By Christopher Gale, Head of Strategic Development at News Corp Australia
Why did News Corp Australia commission the News Bolt Internal Accelerator?
It all started a year ago with a question from our global leadership team: “Where are the big ideas coming out of Australia?”
We previously ran innovation programs within News Corp Australia, however they were implemented across the business in an ad-hoc fashion and delivered mixed results. When we envisioned the News Bolt program we wanted to learn from previous experiences and ensure we provided the right environment, structure, tools and the resources required to succeed.
What were your expectations in terms of outcomes before launching the program?
There were two primary expectations for the program. Firstly, to re-embed a culture of innovation across News Corp Australia and secondly, to foster ideas from the broadest cross-section of our business.
Our business has a history of entrepreneurialism, but we never realised just how many innovators we have internally. We performed roadshows and ran ideation workshop to our staff with tremendous success, generating over 4000 ideas as a result.
How does the News Bolt program support the broader strategy for innovation at News Corp Australia
One of our four strategic pillars, Investing for Growth, inspires us to pursue the next new business idea to drive profitable growth. Some of our more profitable businesses have actually come from ideas generated by our people. This pursuit to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries is also a part of our values. News Bolt provides us with an opportunity to harness the creativity within the business to identify and nurture new ideas and helps us identify new ways to diversify our business.
What insights or learnings can you share with other corporates who are looking to innovate?
News Bolt succeeded because we were able to create an environment where ideas could be developed, and we were able to provide a toolkit for our staff to do so. We also understood that we needed to allocate the resources and get the leadership support to deliver the program.
Some of the things that we identified early on that we needed from our leaders were:
Participation; Encourage their teams members to participate
Leadership; Attend the events to show their support and lead by example
Think Big; Encourage their teams to push their thinking beyond ‘sustaining innovation’
Flexibility; Willingness to let team members participate in the Accelerator Program
Expertise; Lending expertise to the Accelerator Program for mentorship
What did you foresee to be the biggest challenge during the program this year?
Our challenge was in our success – with 750 ideas submitted and only a certain amount of human capital available, we had to create opportunities for involvement in the program that we hadn’t previously foreseen. Coming into the program, we were challenged by the call to think differently and innovate in new and exciting ways, a challenge taken up by participants in the program. Managing business as usual expectations from managers who had staff involved in the Accelerator program was a balancing act. However the long term benefits of participants commitment, not to mention the development and new skills that were acquired throughout the program, were not missed on many across the business who had to work around the program requirements.
What was the biggest benefit (expected or unexpected) this year?
News Bolt has provided our business with many benefits. Chiefly we now have a process and a framework to capture and nurture truly innovative ideas and the success of News Bolt is proof that it works. Next, we received endorsement to continue to develop the ideas that came out of the accelerator. We are now working hard to continue to validate the ideas as a part of our decision to continue to invest in growth.
What were the outcomes delivered (e.g. investment, trials, engagement etc) by the program to date?
One of the most significant outcomes that we set out to achieve was engagement across the business and providing our staff with the tools for innovative and disruptive thinking. We had over 250 attendees at the innovation roadshows and ideation sessions which led to about 4,000 ideas generated and over 750 submitted ideas. During the course of the program we have had over 70 coaching sessions with participants.
What’s next for News Bolt?
We recently presented the ideas to our global management team and are currently in the process of further refining the business cases and validation the for market fit. We will continue to work on the ideas during the first half of 2019 and determine future investment.
We are taking the learnings from this years’ program in the planning for News Bolt 2019 which is planned to re-launch in mid-2019.