Era Innovation Partner to oversee Queensland Rail reform

Era Innovation Partner to oversee Queensland Rail reform

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Era Innovation Partner Jacqui Walters has been appointed as Chair of the Citytrain Response Unit (CRU), overseeing the implementation of reforms within Queensland Rail.

The appointment comes after Monday's release of the Queensland Government Commission of Inquiry report, outlining recommendations to improve the culture and productivity of Queensland Rail. 

In announcing the appointment, Ms Palaszczuk noted Jacqui's expertise in organisational transformation and restructuring, including her experience in working in both the corporate environment and across all three tiers of government. 

Jacqui commences the role this week reporting to the Treasurer and Minister for Transport. 

While she will remain an active Partner at Era Innovation, Jacqui will take a temporarily reduced role within the organisation to focus on implementing CRU's immediate priorities.

Era Innovation Partner ranked in world's top 5 innovation bloggers

Era Innovation Partner ranked in world's top 5 innovation bloggers

As we kick off a new year the Era Innovation team is proud as punch to announce that our very own Associate Professor Tim Kastelle, has been ranked in the Top 5 Most Influential Innovation Bloggers of 2016.

His blog, The Discipline of Innovation, drew praise for its "business tips, creativity hacks and tools for everyone from the front-line worker to the CEO."

Congratulations Tim!

The complete list, which was compiled by a panel of innovation bloggers, ranked over 60 blogs on their quality, unique media, popularity, authority and social influence. Click here to check out the full Top 20.



Lean Startup Challenge

Lean Startup Challenge

Brisbane startups prove true innovators, taking out Brisbane competition before going global.

BRISBANE startup ClickDish began life trying to sell home cooked leftovers but ended up in the corporate catering industry. It is a dramatic example of truly being “nimble.” That ability to change quickly has seen them take out a Queensland competition for great innovations and now they’re headed for the USA where they’re in line for a global award.

ClickDish’s change in direction is what is known in innovation circles as a “pivot”, a move which can spell the life or death of a startup or even established companies that can’t learn to change in rapidly evolving business environments. ClickDish and web-enabled food delivery service Airfood received prestigious awards in Brisbane’s first Lean Startup Challenge, designed by Era Innovation and supported by McCullough Robertson Lawyers and the UQ Business School.

“Through a series of pivots and rigorous testing, Team Cooshe (now ClickDish) went from a business for people to sell excess meals cooked at home in their neighbourhoods to a new approach to servicing the corporate catering market,” Era Innovation Partner, Kate Morrison, said.  “It was quite extraordinary and a tremendous example of what can be done by using the lean launchpad method.”

Winner of the Learning Prize, Team AirFood, won for their web-enabled food delivery service for university campuses, while Commercial Prize winner Team ClickDish won for a web-based service to provide greater variety and reliability in catering options for corporate clients.

Team ClickDish has also been announced as a semi-finalist in the International Business Model Competition, sponsored by Brigham Young University, Harvard and Microsoft. As a result, they will travel to Microsoft HQ in Seattle to take part in the final stages of the contest which will land them $30,000 if they win.

The Lean Startup Challenge was a competition in which 17 teams spent the past weeks competing to develop validated business models for their entrepreneurial ideas using the ‘Lean Startup’ approach.

“The Lean Startup method focuses on rapidly testing business ideas through customer development and feedback. “It uses rapid sprints to gather insights and evolve the idea until either a feasible business model is developed or the evidence points to the idea being unworkable, faster,” Ms Morrison said.

The Challenge saw teams pitch ideas ranging from a new differential technology for 4WD vehicles, to a global upcycled clothing market to support fairer trade, and even a virtual reality art auction complete with prototype VR glasses.

It kicked off with a full-day workshop for over 80 with two of Australia’s innovation thought-leaders, UQ Business School’s innovation expert and Era Innovation Partner, Associate Professor Tim Kastelle, and Nick Rackis who advises Australia Post on innovation and runs the Lean Startup program at Startup Victoria. Mentors, including experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and successful business leaders from the Brisbane community supported the teams on their journey.

“We wanted to create a competition that contributed to Brisbane’s innovation ecosystem and provided an opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs to develop and validate their ideas with expert support from generous volunteer mentors,” Ms Morrison said.

Mentor of Team Airfood, Belinda Brosnan, Telstra Business Women’s Awards – Qld Startup Winner 2015, praised the competition and the lean startup approach. “Using the lean startup method on a real business idea accelerated the learning for my team, and resulted in low cost testing and development of an exciting and viable business idea they can continue to develop,” Ms Brosnan said.

Team ClickDish member Greg Jones said the competition gave the team a fantastic opportunity to rapidly develop new business idea through two major pivots, all with the support of mentor, Peter Laurie. “In four weeks, Chandramouli Vyagrapuri, Anand Rajendran and I not only figured out what not to do, we also secured the first paying customer for our new and improved business model.

