3 minutes reading time (640 words)

Innovation Matters

Imogen Aitkin

At the recent ACCA Conference, I delivered a keynote presentation on innovation! ​Innovation is one of those 'fluffy and sounds a bit too good to be true' words. But there is a best practice approach to innovation which is completely fluff free! I spent my hour-long time slot introducing attendees to great set of tools for innovation that underpins that best practice approach. For those who weren't able to attend, I am happy to be able to provide a glimpse into that toolkit here. I hope it adds to your arsenal for driving innovation in the cemeteries and crematoria sector.

Tool 1

Find Frustrations. All of society's​ best innovations remove existing frustrations:

  • Think about the last time you were frustrated - did it involve lost keys this morning? A missed bus? A long queue? ​Whatever that frustration is, it represents a great opportunity for innovation.
  • Now take that same principal and apply it to your organisation! ​Go out and ask your customers what their frustrations are.
  • The biggest customer frustrations you uncover will represent the biggest opportunities for innovation and are where you should be focussing your innovation efforts.

Tool 2

Crush Assumptions. Typically, when we are faced with a problem we need to solve (e.g. a customer frustration we have uncovered!) ​we will have lots of assumptions. We'll have assumptions​ about the best way to solve that problem, what's possible/impossible, what we've done before that hasn't worked…. the list can go on and on. All that those assumptions serve to do is fence in our thinking! To combat this: ​

  • Identify the assumptions you and your team are holding around the problem you are trying to solve - feel free to involve others and make this a collaborative process, it can be quite cathartic! ​ An example of an assumption is something like "our customers are afraid of technology!"
  • Crush those assumptions by asking "what if the opposite were true?", or "what if that thing we're assuming simply wasn't true anymore"​.

A great 'crush' for the assumption above could be "What if our customer's loved technology? what ideas could spring from this new reality?". Or, you can be more creative - "What if we could come up with a super simple piece of technology to solve this problem that all our customers could use? ​ What ideas could lead to this happening"

  • Use your crushed assumptions as a springboard for new ideas.

Tool 3

Make important decisions in the morning - especially if they're important, and carry some degree of uncertainty! Decision fatigue is real. Each decision we make through the day depletes the quality of our subsequent decisions and often results in our 'taking the easy way out'. This is obviously​ unhelpful in the context of innovation, where our best option might be to progress ideas that carry some level of risk! ​

  • If you have brought a group together to generate ideas to solve for a particular opportunity for innovation (e.g. in a brainstorming session) ​, hold off on making a decision about which ideas to progress until the next morning!
  • ​Take this insight and apply it more broadly to the rest of your working (and personal) life too.
  • Read about a very interesting study involving Israeli judges and decision fatigue here!​

If you're keen to learn more about this toolkit and its' application in your workplace, shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - I'd love to hear from you! 

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

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