The 5 Key Principles For Innovation

Nina Muhleisen | 2 April 2019


The Medici effect – A place where innovation happens at the intersection of diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines generating more ideas, more concepts to develop and more robust conversation to test the principles.

This term was coined by Frans Johannsen, an innovator, a problem solver and a very inspirational speaker. And I was lucky enough to hear him talk about his philosophies at Swinburne University.

In a passionate talk, Frans spoke through 5 key principles for innovation, on the night whilst listening to him my mind kept bringing it back to my own experiences with clients or building my own company and product. And whilst they were noting radical bringing them together and providing time to reflect gave a renewed energy to continue to challenge and look at things differently. So here are Frans and my thoughts combined

1. Diversity and inclusion drive innovation

There is nothing radical about the Medici effect, we now understand that working with a variety of different people, from different backgrounds, ages, experience levels will generate more ideas and challenge ourselves to think outside the box.

I have run large teams before which encouraged and embodied diversity, but it has never been more challenging than starting my own business. Setting myself up with people around me who have different skillsets to me, who will offer our clients a unique perspective and therefore drive innovative ideas can be really difficult. It makes you think, it pushes your comfort zone. But working through it is rewarding for the clients, the individuals and the business.

I navigated this by having open conversations about the ways we liked to work, having the patience to listen and the respect to consider how our ideas come together. The end results are exceptional and whilst we will always work and think differently we know that we can deliver outcomes that make a huge difference.

2. Move from talking and analysis into action

We all have the tendency to get stuck on our own ideas and not be able to move past them, and some have the potential to talk a really good game but never implement it for a variety of different reasons.  Extensive planning can be a great thing, but it’s even better when you plan whilst doing.

As I build out a new offering for the business, this has been essential.

Instead of locking myself in a room and designing all the details, there is much less risk in building and testing incrementally. Getting real feedback as we go on what works and what doesn’t. For me, this means I don’t get too tied to one thought and understand when it is time to pivot. But also it’s so much more motivating! It is really exciting to see and launch parts of the design and see what you get back. Of course, it’s not a great feeling when you don’t get the feedback you expect but I am grateful to get that feedback now, rather than after spending large amounts of cash!

This philosophy doesn’t just apply with development but with everything. I have tested and iterated on frameworks, designs, governance models. If you can break it down, implement it in a small chunk and test and learn you are one step closer to a better outcome.

3. Speed is the new IP

Technology is enabling a greater number of people to access to develop and to develop faster than ever before.  Now it is not about what your IP is but how quickly you can deploy it. What is your speed to market?

I was working with a client recently to develop an improved client onboarding experience. The process isn’t new but the way we engage our customers needs to change. This can be really difficult for existing corporations with legacy systems. So thinking big but starting small and delivering quickly will create a differentiated experience but with the pace of innovation you need to be moving faster than the world around you and if not then you have a difficult path in front of you.

4. Think platforms over products and services

Today products and services are easy to replicate and they can be replicated quickly. So what is a platform? A platform is a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other processes, applications or technologies can be built upon. Building a platform makes it harder to replicate, you create a network of people, a community, a tribe.

At Three6 the community is essential, as we strive to create a platform that connects people with similar problems with those who have done it before, joint learning ambitions and content that adds value at a time when they need it.

5. Vision matters more than anything

It is the vision that we buy into, it is the reason why it is the future experience, it is what gets our hearts beating and our imagination going. But it is something that we so often leave out to talk about the facts, figures and the data.

Being data-driven is brilliant and has advanced our communities however what we want isn’t data we want the story. I was working with another client who was going through a merger of two companies, and as part of the preparation, we had two days to discuss the people strategy and how we would bring these two similar but different companies together. The numbers made sense, but what was going to excite the teams was the vision of where this organisation could go by merging and what their role in that vision would be. This is what we need to focus on, if we align people behind a vision then it increases the buy-in and support to help achieve those goals.

This talk has energised me. Finding the time to reflect back and think about how each of these principles applied to what I do, and what I do with my clients. This time for reflection, to review, to learn and to keep moving forward makes us better. After all, that’s what principle 2 is all about, stop talking and act!