IdeaScale Nation

Spotless: Process Is What Makes Innovation Repeatable

October 23, 2019 IdeaScale Season 1 Episode 7
IdeaScale Nation
Spotless: Process Is What Makes Innovation Repeatable
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IdeaScale Nation
Spotless: Process Is What Makes Innovation Repeatable
Oct 23, 2019 Season 1 Episode 7
IdeaScale

This week we’ve invited Bridie Scott, the Innovation Manager at Spotless to tell us about how they think about innovation culture. We'll be falling her journey from beginning to end - first as a swim instructor, later into compliance, and find out how it all supports her roll at Spotless, which is one of the premier Australian companies. 

Spotless is the largest integrated facilities management services provider in Australia and New Zealand. They have a team of more than 36,000 exceptional people and over 1,000 clients in defence; education; government; healthcare and beyond. The services they provide comprise a huge variety of offerings: from facility management, catering, and hospitality to security, electronic, and sustainability solutions and more. Learn how you nurture creative thinking and empower intrapreneurs to drive change at a large-scale company like Spotless. 


Show Notes Transcript

This week we’ve invited Bridie Scott, the Innovation Manager at Spotless to tell us about how they think about innovation culture. We'll be falling her journey from beginning to end - first as a swim instructor, later into compliance, and find out how it all supports her roll at Spotless, which is one of the premier Australian companies. 

Spotless is the largest integrated facilities management services provider in Australia and New Zealand. They have a team of more than 36,000 exceptional people and over 1,000 clients in defence; education; government; healthcare and beyond. The services they provide comprise a huge variety of offerings: from facility management, catering, and hospitality to security, electronic, and sustainability solutions and more. Learn how you nurture creative thinking and empower intrapreneurs to drive change at a large-scale company like Spotless. 


Speaker 1:

Would you ever think that you'd have a grounds person, you know, pitching to an executive director asking for money? Would you ever think that, you know, we're , we've got somebody working in a remote location that have gone down to Canberra , uh, to again present to one of our biggest customers that we have here at spotless. And talk about that , the good idea that came to them, you know, because they could see that there was a better way of working and that's all part of that mentoring and development that is really important to us as well.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

welcome everyone to idea scale nation. It's our podcast where we talk to change makers , game changers, innovation program leaders and entrepreneurs. This week we've got Bridey Scott , the innovation manager at spotless. Now, if you're not familiar with spotless, then you're not familiar with one of the premier Australian companies. Spotless is the largest integrated facilities management services provider in Australia and New Zealand. That means that they have a team of more than 36,000 people and over 1000 clients in defense education, government, healthcare , and the services they provide comprise a huge variety of offerings. We're talking about facility management, catering, hospitality, security, sustainability and beyond. I've actually eaten at spotless Epicare cafe. I've attended events run by their teams and I've seen them working all over the city and Melbourne, Brisbane, and I'm sure in some of the more remote corners of Australia and New Zealand as well. So their innovation efforts cover a lot of ground. They're working on everything from simple process improvement to internet of things, sensor monitoring to drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, and much more. So we're going to hear how they go about engaging their employees and partners in defining the future of their business here with Bridey. Scott Bridey , welcome to the podcast. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you start out and did you know your career path was going to take you into the innovation space?

Speaker 1:

