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Making Innovation Happen

A Global Aggregation of Leading Edge Articles on Management Innovation, Creative Leadership, Creativity and Innovation.  

This is the official blog of Ralph Kerle, Chairman, the Creative Leadership Forum. The views expressed are his own and do not represent the views of the International or National Advisory Board members. ______________________________________________________________________________________


Entries in Change (112)


Centered leadership: How talented women thrive

A new approach to leadership can help women become more self-confident and effective business leaders.

Women start careers in business and other professions with the same level of intelligence, education, and commitment as men. Yet comparatively few reach the top echelons.

This gap matters not only because the familiar glass ceiling is unfair, but also because the world has an increasingly urgent need for more leaders. All men and women with the brains, the desire, and the perseverance to lead should be encouraged to fulfill their potential and leave their mark.

With all this in mind, the McKinsey Leadership Project—an initiative to help professional women at McKinsey and elsewhere—set out four years ago to learn what drives and sustains successful female leaders. We wanted to help younger women navigate the paths to leadership and, at the same time, to learn how organizations could get the best out of this talented group.

To that end, we have interviewed more than 85 women around the world (and a few good men) who are successful in diverse fields. Some lead 10,000 people or more, others 5 or even fewer. While the specifics of their lives vary, each one shares the goal of making a difference in the wider world. All were willing to discuss their personal experiences and to provide insights into what it takes to stay the leadership course. We have also studied the academic literature; consulted experts in leadership, psychology, organizational behavior, and biology; and sifted through the experiences of hundreds of colleagues at McKinsey.

From the interviews and other research, we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions (exhibit): meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose; managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it; positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen; connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging; and engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.

We call this model centered leadership. As the name implies, it’s about having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and, in turn, inspires others to follow. What’s particularly exciting is that we are starting to discover ways women can actively build the skills to become more self-confident and effective leaders. Centered leadership also works for men, though we have found that the model resonates particularly well with women because we have built it on a foundation of research into their specific needs and experiences.

Centered leadership emphasizes the role of positive emotions. A few characteristics particularly distinguish women from their male counterparts in the workplace. First, women can more often opt out of it than men can. Second, their double burden—motherhood and management—drains energy in a particularly challenging way. Third, they tend to experience emotional ups and downs more often and more intensely than most men do. Given these potentially negative emotions, centered leadership consciously draws on positive psychology, a discipline that seeks to identify what makes healthy people thrive. Although none of the women we interviewed articulated her ideas in precisely those terms, when we dived into the literature and interviewed leading academics, we found strong echoes of what our female leaders had been telling us.


‘To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?’

Meaning is the motivation that moves us. It enables people to discover what interests them and to push themselves to the limit. It makes the heart beat faster, provides energy, and inspires passion. Without meaning, work is a slog between weekends. With meaning, any job can become a calling.

It starts with happiness. Positive psychologists (including Tal Ben-Shahar, Jonathan Haidt, and Martin Seligman) have defined a progression of happiness that leads from pleasure to engagement to meaning. Researchers have demonstrated, for example, that an ice cream break provides only short-lived pleasure; in contrast, the satisfaction derived from an act of kindness or gratitude lasts much longer. Katharine Graham, the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 enterprise (the Washington Post Company), famously said, “To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?”

Why is meaning important for leaders? Studies have shown that among professionals, it translates into greater job satisfaction, higher productivity, lower turnover, and increased loyalty.1 The benefits also include feelings of transcendence—in other words, contributing to something bigger than yourself generates a deeper sense of meaning, thereby creating a virtuous cycle. Finding meaning in life helped some of the women leaders we interviewed take new paths and accept the personal risks implicit in their goals.

Shelly Lazarus, the chairman and CEO of the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, described how she “just followed [her] heart, doing the things that [she] loved to do.” This sense of meaning inspired her, early in her career, to jump from Clairol to Ogilvy. Lazarus commented that everyone she knew thought that her decision to go from the client side to the agency side was a strategic move. But “it wasn’t really like that,” she says. “I just loved the interaction with the agency because that was the moment I could see where the ideas came to life.”

People seeking to define what is meaningful can start, as one interviewee put it, by “being honest with yourself about what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.” Building these signature strengths into everyday activities at work makes you happier, in part by making these activities more meaningful. Although there is no simple formula for matching your strengths to any single industry or function, you can look for patterns in jobs that have and haven’t worked out and talk with others about your experiences.

