the grass is greener on the internet

Putting Innovation and Social Enterprise into Action

The National Innovation Festival, though not perhaps as grand as the name might suggest, is still proving to be extremely interesting.

The Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (of the University of Adelaide) is running 5 free sessions (including some excellent food) during May around technology, innovation, social enterprise and best practices in project management.

So I only heard about this session the day before, and went in with mixed expectations, but there were a lot of insights on social venture funding, innovation and subversive ways to maintain magazine subsciptions (print isn’t dead!).

Some interesting take-aways from each speaker:

Steve Jones, a manager at Bedford Industries

Social enterprise might be Not For Profit, but it’s also Not For Loss.

Stop being needy, and instead work at delivering value and beating your competition. Bedford Industries does not use the fact that they employ the disabled as an excuse to have sub-standard quality management. Instead they put management practices in place to accommodate it.

You should be able to look at your customer’s values and draw from each one a way that your business works towards them.

Tony Heinrich, CEO of Boystown (providing employment and long-term training/mentoring for young people having issues)

If you’re going to ask for money from the government…having worked there previously really helps.

Always address criteria and policy when dealing with the government, and try to learn ‘public service speak’.

Chris Ellis, part of a foundation trying to create a sense of community in Broken Hill

It’s still possible to get sponsorship without having deductable gift recipient (DGR) status. Having said that, it’s a matter perseverance, finding the right interest groups and letting small contributions add up.

(Her organisation is providing interest-free loans to promising businesses that will help the town develop. It provides a tipping point, a vote of confidence, for them to succeed.

Adelaide could learn a bit from this.)

Graham Wakelin, founder of InBusiness magazine (it’s a South Aussie thing)

Print isn’t dead. It’s about engaging your readership in different ways. (Top managers told Graham they didn’t want to subscribe to his magazine because they didn’t have time to read it. He offered to put their phone number in. They subscribed and offered more money.)

There are three levels to touch customers; as an individual, as a professional, and as an organisation.

There’s still three more events to go, and though I think they could do better with promotion they’re well worth attending.


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