“To be recognized as a semi-finalist in such a prestigious competition is an absolute honour,” Mr Jones said. 

Reece Walker, Partner at McCullough Robertson was excited to see the quality of business concepts emerging from this event.“It has convinced us that hypothesis-based entrepreneurship is the right way to go to limit risk and improve the probability of favourable outcomes for investors. We’re looking forward to supporting the teams on their journeys from here,” Mr Walker said.

Era Innovation is a Brisbane based innovation consultancy building innovation capability for Australia’s leading organisations. Providing idea generation programs, lean startup business accelerators and strategic portfolio development, Era Innovation works across sectors including food, education, manufacturing, asset management and resources.

The importance of asking the right questions

The importance of asking the right questions

As innovation consultants we find ourselves asking a lot of questions. A lot. Whether it’s defining the scope of work for a client, conducting our customer development surveys and interviews, or developing and testing our hypotheses – we’ve come to know that questions are a critical part of the innovation process. Like most things however, the ability to ask the right question doesn’t come easily.

Welcome Jacqui Walters

Welcome Jacqui Walters

We are thrilled that Jacqui has joined us as Partner in our small but growing consultancy. Jacqui brings deep experience in strategy advisory - with over twenty years working major consultancies including IBM, PwC and Deloitte - and a wealth of expertise in infrastructure and governance, having served as Principal and Group Strategy Leader at Evans & Peck, a leading infrastructure advisory firm. In addition to her role with us, Jacqui is also an independent Board member of Building Queensland.

We first met Jacqui in 2014 when she was providing strategy advice to a professional services firm, where we had also been engaged to help build innovation capability for the organisation. All three of us immediately saw the potential benefits of more closely integrating strategy with innovation, and had the important benefit of seeing each other in action in a live client environment. The engagement has led to substantial embedded change for the organisation in question, which we believe is due at least in part to the way we brought strategic alignment to the innovation activities of the client firm, and conversely ensured that strategy execution was fully enabled through the new innovation program.

Jacqui brings clarity and insight to every discussion, and is already making a major contribution to our ability to deliver larger projects without comprising the quality and impact we care deeply about. With our first $1m project underway and several other exciting engagements in the pipeline, we are delighted to be building this stronger foundation with a true partner of such calibre. Welcome Jacqui!


Courier Mail, Catering a Click Away

Era Innovation Partner, Kate Morrison, appears alongside Lean Startup Challenge winners, Greg Jones and Mouli Vyagrapuri, whose company ClickDish is set to revolutionise the catering marketplace.

What's in a name?

What's in a name?

A new business name will always raise eyebrows for someone, somewhere. I was always surprised by the number of people who expressed love for 'Vulture Street' as a name, claiming it evoked a real sense of place for them linked to Brisbane, music and sport. 

In choosing an epithet for our new chapter we wanted to capture the essential aspect of innovation that we believe is most important - time.  We know that innovation works best as a process that unfolds over time, and that only with the passing of months (and usually years) can organisations start to develop a rhythm and cadence to their innovation capabilities that works for their unique circumstances.

The dictionary definition of 'era' is 'a long and distinct period of history'. This is the challenge we help leaders address - how to harness the methods and practices of innovation to steward a long and distinct period of history for their own organisations. We can now see observable changes in and for some of the clients we've worked with over the last seven years, in aspects ranging from the language used during executive meetings to the new organisational structures being implemented to support long-range innovation. This is exciting, and we remain committed to understanding the different proxies and metrics for innovation maturity as it evolves (sometimes non-linearly) in each economic context.

Our new identity is also intimately tied to the overarching objective of growth. We are 'for growth' in the sense that we strongly believe that innovation is not an end in itself; instead it is a capability or mechanism that supports the achievement of fundamental outcomes: the ability to not just survive but thrive in changing market conditions; the sustainable business model that systematically creates value at scale; the achievement of enduring impact in our economies and communities, and ultimately in the lives of the people we touch. 

For us, all these worthy objectives are captured in the notion of growth, which in turn is embodied in the tree ring symbol we've chosen as our mark.  Of course, trees grow and gain strength only over time, and it is this process we strive to enable in organisations; building layer upon layer of innovation know-how and acumen. While this looks different in each organisational context, the universal requirement is the ability to learn - at the individual, team and whole-of-business level. 

Learning, growth and time - the three dimensions of innovation we know are required for enduring value and impact to emerge. At Era this is the challenge to which we remain committed.

Image from Korean artist Jaehyo Lee.

Start of a new Era

Start of a new Era

The hype around innovation right now is massive. In business today, increasing efficiency is no longer enough to ensure success. If you want to thrive, you must innovate as well. But all the excited talk leaves unanswered some of the most important questions for organisations – such as ‘How do we get started?’, ‘What is the best way to become more systematic in our innovation capability?’ and ‘How can we best manage the risk and uncertainty inherent in innovation, especially as the pace of disruptive change continues to accelerate?’.

If these questions sound familiar, we should talk.