Thanks for having me, Jessica. Really excited to talk to you today. Uh, did I know that my career path was going to take me into innovation? Absolutely not. Um, it's been a whirlwind of a career , uh , which started probably about the age of 20 when I graduated from university as a dental hygienist. Uh, and with those skills and qualifications that I earned, I became a swimming instructor, one of the greatest careers that I've had , uh, possibly to date. Uh , incredibly rewarding. Um, you know, working with children, working with families, but also seeing reward and reward that took place after a lot of hard work and a lot of coaching people to know that they can do it. They can become a confident swimmer, they can become confident in our Australian waters and they can be safe for their future of their, their families. And they lost all as well. Now, why societies is, it was a real eye opener to me to really invest in learning your trade and really enjoying and having the , the moral background to what you're doing to say that I'm actually really good at this and I'm a really good coach. And that led me really into the future of what my career is today. From humble swimming, instructing. I then took my career into health, health and safety , uh , which then took me into human resources , uh, then into law. And then where I am today in the innovation space. I don't think you could find a more structured and compliant person as to what I am. I live by the rules. I have very little creativity. Yeah . And yet here I am driving a department that is exactly the opposite too to all things those. But what led me to this role is that the processes are the same. And if you've got a clear process which will guide you on how to get a really good idea into a trial, into a structure, into a new service offering or into a widget, then I think that's half of your success battle going through. And that's where I've really been able to take my lessons over the last, you know, 25 plus years or sorry , and really put them into practice to ah , to here at spotless. So not only , um, you know, identifying innovation and ideation as a Okin ization but also how to guide a culture throughout our business.

Speaker 3:

I think that's so interesting. You know, when I was looking into your background, when I was preparing for the podcast, I saw that you had this history in compliance, but I did not see that that came after your career as a swim instructor. But it makes so much sense to me that actually compliance and creativity can go really well together. Especially when you're talking about making innovation repeatable.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Yeah. You're absolutely correct. And that's what's really driven us, our success here at spotless is that I came into the business business with a very clean slate . Uh, we had to implement a strategy. You have to one, what was going to Sue industry, what was going to suit our organization and what was going to suit the culture of our employees.

Speaker 3:

That's , that's really great too , that the , the focus on, on your reward and coaching and process have made it all the way into this new career. So when, when you're at a party and somebody asks you, what do you do, how do you describe what you do to them?

Speaker 1:

So interestingly , given my back browned and given my, my social profile most kind of have quite a standard when I say I work in the innovation space. And I guess you could almost say I want a bit of a career break. Um , I'm not standing in front of a jury. I'm not standing up in front of a , you know, have health and safety regulators. I'm not standing in front of an opposites men , uh , advocating for our employees. I really have a , a fun bucket of money that , uh , I can go out into the market , uh , go out to our employees and say, Hey, if you've got a really good idea, even if it was in your wildest dreams and I gave you the money to , to support you to get that into a concert , how would that make you feel? So I'm sort of on that honeymoon job, I guess you could say at the moment , uh, where I actively ask people consistently, Hey, tell me about the, the biggest problem that you have at the moment. And let me say if we can work together in finding a solution for that.

Speaker 3:

So you're sole sourcing the problems to solve as well as the people who are going to solve them.

Speaker 1:

That's right. I'm probably the only one in sort of our executive corporate room that we'll go into it , go into a room and say, Hey, put it on the time. Oh, tell me what your problem is.

Speaker 3:

What a great opportunity to be able to work with all of those resources, like that pot of money that you talked about so that you can implement those ideas. But I'm wondering about when you first took on this role, it's spotless. Did you have those same resources and what did you decide that you had to do first?

Speaker 1:

