BUILDING AN INNOVATION CULTURE THAT DELIVERS ON ITS PROMISE

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As traditional corporates get disrupted and the pace of change increases, we have seen organisations focus on building an innovation culture. Millions of dollars have been spent on hackathons, innovation hubs, startup incubators, putting whole teams through design thinking and agile courses and even adding innovation as a corporate value.

But a year or two on, what has actually been delivered back to the business by this activity and focus? Did it generate more revenue / fix the culture / help you leapfrog the competition or did it just create an industry of activity and hope for stakeholders that the ‘magic bullet’ had been found?

Unfortunately, many organisations face legacies of traditional structure, processes, status, mindset and fear that are difficult to overcome making it difficult to achieve the hoped for goals. This can range from attachment to personal status / ego, financial management, expectations around ROI, siloed cultures, lack of organisational belief and trust, through to remuneration structures that don’t support innovation practices and inflexible technology systems that don’t allow you to change organisational structure easily. So many of these barriers are actually underpinned by fear. Fear of giving up power and control, fear of not meeting financial targets and shareholder expectations whilst trying out new ideas, fear of upsetting political relationships, fear of possible public failure and ultimately the fear of losing one’s job.

Given cultural transformation is a significant change that should be led by courageous HR Executives; how can they overcome internal barriers and enable organisations to establish a sustainable and embedded intrapreneurial mindset that actually delivers commercial outcomes? And what does this mean for organisations who need to deliver operational and customer excellence through quality-controlled repeatable standardised processes such as production lines? And what are the downsides of having a truly intrapreneurial culture as you grow to be a larger organisation where you do need greater discipline and focus to delivering consistent and commercial outcomes rather than everyone chasing lots of ‘bright ideas’ that may be misaligned?

These are some of the questions we discussed at an intimate breakfast roundtable featuring HR Executives from scaleups to PE backed firms through to large-scale corporates. We were guided on this journey of discovery by the inspiring Terence Koo. Terence shared his experiences and insights having undertaken such transformations multiple times throughout his career across Lion, Telstra, Optus and NewsCorp.

Amongst so many gems on the morning, one of my favourite takeaways is that innovation is not creativity, it is really about ability to execute and that we should be measuring people across 3 areas: Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Execution Quotient (XQ)

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to our rich discussion, most especially the fantastic Terence Koo!