Innovating through process

‘Our enterprises aren’t innovative in themselves, but it’s the process of empowerment.’
Louise Nobes, KiK 

When we think of innovation, we are probably inclined to think of digital technology or other ‘new and improved’ versions of everyday products, but innovation isn’t just about product, it’s also about process.

After 15 years as a social worker, working with young people in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, Louise Nobes was frustrated by the lack of impact – young people were ‘just as disengaged, just as unemployed’. Young people who were feeling that they weren’t good enough just couldn’t access employment through normal routes. Necessity (or perhaps it’s frustration) is the mother of invention, so Louise developed an approach that put young people front and centre to develop their own businesses (and jobs) based on a model that brings together entrepreneurship, design thinking and co-design. KiK was born and – within two years – now has three coffee shops, a chocolate business, a cleaning company and catering service. The target is to open five coffee shops in five years. Each business has been established – and is run – by the young people that KiK works with, based on their entrepreneurial ideas. This is where Louise acknowledges that the products and services aren’t necessarily new or innovative, but the process clearly has been. Young people have driven the selection and development of businesses and the brand, and they’ve deployed evolving technology to reach new customer segments. For example, 3D printing of chocolate moulds means that they can cost effectively supply branded chocolates to client organisations, as well as selling KiK’s own branded chocolates over the counter in their coffee shops. They’ve taken the skills developed in running their own business – such as cleaning the coffee shops’ kitchens – to offer commercial cleaning services. KiK deliberately operates with a high level of transparency. Every young person working in the business understands the financials and sees the accounts on a regular basis so they all know how the business is performing. And high performers have a chance to progress to leadership roles in the organisation. As Louise explains ‘if you get the culture right for young people, their ability to move and shake is much quicker’. There’s still a sound commercial sense that sits behind the model – each of the businesses is working in a highly competitive environment, so market validation is essential in ensuring that the young people aren’t set up to fail.

What’s striking about the KiK model is that it demonstrates the entrepreneurial drive and the work ethic of young people who have essentially been written off by mainstream education. Muhammed Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of microfinance institution Grameen Bank, talks about the inherent entrepreneur in each of us, and how we should be job creators, rather than job seekers. During his recent Australian tour, he gave an example of a Grameen Bank program to work with beggars in Bangladesh. Beggars were encouraged to take small loans to purchase a stock of products that they could sell door to door, rather than simply begging. The impact was immediate. As a beggar, they never got further than the doorstep; as a merchant, they were invited into the house, asked to sit down and to show their products. Many then progressed to providing a shopping service, being trusted by local families to go to markets to purchase groceries and household goods on their behalf. As with KiK, the products that the beggars were selling were not new (lollies, household items etc), but the process of providing microcredit for them to purchase their first stock catalysed new relationships and new business ideas.

Both Yunus and Nobes attribute the success of their models to the power of trust. Grameen Bank took six years to ‘peel away the layers of history’ and convince Bangladeshi women that they could handle money. Placing trust in uneducated, village women was transformative for the women, their families and communities, so much so that 97% of their Grameen’s micro-finance loans are now made to women.

At KiK, placing trust in young people to create their own jobs and run their own businesses has developed their workplace skills, built friendship connections and improved mental well-being. Young people have meaningful jobs, with opportunities to progress within the business or through other employers, as Louise says ‘they are ready to be believed in, and to give everything a go’.

The common aim of both Grameen and KiK – to move people into work – is not new. The businesses that they have catalysed are not innovative, but the way those businesses have been catalysed is. The concept of investing time and resources in untested, socially excluded individuals and trusting in them to ‘come good’ is an anathema to traditional bottom line investment decision making, but surely it’s the essence of social entrepreneurship.


Jane Arnott
General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
Phone: 1300 284 364

Customer Service or Customer Experience?

There is no doubt that consumer directed care has placed our service standards under the spotlight.  In a market place that is becoming more crowded and noisy, finding that special ‘something’ to attract and retain our customers has become a necessity for survival rather than a ‘nice to have’.  With so much focus on packaging effective and efficient products and services, the disability sector has come to the harsh realisation that ‘commercialisation’ and ‘bottom line’ results are now standard items on the strategic agenda.  The attraction and retention of our customers has become a vital part of our organisation’s success.