So coming into the role within the first couple of days, what became really apparent to me was that the money part was near, on empty. Um , there were very few resources to support our innovation, growth and development threat out business. Uh, I had no subs , 14 employees at the time, and we had a pretty subordinate , um, repository or portal of capturing the good ideas that were going through our business. Uh, to add to that , uh, the good ideas with , with probably sitting in the business for, you know, anything in excessive that I had a months plus and where it really been actioned upon because no one really had that process or that structure to say, this is what we do. Uh , yeah , we had an employee come up and say, you know, hi, this is what we can do. Have you considered these ? Can I have support in doing this? And that sort of where it stopped. So we had to go out and , um, really do a lot of consultation. What was that business seeking from the innovation and development? Where did we want to get it and what would that look like in the future if we were going to , uh, you know, put some commitment and some resources to really taken these great ideas into fruition. And it was all about culture. And as much as we'd worked really hard over the previous couple of years, true, you know, build up innovation and what was it for our business and what did that mean? Again, we didn't have the back barn to really kick it off. And the culture was telling me that , uh, it was very management driven at the time. IAA , I'd revise a good idea with my manager and that's where it stopped. And the reality was, Jessica, they've got their day jobs, they had other priorities. And we're an operational facilities management business. We are always busy. So from there we really started to look at a structure and a process. So what , what would happen next if I put in a good idea, what would I expect to be the next, the next step ? What can I expect to say? What are some tools and resources that are available to me to help me really build my project into a business case, into a bit of a canvas that I can present , um, and really give it some will, some will guts behind the initiative. From there, we started to , uh, look at how we would present those. And again, there was really no portal to, to get it up to our decision makers to say, Hey, you know, we need to seek some funding or you know, we'd like to do a trial at his facility or would if a pathway was going to tank. So I started to deliver awesome innovation leadership workshops and get the buying from the top and they took it on board immediately. They could see the value for our business. They could say that this could be the game changer that we were looking because facilities management is a very fiercely competitive market and they could say that if we don't start to make change now, then that would probably put us behind our competitors for the future. The people that are working within our facilities on us sites , uh, directly with our customers directly without our clients until to this day. Now we're all actively talking innovation now with O actively empowered to rise good ideas and have discussions around good ideas and we're empowered to, to put those good ideas into the ID scour platform. So we've had a huge journey over the last sort of 18 months. Um, uh , really changing around that culture and really trying to promote to our employees, promote to our workforce that, you know, you are the , the future of our workforce and you do come with that wealth of experience and , and we honor that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Speaking as someone who's seen you at work and seen you in action, I know you guys are always busy, you are always like managing multiple projects, but that's an interesting journey. Like you started out sort of what your road, discovering what your roadmap is, where you wanted to go and you began by focusing on culture and developing a process and then you would work with the decision makers to create these leadership workshops so that they would, you know, adopt it. And that's so wonderful that they did. Was there any part of that, a presentation or workshop that you made that particularly resonated with them that made them come on board ?

Speaker 1:

Oh, look, absolutely. And this was identified very early on in the pace was that they would own their concept and that they would be involved in the , the concept development from, you know, having that good idea, putting it into the ID scour platform all the way out to uh , you know, writing a business case, seeking funding if that was appropriate. And seeing the trial in action within the workplace with all of our trials that we do conduct, we also write up a formal review and we put it into a bit of a glossy magazine and we present that to our customers as well. And that ID ADA is also involved in that whole process. So for them it was demonstrating that, you know, this isn't a manager oriented program. Um, we are aligned on an employee's expectations and um, I guess creative ideas to, to be right within our platform and that we're also prepared to take a risk and out business and trial the unknown. And we've got a number of those initiatives at the moment where, you know, it's never been done before. We've had to develop a new system or a new service offering. And we're not really sure what the outcome will be, but let's give it a go. So having our employees involved in that entire process has been the biggest shift in our culture, a to side that you know, you will come along on the journey and also be exposed to essentially part of the business that you probably never thought you would be before.

Speaker 3:

I love that and I love that you story . Tell it out to your customers afterwards so that there's this like ongoing way where you're building the profile of anybody who's contributing to the program. And I think, I think it's great to see that you bring your, your leadership on, you bring the team members on to start sharing your ideas. But then who was the first person you hired to help you on your team and why did, why did you need to hire that person first?

Speaker 4:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

uh, so I needed to hire some support , uh, based around the, the administrative administration and by [inaudible] , how are we capturing these good ideas? But how are the, how is the why that would capture in it , uh , promoting what we're doing within the program as well. And a guy nuts way . We , uh, you know, connected with yourself through the ID scour platform and , and that was really important to us. So I hired an administrator that would completely manage that function. The idea gets riced , uh , we do the behind the scenes, make it pretty, make it glossy, we'd pop it up on the platform and we openly encourage all of them workforce to go in and view the platform on a regular basis and not just on ideas that might fall within the Ramya or within their landscape, but also ones that they might have a personal interesting or personal investment in. So we're bringing our workforce together now. We work over the whole of Australia as you know , uh, and making those connections even throughout the wider business here at spotless is really what we're about. If there's a good idea that might be taking place in Queensland, Hey , it might also take place in Southern new South Wales or down in Victoria. So it's all about connecting people. So it was really important for us that the register or the ID sculpt platform is , uh , aesthetically attractive to our workforce. Uh, doesn't use a lot of jargon and acronyms and really tech talk that you can find. So often in the innovation space, it's in common language. So it appeals to everybody.

