Global Business Innovation Conversation: speaking the language of innovation

Embracing innovation can be a difficult experience for some manufacturing firms, however at the second Global Business Innovation Conversation event in 2019, a group of experts at RMIT highlighted how businesses can ease the pain.

According to Matthew Young, manufacturing innovation manager at the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), innovation requires openness about expectations.

“You have to be brutally honest in innovation. When you’re engaging industry with universities, the pace people work at often doesn’t match,” said Young.

According to Bernard Lee, who is part of Australia Post’s Strategy and Innovation Portfolio, the people who are driving innovation have to be committed to the changes they are leading.

“Culture is critical to making open innovation work. You have to have leaders who believe in an innovation culture,” said Lee.

Also present at the event was strategic director of innovation ecosystems at Swarovski Austria, Hannes Erler. Remaining successful for 125 years has required the firm to always look to the future.

“We say open innovation is in our DNA at Swarovski because cross industry innovation has always been part of our journey. It has made us the world leading provider of precision cut crystals,” said Erler.

Having this background of institutional knowledge when it comes to innovation is something that Lee also identified as key to making change work, noting that, “The best innovators are the ones who have failed in the past. You learn a lot when you fail, then you move on and do better”.

However, change may not have to be as radical as some may suggest, as Erler suggested.

“Someone somewhere has already solved your problem. Find them and connect with them, that’s the challenge,” said Lee.

Indeed, it may be worth looking close to home when change is about to occur, and this could be key to ensuring that the cultures match.

“We have a big pool of talent in Australia, we can draw on that to find solutions that will enable our businesses to innovate and grow,” said head of innovation and product development at TOLL Global Logistics, Peter Carney.