To keep our doors open we need customers that are satisfied to the point where they are happy to re-engage with us, time and time again.  Providing great customer service, it now seems, is not enough.  Customers have developed and now demand sophisticated service levels.  As providers, we need to respond by changing the game plan if we are going to be in with a sporting chance.  Due to this raising of the bar, great customer service is now an expected minimum.  For our customers to become loyal, they are looking for something extra on the table to lure them back at least one more time.  For loyalty to develop, customers need to have a positive experience with positive emotions.  It is these positive emotions that underpin customer experiences that then lead to customer loyalty.  There is a continuum that exists between the two outlined below.  Have a quick check of your service standards and see where you lie on the continuum.

So customer service and customer experience are both the same sort of thing right? Yes, in a nutshell that is right, however here are some things to think about:

  • having great service doesn’t guarantee a great experience
  • great customer service is a precursor to great customer experience
  • you can have great customer service without customer experience
  • you can’t have customer experience without great customer service to start with
  • it’s a fair assumption that most customers want great service
  • it’s an unfair assumption that all customers want customer experience

So where does this leave us?  Quite simply we need to provide great service AND experience. As providers, the ultimate service platform is for our customers to determine their level of engagement with us. If they prefer to engage quickly with us and then get out, then we need to accommodate that. If they want all the bells and whistles to have a great experience, we need to accommodate that too. It is this customer choice which leads us to developing the flexibility of providing great customer service AND great customer experiences.

If you would like to know more about customer experience for your organisation, please contact our Senior HR Consultant,
Andrea Collett on 0422 437 153 or

Using carrots to focus on customers first

focus on customers first

Employee engagement principles are easy to understand, at least on a theoretical level.  Employees that feel valued for their inputs (knowledge, skills, experience, work ethic, ideas, feedback, performance etc.) are more likely to have higher engagement levels.  They go beyond the basic service deliverables and as a consequence they deliver positive customer experiences that add value to their customers’ everyday lives.  From a practical point of view, how can we encourage our employees to feel valued?  Here’s a few ‘carrots’ to consider. Continue reading…

Keeping your ear to the ground – how to track your progress when resources are tight

When you’re running a not for profit it can be hard to find the time to take a breath and track your progress throughout the year. The good news is that there are a number of ways to check in with your clients and stakeholders on a regular basis even when resources are tight. The right feedback can allow you to course correct and save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. Often a good place to start is with a conversation. We recently spoke to Ian Cox, CEO of the Hutt Street Centre, about how Ian’s team gets feedback from clients, staff and volunteers.

Conversations with clients, staff and volunteers

According to Ian, ‘It’s so critical in innovation to continue to speak to your friends, to find out the positives and the negatives, and that feedback will sometimes change the way you do things. We talk to our friends [Hutt Street refer to their clients as friends]. We talk to our staff and our 650 volunteers. We talk to our board, and we talk to our donors. We’ve now got those five levels of feedback. Continue reading…

Move your mission forward: measure your marketing!

Welcome to the second in our series marketing and value. In December’s issue of Foreword, we explored marketing maths and revealed how, with a few quick sums and a bit of common sense, it’s easy to spot value for money marketing activities.

But of course value of money is not the whole picture. As a purpose-driven not-for-profit, your bottom line needs to deliver on your mission as well. This month we’ll look at how to measure the value of marketing activities towards your mission. Continue reading…

Five tips to bring your customer service charter to life

Customer service charters can often be bland documents full of big hairy promises that sound more like a fairy tale than real life.  We often mistake these charters as vision statements and promise the world. Delivering on these promises becomes a stretch goal rather than the minimum standard required.  Consumers have more information available to them than ever before and are usually well prepared for their purchases.  So if we are to stand out in a crowded market place we need to manage the consumers’ expectations and be truthful about what we can deliver.

The reasons for having a charter in the first place is to sell our organisation and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.  To do this we have to identify what we do better than anyone else.  Creating a service promise is just the first step.  Once all the elevator speeches and tag lines are done and dusted we then have to deliver on that promise, and that is where the hard work begins!

  1. Can you deliver on the promise?

Continue reading…

New products, crowd funding and social impact bonds – three ways to diversify your NFP’s income streams


Many not for profits are looking beyond traditional grants and fundraising to increase revenue and maximise their impact. From user pays products to crowd funding and social impact bonds. Even if you’re not yet ready to diversify your NFP’s income streams, it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s out there, as new opportunities are emerging all the time.