Speaker 3:

So now that you've got this crowdsourcing program started and you're sharing it with everybody from, you know, your employees to your customers, when did you know that this program was going to be a successful one?

Speaker 1:

Uh , was there a particular moment? Yeah, there absolutely was a, when we no longer had to promote and we no longer had to direct down on employees to going onto the idea scale when they were actively doing that on their own accord . Uh , we [inaudible] , as I said earlier, a lot of estate throughout Australia. Uh, and there's no physical way that we can get over and see all of our , uh, 36,000 employees and , and , and even the employees that work within this contract as well. So we, we measure the success on one. People are actively going into the platform. People are actively rising ideas day after day after day. Uh, and we're actively in Christina membership into the platform as well. All with that. Any further promotion or , or publication.

Speaker 3:

And I, I'd have to say, I think part of it is how you nurture the ideas through that process. Um, we've already talked about how you've got this background in coaching, but I know that mentorship is also a key part of your innovation program. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it absolutely is. And these comes down to the ADI ITER . Again, JC comm . Uh , we want to take them along on the journey. We want to be able to provide them with mentoring , uh , and courage to be able to bring forward their good ideas, but also learn new skills for the future of , of their own development as well. Would you ever think that you'd have a grounds person, you know, pitching to an executive director asking for money? Uh, would you ever think that, you know, we're , we've got somebody working in a remote location that have gone down to Canberra , uh , to a guy in present to one of our biggest customers that we have here at spotless. And talk about the , the good idea that came to them, you know, because they could say that there was a better way of working and that's all part of that mentoring and development that is really important to us as well. Uh, we want to take our people through the journey. We want to be able to upskill them because at the end of the tight , these people are the one that are making choices within our business. They're promoting what our business is and that reflects ultimately on our customers as well. And we actively encourage our customers to also give us feedback. Are we being competitive? Are we being innovative and are we going to help them attract new membership for the future of assets delivery ?

Speaker 3:

And so that's one of the ways that they get to level up their skills, right? Is to present to leadership. People who'd never been able to pitch before presenting ideas before, that's part of what they do. But do you give them some preparation on how to do that when they do present to the executives?

Speaker 1:

We absolutely do. We absolutely do. Um , uh , we give a lot of preparation, but because they've gone through the entire journey of the , the innovation from ideation to D Filipino business , Heiss by the time they get to that point of doing a formal pitch or a formal presentation, they're confident in the tools and resources that have helped them develop the concept. Uh , they're more confident in the, the public speaking of Reyna because they've had to go through 10 stages of the innovation life cycle before they get to, to that end. And we've empowered them along the way as well , uh , with actively talk to their managers to ensure that they are given suitable time to be involved in the innovation project. Uh, we've taken them, you know , out of the field per se and into a , a more administrative based , uh, area so that they can , uh , develop those skills as well. And we take them along. The ain't at the latest ship workshops again , so that they can practice, interacting, practice those public speaking skills and really gain the confidence that they need to be able to get to that final stage.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, I mean after 10 stages of development, who knows the idea better than them. Anyways, that makes a lot of sense. And then I know you've got some unique ways of recognizing and rewarding the contributors, your ideators. Can you tell us some of those stories?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, look, as you know, when you, when you work with an ideator generally for a startup or a new concept and innovation , uh, you develop a very close relationship with that person. You know, it's not something that happens over a period of a week or even months in most instances. We're talking a longterm commitment here from, you know, really making sure that we articulate the idea correctly that we have all of the resources and, and have assessed everything adequately before we do get it into a trial platform. Uh, typically the trials can take, you know, anywhere from three months to 12 months and even two years in some instance. So you really do get to know their personal background . You get to know their own story and you also get to know what motivates that employee as well. Um, and where are we? Talk about that motivation. It could be from a a professional development perspective or it could be from their own personal perspective as well. And that's how we reward our employees. Uh, we, we don't do the traditional a gift voucher or certificate or what have you. Uh , we look at something that is really a true form of success and a true form of reward for that employees. And we've had some that we've put through , uh, deployments to, to formally upskill them in business skills , uh, which has been at their request. Uh, we've had others where we've S s ponsored them for a , in one instance helicopter pilot training because that was something that they were working towards in D ow. And we've had others that we've sponsored a simple weekend away from their family because when you have five children, you work full time, you work in a remote area. Those are not always achievable goals. So we really look at outside the box, u h, and what is a true reward for, for that i deator and that's what we sponsor.

