September 23, 2015

Chief Innovation Officer Summit round-up – Part 2

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As Odecee’s representative at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit held at Sydney’s Hilton, I had the pleasure of listening to some the great stewards of innovation last week – not necessarily the ideas makers, but those that develop a culture in their organisation within which innovation can thrive. Have a look at Day 1’s wrap-up here.

Day 2

With the warmth of the Sydney spring sun on my back, I resisted the urge to turn around and head for Bondi, and instead made my way into the Hilton for day 2 of the Chief Innovation Officer Summit. And I’m glad I did!

There were a ton of speakers on the day, so I’ll narrow it down to the ones that had the most impact on me.

First up, Joyce Phillips CEO of Global Wealth at ANZ posed the question: “Can Innovation help create an equal future?”

This was an enthralling presentation to sit in on. Joyce started by sharing her insights into where technology will potentially take our civilisation:

  • Many of us will live to over 100.
  • Some of our children are predicted to live over 150.
  • In the future, newborns will be able to know their own time of death. (Pause. Question – would you want to know? My instant reaction was no, but then would you make better use of your time on this earth if you knew how long you had? I’ll leave you with that thought).
  • Bionic limbs will be commoditised and are predicted to cost as low as $50 per limb.
  • For those who know the premise to iRobot – AI robots act as caretakers for humans – well, it’s closer than you think. Meet Geminoid F:

So, with all those mechanisms for us to live longer, be looked after and self-repair – Joyce posed the question – what happens when we all out-live our money?…

…This allowed a nice segue into what ANZ is currently looking at. Of the ideas presented, the one that held some merit for me was predictive machine learning using technology to assist people with goal visualisation modeling to develop retirement goals. Like ‘Watson’:

Then Joyce shifted gear to bring it back to the title and and the issue of gender equality – obviously something very dear to her heart. How can innovation help create an equal future?

For their part, ANZ are attempting some new initiatives to support women, like:

  • Offering free financial advice to women with total saved super of $50,000 or less.
  • Paying full contributions to ANZ employees on parental leave.
  • Increasing ANZ female employees’ super contributions by 1%.

Joyce has also put together an awareness campaign regarding women in the workforce. This video had a profound affect on the audience, as I’m sure it will on you:

Next up was Dr Minub Karavidc, Director of Design & Innovation at AMP, who kicked off with a cracking quote: “Nice landing, wrong airport”. He was describing how most organisations are so focused on execution that they somehow disconnect the ideation phase from the project delivery; this leaves them with a well developed solution, just the wrong solution.

To resolve this, Dr Karavidc suggests, we need to centre our efforts on five pillars of mindset, spaces, team, methods and tools, with nine underpinning focus areas.

  • Change the mindset – making sure your back-end (development, testing, training) teams are involved early and often during the framing and understanding phase of the solution.
  • Central collaboration areas and war rooms – steering committees should be able to just walk through your war room and that’s how you ‘present’ to the PMO for funding.
  • Empower teams dedicated to the new approach – remove the need for sign-off of functional requirements; instead, give your business lead and design lead the ability to make decisions on features and keep the business owner across the ‘Whys’ rather than the ‘Hows’.
  • Collaborate to make decisions. In the context of iterations of small prototypes:
    • Bring the right people into the core team, dedicated full time – availability is not a competence.
    • Immerse people in the framework, methods and tool.
  • Adopt a build-test-learn approach, i.e. rapid prototypes.
  • Use a ‘duct tape and baling wire’ back-end during the prototyping.
  • Launch the MVO – Minimal Viable Offer. The ‘Offer’ addresses the entire experience, not just the product.
  • Measure the right things at the right stages – don’t keep your KPIs stagnant during the development lifecycle, but ensure you have the metrics you want to get your ROL (return on learning).
  • Socialise the idea throughout the organisation, even in creation and testing phases.

Sarah Vaughan, Director of Developer Evangelism & Experience at Microsoft, then took the stage to talk about something very close to my heart – the state of innovation in Australia.

A couple of interesting stats to throw at you:

  • Australia is ranked 17th for innovation in developed countries.
  • Australia is ranked 13th for registered patents in developed countries.
  • Australia in engineering, math and science academically has been identified as 2 to 3 years behind the equivalent Chinese student.

All in all, the health of our nation’s innovation DNA is not looking great.

However, Sarah did offer a glimmer of hope – she identified some great new examples of innovation coming from the land down under, including:

A stethoscope that can diagnose pneumonia…


…a pedometer specifically developed for cows to help owners understand when they are moving – which apparently indicates if a pregnant cow is having a male or female calf (go figure!)…

cow pedometer

…and a solar chip embedded in clothing that can charge your devices.


She then finished off a great presentation that offered a very real look at what the working world could look like in the next few years:

Finally, there was the panel discussion. The question posed to the panel members was: “How Do you Execute Innovation”. Of all the topics covered over the two days, this was the one I was most interested in.

The panel included Steve Lennon from Fujitsu, Mark Drasutis from NewsCorp and Dr Andre Teixeira from Lorange.

I got a sense that – even for this esteemed panel – executing is the key dilemma for any innovation program, and the most difficult thing to achieve. Here were some words of wisdom from the panels’ professional experiences:

  • Develop an exclusive group to focus on expediting innovation to ensure continuity and higher propensity to achieve outcomes. Give the opportunity for rotation within the organisation to ensure there is hype surrounding the innovation program in the company.
  • Develop a virtual P&L to define your Innovation ROI – putting a value against an innovation or prototype. Create a royalty fee against the IP.
  • Make employees NOT self-sufficient – create an organisational structure that forces dependency between departments and therefore collaboration of thoughts.
  • Use data and persuasion to take laggard stakeholders on the journey to understand the value of an innovation program – or demand a separate, untouchable budget to support it.
  • Let an idea linger for a moment before making it a failed project, give it time to be rejected or validated by the end customer

It was a terrific few days, and I really appreciated the speakers’ candidness when discussing their innovation wins and losses. It gave me some food for thought about Odecee how we might improve our own innovation engine, Sprout; at the same time, it was comforting to hear Innovation is both an art and a science that no one has exactly right. Sharing stories of failure (as well as success) – that’s where we can learn the most.

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