The latest ACNC Australian Charities Report released in December 2017 shows that across the charity sector half of sector income is currently sourced outside of fundraising and government grants. Other income sources include product sales, membership fees and user pays services.


User pays and product driven revenue

In some industries the shift from block funding to user pays has been mandated, such as the seismic shift the NDIS is creating in the disability sector. There are also a number of not for profits who have chosen to release paid products and services to deliver value while increasing their revenues. There’s The Hunger Project who have partnered with McKinsey and Company to co-design their leadership programs, taking leadership lessons from their projects in Uganda, Bangladesh and beyond, and translating them into a leadership development program for corporate executives. Their clients include the Commonwealth Bank, and course fees are channelled back into The Hunger Project’s in-country programs.

There are an increasing number of social enterprises that have been launched with products at the centre of their business model. These include international examples such as Warby Parker glasses and Toms Shoes where every sale makes products available to people living in poverty. In Australia, Guide Dogs have recently branched out into the product driven space with Beau’s Pet Hotel in Adelaide. Then there’s Thankyou, who started out with Thankyou Water before branching out into an expanded product line from muesli to bath products to nappies.

The key to success in product based revenue is to make sure that you get bang for your buck – that your customers get value for money, and that the time, effort and resources you throw into product development pay off at the end of the day. It’s the challenge of this balancing act that has resulted in Thankyou’s announcement in December 2017 that they are discontinuing their food products to focus on more successful product lines and new projects.


The Thankyou team have repeatedly demonstrated that they’re not afraid to experiment, to try new things, and to pivot in a new direction.  One of Thankyou’s recent experiments has involved diversifying beyond product driven revenue, to experiment with crowdfunding, with their Chapter One campaign kicking off in 2016. Traditionally crowdfunding involves raising funds over a limited time periods for a specific project, sometimes with rewards offered for different levels of donations. Technology platforms like Kickstarter and Australia’s own Pozible are tailor made for crowdfunding campaigns.

Successful crowdfunding campaigns come down to a clear vision, powerfully communicated, and sufficient marketing clout to ensure you make a dent in your fundraising goal early in your 30 day campaign. That way you can ride that early momentum to ensure you hit your fundraising goal.

Thankyou have been behind a number of high impact marketing campaigns, and their crowdfunding campaign for Chapter One was no exception. Their campaign video received more than 500,000 views and they raised more than $1 million in their 30 day campaign.

Social Impact Bonds

Social impact investment is gaining momentum in Australia. Social Ventures has closed a number of social impact bonds around Australia, including Hutt Street’s Social Impact Bond, Australia’s first targeting homelessness, through the Aspire Program, which launched in July 2017. As we discussed in last month’s Foreword article on implementing innovation, the Aspire Program is allowing Adelaide’s Hutt Street Centre to expand beyond their traditional service offering of meals, social work and support services to people facing homelessness. The Aspire Program will see Hutt Street work with up to 600 people to permanently end their homelessness through long term intensive case management, housing and employment pathways.

We recently spoke to Ian Cox, CEO of Hutt Street, about the Aspire social impact bond, and the key skills required for influencing funders to invest.

‘In terms of influencing you have to be passionate, you have to be values driven, you’ve got to know where you’re going. You certainly can’t pitch to government or big business if it’s not outcome focussed. At Hutt Street we often have fantastic ideas. For example, looking at getting mental health workers and drug and alcohol workers at Hutt Street. The staff will say that that’s what we should be doing, but we really need to look at longevity. If I get some funding for a year, is that really going to help our friends? [Hutt Street refers to their clients as friends]. If we’re going to struggle to get funding the year after, then we’re not helping long term.

‘The influence has got to be really strong. You’ve got to understand where government’s thinking is, and where their balls are lining up. For corporates as well you need to understand do you actually fit the corporate’s strategy. Sometimes they’ll pick one charity or they might have a couple of charities. Sometimes homelessness is not the sexiest thing as well. You’ve got to find the right opportunities and the right people, and that takes time, and you get lots of knock backs. You have to continue persevering, you have to be really strong in who you are.’

A different perspective on fundraising

Ian also had some valuable insights on fundraising. ‘In terms of some of our fundraising, people understand where our dollars are going. They’re not going to pump up those of our programs that are already government funded. Government doesn’t fund our meal centre or our day centre, the showers, the lockers, the government doesn’t fund those services. That’s totally funded by our community, and the community gets that.

