17 Sep From Women Innovation Sprint to Alter State — a story of success!
From local to regional: my journey and lessons learned from initiating and organising a women innovation movement
Nowadays we talk about how to boost the economy and how to develop innovation culture within the companies or even countries more and more often. For a few years in the row I have been working with programs which help women to innovate and create their businesses in particular. In this article I would like to share my experience and the journey on how to organise a successful women innovators movement.
Let’s start from the beginning. What are the main reasons why women are less active in innovation building or innovators career?
According to the recent study of the Nordic Innovation institution due to smaller networks among women there are fewer role models to follow. This makes them less likely to innovate as they respond better to female leader examples. Another factor which limits women from becoming entrepreneurs and innovators is that they have limited access to external funding due to gender stereotyping within Venture Capitalist (HBR study). The third reason, especially today, is that women businesses are more vulnerable to Covid-19 pandemic as they work mainly in the sectors which are tightly interlinked with social contacts.
A few years ago I was living in a bubble when I thought that all these reasons do not exist. While reading a book about the future agenda I spotted a few lines about women and men inequality within the innovation industry. It made me think. As a professional within the innovation industry was I able to notice inequality? Do I witness any impact of it on the health and efficiency of the ecosystem? Immediately I realized that even most advanced countries within the innovation area are facing this problem and that we, as innovation leaders, should try to solve it. And so my First Lithuanian Women Innovation Sprint idea was born.
Still a little bit uncertain of the idea, we announced an invitation to register for this program in spring 2019. And then the magic happened. We had twice as many candidates as we could physically accommodate just after the posting of a very short video about the idea. And so my journey began trying to help women to find out their ways within the innovation industry, helping them to develop necessary skills and build their dream businesses.
After the accomplishment of two big projects in a nutshell I can share some lessons learnt.
The more you give the more you get. Our program is created so that each session we start with a short training on how to use one or another innovation method. Teams work on their challenges and try to use it later on in their business development process. Recently I have received an email from one team member who told me that participating in this mixed program was better than accomplishing her Master’s degree. Another participant, after finishing this program, has changed her career path and became responsible for innovation and robotic project management within her company. While working with these teams I understood that, by giving them theoretical background and explaining the tools, we facilitate their contribution to their organizations or future businesses.
Create an open network and it will expand quickly. We started with the main aim to help women which we chose to participate within the program to learn innovation methods and at the same time guide them through business development phases. However, during the project we let them invite new team members to join and help them move forward. It soon became so popular that our teams were joined by male team members, though the event was meant only for women. Our heart was singing.
A team of strong and committed project mentors is half of the success.We invited CEOs, partners and highest level managers to join our program. They represented different sectors and different areas of competence. This broad skillset helped our teams to gain immediate results.
Pay attention who you invite into the program. Our success mainly depends on the strong participant profile. We received hundreds of applications and just half of them succeeded getting into the program. The screening process is very complex, but extremely important for the network quality, team willingness to succeed and the determination for further change. Invest your time and read the applications of all participant Linkedin profiles very carefully trying to understand who is really motivated, willing to make an impact in the world and has determination to reach results. It will pay off later!
Building this unique program enriches my professional life, opens up to meeting amazing, talented, innovative and very creative people. With all the support we have already received within our country we are ready and eager to grow. We have already started organising the first Nordic-Baltic women innovation sprint called Alter State. If you would like to experience everything by yourself registrate here: www.alterstate.org
Nordic-Baltic women innovation initiative Alter State. Please find more information about the initiative here: www.alterstate.org
If you want to talk to me directly connect here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justina-klyviene