The connection between signature strengths and work can change because priorities do; sometimes, for example, a job is better than a calling, especially for young mothers. Our interviews show that this ebb and flow is natural and that the key to success is being aware of the shifts—and making conscious choices about them—in the context of bigger goals, personal or professional.

To read more on meaning:

Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Martin E. P. Seligman, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, New York: Free Press, 2004.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, New York: Penguin, 2007.

For more visit McKinsey



The consumer decision journey

Consumers are moving outside the purchasing funnel—changing the way they research and buy your products. If your marketing hasn’t changed in response, it should

If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions. That’s why consumer electronics companies make sure not only that customers see their televisions in stores but also that those televisions display vivid high-definition pictures. It’s why Amazon.com, a decade ago, began offering targeted product recommendations to consumers already logged in and ready to buy. And it explains P&G’s decision, long ago, to produce radio and then TV programs to reach the audiences most likely to buy its products—hence, the term “soap opera.”

Marketing has always sought those moments, or touch points, when consumers are open to influence. For years, touch points have been understood through the metaphor of a “funnel”—consumers start with a number of potential brands in mind (the wide end of the funnel), marketing is then directed at them as they methodically reduce that number and move through the funnel, and at the end they emerge with the one brand they chose to purchase (Exhibit 1). But today, the funnel concept fails to capture all the touch points and key buying factors resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer. A more sophisticated approach is required to help marketers navigate this environment, which is less linear and more complicated than the funnel suggests. We call this approach the consumer decision journey. Our thinking is applicable to any geographic market that has different kinds of media, Internet access, and wide product choice, including big cities in emerging markets such as China and India.


We developed this approach by examining the purchase decisions of almost 20,000 consumers across five industries and three continents. Our research showed that the proliferation of media and products requires marketers to find new ways to get their brands included in the initial-consideration set that consumers develop as they begin their decision journey. We also found that because of the shift away from one-way communication—from marketers to consumers—toward a two-way conversation, marketers need a more systematic way to satisfy customer demands and manage word-of-mouth. In addition, the research identified two different types of customer loyalty, challenging companies to reinvigorate their loyalty programs and the way they manage the customer experience.

Finally, the research reinforced our belief in the importance not only of aligning all elements of marketing—strategy, spending, channel management, and message—with the journey that consumers undertake when they make purchasing decisions but also of integrating those elements across the organization. When marketers understand this journey and direct their spending and messaging to the moments of maximum influence, they stand a much greater chance of reaching consumers in the right place at the right time with the right message.


Read the full article at McKinseys



Australia desperately needs a virtuous cycle of innovation 

It says much about the schismatic nature of Australia’s economic strategy that the Federal Government invited public submissions on how to build a clever country in the same week that it signed a $50B gas export contract with China. Jordan Green outlines his vision for Australia’s knowledge economy.

Virtuous cycle, (noun) a beneficial cycle of events in which a favourable result gives rise to another that subsequently supports the first.

innovation depot flickr photo mojo 300x200 Australia desperately needs a virtuous cycle of innovationAs the news of one of the largest resources contracts in history sinks in, Australian entrepreneurs and the investors who back them are wondering what their futures will hold.

The Federal Government and the Australian resources sector are confident of decades of billions of dollars in return for serving up the non-renewable (in the foreseeable future) riches buried in our soil. To be sure, exploiting our nation’s natural resources is a necessary and valuable pursuit.

At the same time, the Federal Government has announced the formation of the Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute (CCI) to deliver “a radical new approach to ensure ideas from our universities, publicly funded research agencies and innovative enterprises become successful commercial ventures“.

The future of any one of these ideas is most uncertain, yet it is critical to the future prosperity of our nation that we become as accomplished at exploiting our human resources as we are with our natural resources. Not only does this knowledge economy promise an economic alternative to the minerals economy, it is an infinitely sustainable and renewable economy.

My vision is of an Australia that is a factory for innovation and successful commercialisation. That factory will turn Australia into one of the primary global sources of business value for the 21st century. If knowledge is power, then a knowledge economy that serves the world seems a most desirable goal.

The factory I envisage will identify, foster and nurture innovation with particular attention to those innovations with the potential to deliver valued benefits to global markets.

