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Innovation – A long hard road

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Long hard road

What we know as human beings is that change is difficult – by definition innovation involves change. At every stage in the journey. New products or services – new business models – new social policy – new public infrastructure, any thing evolutionary, new or even revolutionary brings with it,its own resistance.

What we know from our own human experience – the act of creation is the easy part – after that the difficulties start. The birthing process is very painful – the level of nurturing in the early years is relentless (24 hours a day) and even then incremental progress is slow – anyone with children knows the story. Adolescence can be turbulent and young adulthood (attaining a level of independence) comes in small milestones until – freedom on both sides.

Businesses are not very different. There are no easy yards.

Minister Wyatt is suggesting we can replicate the Israel story!

What is the scale of the change he is talking about for this to happen?

We need to understand that Israel is a story built over 50 years driven by many things. Not the least of which were:

  1. The threat of annihilation and
  2. The fact they had no water!

Is it any wonder they are driven?

Not only that –all young men and women in Israel do national service for a period of time. It is considered significant in their entrepreneurial journey!

Can you imagine the uproar (dare I say resistance) if an “innovation” like that was proposed in Australia?

So what is the Australian story driven by?

  • A somewhat complacent view that we are an innovative nation (but not good at commercialization.)
  • A notion that we need to rekindle the myth of the lucky country
  • An abundance of natural resources
  • A very passionate commitment to lifestyle as evidenced by our industrial relations debates over 100 years
  • A fear of not having the lifestyle we believe we are entitled to!

The Australian government has been talking about and publishing reports about Innovation over decades and there is little or no improvement! Why is that?

It requires a profound shift in thinking at every level. Not only that – a profound shift in the culture in and around business.

This shift in focus will not happen until we have a language system in Australia, which acknowledges shift required.

A shift: FROM what TO what.

Stable and comfortable seeking the status quoTo radical and innovative
National focusGlobal focus (especially Asia)
Lifestyle NationA Nation driven by the search for prosperity
20th Century Industries21st century Industries
Unions fighting to protect jobsBusiness Creating jobs
Entitlement focusContribution Focus
A mentality of Government will fix itGovernment will create an Environment
Lamenting that the Mining boom is over (and dreaming about another one!!Industry Wealth Creation debates
Interminable debates about Public InfrastructureSerious Decisions about radical Nation Building Infrastructure

At the moment there are too many people and groups suggesting, “other people and groups have to change!!” (And not enough people willing to change!

As a Nation we seem incapable of having a genuine debate about the truly big issues without descending into ideological ‘stone throwing” competitions.

It is difficult to see how this will change until we see real leadership from Business, Government and the community in a more intelligent conversation about a Bigger Picture.

The debate about Innovation is a positive start but Innovation to what end?

It is not a matter of a Minister visiting Israel and PM making INNOVATION a front and centre issue. It involves a major rethink on how we conduct the “business of business” in our Country.

It may be there are some platforms in place on which we can capitalise BUT – who knows about them? Why aren’t we talking about them? How can we leverage them?

The reality about INNOVATION is that businesses that start now are 5 – 10 – 15 years away from any real return depending on the Industry and the nature of the Innovation.

There is a suggestion in the literature that it takes ten years to build a business competence. (Hamel and Prahalad –Competing for the Future). At the simplest level anyone who has attempted to acquire a new skill knows it is a long hard road to achieve competent to a basic level!

How long does it take to build a Nation with a competence in innovation?

In a country which Royal Commissions into corrupt institutional systems are costing millions:

  • The Child sexual Abuse Commission
  • The Trade Unions

Maybe a Royal Commission focusing on: Australia 2050 –A Globally prosperous Nation would be a good investment.

(The Government has published its Innovation statement as I write this Blog. I will read with interest.)








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