Innovation – it’s all in your perspective

A guest blog by Iain McAndrew.

Casting my mind back to late 2016, one of the names on my induction programme when I first arrived at CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland) was Steve McCreadie, Chief Executive at The Lens. I was told by my CEO this was ‘someone I needed to meet’.

We finally met for a coffee and before my coffee was cold, my perspective on how innovation could thrive in an organisation like CHAS had been transformed. When I returned to the office I told my CEO ‘the Lens Perspective … we have to do this’.

With the planned launch of our new ambition; to reach every family in Scotland together with our fundraising campaign ‘Keep the Joy Alive’, it was absolutely the right time to think differently about how to reach more families and develop new services.

On May 1st 2017 CHAS launched its first ever Lens Programme. The programme aimed to encourage everyone across CHAS to develop and submit ideas on how to reach every family in Scotland sooner – the shortlisted ideas were pitched to a panel of judges and the successful ones received investment to implement them.

The Lens programme is designed to unlock new ideas through stimulating and developing an intrapreneurial mind-set with a holistic approach. Over and above encouraging new ideas, linked to the organisational strategy, the Lens focus is firmly on supporting and developing people and the organisation to change the culture from within. Business storytelling, value proposition development, business modelling and pitch training were all part of an intensive programme to support staff to bring ideas forward and to support finalists to develop, refine, prepare and pitch for investment. A mentoring programme ensures ideas are moved from concept to action and delivered.

As a member of CHAS senior leadership team (SLT), one of the standout elements of this programme for me was delegating decision-making to the judges; a panel of front line staff from across the organisation. I recall, as Steve and I outlined an overview of the programme to my SLT colleagues that we needed to ‘trust the process’. Although this was a radical departure for us, we instinctively knew this was right if the programme was to work. Throughout the process, however tempting, we remained resolute, trusting the process and we empowered the team from The Lens and our judges to shortlist and decide on which ideas received investment.

We were not disappointed. The final Lens event took place on 7th December where finalists pitched in front of staff and volunteers from across CHAS including CEO, SLT and members of our board. When the judges retired to consider what investments were to be made we had just heard 8 truly inspiring pitches.

I’ve been involved in innovation programmes before, even set one or two up, yet this for me personally was an outstanding day encapsulating the very essence of the Lens Programme and the difference it had created. The ideas coming forward represented an organisation growing and transforming it’s approach to what it does and how it’s willing to take a different methodology to deliver greater levels of impact – willing to be bold, brave and act on ideas created, shaped and owned by our most powerful asset – our people.

The results

  • 17 ideas submitted
  • 12 shortlisted finalists
  • 8 ideas pitched
  • 5 ideas received a total of £35,000 of investment.

You can watch the 8 finalists pitch by visiting the CHAS and The Lens on Vimeo here.

The Lens Programme finalists

The 3 ideas that didn’t receive investment continue to be developed further until they are investment ready. The programme is not about creating winners and losers, rather a pipeline of ideas, which once business ready can be implemented to create long-term sustainable value and change.

Our interim evaluation demonstrates encouraging and positive forward momentum. We asked staff to rate CHAS against six of the key organisational innovation attributes as identified by IDEO – a world-class innovation and service design agency. This demonstrated a 33% increase in willingness to support experimentation and empowerment with collaboration up 27% as people who would not normally work together found themselves supporting each other through the programme.

CHAS now has a strong pipeline of ideas focused on delivering our ambition of reaching every family in Scotland. Planning is underway for the 2018 programme and beyond.

Year one of the Lens Programme was very much focused on staff and volunteers to get the programme up and running. Having always included the families we support in our strategy process, now that we have trusted and tested the process, year 2 of the Lens Programme will actively involve the families and children that sit at the heart of our work.

We’ve learned that any organisation can be intrapreneurial in its approach; to trust a process to encourage new ideas and ensure this is done hand-in-hand with creating the right organisational culture, which in turn supports its people to develop and deliver those ideas.

You can find out more about the Lens Perspective by visiting www.lensperspectives.org.uk

Iain McAndrew is the Director of Development and Communications at Children’s Hospices Across Scotland – better known as CHAS and according to the Lucidity innovation animal quiz is an innovation bison!




One simple secret for success in 2018

How has this year been for you? What did you achieve? Often we forget to look back at our achievements because we are so busy getting on with the next thing. We forget how much we’ve learned, how far we’ve come and the progress we’ve made.

So take a few moments. Jot down the things that you have been proud of this year. Do it right now. Include everything no matter how small it might seem. Maybe it’s work related. Or personal. Or about your health. Write them all down.

You got the job. You decided not to take the job. You ran the race. You walked the race. You choose the mineral water. You lost that kilo. You gained the kilo. It’s all progress.

Keep this list. You might share it with others or you might keep it to yourself. But when you have a day that doesn’t go so well and you need to give yourself a boost look at the list and use it to reflect on what you have already achieved. It’s your inspiration to keep pushing forward. Keep adding to your list. Every day.

It’s your choice to make time for yourself

It shouldn’t just be at the end of the year that we take time and space to reflect. When we take time to consider what we have achieved as well as time to think about where to focus our energy and attention, it stops us lurching from one day to the next, it helps us achieve more.

I believe the secret to achieving more and getting better results is making time for yourself every single day. This can be really difficult with work, family and just life in general. But it’s also critical for success. It’s your choice and your responsibility to make time for yourself.

One daily routine that helps me is walking. I have an hour-long route that takes me to the top of Alexandra Palace in north London where on a good day there are spectacular views stretching from the Olympic Park to the City. Its been nicknamed the #powerhour and it’s a good start to my day to have an allotted amount of time to think about what I achieved the day before and plan the day ahead. It’s my thinking time.

Take action!

An hour walk might not be possible for everyone – but think about how you can carve out time for yourself every day to reflect and focus. Maybe it’s a walk round the block at lunchtime. Or getting off the bus a stop early to get a 10 minute walk on the way to work.

Let me know how you get on. You can find me on Instagram @lucyinnovation #powerhour

I’m so convinced that taking time out of your day-to-day routine to focus, reflect and learn is the secret of success that I’m setting up The Lucidity Network to help more people actually do it. Watch this space.

Happy New Year and see you on the other side.

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