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7 Steps to Unlocking Innovation in a Conservative Culture

7 Steps to Unlocking Innovation in a Conservative Culture

In a recent interview with Harvey Wade, who had pioneered strategic innovation at Allianz, Elvin Turner discussed how Wade had brought in an innovation culture at Allianz. This interview, posted on discusses seven very successful steps at Allianz. When one giant corporation can undertake such fundamental change and achieve spectacular results, why is it that others are so reluctant to follow this example?

This article is based on an interview Elvin Turner conducted with Harvey Wade who has helped pioneer strategic innovation in global finance giant Allianz. During the interview, Wade shared seven insights that have helped Allianz U.K make innovation part of the work life of 4500 employees.

Excerpts –

Boardroom – Boardroom discussion should not just be lip service. Commitment needs to be shown by providing funding. The senior management must also dispel the notion that they alone have the answers to all the questions. Management has to involve employees to help solve the challenges facing the company.

Focus – The focus should not be lost. For best return on investment, innovation needs to focus on what really provides value. That ensures that innovation is aligned with the business objectives and is contributing to the bottom line. Since there are many skeptics, one should be quick to gain some quick gains, to keep the positive momentum behind innovation initiatives.

Disruption – When a company is trying to create a culture of innovation, it should not get tempted to try too much too soon. Changes should be gradual and subtle. Innovative ideas can be implemented through small pilot projects to gain efficiency and acceptance among employees and become just as a part of everyday work life.

Path of least resistance – At Allianz, they decided to follow a path of least resistance by introducing issues related to innovation at team meetings and existing forums. That helped remove the idea that innovation was an extra burden. They found that as issues related to the employees’ own life got more importance and became tangible much higher levels of innovation engagement occurred amongst employees.

Metrics – A tracking system based on metrics was followed from day one. They decided to measure three key metrics that tracked ideas generated, implemented and their financial value. The output of various teams is made public which leads to healthy competition. Since launch, the program has generated over 25000 ideas valued at over $19 million.

Rewarding innovators – Allianz rewards innovators in two ways. The first is by simply saying “Thank You”. The acknowledgement of contribution is itself a motivator. The second approach is to run an annual innovation awards ceremony during which the people behind the best ideas of the year get recognized by the senior team.

Innovation Champions – Allianz considers those it has identified as potential leaders for the future a very important community. It uses this group as innovation champions to engage in strategic innovation initiatives.

Note: The preceding is a summary of an article found though our research, and is provided here with editorial comment for members only. Please see the full article at the following link for full original content.

The New Asia Innovation Team