Last week I participated in the Workshop for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Run by Deakin University it was based on the successful Danish workshop and the first time one like this was run in Australia. The theme was sustainability. It was a week full of speakers, problems solving, mental and emotional challenges and competitive innovation. Super.
Each group was presented with an industry problem. Mine – to reduce the amount of stand-by power in Australian households using motion sensor technology. Some others included; increasing the efficiency of the Victorian regional rail system, increasing the financial stability of the RSPCA, and improving the sustainability of Deakin University.
Like every group we had a mix of backgrounds, skills and experience (think a PhD in Robotics, crossed with 5 years running confectionary factories and a Masters in International Development). After numerous rounds of perfecting an idea, breaking it and then throwing it out we finally found something that ticked, rolled, landed on its feet and won. I wish I could share it – but we are currently looking into patents… so stay tuned
So instead…. here are 5 things that I learnt from 5 days in a mixing pot of innovation and entrepreneurship:
1. Don’t be selfish with good ideas
Sometimes you think that you have an idea that is so good you don’t want to risk someone stealing it. Well, nothing is good if it goes unshared. Concepts grow, manipulate and get stronger with every adaptation.
2. Leverage, leverage, leverage.
The best ideas usually already exist in some form. Take something, make it better, put it in a new environment and it will grow.
3. The horizon of the public consumer is limited
A sad realisation. But sometimes a great idea is just too different and forward thinking to be accepted in the public domain.
4. Animation in powerpoint is still cool
Explaining a motion detection system that switches between controlling the powerpoints in your home and your security system was made simple with some good old animation. True.
5. Black and brown make me frown
Never use a dark brown background with black writing for a presentation. The audience must be able to easily read the content of the slide. Simple. Yes. But three presenters used colour schemes that made reading their slide content like following a breadcrumb trail in the Sahara. Not a good idea.