Making innovation everyone's business

Jo Baker, CEO, International Service

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A new Business Development Team, new strands of work and exciting ideas for our future development - all have stemmed from a few days focused on innovation, organised by Bond just over a year ago, to help senior leaders think about innovation and how we make it work for us in the international development sector.

Attended by a mixed group of senior leaders, the training and conversation on those days was challenging but inspiring. It’s hard to be honest about what needs to change and to be prepared to tackle those things in innovative and forward-thinking ways, but that’s what we were there to do.

International Service had already taken part in Bond’s Innovation Audit. We knew that although we had a culture that was open to innovation we had a long way to go to embrace and embed it across all our work.

During the course, we learned about tools and approaches to innovation and developing business models, and shared ideas about building resilience and sustainability. 

Taking all this back to share in our organisation, and turning it into something accessible, relevant and meaningful took time. But through a series of away days and workshops with the Management Team, all our staff teams across the world and our Board of Trustees, lots of ideas began to take shape.

We mapped our present and our desired future, resulting in some amusing pictures! We used the Business Model Canvas and some of the futures tools to facilitate thinking and discussion. There were challenges along the way – thinking outside the box is hard for some people. We are not a big organisation and so finding capacity and time to do this was challenging - being honest is scary! 

Recognising the need for further input for our full global management team from innovation professionals, in January 2017, at our request, Bond facilitated a follow-on workshop led by Nesta to help us progress our ideas as a team. This helped us consolidate our thinking and begin to turn our ideas into reality.

A year on we have established a new Business Development Team. We are exploring new programmes, including running a trailblazer here in the UK focused around the Global Goals. We are harnessing ideas and thinking from across the organisation and exploring which of those we can and should make happen.

We are still on our innovation journey, but my hope is that journey continues for many years to come.

Find out more about Bond's Business Model Innovation course, supporting leaders to create innovative, future-fit business models.