visionary leader who authentically delivers educational and cultural opportunities to students and adults within an organizational culture that fosters innovation, creativity, responsibility and integrity.

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