Where practical reflective learning provides a tonic to the spirit of innovation

Date Published

18/12/2020

Reading time

4 mins read

Author

Mark Wetton

More than ever we’re reading business insight that reminds us “innovation is critical for survival as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

And yes, we all see the importance of tackling real world business problems in ever more agile ways regardless of our working location. Innovation, however, needs to be explored as although it touches upon process and technology, it is  perhaps most of all about people, their behaviour and collaboration.

What do we think the new future will look like? There are many predictions, including those which consider the following:

A low touch economy
Radical and holistic
Collaborative ecosystems driven by research.

There are a number of useful and well-informed insights about what the pathway to business growth might look like. Indeed, earlier this year our own  Ismail Amla (Capita Chief Growth Officer) co-authored a book ’From Incremental to Exponential – How large companies can see the future and rethink innovation’ which places large corporates as well-positioned drivers of innovation.

These insights need to be considered from each of our own business contexts, to filter for relevance and any appropriate next steps. Our own perspectives and use for innovation are best understood through practical engagement, followed by reflection to allow us to distil ideas and potential ways forward and to decide what approach is right for our business and our customers.

Let’s step back and ask ourselves what some of those key ingredients to innovation typically are. One leading innovation platform provider describes innovation as the product of an ecosystem comprising capability, structure, strategy and culture, where strategy and culture are leading dimensions.

In leading with strategy and culture, we would expect horizon-scanning and customer data to inform executives in setting a vision and direction of travel for innovation, alongside a baseline exercise and metrics to help describe the current status and what future success should look like. To really take off, however, innovation requires a number of further key components to set the right conditions for a cultural and behavioural shift where innovation can thrive - our research suggests the following:

  • Customer focus (design thinking - baseline and measurement -prepare to show impact)
  • Democratisation of ideas (agile cultural interventions, disruption and open-minded/collective ideation, e.g. the Amazon approach)
  • Leadership humility (listening, empowering and collaborating in strategic design)
  • Communication (Clarifying the strategic problems, challenges and priorities, but also balancing a sense of fun and excitement with urgency)
  • Empowerment framework (providing seed funding and governance, clear policy and process, nurturing embedding and scaling, mentoring and coaching for innovation)
  • Visibility and transparency (an agile mindset, showing progress, risks, blockers and successes)
  • Technical enablement (innovation collaboration environments, data and automation)
  • Collaboration (Innovation Communities of Practice, proactive match making, cross fertilisation and matrix teams, external partnerships and customer collaborations)
  • Experimentation and testing (validating ideas, criteria for evaluation, prototyping)
  • Reward and recognition (strategy for building a narrative/case study and targeting awards).


At Capita Learning, we aim to complement any innovation strategy by providing customers with an opportunity to proactively change behaviour and culture. Our collaborative partnerships with clients enable the sharing of strategic market insight whilst our supply chain offers market-leading approaches to leadership behaviour and mindset change to achieve  award winning outcomes for clients. 

For many learners, active participation whilst learning really embeds outcomes and lessons, creating a climate for true behaviour change. Our learning simulations are a great example, providing an ideal tool for experiencing a particular scenario, to debate optional next steps, inject fun, interpret data and collaborate with purpose. This approach is the ideal complement to any innovation programme, creating the ideal conditions for innovation to thrive.

Key to this is the cyclical nature of simulations, enabling problem solving and service maturity to be experienced in stages segmented by reflection. These discussions engage and empower the learner to propose improvement ideas based on their recent experience and for their own context, and it is from these reflective cycles that ’Aha!’ moments provide inspiration for subsequent innovation and behaviour shift. Simulations create the ideal environment for high-performing teams to work together, ideate and use technology to further speed up work visibility and agility whether in face to face, blended or fully online contexts. These benefits are particularly critical during the current pandemic in supporting healthy remote working practice.

Simulations foster an empowerment mind set, as learners test and implement solutions in rapid succession, so that by the end of the simulation the team can appreciate the business benefits of their applied learning and recognise the achievement of success.

After all, innovation is fundamentally an ability to clearly understand and tackle real world problems through testing, applying and measuring the impact of an intervention or new way of working. The simulation simply allows a learner to see this potential impact in a short, safe condensed manner, and injects the motivation for learners to go out and do it for real.

Written by

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Mark Wetton

Capability Lead, Learning

Bringing together Service Management expertise with creative and interactive learning, Mark offers a powerful combination of industry experience spanning sectors over the last twenty years, and has many global IT leaders develop and deliver service excellence.

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