What use is an empty cup? Filling up on innovation

By September 6, 2011Innovation

Part of emptying my cup over the past few weeks involved travelling to Port Douglas for a dual purpose – to enjoy a couple of R&R days for myself and to also attend the RCSA (Recruitment Consulting Services Association) international conference at the Sheraton Mirage.

300 Recruiters from around Australia gathered for the conference topic of “Targeting Innovation for Productivity”. Starting a new business, my expectations were to be inspired, gather new ideas, meet some new people and of course have a good time.  It is fair to say that all my expectations have been met.  I’m always a bit skeptical about a conference’s ability to achieve all of these things and on this occasion, it did not disappoint.

Peter Sheahan kicked things off with an energetic presentation where he discussed the gravity of success – everything that made your business profitable in the first place is potentially blinding you from innovating and seeing new opportunities. This point certainly resonated with me as trying to ‘unlearn’ and think differently from what made my last business so successful is extremely difficult.  In fact, it has been the very thing blocking my creative thoughts over the past few weeks. I loved his simplicity in explaining that innovation does not have to be a big, bright, shiny, funky, new product that you want to lick (his words not mine!).  True innovation is anything that you do that unlocks value and positions you in the market.  This concept has worked wonders for me in developing my new ideas.

Other memorable parts included the Recruiter in NZ who runs his recruitment company similar to an accounting practice where he records his time in 6-minute chunks! Neer Korn who explained that giving people true flexibility will result in loyalty and only then can people really innovate. Amanda Gome’s direct messages included targeting bright stars who are wage slaves and offering them equity as well as getting rid of underperformers  – this Tuesday at 4pm to be exact! Steve Vamos’s was a hit discussing success only happens with the involvement of others and people management should be the number one priority of all leaders.

As much as it was recruitment conference, it was relevant to any business, any industry and any leader.  For any business wanting to innovate and set themselves apart from the competition, it comes down to your people.  Like we already know, at the heart of any businesses success is the people.  This consistent message is at the core of my new practice – working with great businesses and people to improve their results.  This is the number one difference between those organisations who make the leap and those who don’t. As much as I’m “unlearning” in order to be innovative, the one thing I won’t be forgetting in a hurry is that people must come first and building a workplace that attracts, engages and keeps talented employees are the most profitable.  Only then can a business be truly innovative.

I have left Port Douglas with a book full of useful notes and ideas, a little sunburn and a croaky voice from lots of socializing and I ask myself  …….so have I emptied my cup? Yes, I certainly feel like I have emptied the old one. I’m ready to fill up a new one with a fresh perspective and energy to bring new value and innovation to what I already know.