The world is changing at a rapid pace. The expectations of customers are higher than ever and trying to keep up with ever changing demands can feel overwhelming. Never has there been a greater need to think differently, approach things with a fresh mind and be open to change.
Within Aviva we’ve recognised that standing still is not an option. We can see all around us new entrants to the market who wish to disrupt the industry – over the last decade over $16bn1 has been invested in insurance start-up businesses. We’ve realised that to compete we must focus first and foremost on our customers’ needs. We’ve therefore introduced digital products and services that address the ‘pain points’ that they tell us they feel. Recognising the threat and reacting to it was the start of our innovation journey – we’ll share some tips below on getting started.
If we consider the charity sector, the days of bucket shakers has been coming to an end for a long time and may soon become a thing of the past. What has happened? In a nutshell, the emergence of online platforms like JustGiving and similar platforms allow individuals to reach out to thousands of people and raise more through sponsorship than shaking a tin on the street. This innovation has revolutionised charitable giving for ever. JustGiving has raised billions of pounds demonstrating the success of this approach.
Naturally we can’t all have ideas and deliver them on the scale of JustGiving. What it does mean, is that technology is speeding up change and driving new threats and opportunities across all sectors and for all organisations. This new economy is characterized by:
- Enhanced frequency of innovations
- Shortening of product, technology, and economic life cycles
- Rapid generation and commercialization of new technologies
- Globalization not only large but also small businesses
- Enhanced emphasis on business partnerships and strategic alliances.
Thinking innovatively and being prepared to adapt are the key to an organisation’s ability survive, thrive and grow. Innovation is all about creating value and increasing efficiency.
That said, we fully appreciate how difficult it can be for charitable organisations to dedicate any of their precious resources to what may appear to be additional activity. This article is about working smarter, not working harder. Making an organisation more innovative does not have to be an all-consuming and costly exercise.
Six steps to get your charity ‘innovation ready’!
- Assess the current situation your organisation finds itself. A simple PESTLE exercise can be used to consider the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental & Legal aspects of the current state.
- Prioritise opportunities/ problems you want to solve. Consider this against a simple axis of impact and effort to determine what is realistic.
- Document your vision for innovation initiatives a clear sense of direction and purpose for innovation are essential. This avoids disappointment in the results that innovation delivers by clearly matching expectations, scope and investment. Using a lean canvas may help you capture your thoughts.
- Select your team wisely. The truth is, not everyone is cut out to work on innovation initiatives. You need some early adopters to champion the cause. Pick people who are curious, not afraid of change, prepared to try new things and don’t feel constrained by any pre-existing processes or systems.
- Evaluate your processes. Being innovative doesn’t always have to involve inventing a new technology. Or developing a new product. It could mean just doing things faster than the next charity or reducing costs that can then be passed on beneficiaries.
- Start small. It’s easy to think big. But much harder to execute. Showing short-term results is one way to demonstrate success. For instance, many innovation initiatives start with a research initiative. Surveying your donors or recipients, attending relevant conferences, or even buying white papers, are all good ways to quickly, and efficiently, head down the path of solving problems you’ve identified.
By undertaking these steps you should have a good idea as to where your charity is and where to focus your efforts to ensure your organisation is ready to innovate.
- Venture Scanner data, with Deloitte Center for Financial Services analysis, through the first half of 2019