Stop Pretending, and Start Innovating

I saw a really interesting position listed on the vacancies list called Head of Innovation the other day. I love the idea of innovation and I have sometimes been called ‘innovative’ and it got me thinking, if that were me, what would innovation need to thrive? Innovation doesn’t just happen, I don’t suppose. It needs certain parameters to happen. But what might those parameters be? Too restrictive and innovation is stifled. Too broad and nothing ever gets done. So what are the components of innovation? Well, here are my ideas:


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A Presentation Blast from the Past

Two ideas for stakeholder feedback

Before asking your stakeholders for feedback, work out what you need feedback on

It’s been just over 2 weeks since my previous blog on the 9 and a half step strategic process which I’ve been following and part of the reason this blog is a little late is because of all of the stakeholder engagement and feedback I’ve been involved with and am preparing.

This is also my first mobile blog-from my iPad, sat in a Manchester apartment between today and the next!

Today’s blog is about stakeholder engagement and getting feedback. Working for a co-operative means that I’m not in short supply of stakeholders…many of which want a say in how the strategy I’m developing will come into being. I think I’ve learnt two really important things for stakeholder feedback:

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A nine (and a half) step strategic process

Last time out was my seven starter points for strategic thinking and today I’m going to talk through the nine (and a half) step strategic process I’ve been following in my new role.

Step 1 – Know yourself

Sounds obvious, right? But this is where you’ve got to start. This isn’t about just knowing ‘I’m Sam and I’m an [fill in the blank]’. Knowing yourself is fundamental stuff – WHY do you do what you’re setting out to do with this strategy. Not just the stuff at the end of it (like selling stuff, engaging people, turning a profit) but what’s a the core. You might like to go back to the starter points to determine what you’re about.

When you know what you stand for, you’ll be able to determine your vision and mission. Vision and mission differ – to have both, I think, is relatively important. Your vision is virtually unobtainable – it’s the utopia you are striving for. Your mission is focused on the length of the strategy (i.e. what do you see will happen in 3-5 years from now?).

Your vision and mission will lead to loads of questions about ‘how will we know’? This is also where you need to establish some goals and targets.

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Seven starter points for strategic thinking


My first blog about my new position is about seven starter points I’ve had to consider before I even get going on the content of the strategy. Things I thought I’d share as I guess they apply to every strategy process.

My first frame of reference for the strategy was to think about a journey. After all, a strategy sets out how you get from your starting point to somewhere else.

To help us determine the direction of travel, I needed to consider seven key things that you might want to think about for your strategy. As with any journey, there a number of considerations before you travel:

  1. What’s the destination? Where are we going?
  2. What mode of transport should we use?
  3. How do we keep the travellers safe and happy?
  4. How do we keep the drivers happy?
  5. How do we have the best journey possible? It is the fastest, most economical, most scenic or shortest?
  6. Programming the SatNav or reading the map
  7. Observing the Highway Code

Only when you know these things can we actually plan the route and get on our way.

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A year to change the world

I return to blogging inspired and enthused…I’m going to try to blog every two weeks about my new position:

Writing a communications and engagement strategy for The Co-operative Membership by December 2013.

Clearly, I’m not going to talk about the details on here, but processes, ideas, thoughts, how it’s going and the like and share my revelations (or not!). The first being to think about why on earth an engagement strategy would even exist…

In most other businesses, the idea of engagement is relatively simple – it drives trade. For our co-operative, engagement has to do more than that. Co-operative members engaging with a core set of values and principles does far more than just drive trade – it can lead to loyal ambassadors and advocates of a fantastic idea of members coming together to meet social, economic and cultural needs and aspirations. Awesome starting point then. In fact, it could be too huge! There are so many things that member engagement could encompass – I’ll need to focus on the core principles of what it means to be co-operative and the benefits that may bring to the business.

Wish me luck!