Speaker 3:

I love that. That's part of what the opportunity of those several stages of idea development are too , is to get to know the ideators or the other team members that are a part of the process too . Now tell me, so you've, you've had some great ideas come up. Have you ever had to make a case to leadership for innovation or one of those ideas and how did you go about articulating the value and help them overcome, you know, see it from the same perspective as you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, look, that's a part of what we do all the time here at spotless. Uh, when we, when we pitch to the executive team would generally say keen endorsement to proceed to a trial. Uh, we may be seeking some funding support as well. Uh, but ultimately we're , we're pitching something again that we're not sure what the outcome is because the , the initiative doesn't exist , uh, or it's never been tried before or it's not a service offering that spotless has really dabbled in before as well. So it's always a challenge when we talk about value here at spotless. It's not always a financial value. We talk about value for our customer. Uh, and we also talk about the other elements that affect our workforce as well, such as out as safety contribution and our environmental contribution. And they're all areas that we pitch to our executive when we're seeking to support endorsement to proceed.

Speaker 3:

Now, I don't know if you can talk about some of them, but which of your spotless intrepreneurial projects are you most excited about or are you most proud of?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think one that we've got going on in trial at the moment , uh, for the first time a spotless are looking, I mean , at the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence , uh, we've dedicated a project team over the last 12 weeks to , uh , developing exactly that. Uh, the system that we're using is actually looking at a noxious wait down at one of our facilities , uh, where this weight is listed in Australia as a way to significant . So it's one of those nasty ones that uh , uh , difficult to control , uh, difficult to manage and difficult to contain.

Speaker 3:

We'd have significance. That's a term I hadn't heard before.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So what we do to manage that in its current form Jesse got is we, we send out qualified grounds people out to the field and step-by-step, they map out the field , uh , scribing any prevalence where they say this particular type of weed , uh , they, right or that down on a bit of a grid paper. They bring it back to the office, mock that out, put it into a lovely little report and that is what we pass back to our customer. Now there's some concerns about us doing that. One, it's very difficult to tell whether that's an accurate documentation of mapping the, the weight of significance in this instance. What is even more concerning though is that this task can take anywhere of October , free to five weeks to conduct a, it must be conducted annually. And that really puts our employees , uh, and ed , an exposure of risk that probably is not going to be acceptable for for too much long grain industry add in the elements. Uh, as you know, now, Australia has one of the highest UV writings in the world. They working in dry, arid conditions. They're exposed to venomous snakes, spiders, poisonous weights and, and all of those. So one of our employees said, you know what, this go to be a better way of doing this. And that's where we came up with the machine learning platform. So what actually in the process of teaching the machine at the moment has to identify this weight of significance. Uh, and then with the, with the platform that we'll have from there, we'll be able to make a, a very accurate assessment using the platform, produce a report in what we're expecting at this stage will be less than two hours. Now we're talking about covering for this particular Wade , anything in excess of 3 million hectares of land. So to take the , the grounds people out of that environment, deploy them to really what they're, they're qualified and trying to be doing within our state is to look after our land , uh, and take them away from this remediating laborious task. Replace it with the machine learning we think is a huge success.

