ThinkPlace helps utilities industry body with innovation project

13 April 2020 3 min. read

A large utilities industry body in Queensland recently completed two initiatives aimed at cultivating innovation within its organisation. The process was supported by consultants from ThinkPlace.

The initiatives were part of the organisation's drive to promote as much stakeholder participation as possible within its innovation process, with the aim of building an inclusive and multi-faceted approach.

The utilities company has a vast infrastructure network that stretches over hundreds of thousands of kilometres across the state. Any development in this infrastructure logically affects a wide range of stakeholders.

The organisation’s goal therefore is to hear as many of these voices as possible – an objective that presents significant challenges as stakeholders are widely and remotely distributed. For a recent improvement initiative, ThinkPlace was brought on board to help overcome these hurdles, which was done in two stages.

At the first stage, a two-day innovation workshop was held in Brisbane, where a number of stakeholders were physically present for the ideation process. The workshop yielded nearly a hundred new ideas, which experts then worked to crystalise into seven core, testable concepts.

The second stage sought to expand the ideation process to the regional level, which brought into play a bit of tech innovation and the wealth of ThinkPlace’s design and facilitation expertise. A strategic design consultancy, Thinkplace specialises in driving innovation and organisational transformation, offering expertise on strategy, service, project management, digital design and a range of other functions.

The firm’s solution for the client's expansive goal was to organise an Airlab – a cloud-based virtual innovation workshop that had teams from remote areas collaborating in real time. Each team was given a ‘workshop in a box’ kit that could be used during the ideation phase, which was coordinated digitally to ensure the exchange of ideas across regions.

ThinkPlace specially trained certain participants from each team beforehand so that they could facilitate the workshop onsite in the case of a technical failure. A number of ideas emerged during the workshop, which were then shared across the teams to develop and refine. The Airlab yielded seven key concepts.

ThinkPlace’s Airlabs solution is designed specifically to facilitate innovation workshops, with room for up to 100 participants. The solution has previously been deployed to manage virtual co-design sessions, workshops, focus groups, meetings and training sessions. In this case, Airlabs helped the energy company with promoting stakeholder collaboration.

As the energy sector enters a phase of significant disruption from various directions, energy companies of all sizes are looking to improve the quality of their innovation going forth. More inclusive growth with minimal social or environmental impact is expected to win out in the near future.

For ThinkPlace, the collaboration was an opportunity to clean up the “dusty reputation of digital engagement,” brought about by patchy video calling that can be frustrating in a professional setting. Under Covid-19 circumstances when most companies are seeking methods for digital collaboration, ThinkPlace’s suite of services is likely to come into high demand.