‘You have to understand your drivers and why people support you, and it took us a long time to get to the heart of that. You need to ask why people would support your organisation, and why people won’t support you, which in some ways is the more important question. The number one answer for us at Hutt Street was fear. People will sometimes criticise homeless people and services in an area where, god forbid, we want to implement another service and that is something we deal with.

‘Fear is one of the reasons people won’t support Hutt Street or homelessness, and we have put a lot of thought into that. How can we alleviate some of that fear by having people come into the centre with our Angel for a Day program or by participating in Walk a Mile in My Boots. 13,000 people participated in Walk a Mile this year. You’re walking amongst our friends – they’re walking too.’

CBB has participated in Walk a Mile for a number of years, and it’s always great to see the community at the Hutt Street centre out in support, enjoying the music and the crowd as they walk past. Hutt Street has also helped break down the barriers by making powerful use of storytelling with short videos showcasing the stories of their friends as part of the Walk a Mile campaign.

Finding the right fit

The right revenue model for your NFP will depend on your sector, your business model, your organisation’s strengths, and the skillsets of your team. Before you explore which revenue streams might be the right fit, it’s worth asking a few critical questions.

  • How strong is your current revenue model? Do you have multiple income streams? Is your income stable, growing, or in decline?
  • Does your constitution limit your options for diversifying income streams?
  • What’s trending in your sector? Is there wholescale change? Are there new players shaking things up? How does your income mix compare with your peers?
  • What skills does your team possess that might be useful for launching a new revenue stream? Do you have internal experience in product development? Have you got experience pitching to investors? How savvy is your marketing team?
  • Do you have sufficient funds to invest in developing a new product or resourcing a social impact bond or crowdfunding campaign?
  • Do you have the key ingredients to craft a compelling message for a product launch or investor or crowdfunding pitch? Are you crystal clear on your purpose? Can you demonstrate the measurable impact of your projects? Do you have documented or video case studies of client success stories?

Answering these questions – honestly – will help you to determine if you’re ready to build and new income stream and to select the best fit for your organisation’s need.


Deal, or Dud? How to pick the ripest, most valuable marketing opportunities

You’re sitting at your desk. In front of you are two proposals for marketing activities – one to sponsor an expo, and another to advertise your services in your local paper. They both look like great deals, but you can only afford to do one….

So how do you pick a winner?

Over the next few issues of Foreword I’ll let you in on my special formula to detect the ripest marketing opportunities. By checking your maths, your mission and measurement, the fit between medium and message, and your audience’s mindset in the moment you can pick a winner every time.

This month – it’s maths, so… grab a calculator!


A nice sharp pencil or a spreadsheet will come in handy here, because there are three important calculations to do before you can pick your winner:

  1. Total cost
  2. Total reach
  3. Audience profile

1. Total cost

To get a real picture of the cost of entry, add up:

  • Media cost
  • Materials costs
  • Time costs

Let’s say the expo sponsorship and the newspaper advertisement both cost $500.

To participate in the expo sponsorship, you’ll need to supply content for the expo showbag and deliver your brand’s banner to the site. You’ll need to make a new advertisement for the newspaper.

To keep your direct costs down, look for opportunities to reuse material and reduce staff time.

Let’s imagine that you can use your existing flyers for the expo showbag, and one of your staff is already attending – so they can take and put up the banner. No material or time costs there.

The newspaper advertisement on the other hand, will cost $400 in design, and $100 in staff time to coordinate that process – bringing its total cost to $1,000.

The total cost of the expo is still only $500.

But as any savvy shopper knows, cost is not the same as value. We need to consider how many people each opportunity will reach, how often, for how long, and how well.


2.Total reach

Media outlets selling advertising should have a media kit with information about how many people their medium reaches, and who they are. Examine the source of this information closely. There can be a great deal of difference between externally researched or audited figures, and publisher’s estimates. For example, a newspaper might have a circulation (copies printed) of 2,000 but claim a readership of 6,000. If this readership figure is based on research that says 3 people read each copy, fine – but if it’s just an assumption, go with the lower figure.

In our scenario, the newspaper has an estimated readership of 6,000, and there will be 2,000 people at the expo. These are your “Reach” figures.

Now do this calculation:

Total Cost ÷ (Reach÷1,000) = Cost per thousand reach

This is your base measure of cost efficiency. You’ll see that the expo sponsorship will cost you $250 per thousand reach, and the newspaper advertisement will cost you $166 per thousand.