Speaker 3:

This is a question that we ask of everybody who comes on our podcast . Um, and we get a variety of answers. So it's very exciting to, to ask everyone what they think. What does the word innovation mean to you? Some people think it's just a buzz word. Some people think that it's the answer. How does it relate to what you do? What do you think of it?

Speaker 1:

Innovation is a very well known common word within our workforce. Uh, nowadays , uh, I've had recent examples where I've gone into the , the menu at a, at a, a hotel, accommodation and innovation is on the menu. Innovation comes into car designs. It comes into mattress manufacturers. It really is widely told now. And when you say innovation, I think that general society says I'm familiar with that word and I'm familiar that it means doing things differently or doing things new. Interestingly, within our business when we started to go into that culture evaluation pace, when we did ask our audience what was innovation, it typically meant doing something better or more efficient. And that was a really hard concept to get around. Uh , that we don't want to do things always better or more efficient. We want to do them in an entirely new way that hasn't been considered before

Speaker 3:

a gang .

Speaker 1:

And within the facilities management arena, we deliver such a huge variety of services to our customers from vacuuming the floors to cooking, meals, laundering shapes , you know, the list goes on and on and on. And really what we're trying to encourage and what we try to peach throughout our workforces. Give me your wildest strengths when I ask you what a problem is, what that daily bug berries that you experience that if you had one concept that could remove that, that constant burden, what would it be? Think wild and think really creativity. And that's what we're trying to implement. And that's what we're trying to really encourage and extrapolate within that business. So when we talk about innovation, I want people to feel the passion behind the work . I want them to feel the opportunity when the word, and I want them to feel the empowerment to say, do you know what? I'm going to put my hand up in the room. I'm going to be the one that has these crazy idea concept . But I actually think that spotless can help me with my journey to bring that to fruition. So to me, that's what we've , what we try and promote about innovation. Don't just think it's, you know, the buzzword. Don't just think it's, it's too hard to , I can get embedded in, it's not going to happen. It won't be for me. And really try and flip that inside, you know, throw it at us because surely by now we've demonstrated as success in taking this journey throughout business and we are really putting swollen plus up there as a market leader and an innovative facilities management provider.

Speaker 3:

I think it's wonderful that you're asked your worst for workforce, what they thought innovation was first to that . It was a good way to start that conversation. And I think your point too that you've built faith by delivering on great ideas is a really great way to empower people to be a part of this program. Which I guess leads me to my last question before we close our conversation today. If someone else wanted to engage a workforce as large and distributed and diverse as your workforce, what advice would you give to them?

Speaker 1:

Uh , be bold . They vote in your delivery. Uh, be prepared to take that risk , uh, and the risk of putting your , your concept out there , uh, but be confident in the process. Be confident that if you've come to us with a good idea or you've come to us with a product or a service offering or a new widget, really stand behind what you're trying to pitch. You don't have to have it all. You don't have to have a completed product or a completed process. That's where we can work in unison and in a really complimenting partnership. But have the courage and the confidence to stand behind what it is that you're trying to seek and what you're trying to achieve to , uh , have a solution to your problem. Um , don't be deterred by the size and nature of our organization . [inaudible] be excited about that. Spotless have a huge offering. We have a huge profile within Australia and we have a lot of eh , developing and emerging partnerships within our industry as well. And that is our way forward. We don't expect to be able to know it all. We can't possibly deliver it all in Australia, but with our partnerships and our new offerings and our startups , we can certainly be a great competitor within the market.

Speaker 5:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

it's interesting. I asked somebody else this question recently on our POG podcast too and I think his advice was very similar, which was don't think small, think big. I think a , I think people who lead these programs are inherently , um, encouraging and risk-takers. So it's, it's great to see that in you. Thank you so much for joining us today. Brighty . Um , hopefully we get to hear more great stories of what you have planned for spotless in years to come.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for having us. Jessica.