Innovation 360 Degrees -

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Innovation 360 Degrees

Written by Alvin Hew
SIS Group of Schools, Board Director

Do you know where your next innovation will come from?

One thing is clear: innovation is not natural and maybe even difficult for established organizations whether these are commercial or non-commercial. For the most part, they are better suited to executing than innovating. Yet, organizations need to innovate if they are to survive and thrive in a VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – world.

If anything, the Covid pandemic has forced many organizations to innovate. Retailers have pivoted to e-commerce. Restaurants and food & beverage businesses have found success in doing take-away or take-out food service. While there is no proven success formula, what drives future success is clear: Innovation and Technology. 

Consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co have advocated – based on their experience working with many companies – the Eight Essentials of Innovation as a way to drive innovation. This includes having clear aspirations, being choiceful, having curiosity to discover, having an ability to evolve, accelerate, scale and extend, and a team that is properly mobilized. While there are such models, there is no proven formula for success. Yet the key to growth is innovation. IDEO – a company known for its innovation – states that “Innovation is about knowing when and how to apply methods that allow new ideas to grow. It’s about finding inspiration to expand your thinking, help you get beyond what you’ve always done, and transition from idea to implementation.” But where does innovation come from? The latest thinking and research point to a multitude of sources of innovation: from the top, from the bottom from the side…a real 360. In a school context, innovation can come from its leaders or board. It can also come from its teachers and staff. And not surprisingly, it can also come from its students.

Technology provides the platform for organizations and schools to innovate. Technology allows for better collaboration, sharing and honing of ideas, and the sheer ability to do things differently.

Taken together, technology and innovation has enabled the SIS Group of Schools to work on and use Virtual Reality as a way to improve learning outcomes. In fact, at SIS one of its students created Moon Base, a virtual world inside the AltspaceVR platform, after the pandemic kept him locked in his house for months on end. From paper and pencil sketch to fully functional VR Moon Base took his dad’s team of developers 6-months of work but having a student’s input from the start allowed them to all work together to create a virtual environment that had games, cool views and enough hang-out spots to keep kids engaged and socialising in an informal way that’s not possible in Zoom. 

The Moon Base has since been used as a venue to host a large scavenger hunt during the SIS e-Olympics and will begin hosting informal home room gatherings for all classes giving students a way to catch up, play some games and “hang out” like they would do on the playground between classes.

Innovation can come from anywhere, but only if the atmosphere encourages it. And as we’ve seen with Moon Base – it can also come from anyone!