wisdom2 smlIn the second part of our three-part series with the business partners, Rod Hattch and Jana Clyde from Wisdom Learning, we are discussing how they keep their brand fresh. Wisdom is a Canberra-based Registered Training Organisation recently recognised as the ‘2016 Service Champion – Small Business’ at the, Customer Service Institute of Australia’s, Service Excellence Awards held in Melbourne.


How do you constantly innovate?

Rod Hattch: Innovation needs to be part of an organisation not something you do every now and again. That’s why we are a values-based organisation and innovation is one of our values. Our values are not a plaque on a wall they are the values that guide our behaviour. So we recruit against our values, we performance manage against our values and we talk about them in our team meetings. But at that stage we’re still not doing anything, we’re talking and reflecting. To make sure innovation happens we make it one of the key result areas in our business plan. That means that structurally and operationally we have strategies specifically against the value of innovation.

So then we have projects and measures. What gets measured gets done, so we measure ourselves about how we’re being innovative. It’s a bit of an oxymoron about being systematically innovative, but innovation needs to be systematised to ensure it happens consistently and opportunities need to be provided to encourage creativity and then those ideas need to be supported and nurtured, filtered and implemented. Innovation is managed in this business like marketing is managed in this business, like people are managed in this business and like our clients are managed in this business. It has an equal footing with other areas. We have purposeful and measured strategies and that’s how we hold ourselves to account.

Because innovation is part of how we do things, we don’t often see what we do as particularly innovative. Every year we have a refresh project in the training programs to refresh the experience for clients. Right down to the table settings that keep changing. The Espresso machine, snack bar – these are little things but clients notice. We’ve made sure clients now have direct access to Easy Cabs, we provide phone chargers for clients in the room for every phone possible. We provide magnifying glasses for someone who has forgotten their reading glasses. We even provide sunscreen if you want to go outside. Now, they are little things, but they are new things that happen. How we present food changes. We meet with our caterers 3 or 4 times per year to plan new menus so our clients aren’t experiencing the same food when they come. Our learning model is something that we constantly improve. We now have an online learning space and we use a lot more digital tools. We use IPads in the training rooms and introduce digitally based quizzes and review questions.


How do you evaluate each opportunity to avoid chasing every fad?

Rod Hattch: Everything needs to deliver a return on investment without getting too bogged down in the evaluation process. Sometimes you spend more time evaluating something than it’s worth to actually invest in it. We don’t necessarily survey our clients about each of these changes but we get anecdotal feedback on the value of that particular investment.

Jana Clyde: The devil is in the details. There are photos of the training room set-up so that it’s always set-up consistently; there are specific kits that go to create the Wisdom experience off-site; even the quality of markers we choose to use is determined. You will come here anytime and see the same number of markers laid out, chairs at a certain height - it’s that attention to detail that allows us to consistently deliver the Wisdom experience.

Rod Hattch: Creating that wow factor doesn’t have to be about turning an industry on its head. It can be, but the definition of innovation I use is ‘the actions to create and implement something new and improved’. And these ‘somethings’ can be a lot of little things. They can be big things or a combination of both. Because we get that, and everyone at Wisdom gets that, we are continually looking to see if we can tweak something to improve it. The little things make a big difference.


Read more on our interview with Wisdom Learning:

Part 1 - The Experience Effect: Building a Brand through Customer Service

Part 3 - Training and Preparing for the Future of Work


About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Lighthouse has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs, researchers and inventers on the path from concept to commercialisation. Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit www.lighthouseinnovation.com.au for more information.