Innovation and SMEs
Leaders today know that innovation in the workplace is key to business growth. A successful business leader achieves results by inspiring innovation at every level of their organisation, knowing the best ideas come from an engaged team environment.
Leaders must look at ways to create a robust creative culture that is innovative and evolving and excels beyond just following what others are doing.
The TEC group environment provides ample opportunity to foster new ideas, as the possibilities are endless when you place twelve or more high performing executives peers in a room facilitated by an experienced mentor and coach who will inspire, challenge and assist in solving the most pressing business issues and concerns.
Innovation and disruption
If you don’t improve, you stand still. Adaptability is essential to growth, and survival. Business leaders must dedicate more time to disruption, experimenting with new ideas and fostering collaboration with peers to disrupt the current business model and identify opportunity in the local and expanding global market.
Disruption means ideas and insights that force businesses to change how they think, behave, learn and do business. An increasingly collaborative, social and changing business environment has created many new challenges for business leaders, but also empowered them to take more risks than ever before.
6 CEOs reflect on 2015 to shape 2016
We often see that members have similarities when it comes to growing trends amongst their businesses. To understand the biggest trends among our members we reflect back on the interviews and case studies we conducted in 2015.
Members shared in their own words, how they managed different strategies and tools to get the most out of their businesses with disruption being at the core. These are the top four:
New technology has continued to be an area that is changing business models, disrupting traditional industries globally and wiping out slow-to-adapt businesses.
For Paul Kahlert, CEO of All Purpose Transport, technology has meant adopting new solutions to help drive improvements in the company’s business model. In Paul’s case, this meant utilising technology to improve the operations of his transport company.
“The only real way to improve productivity is to find quicker, faster, smarter ways of doing things,” explained Paul. In 2015, Paul visited the US to observe how businesses overseas are adopting technology to boost productivity.
“Over there, the transport task is a lot bigger than it is in Australia, so therefore you have more players and more people undertaking better and smarter ways of doing things,” said Paul.
The property market is another area that is moving quickly with technology, the industry has seen some major changes in recent years. For Greville Pabst, Director of WBP Property Group, his focus has been on internal services, using technology to break new ground in the way the company’s offices function.
“We did invest quite heavily in technology. We created a paperless solution that has taken a number of years to develop,” said Greville.
This strategy removed a lot of legwork from performing the daily tasks the company was undertaking. WBP Property’s software was also designed to integrate with the systems of their clients, simplifying and streamlining the process of working with outside organisations.
Innovation from a leadership perspective can represent a challenge. The trick for business leaders is to fuel this fire by ensuring innovative and fresh ideas get the focus they need to drive the business forward.
This has certainly been the case for Salvatore Malatesta, the entrepreneur and CEO behind St ALi Family. Innovation has meant creating a hybrid business model, operating both as a wholesale provider of resources to cafes, while also operating his own cafes across Melbourne.
“I feel being a hybrid business, we have enough vertical integration that the customer facing side informs the wholesale business and keeps us on the pulse of what’s going on at a grass-roots level,” explains Salvatore.
“One in five of our wholesale customers have agreed to direct debits weekly, so that coffee is automatically debited upon dispatch and we aren’t fighting the cash flow crisis of many wholesale businesses,” said Salvatore.
For Paul Higgins, CEO of Dingo Software, the slowdown in the mining sector has provided an opportunity for major mining companies to cut costs and reduce overheads by adopting his diagnostics software. Maintenance in the mining sector is a major cost, which is why companies are increasingly investing in proactive care to ensure machinery operates effectively.
“We’ve been working hard to show [mining engineers] that we really are partners for them, rather than trying to do their job,” explained Paul.
“We applied some of the best principles in innovation and, even though we’ve been around for a long time, we carved out a small team to do something innovative and get it out to customers quickly, get feedback and develop a viable product,” said Paul.
That approach has also extended to Dingo Software’s strategic planning, where innovation has become a core part of the businesses long-term objectives. This success has seen Dingo Software receive professional recognition, with the organisation winning the Austmine Innovation Award in the Mining Equipment Technology and Services (METS) sector.
- Talent Management
While technology and innovation remained at the top of the agenda for many business executives in 2015, the perennial issue of keeping and recruiting top talent has continued to be a major issue.
Since Bronwyn Condon assumed the role of Managing Partner at Marsh&Partners, her belief in the importance of having the right people in the right roles has solidified further. Bronwyn has implemented a number of different strategies to build a strong team within the organisation.
“We’ve got a lot of people who have been here for 10, 12 years who have worked their way up to the manager level. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have a strong process in place.”
“We have a mentoring program within the firm where we ensure [accounting graduates] are getting to whatever level they need,” explains Bronwyn.
Having a talent strategy is crucial to business success. Leaders who can develop a people strategy in 2016 will certainly set the business up for success, by identifying and mentoring their emerging leaders.
Perhaps the most common focus across members is around their own leadership skills and capabilities. We believe the best leaders are those who seek opportunities to personally learn and develop for the benefit of their business, especially in an increasingly demanding work environment that requires quick thinking and fast decision-making.
In Annie Flannagan’s experience, 2015 was a year that saw her focus on becoming an authentic leader within her current role as CEO of Better Business Basics.
“I spent a good chunk of last year feeling a little bit like an imposter – I felt like I was going through the motions and being a leader was all about the title,” explained Annie. “That’s something I’ve really looked to change in 2016, by trying to close that gap between ‘who you are’ and ‘what people expect of you’.”
“The first challenge was just moving. I know that sounds weird, but I spent a lot of the first half of last year terrified of making a move in the wrong direction,” said Annie.
Leaders have to manage a range of expectations that other people place on them – one of the main responsibilities that comes from running a business. By defining what the leadership role involves, can result in enhanced transparency and collaboration across the business.
While there has been a range of challenges across the business world in 2015, many TEC members are continuing to invest in new technology, innovation, talent management and their own leadership skills in order to find new areas of growth in 2016.
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