Introducing innovation to a business to better ensure its future takes not only a clever idea, but also the knowledge and skills to turn the dream to a reality.
This is just one of the insights gained by leading Central Coast businessman Craig Baxter, from award-winning firm Baxter Building, after he completed the Central Coast Innovation Champions Program.
“I decided to take part in the program because my company was undergoing extensive change,” Mr Baxter said. “My partner had to leave the business unexpectedly, and we were dealing with the effects of a rapid expansion, growing from a staff of eight to 56 people in 18 months, only then to experience the negative impacts of the commercial construction slowdown as a result of the Global Financial Crisis.”
After receiving an email circular about the program, Mr Baxter decided to make an application. “I applied for the program as a way to inspire and challenge myself in my leadership abilities, and to look for ways to manage and diversify my business, as a form of future proofing.”
“Since completing the program, my business has won two Master Builders’ Association awards and we have introduced a commercial maintenance arm, to help ensure that the business can cope with any changes in demand within the construction industry.”
The Central Coast Innovation Champions Program is delivered by University of Newcastle – Central Coast senior academic Dr Anton Kriz, in partnership with the Regional Development Australia Central Coast and the regional enterprise development organisation Innov8Central.
The leadership and business mentoring program aims to give participants a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, the process and management of innovation, and to provide the tools needed to successfully introduce creative ideas to their enterprise.
“Innovation is more than just a good idea, you need to know how to develop it to achieve the best outcomes,” Dr Kriz said. “Champions are, by definition, people that push boundaries, but with the knowledge they can gain from taking part in this program, these natural innovators will have the skills and self-knowledge needed to capitalise on the global push for open innovation business models and strategies.”