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3 helpful steps for your innovation journey

Leadership Masterclass: Leaders in disruption share their their tips in Innovation Exchange panel discussion


(Image: Dresden Vision cheap, recycled waste glasses are a lesson in design thinking)

90% of leaders believe the COVID-19 crisis will alter how they do business over the next 5 years, according to a 2020 McKinsey study.

And 70% see an opportunity for growth.

But if innovation is key to that growth, where does a leader start? 

3 themes of innovation

This week The Growth Faculty partnered with BLD ACDMY to present The Innovation Exchange; a panel discussion centred on 3 themes:

·       Design Thinking - What problem are you trying to solve anyway?

·       Customer Experience - You’ve got to come at it from the mind of the customer.

·       Business Model Innovation - How can you understand your environment and the trends?

Let’s go to the discussion, starting with Design Thinking.

Don’t jump straight to a solution

If you wear glasses, you’ll know they cost a lot and can break easily. GoGet carshare co-founder Bruce Jeffreys was so fed up he started Dresden Vision.  

Innovation consultant Stephen Rutter of The Scale Institute wears a bright orange pair of Jeffrey’s $49 glasses. He uses them to explain Design Thinking.

“Jeffreys asked other glasses wearers what frustrated them about buying glasses. They told him glasses took too long to make, were too expensive, and they didn’t know who they were buying from,” he told the Innovation Exchange panel.

He said Jeffreys focused on the user frustration and then solved for those problems. 

Questions to ask your users:

·       What is their biggest frustration? 

·       What would they like to solve if time, cost, or quality were not an issue?

“People think innovation means a new Tesla but it could be a process. How could you do something quicker or cheaper or better in your office?” explained Stephen.

He recommends asking your team to DRAW their biggest problems. It stops business-as-usual thinking and may lead to innovation.

Walk in your customer’s shoes 

Ben Grozier is co-founder and CEO of ClassCover, software for schools to book casual relief teachers.

A former casual teacher himself, Ben realised 4 million phone calls were being wasted by schools hunting available teachers.

His customers helped build what became ClassCover.

“We built a light product and shopped it around to the user. That we only spent $4000 on the product amazes a lot of people,” he shared with the panel.

“We spent $35,000 more on sales and marketing, then began the feedback loop of being agile and zig zagging our way to success…rather than an assumption about where our customers wanted us to be.” 

“If we can’t empathise with our customers then we’ll be way off the mark,” he told the panel.

Ben says you need to be comfortable in conversation to draw out the pain points and the problems your customer needs to solve.

He recommends:

·       Picking up the phone or having a coffee with your user.

·       Creating user personas, then putting yourself in each of their shoes.

·       Watching over the shoulder of your user as they use your product. 

Look over the horizon

The need to look over the horizon has never been more important, says Matt Tice, Chief Executive Officer of Insurgence, experts in disruptive change.

“Most of us do our strategic planning thinking that things will be the same…we project what we’re doing and extrapolate our plans to those projections. We get lazy,” he explained to the panel.

Matt says we’re not thinking deeply about how unrelated things around the world link together like puzzle pieces.

He mentioned supply chains being over-indexed to China, the ruralisation of Australia, and the red/blue divide in the U.S. as examples. 

What might, at first, look like a problem could throw up an opportunity.

“Problems are the basic unit of innovation,” he says.

Matt’s tips for business model innovation:

·       Realise you control almost everything. How you KPI the business, how you structure it.

·       Instead of assuming resources are limited, act like a start-up (who doesn’t think that way).

·       Remember how the “recipe” of your business was created. What’s become too entrenched?

Innovation Exchange Panel


Stephen Rutter is the founder of innovation consultancy, The Scale Institute - where he and his peers are designing innovative learning strategies & product development opportunities with a varied group of clients across Australia (that all value learning) include Universities, large corporates & SME.


Ben is the co-founder and CEO of ClassCover, a software as a service that helps schools save vast amounts of time in the management of casual relief teachers and support casual relief teachers with online professional development. Ben combines his passion for teaching and his experience in business to assist other business owners and founders to be their best.


Matt Tice is the Chief Executive Officer of Insurgence, a firm dedicated to helping organisations to navigate (and lead) through disruptive change. Insurgence helps clients at the nexus of strategy, innovation and leadership to accelerate growth by discovering new paths to market and building disruptive business models.


Stephanie has extensive general management, sales, marketing and strategic consulting experience in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. She is currently the Managing Director of BLD ACDMY as well as the CEO of The Executive Connection (TEC) Australia and New Zealand.

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