Five New Year resolutions for innovation

Five Innovation Resolutions

It’s exactly a year since I started at Breakthrough Breast Cancer as innovation and product development manager so I’ve been thinking about my New Year Innovation resolutions. Here are five resolutions that I think will make me, and anyone, better at innovation in 2015.

1. Keep asking why

Gathering true insight is one of the biggest challenges. Only since working with an insight specialist have I realised the difference between ‘feedback’ and ‘insight’. To help me get better at reading between the lines and understanding what supporters really want, I’m going to make sure I ask more questions, especially ones beginning with ‘why’!

2. Bring people with you

Innovation is exciting. Coming up with new ideas and gathering insight and delving deep in to an audience and project can be all encompassing and sometimes I can forget about who else needs to come along on the journey with me. Making sure that all the key people are in the loop sometimes feels like it is taking up valuable ‘doing’ time but I’ve learnt from experience that it is just as important. A project can be seriously derailed if you don’t have the right people involved at the right time. And you can miss out on some awesome brains if you just rely on your own! I use a RACI matrix so I can manage stakeholders strategically and avoid the horror of the 20 person ‘steering group.’


3. Find out what innovation means to you

Ironically, a barrier to innovation can be that people don’t understand what innovation means or have different expectations. The word innovation is bandied around a great deal and in reality it means different things to different people. My current favourite definition is that innovation is ‘creative problem solving.’ 2015 will be the year of finding out what innovation really means for you and your organisation – and sharing that with others!

4. Don’t get stuck in a rut

Over the past year, we’ve developed some pretty good processes here for insight, product development and idea generation. When you’re starting to feel confident, the challenge is not to get stuck in a rut so I resolve to mix it up a bit and try something different every now and again. And I will encourage my colleagues to do the same. There are some amazing resources online – here is just one site  where you can find different tools or techniques that you can try and a whole host of books too if you fancy trying some new things or just reading up on the subject matter.

Innovation books

5. Celebrate the awesome

2014 has been the year of ‘celebrating failure’ in the charity sector. I wholeheartedly approve of the philosophy, but that combined with a role that involves a lot of problem solving means that it can be easy to get caught up in what you didn’t do right rather than what you did do right. In 2015 I resolve to celebrate success. Let’s shout about the awesome things we’ve done and share what made them so awesome!


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Lesley is innovation and product development manager at Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. She has worked for non-profits for over 10 years across the arts, international development, social welfare, mental health and medical research. Lesley is proud to be a jack of all trades with experience of every nearly form of fundraising as well as digital projects and social media.