Innovation is not only a tool but also a way of thinking. Disruptive innovation is about delivering something that’s so good it makes other things irrelevant, and there’s no point in going back. That’s the advice from Ben Sorensen, business development and commercialisation manager at CSIRO’s Data61. Sorensen has shared his experience through Konica Minolta’s Innovators Series, which features videos of high-profile business innovators sharing their insights into what is driving innovation.
“We need to take the language of innovation away from consulting jargon to make it simple and accessible,” Sorensen said. “It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t need to be high-risk, high-cost, or slow. Everyone is at risk of being disrupted, so the concepts of change have to be made easy to adopt.” Innovation can’t fulfil its potential in isolation. Sorensen has identified four elements that must be meshed for success.
1. Start with purpose
All innovation activity must be based on a valid purpose. Every organisation that wishes to remain relevant in the long term must be motivated by more than just extracting value from a market. Sustainable organisations are customer-centric and purpose-driven, aiming to solve problems and create value for customers. They deliver real value by focusing every aspect and activity of the organisation on producing outcomes desired by its customers more effectively than its competitors do.
2. Leadership is everyone’s responsibility
True leadership doesn’t let anyone off the hook. It’s embedded in the culture and ensures progress. The focus of great leadership is on motivating and shared purpose, and is characterised by trust. Senior leaders are responsible for setting and communicating a clear direction, while also creating the conditions that enable the excellence of others to determine the best way to deliver improvements.
3. Strategy must shape the environment in your future
People generally take a linear, analytic approach to strategy, if they take any approach at all. The best organisations do this automatically while also exploring for new opportunities to create value. They embrace the idea that the status quo doesn’t extend into the future, and systematically look for gaps in the market that provide new competitive advantage.
4. Culture is the force multiplier
Culture’s alignment with a valid purpose and well-grounded strategy is necessary to achieve greatness. And the best leaders work hardest at this. Culture is the most difficult part of the four elements. The challenge for most leaders is that they often inherit the organisational culture but are then responsible for how it evolves. Leaders don’t control culture, but they do control environment. They need to focus on creating an environment that empowers, encourages, and enables excellence. Great organisations bake innovation behaviours into the culture by setting them as expectations.
Over the following pages, HRD’s annual guide to Asia’s Top HR Teams reveals those who are embracing innovation to emerge as the leaders in their respective industries. This innovation is seen in the adoption of new technology, HR service delivery, change management, and HR mainstays like diversity & inclusion and learning & development.