Category Archives: Innovation

It is time to recognise and celebrate innovation

Recognise innovation

There isn’t a single client of mine that doesn’t value innovation. Helping the people in your organisation recognise the innovations to which they contribute is essential for cultivating an innovative culture.

Below is a simple yet effective technique you can use in under two hours to recognise and celebrate innovation in your organisation. The method can be applied to on-site, online or hybrid delivery techniques.

Following the principle of keeping things simple, I define innovation in two categories. The first is Disruptive Innovations which are the first of their kind anywhere in the world. They produce benefits that disrupt the way we communicate and work. For example, Apple created the world first in the early 2000s when they created the swipe function for the mobile phone. This innovation disrupted everything from social communication to music, the way business is conducted, and more. By definition, disruptive innovations are rarer than the second form of innovation.

Incremental Innovations occur when you take something that already exists in the world and adapt it to your context where it didn’t previously exist. If the outcome benefits your organisation, then it is an incremental innovation! Technology is a significant driver of these types of innovations. A simple example may be the use of technology to increase the ease of an online application so that similar fields are auto-filled, making it easier for the applicant to complete the form. Please note that incremental innovations are not limited to technology.

Below is the outline for an innovation workshop you can modify for your purposes. Feel free to contact me if you require any clarification on the process.

Continue reading It is time to recognise and celebrate innovation

Excellence – if not now, when?

Excellence is an exciting topic. Is it about being perfect, never making a mistake? Or is it more about a mindset and set of behaviours?

In this article, I will share five tips that individually, and collectively, will have you achieving excellence more often, than not.

Continue reading Excellence – if not now, when?

‘Edge Moments’ Interview With Rachael Robertson

Rachael Robertson was just the second female to lead the Australian Antarctic Expedition for a 12 month period. As you can imagine such extreme conditions require you to find ways to lead when there is literally nowhere to hide.

View this interview where Rachael explains how it came to pass that a woman without a scientific background found herself leading up to 120 people in the Antarctic. Rachael’s insights about leadership and ‘Edge Moments’ are nothing short of powerful.


Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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Understanding Innovation – Audio Version

Do you provide Leadership That Matters® ?

Many people are confused by the concept of innovation.
Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter explains the concept in simple terms and provides practical advice for how you can enhance your practice of this critical skill.

This recording is an episode from the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast by Gary Ryan.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Understanding Innovation

Subscribe to Gary’s Podcast in iTunes here.

Innovation is considered to be one of the most defining characteristics of a successful organisation. From an individual perspective, the capacity to be creative defines your employability.

So what is innovation?

In simple terms innovation is the ability to take something, and to place it with something different in a way that provides some form of value.

For example, the classic paper bag and gift wrapping paper existed separately for 100 years. Then, one day, they were put together and the Gift Bag was born. On many levels this is an example of linear or incremental innovation. After all, both wrapping paper and the classic paper bag were both made of paper.

The Sony Walkman of the 1980s is another, non-linear outcome of taking something and placing it with something different. This time it was adding a music player to the concept of portability.

In many ways the iPod is an incremental innovation that evolved from the original Walkman. Yet it is also an example of non-linear innovation. In this example the portable music player was added to a computer and the internet and the iPod was born.

So how do you develop the capacity to innovate? Practice.

Each time you face a problem or a challenge ask yourself what two or more things could I put together to solve this problem or just add value to my present circumstance?

While non-linear innovation is regarded as the step-change or game-breaking type of innovation, incremental innovation is also valuable. Conscious practice of innovation is what builds its capacity. How often are you and/or your organisation practicing it?

If you’re looking for something to read on this topic, it is still pretty hard to go past Gary Hamel’s book Leading The Revolution.

Gary Ryan helps leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Poke The Box Workbook by the Domino Project

Much of the work that I do is in the area of helping people to create plans for success.

This little workbook, created by the Domino Project to support Seth Godin’s new book, Poke the Box, acts as a terrific tool to help you to get started.

Have look and download the workbook if you find it useful – I’m sure that you will!

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Oprah, Black Eyed Peas, Dancers, Questions & Innovation!

Questions are powerful. First they enable the possible to be imagined, and then they enable the imagined to be created.

To illustrate I refer to the amazing Flash Dance Mob that occurred at Oprah’s 24th year season opening party in Michigan Avenue, Chicago. As part of the celebration the Black Eyed Peas performed their hit “I Got a Feeling” to the 21,000 strong crowd. Unbeknown to Oprah who was on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, several hundred dancers were strategically placed throughout the crowd. The crowd had been informed that if they wanted to join in the dance then they should simply follow the moves of the people around them. The result was that the majority of the crowd joined in the dance, started by a single dancer strategically placed in front of the stage. If you haven’t seen the clip, turn up your volume and watch it now.

It was an amazing spectacle! The beauty of the crowd dancing together was that it embodies action. There is no denying it, the whole crowd took action, danced together and created an amazing spectacle and surprise for Oprah.

So how does something like this dance get created? Quite simply, someone (probably the producer Australian Michael Gracey) asked a question, something like, “What if we could get the whole crowd to dance together?”. This question would have sparked the imagination of those people who were involved in the conversation, more questions would have followed and eventually a plan would have been created. At the start of the dance no-one, including Michael Gracey would have known that the dance would actually work. Yet it did work. And it all started with a question.

‘”What if” questions are often powerful because they allow people to imagine what might be possible. What if questions often lead to innovation. Unfortunately I can’t remember the source, but I once learned that innovation comes from getting something and putting it with something different. In this case, dancers were put together with a crowd and voila, innovation occurred. Questions played a central role in enabling the innovation to be realised.

When was the last time that you asked a powerful question? What happened, what did you create and what something did you put with something different to create something new?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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