What we think

Idea Generation

21st December 2017 Posted by: Ethicore

by Rachael Clay

How can you give a boost to the idea generation in your innovation process to open up creative, new and different concepts?

Follow three simple principles, and then get creative with ‘different shoes’, ‘random metaphors’ and ‘bad ideas’.

Check out this infographic of our tried and tested tools for innovation ideation.


Structuring for Innovation: Setting up your organisation for more systematic innovation

5th December 2017 Posted by: Ethicore

by Rachael Clay

Structures to support innovation vary depending on the strategic intent and ambition of an organisation. Setting up your organisation for more systematic innovation is a journey. As organisations evolve from centralised to decentralised structures for innovation, they may outsource some activities to support their transformation. More mature innovative organisations have distributed responsibilities for innovation. At an extreme, an organisation may spin off start-ups to enable their innovations to operate outside of organisational constraints.

It is important for organisations to be conscious of their innovation approach and the models that can be employed to be more strategic and systemic innovators over time. This infographic identifies the structures to develop systematic innovation. We recommend mapping out your journey to more systemic innovation and how it will evolve over time.


Innovation Lenses – Take a different perspective

24th November 2017 Posted by: Ethicore

by Rachael Clay

More systematic and effective innovation is desperately needed to deliver sustainable development.  The challenge is to move from doing what you’ve always done, to co-creating what progress could be. Increasingly innovation will demand a focus on local approaches to innovation. We’ve been looking through 3 different lenses to facilitate this – all with local communities and experiences at the heart:   the solution lens, the problem lens and the experience lens …

Innovation Lenses

Innovation approaches are often focused purely on the problem lens, identifying the problem to solve and innovating from there.  We have identified some useful tools to improve this approach.  However, the solution lens and experience lens can also be powerful.  The solution lens actively seeks out solutions that have been developed – the positive deviants.  The experience lens takes a human centred design approach and with walk throughs and immersive experiences helps you design from the users point of view.

We encourage you to try a different lens, or two when you approach innovation.  You won’t know what you will find until you look!

Have you set your Innovation ambition?

To find out more about problem definition: Julier J., Kimbell L. (2012) Problem Definition. p30. In: The Social Design Methods Menu click here.

More about positive deviance: Tuhus-Dubrow, R. (2010) The Power of Positive Deviants: A promising new tactic for changing communities from the inside. Boston Globe. November 29, 2009.Pascale, Sternin, & Sternin click here.

The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems. Harvard Business Press click here.

More about Human centric design: The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design, Bond click here.

Where’s the Ambition to Innovate?

16th November 2017 Posted by: Ethicore

by Rachael Clay

The INGO sector is immature in innovation terms, as demonstrated by the Bond Innovation Audit.  The vision to transform lives, systems and models are compelling organisations to innovate.  But often we’re missing a strategic, systematic approach which is driven by AMBITION.  Organisations need to define their innovation ambition first, then set out the formal structures, processes, roles, resources and incentives to deliver consistently, and communicate that ambition clearly.

Other sectors have led the way in creating the climate, capability and commitment to innovation.   H. Igor Ansoff developed the Innovation Ambition Matrix in 1957.   It describes the work to optimise existing ‘products’ in the CORE; expand into adjacent markets or incremental products in ADJACENT; and invent new products or create new markets in TRANSFORMATIONAL.  A diversified Industrial Company would have a ratio of 70% core, 20% adjacent and 10% transformational, according to Nagi and Tuff.  Leading consumer goods companies have ratios more like 80%, 18%, 2%. If we shift the language to ‘interventions’ instead of products, and ‘needs’ instead of customers, INGOs can develop an innovation portfolio that aligns with their strategic ambition.

Innovation Ambition for INGOs, Ethicore 2017

Image adapted from H. Igor Ansoff’s Innovation Ambition Matrix

Defining your innovation ambition will enable you to clearly assess the level of risk you are ready to take, balanced with the scale of impact you seek.  The first meaningful step is for the Board to discuss, ‘what is our innovation ambition?’  Innovation ambition pays back inversely.  The greatest return, but also risk and disruption, comes from transformational innovation.   Planning a portfolio of innovation focuses the minds on the kind of innovation required to create the transformations desired.

As new and complex partnerships are raising expectations and funders are demanding innovation and impact data, new entrants are disrupting the system.  The question remains whether the ‘incumbent INGOs’ have the ambition to be the necessary disruptor or whether they will end up as the disrupted? INGO’s need to rebalance the innovation portfolio for greater long-term rewards, extending and adapting to adjacent areas and truly transformational innovation.  

In the coming weeks, Ethicore will be sharing the Innovation Series, a set of blogs and infographics, to stimulate systematic and strategic innovation. From establishing the innovation process through to tools to support idea generation, please read and share to get innovation ambition on the agenda of our Boards.