So… the newspaper wins! Or does it?

We need to consider how many of the people reached are in your target audience.

It’s time to look at…

3.Audience profile

Your message isn’t for everyone – it’s about a service you offer to people over 65 only. Your target audience is potential clients and their children, which means anyone aged 45+.

Looking at each medium’s audience profile will tell you who it reaches:

  • Based on its topic, you can assume that 100% of the 2,000 people at the Positive Ageing Expo will be interested in services for older people.
  • For the newspaper, open up that media kit and see if research on reader demographics has been included. Bingo! 50% of your newspaper’s audience is over 45. That’s 3,000 people in your target audience – 1,000 more than the expo.

Now let’s check to see which medium is more cost efficient by calculating the cost per thousand audience reach:

Total Cost ÷ ((Reach x Profile%) ÷1000) = Cost per thousand audience reach

If you got $250 per thousand for the expo and $333 per thousand for the newspaper you’re right.


Weighing it up: impact, frequency and longevity

Before you sign with the expo sponsorship, there are three other things to think about:

  • How impactful is the placement?
  • How noisy or competitive is the environment – will your message cut through?
  • How many times will your target audience have the opportunity to see your message?
  • Over what period?

Here’s where we throw away the calculator and drawn on some intuition and common sense to assess which is really the best deal. Hang onto your spreadsheet though, because putting this into a table may help to gain a better view of the big picture.

Factor Newspaper Expo Sponsorship
Total Cost $1,000 $500
Total Reach 6,000 2,000
Cost per ‘000 Reach $166 $250
Audience Reached: People 45+ 3,000 2,000
Cost per ‘000 Audience $333 $250
Impact Full back cover of souvenir lift-out Banner at entry
Flyer in showbag
Noise Low – only advertiser on back cover High – 100 exhibitors,
20 other sponsors
Frequency Once Twice
Longevity One month One day (flyer might be kept)

This newspaper advertisement is not the usual quarter-page in the news section of the paper: it will take up the entire back cover of a special souvenir lift-out, full of content that’s very appealing to your target audience. The lift-out will remain relevant and in distribution throughout Senior’s Month, so your audience is likely to hang onto this. It will have longevity.

What’s more, with both impact and longevity it’s likely that people in your target audience will see your message more than once, giving frequency a little boost.

In contrast, the expo is a very busy environment. Your message can be seen twice – it has some frequency – but you’ll share that space with many other brands…and when you went to the expo last year, you saw a lot of flyers in the bins…


Deal, dud, or… distraction?

Weighing it all up, the newspaper advertisement is probably the better deal… provided you can afford to pay the higher total cost.

However, as management legend Peter Drucker once said:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Before you buy, think about the opportunity cost: will taking this deal help drive your organisation’s mission forward, or is it a distraction? Could you achieve more by focusing on other activities?

More on that next time as we look at how to measure the value of marketing opportunities against your mission.

Meg Drechsler is CBB’s Senior Marketing Consultant.  If you have any queries about content marketing or she can be contacted via email or by phoning 1300 284 364.

Don’t forget to subscribe here to CBB’s Foreword to receive next month’s article direct to your inbox.

Lessons in leadership

Each year, CBB supports one or two candidates to undertake the Governor’s Leadership Foundation program, through a scholarship in memory of one of our founding board members, Keith Fulton.

Sue Mitchell of Surf Life Saving SA, recipient of a Keith Fulton Memorial Scholarship, provides her reflections on her learning from 2017 Governor’s Leadership Foundation.

The Governor’s Leadership Foundation GLF 2017 has been an amazing year and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and experience it thanks to the generous scholarship provided by the Keith Fulton Memorial Trust with the support of CBB.  It has been a year of self-exploration, self-assessment, personal and professional growth. A year of learning, of encouragement and of encouraging others. A year of challenges, change, adapting, acceptance, learning, acknowledgement, of being almost constantly outside my comfort zone, focusing and re-focusing, collaboration, peer reviews, peer coaching, shadows, analysis, facilitation, networking mindfulness and joy. And of so many new friendships.

The GLF has provided me with the opportunity to meet people and visit places that I would not likely have had the opportunity to have met, visited or experienced otherwise. As a group we have enjoyed presentations, and access to question and to learn, from political, cultural, social and business leaders.

