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Innovate or Bust

Creating Business Cultures Open to Change

Innovate or Bust: Creating Business Cultures open to Change

What does it take to be innovative in a changing global economy? That was a key question posed at the 35th-anniversary conference of the Australian Graduate School of Management.

A highlight of the conference was three business leaders – Gerhard Vorster, chief strategy officer at Deloitte Australia and Asia Pacific; Andrew Stevens, managing director of IBM Australia and New Zealand; and George Frazis, CEO of St George Banking Group – sharing their insights into embracing the challenges of innovation, now and into the future.

Implementing innovation in business can be hard work. It demands new ways of thinking, not only today but tomorrow and beyond. At the 35th-anniversary conference of the Australian Graduate School of Management, three business leaders gave their views on meeting the challenge of innovation within the context of their companies.

Gerhard Vorster, chief strategy officer at Deloitte Australia and Asia Pacific, believes that innovation "needs to wear overalls" and "overalls that are different to what you have been wearing". In order to be effective, these "overalls" must blanket an organisation. Innovation is all about trying new things and it has to be entrenched in business plans - in the way business people think - and should be explored using concepts such as design thinking.

To provide the necessary tools, Deloitte has teamed up with leading international academics to teach staff about design thinking, which aims to balance analytical and intuitive thinking so that the organisation can not only make the most of existing knowledge but create new knowledge.

At the heart of Deloitte’s business strategy is a belief that 30% of its revenue every year should come from substantially different activities to those of the previous two years. "This means that if you are the strategy guy, your job is to innovate," Vorster says. "You have to change a lot of the things that you do now."

To drive innovation, Deloitte favours preparedness over prediction to go with "the swings and roundabouts and to be opportunistic when you have to shift focus, [which] is at the core of being an agile organisation".

It also takes a change in mindset. "Constantly questioning what is done and how it is done is treated as an asset at Deloitte," Vorster says. "That is at the heart of innovation - challenging everything you do, not just challenging from a big perspective. It’s in everything we do and that dissatisfaction with the status quo is inherently a wonderful feeder for innovation in its own right. "

Read the full article, or listen to the audio of this fascinating session at the UNSW Australian School of Business website

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