I have a personal ambition to help our firm grow faster than trend and not just by implementing cost reduction and efficiency programs. I want to seek out disruptive, game changing innovations to propel us forward.
But, in business, being comfortable with taking a higher level of risk and working differently is not for the faint hearted.
Innovation is uncomfortable, a wild ride without clear rules or even the sense of having been there before. But, for our firm to move from a traditional risk adverse model to an agile innovative business is going to take ‘guts’.
Every organisation has a plethora of untapped brilliant ideas and our firm is no exception. But it is more than just ‘knowing’.
Innovation requires a change in culture, a desire to build a ‘safe to fail’ environment.
To move a company towards a more innovative mindset, you not only need desire for change but also a more fundamental change in your language. As Henry Doss says in The Rhetoric of Innovation; (the language of innovation) is not the language of strategic plans or goals, of reports or evaluations. “The language of innovation is a language about culture, and for this reason, it must be a language of narrative, and stories and tales.”
Rather than ‘command and control’ language and structure, innovation requires the language of nurture. Listening, supporting and encouraging. Surrounding ideas with love and encouragement, being humble and vulnerable, embracing and learning from failure.
This is not always easy. Most organisations are results driven and speak in the language of action. Soft, creative story telling does not feel so comfortable in the boardroom.
So let me tell you the story of our journey into innovation.
At KPMG, one of our first all-of -firm experiences in moving from a ‘safe pair of hands’ to an innovative culture was Innovation Tiger: The Festival of Leftfield Ideas. Innovation Tiger was an internal competition to source creative, revenue-generating business ideas to drive growth for the firm.
It harnessed the creativity and entrepreneurial thinking of our people and in the three weeks of the competition 172 ideas were submitted and more than 2000 staff engaged with the program.
From this initial jungle of thoughts, came the idea for Marketplace.
KPMG Marketplace targets the country’s growing contingent workplace of independent contractors and freelancers, providing clients with rapid and direct access to highly skilled and trusted professionals through the click of a button.
To bring this idea to commercial reality we had to believe in the uncertainty of the outcome and take risks to bring it to fruition. And to make it even more perplexing and discomforting, we decided to engage a start-up to develop the idea. Eighteen months later, we launched Marketplace, a digital shopfront, selling our services to our clients.
For the firm, it is a first and I understand also a first for professional services in Australia. For me personally, it is a proof point of the value of innovation, a genuine desire for change and the power of disruption.
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