All of this was undertaken with the aim of emerging as a better leader in our workplace and community.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the participants, facilitators and presenters of the GLF2017. I wish to acknowledge that some of the words below have been taken from presentations, reflections and facilitations, but in observance of Chatham House Rules, I will not attribute these words to anyone in particular, but thank you all for what you contributed throughout the year.

Contemporary leadership

We live in an age of almost constant change and as leaders we must manage how these changes impact our teams. The qualities demanded of a good leader have changed over the years and whilst many of the skills and tools used by leaders are still relevant, there are more skills required and more tools that we need to have in our toolbox.

Rather than list these skills, (CBB’s Senior HR Consultant Andrea Collett has already mentioned many in previous Foreword articles), I have just provided some thoughts and suggestions that can be considered when as a leader you are faced with the challenges of complexity, ambiguity, innovation or change.

Many of these will come naturally to some, but others may need extra effort.

  • Face-to-face contact relieves stress and anxiety and obtains the trust of stakeholders.
  • Eye contact builds value alignment, collaboration and trust.
  • A good leader will show compassion, empathy, care and connection. They will act with honour, honesty and integrity. They will be comfortable with ambiguity and with dealing with complex problems. They will speak from the heart and with authenticity. Have genuine curiosity, ask powerful questions and practice quiet and deeper listening for the answers.
  • Good leaders acknowledge and understand that everyone has a story. It is this story that shapes the person, builds their resilience and can and will impact on the here and now. They will embrace self-awareness, be mindful of themselves and of others, be open and accept their vulnerability and the vulnerability of others. They will look for the adaptive challenge in a situation rather than jump to a technical solution.

Situation + Thinking = Responses = Consequences

Leading change

  • When introducing or managing change, ask the question: who are we doing it for? It is never just about the how and when, it’s also about the why. Why is it worth the risk or price to change? What is the risk or price if we don’t change? Whose experience needs to change, who needs to be involved and who needs to come along with the change?
  • In driving change, there needs to be an understanding of the purpose behind a process, and look to whether improvements in the process are needed. It should never be about change for change’s sake.
  • Make incremental changes or improvements and understand that a culture of incremental improvements will help to drive innovation. Don’t hold out for that one ‘big solution’.

Challenge yourself

  • Engage in dynamic thinking.
  • Good leaders don’t know everything, and they don’t just answer questions – instead they ask the best possible questions
  • Challenges are opportunities – opportunities for growth, learning, change or innovation.

The Governor’s Leadership Foundation is the flagship program of the Leaders Institute of South Australia. The Keith Fulton Memorial Scholarship is awarded to program participants from South Australia’s community sector, on the recommendation of the program selection panel.


  Sue Mitchell –  Finance and Administration Manager at Surf Life Saving South Australia Inc. View her Linked In profile

Don’t forget to subscribe here to CBB’s Foreword to receive next month’s article direct to your inbox.

Working towards zero homelessness: Hutt St Centre’s practical approach to implementing innovation


This month we talk to Ian Cox, CEO of Adelaide’s Hutt Street Centre, about their social impact bond and the Aspire Program, zero homelessness, and Hutt St’s approach to implementing innovation. Hutt Street Centre provides meals, social work and support services to people facing homelessness.


What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is about survival for us. We innovate to provide quality services to our client group. We don’t even like the term client group, we prefer to call them our friends, the homeless population, the people who walk through our doors.

There’s the traditional way of delivering services in the homelessness sector, and that’s how we were founded. It all started in 1954, with a men’s only service providing lunch and a jar of tea from the daughters of charity. Over the years the meals centre expanded to the day centre, which is the access point. We’ve evolved over the years. Our funding is now a 50/50 split of government funding and other funding sources. We love the 50/50 split, it causes some sleepless nights but it also forces us to think of new ways of doing things.

How do you evaluate which ideas to take forward?

Being on the real frontline means you can try things. Sometimes we’re responding to needs. Sometimes it’s a gut feel. You can’t sit still – you have to keep thinking about the future. Our ultimate goal is to do ourselves out of a job. We talk about that a lot as a staff group. We talk about that a lot at board level.

Boards and organisations sometimes get locked into growth for growth’s sake. Are we really thinking about growth for our friends’ sake? If Hutt Street continues to grow is that a great thing for our friends on the street? We have to be an outcome focussed organisation.

