How thinking laterally will help your organisation to flourish (and why your friends aren’t always the best source of advice)

We all have friends that will provide us with a shot of positivity and confidence, even during our darkest or most trying times. Sometimes their advice is invaluable. Other times, we turn to the same friends because we know they’ll shield us from the truth or the harsh realities of our decisions.

The same applies to organisations – sometimes it’s useful to look to your peers for support and encouragement. While on other occasions, exposing yourself to different experiences, approaches and skills might actually provide the impetus for the innovation that your organisation has been searching for.

Across the organisations that Impact Co. works with in the health, mental health, disability and Indigenous sectors, we have observed a common approach towards innovation and planning. Often, while preparing for projects, our clients look to the work of peers, colleagues and collaborators to give them confidence and/or direction in their own decision making. While this has proven to be successful, the context for organisations operating in these sectors is changing rapidly. This is leading many to question the viability of the way things have been done in the past.

Think differently – think like a start-up!

If you’re looking for new ways of doing things, inspiration to innovate or better ways to support your consumers, a great thing to do is to look at something (or somewhere) completely different. Sometimes the more random the connection, the greater the benefit might be.

We see great value in smaller or start-up enterprises looking at how larger organisations operate. The same can be said about larger, more established organisations looking to dynamic start-ups for inspiration.

At Impact Co., we understand the potential of this relationship, and it sits at the very essence of what we do and how we partner with our clients when developing strategies, new services/products or undertake structural change.

This means that when we work with larger, more established organisations, we aim to bring new ideas, methodologies and approaches into the conversation that are used frequently amongst start-ups to drive successful outcomes.

 Below are 4 strategies that we often use, and which we believe may be useful in bringing new innovative thinking to your organisation:

  • Be nimble: Start-ups focus on minimising the time it takes to enter new markets by working using a hypothesis-led approach. They test and validate assumptions using quick, cost-efficient experiments, allowing them to rollout or iterate solutions quickly. This means that organisations can revisit strategies in an agile manner and stay responsive to ongoing competitive and market challenges.

  • Connect with consumers: With access to limited data, successful start-ups have reinvented the idea of interpreting consumer information by going direct to the source. By asking questions and soliciting first-hand buying and usage feedback from their consumers, they can understand and relate to the pain points their products and services should be solving. A direct and dynamic connection with consumers will help organisations find and deliver additional value to consumers.

  • Prototype: Bringing new and effective ideas to market in an environment that is continually transforming can seem like a daunting task. Prototyping their “minimal viable product” before taking it directly to market is a strategic process start-ups businesses have routinely used successfully. Rather than miss an opportunity by spending too much time and resource creating the “perfect” product or service, only to find new technology or consumer demand for the service has changed by the time you launch, consider experimenting and testing your organisation’s ideas early … and don’t be afraid to receive negative feedback, as this brings you closer to the needs of your consumers (which takes us back to the previous point).

  • Structure around your consumers: A unique strength of a start-up is that they plan, build up and grow with a common and shared goal of solving their consumers’ problems. They are less concerned with ‘service lines’, ‘hierarchical structures’ and ‘siloed work practices’, as these all detract from connecting with consumers, which is the essence to delivering positive impact for the consumers that they serve.

While we all love our friends and value their feedback we also know that sometimes, they may try and protect us from the truth or share the same blind spots that we have. So why not think laterally and search for your support or inspiration elsewhere? 


Impact Co. works with both established organisations and start-ups in the health, mental health, disability and Indigenous sectors. If you would like to learn more about how lateral thinking – including learning from start-ups – we’d love to chat.

Contact us at and start making an impact in your business today.

Shol Blustein