Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Inspiring Innovation and Digital Integration in Agribusiness, Logistics and Engineering....Learnings from an Insightful Summit

How do you create a profitable business that is kicking goals…where good employees want to work and customers want to return?
How do you build a business where you are ready, willing and able to take on the challenges that the future holds within your industry and the region you do business in?
How as a team, an industry, a region can you find the solutions to moving forward and ensure a strong economic future?
They were some of the many discussions that were afloat during the Central West Business Summit recently in Parkes where innovative business leaders and forward thinking organisations met to put their heads together on the big issues impacting regional businesses.
Equal measures of inspiration and information…
A snapshot of 130 of the region’s small to medium business managers took time out to network and gain insight from larger organisations and businesses on a day that turned out to be as equally inspirational as informative.
The success of the one-day Parkes event (the second Summit) means next year will be even bigger with Bathurst as the proposed location.
As the dust settles (or more appropriately as the mud tries to dry!) on the event and everyone returns to their daily business routines, it is an ideal opportunity to reflect on the key learnings from the Summit.
Renowned speaker from ABC TV’s The New Inventors, and author of Innovation is a State of Mind, James O’Loghlin’s keynote address kicked it off when he said…
Innovation is not what you do if you have some time left after you have done all your work. It is the work!
That would have to be a key take-away message that we are all guilty of not heading. Build an innovative culture into our workplace. Put in place processes and mindsets so innovation is on automatic. Make innovation as normal as having a staff meeting and as regular as your morning coffee or checking your emails.
James explained that habitual thinking is the enemy of innovation. He urged business owners to question everything, challenge their assumptions, reframe the question, analyse their data and to think like a customer.
Creating an innovative organisation – think, value, use.
Presenters and participants have shared what they took away with them from the day and their attitudes towards innovation. It is interesting to see the many different angles that were interpreted with people relating different aspects back to their own business circumstance, but in a way providing collective motivation for us all.
Innovation is building the capability within an organisation to be ready for the changing circumstances of tomorrow.
Innovation is looking at the way of the future. It is looking at the way people are buying goods and services and then looking at strategies to implement within your business to attract these people not only in your area, but further afield.
 Innovation is an attitude – it is a willingness to change and learn new concepts, new ideas and implement them.

Innovation and change – the chicken or the egg…
Innovation and change go hand-in-hand. It goes without saying there wouldn’t be a need to innovate if there was no change to adjust to and yet innovation is change. The term innovation is often easier to swallow for many because of the self-initiated context it conjures.
Steve Fieldus, founder of Transforce, shared his experience of change within the heavy transport industry with delegates at the Central West Business Summit. The NSW Business Chamber Business Awards 2016 Regional Winning business underwent a substantial branding campaign which included the development and implementation of a digital ecosystem.
The move broadened their audience and allowed them to showcase their business -  highlighting their point of difference. Steve spoke on the two primary uses for digital technology in business – to improve productivity and efficiency (technology for efficiency) and to broaden your audience and widen your appeal (marketing and branding).
Every business and service now competes on the world stage via the internet - more competition!
In relation to the experience of change at a management level, Steve gave some solid advice. He said change is never easy for the simple reason that no one likes change – it’s scary!
He explained that it was important to be upfront and clear on;
- Why the change is happening.
- What is being changed.
- How the change will be implemented.
Change will only work if everyone understands why there is a need for change and they are provided with the road map to get there. Consultation is key! New technology can be costly. It can be a fine line to balance the needs and goals of a business with the budget available.

Top business tips from innovative Summit thinkers…
The Central West Business Summit saw strong collective intellect and dialogue stimulated on the day to inspire some key innovative business advice. Among the top tips were…
Recruit people who fit the culture of your business. Skills and competence can be taught, but entrenched counter-productive values and behaviours are harder to address and even harder to change. Steve Fieldus, Transforce
The Innovation Commitment is an absolute top-down commitment to the cause. It takes years to build up the expertise. Have realistic expectations. If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research! Alan McKellar, Northparkes Mine
Continually evaluate your business and the commercial environment in which it operates. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself to maintain your company’s point of differentiation, but stay true to your core business activities and values. Steve Fieldus, Transforce
When you are green you grow, when you are ripe you rot! Bruce Buchanan, Central NSW Business Enterprise Centre.
Be a company that you yourself would be happy to work for or to do business with. Who really wants to work for or do business with an unethical, unhappy or poorly presented organisation? Steve Fieldus, Transforce
Invest in your business, but also in yourself. Alison Stephens, Vine sight & Canowindra Tyre Service
Don’t be afraid of change – thrive on it, learn from it, use it to access opportunities and open new doors. It has been estimated that only 42 percent of businesses are innovation active! It really is time to tap in, get involved and innovate! Caddie Marshall, Adloyalty
There will be setbacks. The ability to react and adapt is key. Champions get back up and go another round. The requirement for success – have clear goals that are measurable! Alan McKellar, Northparkes Mine
BUILD YOUR BRAND. In an increasingly busy and hectic world it is important that you have a mechanism through which your business grabs attention. Build your brand. Lift your profile. Steve Fieldus, Transforce
And the quote of the day goes to…

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Henry Ford, Ford, Ford Motor Company (quoted at the Summit by Alan McKellar, Northparkes Mine)