123 Innovate has been designed to lift productivity in organisations at the individual, team and organisational levels.


It is a simple innovation process that links people and their capabilities with innovation theory. The result is a flexible process and suite of tools to help organisations create new products and services; build more efficient and effective processes and develop more sustainable business models and new ventures. Through an in-house 1/2 day workshop, Hargraves Institute can help you implement this process across your organisation.


123 Innovate complements any continuous improvement, Six Sigma and LEAN Manufacturing initiatives that you have in place. It is positioned to accelerate continuous improvement processes and develop a climate where innovation becomes everyone’s responsibility.


123 Innovate was developed by Allan Ryan, Adjust Professor, UTS, in consultation with Dr Peter Bryant, MGSM.


The Foundations of 123 Innovate

Every day, we must look backward and attend to our job, our role in our team and the subsequent immediate activities that enable our organisation to succeed. But we must also look forward, thinking about innovation and change to improve how we work, our team and ultimately our organisation long term. This mental balancing act is one of the toughest of all challenges, professionally and personally. It requires people to explore new opportunities even as they work diligently to excel at existing capabilities, and it is no surprise that few do it well. 123 Innovate was developed to help busy people achieve the balancing act of excellence and exploration, of succeeding today and tomorrow. 123 Innovate builds on three powerful concepts.


Seeing innovation => Insight for Exploration


Innovation is born of novelty and creativity. Yet truly novel insights are rare, and ironically, creativity is often suppressed by expertise and skill. For we tend to perpetuate existing knowledge and routines, and thereby banish variation and novelty in the name of efficiency. In this way, even great organisations can become trapped in their own competence and victims of their own success. Before we can start to innovate, therefore, we must open up the mental space for novelty and creativity to occur. We must become mindful of an alternative future. This mental and cultural shift often requires systematic interventions to stimulate new questions, doubts and even dreams. Permission must be given to embrace uncertainty and explore the future. Only in this way, can people see the potential for innovation as new ways of thinking and doing. The first phase of 123 Innovate seeks to achieve such insight for exploration.


Thinking innovation => Ideas for Excellence


Having seen the potential for novelty and change, innovation then becomes possible. It takes practical shape as teams generate new ideas and explore options. This phase is often expansive, experimental and iterative, as boundaries are crossed, and new ideas are combined in the search for novel solutions. Problems are reframed as opportunities, and entrepreneurial insight is applied to the design of innovative products, services, business models and productive systems. This requires detailed information search and analysis, design capability, and the specification of actionable knowledge as a path to excellence. These are the desired outcomes of the second phase of 123 Innovate.


Doing innovation => Implementation for Action


Having explored, experimented and mapped the path to exploitation, it is then time to implement ideas and put them to work. This requires skills in organisation, leadership, resource selection and coordination. It builds on the cognitive capabilities displayed in the first two phases of this process and combines these skills with practical organisational behaviours. In this way, new routines and processes are implemented, thereby completing the cycle of 123 Innovate. However, the cycle of innovation never stops. Learning organisations always remain alert for the next opportunity. They continue to see exploratory insights, think new paths of exploitation, and implement the future of innovation.

Heuristic is defined as encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.


The 123 Innovate Process

What innovation delivers


1. Insight

Act on opportunities when you see them. Scan the environment, meet interesting people. Spend time on what adds value.


2. Ideas

Ask “Is there a better way?” Collaborate to share, learn and grow. Understand and capture the detail


3. Action

Engage stakeholders and seek support. Proper planning delivers better results faster. Act to the full extent of your capabilities and authority.


How people innovate


1. Seeing

Act on opportunities when you see them. Ask “Is there a better way?” Engage stakeholders and seek support.


2. Thinking

Scan the environment, meet interesting people. Collaborate to share, learn and grow. Proper planning delivers better results faster.


3. Doing

Spend time on what adds value. Understand and capture the detail. Act to the full extent of your capabilities and authority


Checklist: Is there a better way?


An idea is good when it solves an issue or adds value. This checklist gives you a quick score, out of 10, that you can use to assess your idea and highlight areas of future investigation.



1. Does your idea align with your goals and strategy?

2. Do you have data, experiences or people that support your idea?

3. Is it easy to explain and understand?



4. Have you explored all the issues and options?

5. Can you identify others that will build your idea?

6. Have you done the numbers, costs and value?



7. Have you identified who will support your idea and who will be impacted?

8. Do you have a plan?

9. Do you have the capability and resources to bring your idea to life?

10. Does your idea just feel right? What is your gut instinct? If your idea passes, do something about it!

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