04: Maintaining support for your innovation strategy

In mid 2020 we sat down with a group of the countries most recognised and experienced corporate innovation leaders for their unfiltered and honest view of key industry issues. They represented both clients, customers and agencies servicing the industry.

Colin Weir
CEO at Moroku

Innovation projects often wane in this space because life turns up, BAU turns up. For example if you are working in the financial services space, in the middle of running some innovation projects and trying to change the game and then a Royal Commission will turn up and demand that everybody spends more time on regulation and compliance. It just destroys trying to do something different because running big corporates, it’s a complex part of the business. Sometimes it’s just BAU that kills innovation.

Anthony Johnston
CEO at CoVentured

Executive engagement can wane over the period of a program for a couple of reasons. If business strategy moves, if the market moves, or, it could be a change in structure or management. But time is the most critical factor. And time to a result must be within the timeframe that the company is expecting it. If it wanes, it might be because results aren’t delivered before change happens. Innovation currently is the first thing cut in a restructure.

David Parfett
ex Qantas and Scentre group innovation Strategy and venture leader

So, it’s very common in corporate programs for executive engagement to wane over time and I think that’s natural. Quite often the day-to-day of the pressures of their business comes to the forefront and takes priority. I think again this just comes down to setting aligned expectations around the kind of time period that it takes for these relationships and partnerships to mature over time. This isn’t a kind of a six-month process for a corporate, this is a multi-year.

Lorraine Thomas
Chief Officer, Product & Innovation at HCF Australia

When we think about momentum and motivation and sort of the ongoing journey, innovation can be a really tough topic and it could be quite an area where you need to have a high level of resilience. With any sort of innovation initiatives, there’s a high chance of failure to the ratio of success. So it’s important that, again, the executive team are on board on a long journey not a short journey because we need that ongoing motivation, we need the ongoing dialogue, and the narrative to ensure that everyone’s very clear on why it’s important and why it’s a point of differentiation for our organization in particular.

Daniel Biondi

I think seriously it comes down to the constraints that they have in the organization, whether it’s organizational inertia and the lack of trying new things, being afraid of the learn-fast fail-fast, or just fail. But in commercial organizations, due to the constraints of meeting their quarterly financials and a number of business metrics that they need to achieve, organizations start certain projects from innovation point of view and then they stop. And they stop because there’s no clear linkage to those business metrics on what those projects are going to achieve.

Giles Day
Founder and COO at Big

The things that matter to me are stop being right all the time. Some executives spend a lot of energy in being right all the time. If you already know your answer how can you innovate. Humility is important, being open-minded enough to talk to people that don’t agree with you and have an open mind if you get challenged. 

Melissa Witheriff
Head of Digital Innovation CUA

Look, there are many barriers to innovation. I talk about minimum viable governance. So what’s the absolute minimum amount of governance we need to do to make sure that we’re safe and secure in a regulated environment and how do we step through that to make change. Barriers come in terms of people who may have a fixed mindset and it’s about working through that to be able to create new opportunities for growth.

Daniel Biondi

I think there’s a lot of talking about innovation and there’s not a lot of doing. Innovation theater focuses on talking up what they are actually doing, or saying that they’re doing, and they’re actually not doing it. And that needs to stop for us as a nation to be successful.