In our latest event, we looked at how you can encourage innovation as a force for good within your organisation but also, how to rapidly develop technology that has a positive impact both internally and externally.
Our fabulous hosts, Rich and Gabby, were joined by four amazing innovation experts to help delve into this topic – say hi to our panelists!
Challenges of Innovation
Rachel from WWF, kicked off with the affirmation that yes, innovation is challenging! One of the key challenges that Rachel mentioned was ensuring that her team wasn’t just developing new products because they, or even the wider company, liked them but making sure that they had a real understanding of their audience and their needs. Rachel mentioned that at WWF, they place heavy importance on talking to their audience and sharing the innovation process to help overcome those challenges, and place a wider thinking approach on innovation.
Hannah from Guide Dogs completely agreed and the way her company combats this is by setting really clear objectives. Having those structured objectives, such as diversifying their income base, as a starting point for innovation really hones their decision making. Another element that the team at Guide Dogs has been working on is moving away from reactive innovation and evaluating whether it has real value.
This was also true at SOS Children’s Villages as Ragna mentioned that they have a method approach to innovation and have created tools to make decisions faster, but also to fail and say no (which is ok!) Ragna felt that getting everyone on the same page to actually identify the problem, and not be distracted by something new and shiny, has been really helpful for their team.
Jamie from JustGiving raised the interesting point that innovation is actually a simple endeavor, however, when we think of innovation, we often skip to space rockets and the hyperloop! Yet, innovation is all about making change and any team within an organisation can do this – it is really important to create that innovative culture.
Hannah mentioned that within her organisation, a lot of her team felt empowered to innovate due to the culture but getting that buy-in was paramount as teams don’t want to wait months to see the impact.
Having a culture that encourages innovation is great, but as Jamie mentioned, that top level buy-in needs to create an environment where by failure is acceptable. Obviously, organisations don’t want to lean into it too much but you need to be able to give teams the safety net of knowing that if the first iteration of an idea fails, you have space and permission to go back and try it again.
Our MD, Rich, added that it of course it is important to fail fast, but also to learn fast!
Best examples of innovation
In terms of best examples of innovation, Ragna talked about an initiative that she worked on last year with 13 other INGOs. This was an ‘open’ innovation challenge that got everyone involved in a virtual room to look at how they could re-think giving, posing the question to their wider community. Overall, they had 152 new fundraising ideas submitted as well as 83 proven concepts, but ultimately it was a great space for developing these ideas.
Thinking about JustGiving, Jamie mentioned that 20 years ago, the organisation was extremely innovative as it took giving online, making it easier. Last year, it was so important for the platform to be able to allow non-profits to fundraise and due to this increased traffic, this was a great opportunity to test ideas and optimise. Hannah from Guide Dogs added that innovation doesn’t always have to be brand new or reach new audiences!
A big thank you to our panelists but also to everyone that joined us!