Australia's Most Innovative Companies Awards Keynote

Michelle Eggleton

ARTICLE BY
Michelle Eggleton
Director of Customer Success, APAC

Posted by Michelle Eggleton in Ideas and Features on 9 August 2018

Crowdicity were the proud sponsors of Australia and New Zealand's Most Innovative Companies Awards 2108. Our head of Australia, Sam Curtin, gave the keynote speech.

Here's what Sam had to say:

"I run a software company.

So, you might expect me to use a platform like this to espouse the virtues of technology. But technology alone won’t make you innovative.

Since first launching Crowdicity in Australia, most of what I’ve learned is actually about people.

It’s all about people

Now I’m conscious as I speak that this room is full of companies who already recognise innovation’s importance, and execute with aplomb. Many of you, with wine in hand, are already limbering up to receive awards for how well you do it. So, rather than speak abstractly about innovation’s importance, I just wanted to share a few of the most important things I’ve learned since we set up our office here 3 years ago.

The best organisation know all too well that it’s their people who make them great. And innovation is no different. Innovation is done by people, for people and with people.

None of us is as smart as all of us

It’s always about people. But never just one person in isolation.

In my experience, the most successful companies treat it as a team sport, respecting and leveraging the unique skills of different crowds, different geographies and different functions. There are the people who have the ideas, and those who recognise their importance. The people who play a pivotal role in collaborating to develop them. And those with the influence, skill, funding and resources to make them happen.

Not just drones

The most successful companies have a foundational belief in people and their ability to work together to make new and exciting things happen. Of course, those things don’t always need to be exciting. I’m sure the ones we hear about tonight will be! But innovation isn’t obligated to be shiny, disrupt an entire industry or involve a drone. It just needs to make things better.

What I enjoy most about my job is getting to speak with the people who drive innovation in companies about their jobs. The best of them deserve all the praise they get, and often a great deal more.

Australia and New Zealand’s change-makers, with lofty goals, no small amount of responsibility, a sprinkling of opportunity and challenges. Lots of challenges.

Hands up!

For example, (Show of Hands!) did anyone find when they first decided to make innovation part of their culture that…

1. Most people in the organisation couldn’t define innovation?

2. Those who could had differing definitions?

3. Pretty much everyone thought it was someone else’s responsibility?

(typically, the person with innovation in their title?)

You don’t have all the ideas and nor should you. Rather, in the face of hierarchy, geography, silos and tradition, you believe in other people. And you empower them. And that’s no small thing.

Celebrate!

It can be a lonely place out there at the forefront of change. What you do isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You spearhead, you inspire, you mobilise, you galvanise, you catalyse and you shepherd. And from one thing, you create another; you improve your customers’ experience; you future-proof entire companies!

And that’s why we wanted to sponsor the Most Innovative Companies Awards Australia & New Zealand. Because innovation isn’t easy and the work you’re doing is so important!

And that’s worth celebrating.

I did say I was going to share the most important things I’ve learned. So, here are my top 3!

1. Trust your people

Organisations hire people because they’re capable, experienced and invested. Customers buy products they believe in and crowds form around values that mirror their own. Your people are your people for a reason, and you’re right to trust them. With this in mind, the most successful organisations acknowledge that ideas are the privilege of the many, not the preserve of the few.

2. Lead from the front, then bring people with you

In my experience the most successful organisations give innovation a seat at the executive table. Not only that, they use it as an opportunity to be inclusive, to democratise innovation, to motivate and educate too. They tie their goals for innovation to the overarching vision of the organisation and set expectations, both ways. They position their people at the centre and fortify them with the knowledge that they are believed in to help make the difference.

3. Tell great stories

It’s vital to communicate back to your crowd.

People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. So, let them in. Do frame, drive and communicate around innovation honestly, openly and transparently. Don’t rely on ‘innovation theatre’. After all, when innovation is nothing more than a paper-thin marketing tool, a little bad weather and the whole thing falls apart.

When you really understand what motivates your people, when you can articulate what’s in it for them, when you feedback on success and when you communicate in a way that shines a spotlight on the great work people are doing, then you can encourage the behavioral shift you need to bring about the outcomes you want.

Give people a reason to follow you, and then give them a reason to lead.

Essentially, tell great stories.

Good luck!

I’d like to thank Amantha and the great team at Inventium for their hard work putting this event and wonderful evening together.

To all the entrants, congratulations on the hard work you put in to get here.

And to everyone, all the very best of luck!"

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