uncluttered white spaces hosted our second Innovation forum (IF Melbourne) on Tuesday night at Denmark House Melbourne.

The night turned out one of the most influential panels and guests list I have been involved in with some amazing contributions across the floor. IF exisits to bring together like minded innovators and thought leaders to share ideas and discuss far reaching themes such as business, strategy, marketing, design and social responsibility with a core focus on innovation, making business better and change. IF Melbourne was represented by Paul Breen – Founder of Calendar club and entrepreneur, Mick Calder- Director of 333, Ben Crowe – former marketing director for Nike and co-founder of Gemba, Sahil Merchant – co-founder of Mag Nation, Rebecca Scott – co-founder and CEO of Streat and the entertaining Geoffrey McDonald Bowl – CEO of Starship in Melbourne.

The night kicked off with the simple question, “what is the incentive to innovate and why”? Why is innovation rated as the top 3 most important focus points for business in 2010?

Ben Crowe opened up the night with a detailed discussion around Gemba’s definition of value & innovation and spoke about the thought process that creates innovative thinking and outcomes. In what created a sub theme for the evening, Geoffrey Bowl referred to fear as a great motivator for innovation. Ben Crowe elaborating with a criteria which stops innovation in its tracks addressing “nostalgia, denial and arrogance” as great killers for change and progress.

Mick Calder spoke in detail on the importance of language and culture stating that companies need to “prepare for success but be ready to fail and fail quickly. This is critical to breakthroughs in innovation”. Mick provided board room strategies for breakthrough thinking and creating a progressive culture addressing language that kills innovation and retards activity, and hence progress. For example, a simple gesture to remove “should have” from the board room language can create great change in thought processes. This in turn can activate conversations relating to the future and strategy. After all, ‘having a go’ and creating forward momentum is critical.

Rebecca Scott challenged the panel on the definition of value stating “value for who”. Making reference to the largest growing industry in Australia being the Self Storage industry, “is innovating to promote consumerism the right choice”.  The discussion swung quickly to social responsibility and how to apply innovative thinking to address environmental, social and ethical issues.

Sahil also discussed the focus at Mag Nation is on reverse innovation, treating the company/ brand as a person or an extension of himself more so than a company. Creating a personal, passionate model that doesn’t need to innovate, but adapt and remain true to its core values.

Paul Breen drew on the power of story telling. Pulling analogies from Gillette, Motorola and his own calender empire discussing the difference between change and innovation. Paul addressed the issue of big companies belaying innovation by not embracing it as a necessity. Eluding to the departmental and institutionalization created by the corporate environment stifling innovation and creating an environment where people are encouraged to just do enough.

Providing more insight, Paul Breen discussed market share and competitive approaches to owning your territory. Innovation can manifest itself in the ways, one way being to refuse to give an inch to your competition. By being the best in your field and knowing your market will keep you active, progressive and an easy adopter of change. Paul provided examples throughout the night of his own experiences to market domination and strategy.

The full discussion will be available as an audio podcast this week and the 3 part series will be released on WHITE SPACES TV shortly.

To our guests, thanks for attending and creating such intriguing conversation, to our readers, thanks for reading and to those of you who would like to connect further, head over to Innovation Forums network.

Takeaways:: Paul Breen: “never give an inch”! Ben Crowe: we need to break the “paradox of expertise”! Rebecca Scott: “Value for who”?

Here is a brief extract from Twitter from the night with both Andy_F and 123 Water providing great summaries.



Ben Rennie