Photo 1433439216031 9571132ce719

The Kai-Zen approach to innovation

Innovation is a bit of a buzz word these days.

The term ‘innovation was the most popular business search term of 2015.

And the government is touting their $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation agenda as being the key to Australia’s future survival while teasing us with emotive slogans like ‘welcome to the ideas boom’

It’s clearly on everyone’s agenda….but what does innovation really mean?

Should we all be searching for that ‘one big thing’ that will change everything?

It is really necessary to cause sector disruption on the scale of uber and iPhone?

Of course not.  While technology has been a game-changer for many industries (including the social good sector), it doesn’t mean we all need overnight transformation to achieve success.

What innovation essentially means is ‘problem-solving’.  Taking things and processes and making them better than they were before.

It’s that simple.

And in reality, the most successful innovators do not announce their ‘big ideas’ in a flurry of hype and fanfare.  There usually isn’t a silver bullet.

True innovation most often happens invisibly; with continual assessment and improvement, one day at a time.  And then suddenly after two years, you look back and think WOW, what just happened?!

The Japanese business philosophy Kai-Zen is essentially built on this premise; with the belief that if we make small changes to the way we work on daily basis, we will eventually make enormous progress – more so than if we spend our days searching for a silver bullet.

It’s the philosophy that inspired The Toyota Way, which is based on the principles of continuous improvement and respect for people.

Here at Blackbaud, we operate in a similar way.  The social good community is always at the heart of everything we do and our focus is on how we can use technology to make the lives of our customers (and their beneficiaries) better.

It’s why we develop new releases every month and have created Blackbaud SKY – a range of cloud based fundraising solutions that integrate seamlessly with other applications and update automatically, reducing the burden on IT.

These are the things that matter to our sector.

And as Not for Profits, one of the most transformative things we can do is ensure we’re ‘using the right tool for the right job’.   We’ve all felt the frustration of trying to use a system that wasn’t actually designed for the task we want it to do.

Fundraising is hard enough without trying to do it with a CRM that thinks in terms of customers and sales rather than supporters and donations.

We recently conducted some sector research and one of the biggest challenges, facing practically everyone, is a lack of time.  Everyone is being squeezed to deliver more with less.  With that in mind, one of the biggest innovations that a Not for Profit could make, is to simply become more efficient.

Do you really have time to waste on data imports and manual reporting?

What could you achieve if you removed all the workarounds and got your whole organisations using the fundraising system (rather than always relying on you)?

That’s when your ideas could truly boom.