VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Innovator

In the second part of a new series of sustainability skills videos, Interface's co-innovation partner Jon Khoo explains how sustainability professionals can utilise innovation skills to drive positive change within their organisation and beyond.

This new series of videos breaks down the essential skills and techniques for sustainability and CSR professionals to take their abilities onto the next level, delivered through 60-second pitches from a selection of highly-experienced sustainability leaders and advisors.

Each video features a different sustainability expert discussing a particular skillset, with the series running throughout edie’s ‘Sustainability Skills’ month of editorial content, ahead of our Sustainability Skills Workshop on 30 November.

VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Innovator

In the above video, filmed at the Interface Showroom in London, Khoo discusses the role of ‘The Innovator’ within a sustainability team. How can a sustainability professional think about delivering innovation for the future whilst also managing the ‘here and now’? And what are the key steps that should be put in place to ensure sustainable innovation can grow from concept to reality? 

Khoo uses his experience as co-innovation partner for carpet tile manufacturer Interface to explain that being a good innovator is all about thinking about your own sphere of influence, and then putting the processes in place to ensure that your innovative ideas can effectively grow within the company – as they have done so successfully for Khoo and his team

“Innovation is key within sustainability as we can go beyond just talking the talk and setting targets and goals and instead look to the solutions,” Khoo said. “When you’ve got a solution that works, think about how you scale it; how you can build a business plan around it and make sure it’s having as much impact as it can.

“Not all ideas are going to work beautifully, so it’s also about finding a process where you start with lots of ideas but you allow the best ones to bloom.”

Jon Khoo’s top tips on the art of innovating in sustainability

– Begin with your own sphere of influence. You should first consider what you want your legacy to be for the company. And that legacy has to be tied into your own sphere of influence. If it’s not, then you should look to pass the idea or project onto someone who can run with it and focus on it.

Get the right people involved. It’s crucial that you to get the right people around a problem if you are going to use innovation to solve it. You need to find the right partners to define what it is you’re trying to tackle and then identify the solutions and ideas to achieve that.

Get your bosses involved early. Go and pitch your ideas to them. Don’t be afraid and, ultimately, make sure you are working for a business that actually gives you the opportunity to share and grow your ideas.

Don’t be afraid of failure. We live in a culture that is so used to talking about the successes and not talking about the failures, but without the failures you can’t have the successes. A willingness to realise that sometimes you’re going to get it wrong is key. Your idea might not pan out now, but it might sow the seeds for something more important and successful in the future.

– Set ambitious targets. Interface’s Mission Zero and Climate Take Back sustainability programmes set very bold targets, but we also set shorter-term targets along the way. Even if you don’t know what the end game is, if you start with a big audacious target then it’s actually much easier for you in the short-term. And those bold, long-term targets will ultimately help to drive and encourage innovation in the short-term.  

edie’s sustainability skills month and workshop

The month of November sees edie shift the editorial spotlight from green building to sustainability skills, ahead of the edie Skills Workshop on 30 November in London (find out more and register to attend here).

From presentation skills and building the business case to the power of influence and persuasion, this month of exclusive videos, features and podcasts will pro-actively address the sustainability skills gaps and lay the foundations for businesses to take the next steps in their sustainability journey.

Read all of our sustainability skills content here.

Luke Nicholls

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