Innovator | Thinker | Speaker | Writer

Innovation Leader?

Ci2011 Innovation Conference: Stay up to date with conference news:  My response to Innovation Leaders Scholarships to attend Ci2011 is detailed below:

In this super-connected world what is your idea for change and a better future?            Having run my own business for 9 years, I’m an avid social networker, writer and marketer, and an advocate for small business.  I regularly meet people who have their own business or want to start one, those who are working up the courage and making the timing work for them.

My idea for a better future is where Australians, from primary school age through to adulthood, see business ownership as a goal and a reality.  Kid, teen, mum and dad, sole and retired-trepreneurs with sustainable, savvy businesses who share their knowledge and lessons they have learnt with each other and through a connected world.  In terms of change, I want to influence my networks (face to face and online) to increase action, commitment and synergy across economic, environmental, cultural, social and workforce sustainability – locally, regionally and in a global context.

What is your vision for the future and how are you implementing this right now?  My vision for the future is entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and sustainability as core capabilities for Australia.  In my own business, I want to challenge myself to own multiple businesses outside of or on the edges of what I know well.  I have two daughters who have grown up with parents running their own businesses and I’d like to support and mentor them, together with my husband, to become business owners.  To help my company with succession planning, one of my daughters is interested in learning the business and this builds upon their experience in human resources, learning and development, marketing and work life balance.

I believe in demonstrating commitment to vision, mission, values and core competencies through action and evidence.  For example, Wendy Perry and Associates Pty Ltd is a Zero C business which means that we have for the past 4 financial years, measured our carbon emissions and 100% offset through an accredited scheme.  Workforce BluePrint has undertaken a number of charity raising activities including our annual calendar with themes related to support for breast cancer research and environmental issues all with cheeky, calendar girls style images of our staff, associates, clients and family members.  I’m also trying something new by project managing the building of two new houses – property development interests me and I want try it out more seriously.

Wanting a local connection to my community as much of my work is interstate and national; I took on the role of chair in 2009 for the newly formed Small and Medium Around the Reservoir Traders (SMART) Business Association in Southern Adelaide.  We have facilitated many events to connect up local business peopleand I manage the SMART Facebook page too.  I mentor and support business owners and recently won an award for my contribution to the local business community from my Member of Parliament.  Having been in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector for 16 years, I saw a need and interest in contributing to the debate, policy discussion and solutions for skills and workforce development so I established the Australian VET Leaders group via LinkedIn with around 350 members.  Work Life Balance is an area of interest professionally through our work with businesses via Workforce BluePrint and personally especially after reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.  I give myself 6 weeks annual leave, have mini breaks often linked to business travel, and write a blog on my personal interests and travel experiences.

What are your ideas and solutions for community and global challenges we are facing?            I believe that prosperity lies in individuals, organisations, groups and communities developing their capability and capacity in a conducive environment i.e. (Capability x Capacity) Environment = Prosperity™ aka the Prosperity Equation.

Measuring capability and identifying the future capabilities required to be successful in education, as a leader, in a job or career, a project or cluster, supply chain, industry, community or region means that people understand what they need to plan towards and take control of getting there.  In Australia we often talk about the individual or the organisation as the unit we could measure capability by and increasingly, as we get more and more connected, I think the consideration of different ways of organising capability is needed such as for a geographic region, island, or multiple communities or a village/town or value chain.

Mapping out the capabilities, determining the environment which supports prosperity and defining the components of capacity means that we could take what is often very contextualised good practice and transfer knowledge (tacit and explicit) in a broader, deeper and value added way.  Solutions come from an evidence based analysis of strengths, gaps and themes from the prosperity equation and from trying out the formula and methodologies, finding an approach that works really well.

What is the biggest barrier you anticipate in getting your idea to become a reality?            Recently I read Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel and the main take away message for me was, “everybody is connected to everybody; connect your business to everybody.”  Connection is the starting point, getting engagement and moving the ‘connected’ community members from potential – coalescing – active is the challenging part.  Managing knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, and building relationships with the intent of understanding where community members, colleagues and connectors objective overlap with others would make for deeper connections and collaboration but it’s difficult to facilitate.  As a facilitator, I like using methodologies with a theoretical underpinning with a creative aspect.  I read, research, may see others using the approach and try it out to see how it works, then tweak or change it to fit with my style.

So what do I see as the biggest barrier in making my ideas happen?  Being able to think big enough, differently enough and quickly enough to internalise and apply what I learn from thought leaders, theorists, practitioners and speakers to areas that are on the edges of my expertise and experience.  I’m often managing the chasm between where I want to be and stay to where others may be so to hang out with and hear from people who are at the leading edge of thinking, creativity and opportunities will be inspiring.

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