My manager took the time out of his extremely busy schedule to nominate me for an Excellence Award and the President of my division judged me as the award winner on Friday 19th July 2019. It all came as quite a surprise for me, and as I finished reading the congratulatory email, I had to manually adjust my dropped jaw! At the same time, the fact that I was even considered provided me with an immense swelling of pride, and actually winning was the cherry on top of the icing drizzled over a very nice cake (I have a problematic sweet tooth and am seeking help). The nomination centred around my enthusiasm for innovation and my contribution to the Digital Business Challenge my group won last month. This award was made possible due to the fantastic support that I received from the various teams and management at the great company that I work at. I am acutely aware of how fortunate that I am, and try to do the best I can to help ensure that we can be the best that we can be. I actually wrote at length about the challenge that formed part of the nomination in a previous post where I discussed how we avoided buzzwords and focused on the task at hand.\n\n[I'm Sorry, Buzzword Alert] Leveraging Bleeding-Edge Digital Transformation For Transformative Synergies\n\nI have very strong opinions on how businesses can benefit from the latest and greatest tech available on the market, and many fully-formed ideas as to how these can be implemented and integrated. However, I learned a valuable lesson that these such ideas are worthless if you cannot articulate nor demonstrate their benefits to the people you believe these will benefit. If those around you cannot comprehend how your idea(s) will improve their environment in the short, medium and/or long term, then they will be unable to share in your overarching vision and ultimately, nothing will happen. This will be a real shame, especially if your ideas have the potential to significantly change their processes for the better. Your role is to bridge the gap between your idea and the understanding of others, and BELIEVE me this in many cases is no easy task!\n\nSetting Sail\n\nBefore you embark on any change, it is important to know beforehand that there will be a lot of frustration along the way, both for yourself and the people that you are trying to bring along with you. Any new idea(s) will be raw, and whilst may have long-term merit, they initially may not be entirely geared for your audience. It is during your journey that your idea(s) will grow into the fully-formed solution that challenges the status quo. From my Software Engineering experience, I am a huge fan of the Agile manifesto and the principles behind it. Rather than talk using the heavily watered-down "Agile" buzzword, I like to apply the aforementioned principles to help me develop my ideas into strong actions that widely benefit rather than routinely bore.\n\nPrinciples Behind the Agile Manifesto\n\nI have slightly tweaked (i.e. removed the software leaning) the wording of a subset of the 12 Agile Manifesto principles to show how they can be applied to developing ideas that can help a business innovate.\n\nBuild ideas and innovation around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.\n\nAll parties must work together daily throughout the project.\n\nThe most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation.\n\nSimplicity, the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.\n\nAt regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.\n\nApplying the Principles\n\nThe principles that I have reworded from the Agile Manifesto portray the development of ideas around the parties involved rather than simply telling others what they should be doing. Remember, in order to bring about REAL change, innovate and supersede existing processes and "this is the way we've always done it" rhetoric, we need for others to share in our vision to help us make it a reality. We also need to ensure that as our ideas bloom, nothing becomes overly complex as this can lead to alienation and disillusionment. We want our ideas to actually be possible, and any unnecessary complexity increases the risk that we move towards something that is impossible to produce, or possible but HIGHLY expensive. Either one of these outcomes will lead to surgeons swiftly announcing the death of your idea(s), and thus both are scenarios that we need to strictly avoid.\n\nMan standing on cliff\n\nI personally think that the final point about reflecting on progress and potential improvements is the most important element in bringing about effective change within an organisation. It's these moments where you truly learn what is working, what is challenging and the parts of the plan that simply do not fit. From these realisations, the approach can be tweaked, optimised and made more suitable for the overall vision. It is here that raw ideas will be carved into chiselled, refined missions that will actually help your organisation to succeed. Patience is a virtue, and you need to build this into your approach. When elements don't pan out, or systems seem far too cumbersome to begin with, make sure that all parties refer back to the overarching vision so that no one forgets the promised land. Believe me, people will struggle at first when they can see the struggle will lead them to a superior environment.\n\nContinuous Improvement\n\nOne of the best parts of taking an innovative approach is that you'll know when your group hits its stride. Talks of frustrations will be replaced with free-flowing ideas and phrases like "how about", "what if we", "I was thinking" etc. from the same people that in the beginning you had to convince. When this day comes, MY GOSH you will feel proud! Your role is to provide the vision and the environment and allow those around you to actively flourish and enthusiastically contribute to making your vision a reality. Your group is your true power, not you, so check your ego at the door and focus your efforts into creating a positive environment. They are the ones who understand their requirements, they are the ones who will happily craft the future with you and they are the ones who will teach you new elements they have proactively researched with no input from you. This is how your overarching vision will flourish.\n\nWith a Little Help From My Friends\n\nWinning my excellence award for my approach to innovation hinged on collaboration with an excellent and supportive network. By having a group around me that were suitably convinced and enabled my ideas, together we were able to bring about changes that tangibly benefitted our organisation. In order take ideas and mature them into beneficial missions, I believe that we need to focus on individuals collaborate daily with a priority on person-to-person contact. It is important that we keep our implementations as simple as possible throughout, and that we always set aside time to take a step back and review progress and identify possible improvements. With this patient approach, we can create all kinds of amazing innovations that most importantly, are tailored to the subtle nuances of our organisations.