Focussing on outcomes

We love seeing our friends get into accommodation. We love seeing education and employment outcomes. February 2015 was the best working month in my entire life. We had 30 of our friends who found work through the Fringe Festival and Clipsal (the Adelaide 500 motor race). We had been working towards our pathways program for a number of years, because were continuing to see too many of our friends struggling to be able to read and write properly, which is appalling that as a society we’ve allowed people to slip through the cracks. We started a literacy program, but our friends didn’t really want to do a literacy program, they wanted to find work, so we changed the focus. We had 23 employment outcomes in our first year, 75 the next year, 155 employment outcomes last year. Not all full time work, but it’s getting people back into the workforce. That program became our innovative response, as a response to need. We love it, it’s changed the way we view things at Hutt Street. The success of it in the early days lead us to think about the social impact bond and Aspire Program because we wanted to combine employment, education and training pathways with our case management models.

Aspire Program

In 2017 Hutt St launched the Aspire Program, funded by South Australia’s first social impact bond. The program will see Hutt Street work with up to 600 people to permanently end their homelessness through long term intensive case management, housing and employment pathways.

In the homelessness sector you’re very much steered down one path of getting people off the streets, out of boarding houses and into secure housing, but that’s not always what our friends want. Sometimes they just want to work, and not have housing. That’s remarkable to the rest of the community because they don’t get that. For us, we wanted to bring it all together. We want to transform the way we do business in the homelessness sector, which focuses on housing outcomes and housing supply. We’re all struggling with housing supply and affordability, Our Aspire program is partnership driven, we’re working with Community Housing and Common Ground. It’s been a great process for us, it has changed a lot of our thinking and our processes.

How to implement innovation

We start from the basic principle of involving our staff in designing everything we do. We brought everyone in to help design what Aspire would look like. They weren’t all team leaders – we worked with our frontline staff. We then tested the design with our leaders. We’d like to rebuild the centre in the next few years and we’re going through a similar design process with our staff for the rebuild.

I look to the big organisations and what they’re doing, but I also see that being a smaller organisation gives us opportunities because we can change a little bit quicker. We can adapt and innovate on the run, and we’ve done that with a number of our programs. Having the 50/50 split of government and non-government funding means that we have to keep innovating , because things might fall over, fundraising might not come off, so we’re always looking for new opportunities.

Keeping up to speed with opportunities and trends

I’m a prolific reader. There wouldn’t be a day goes by where I’m not reading a new article. I’ve also done study tours to look at what different cities are doing, cities like Los Angeles, Dallas and Dublin. You have to know what’s going on. We keep in touch with our colleagues interstate and we keep up with what people are doing overseas. We’re connected with the Global Institute of Homelessness.

The Zero Project – Ending street homelessness in Adelaide

The Zero Project was launched in August this year. Hutt St is one of a number of organisations aiming to end functional homelessness in Adelaide. The Zero Project is modelled on Built for Zero which has seen an end to chronic homelessness in three US cities and seen more than 75,000 people housed since 2015.

When you go over to Melbourne and Sydney, the numbers are out of control. Against all odds Adelaide is one of the only cities in Australia that has reduced rough sleeping. That’s pretty special. We’re now working with Anglicare and Don Dunstan Foundation, looking at ending street homelessness.  The fact that Adelaide could be the second vanguard city to see if we can end street homeless is fantastic. The reason why we like that is that over 50% of rough sleepers come through Hutt Street. If you can get things right from the street, from that bottom end, you can change the system. We’ve brought The Zero Project to Adelaide and we’ve been able to convince the powers that be that we should be one of those vanguard cities, and hopefully we will see less people on the streets.

Lessons from Hutt St

There are some great lessons from Hutt St’s approach to innovation.

  • Focussing on outcomes
    Hutt St focusses on what clients actually want, focussing on client outcomes and adapting programs in response to client feedback.
  • What do clients want?
    Ian and the team innovate based on listening to their clients and adapting programs to their needs. It might sound obvious but too many organisations design programs based on assumptions and fail to adapt inflight programs in response to client feedback.
  • Managing resources
    Ian’s team finds the balance between resourcing existing programs and implementing new projects.
  • Finding what works
    Ian and the team are taking on lessons from innovators around the world, based on proven programs like Built for Zero, rather than reinventing the wheel.
  • Working as a team
    Innovation is a team sport, and Hutt St gets the whole team involved in designing innovation, and works in partnership with other organisations across the sector to maximise results.

Jane Arnott
General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
Phone: 1300 284 364

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