Commercialisation will successfully exploit those innovations for economic value. Many innovations can be commercialised in Australia and deliver valuable economic returns from a redistribution of our own wealth. For the greatest national benefits, we want commercialisation successes that earn export dollars and increase the net wealth of the nation. We must sell our innovations offshore.

I know the cynics are already focusing on how so much of that wealth will remain in the hands of a few lucky individuals, so why should the community - the Government - help those lucky few succeed? Why a CCI?

First, let’s remember that along that road many good efforts fall by the wayside.

By learning from our mistakes, we increase our chances of future success. Using the experience and insights of Australians who have trod the path of commercialisation at home and abroad, we can ‘pick winners’ with greater certainty of commercial success. A CCI that serves as an effective channel for learning, sharing and storing our lessons learned will enable more Australians to be effective candidates. That CCI, gathering and sharing the lessons, will deliver the data and insights that let us know we are getting better at picking winners, or not.

Second, stop to recognise how those “few”, and many of their not-so-lucky peers, are funded.

Innovation comes in many forms and is funded by the taxpayer, the business sector, consumers and academia. Commercialisation follows many paths, some funded by passive private investors, some funded by active angel investors, some funded by corporate enterprises and others funded by our superannuation funds and institutions. Each of these funding mechanisms allows the community to share the risk and to distribute the wealth so those “lucky few” can become the “lucky many”.

Third, we know that Australia has critical shortcomings in risk capital, management skills and market scale.

Each of these can be improved through astute government facilitation. The CCI “will enhance productivity and underpin the development of industries of the future, keeping high-value jobs in Australia with long term economic and social benefits for the nation”. The CCI “will have a primary goal of leveraging private sector capital”.

Our challenge as a community is to create a virtuous cycle of innovation and commercialisation that sustains our comfort and security at home by selling our ideas to the world.

We learned the lesson of pig iron in the resources sector and laboratory molecules in the biotech sector. Not raw ideas - developed ideas packaged into well-defined nuggets of value for which companies in larger economies will pay a premium. Ideally, selling those nuggets of value will take some of our brightest and most adaptable minds overseas where they will gain valuable experience, expertise and networks. Value they will bring to us when they return home and re-engage with our knowledge economy.

There is a place in this vision for every form of innovation and commercialisation.

We need the small innovations that only need domestic commercialisation to sustain a lifestyle business that delivers dividend returns and long-term jobs. Often those will be the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that are the true engine room of our economy. We need the innovations that can be commercialised as Australian-owned and Australia-based businesses that will grow and, in time, can list on the ASX and/or be acquired by a larger Australian business, keeping the jobs in the country.

Most of all, we need the innovations that Australians can package in efficient business models and sell to the world for ten, twenty, fifty times the capital invested and give our best and brightest the chance to shine on the global stage.

A virtuous cycle will recognise the need to let our people and ideas flow out to the world. Then that knowledge and capital we gain can return to enrich our community, to increase our capacity and improve our capability to go round the cycle again.

Source: Anthill


Latest CLF Chairmans Report

Ralph Kerle, Executive Chairman, CLF Report

From our on-going research with business leaders and organisations, it seems Australia at least is beginning to look forward. Whilst comments with CEO's have been guarded, there is a degree of optimism returning to the Australian economy at least..

Revenues are definitely down in most industry sectors and most organisations we have interviewed.  Some areas such as executive education are down as much as 50% to 60%, events and catering seem to be down as much as 40%; the general average being somewhere around 20%. High end products such as white goods can no longer rely on just brand to sustain their revenue as prices drop and the market becomes highly competitive. The jury is still out on viable business models in the social networking and digital media worlds. Of all the organisations we have interviewed, most have reviewed their business plans and operational strategies in light of the global financial crisis, made the hard decisions around the medium term viability of their products and services and their people - who to retain and who to let go.

Having done this, our research indicates CEO's and leaders are now in the process of reflecting and exploring how and what way to go forward. Where should they invest their time, resources and cash in what most of them see as un-chartered and stormy markets ahead? How do they build a management innovation capability that will allow them to surface ideas quickly and prototype inexpensively? How do they skill their senior leaders and middle management to think and act creatively in this new world?

The Creative Leadership Forum's national research project ‘Is Australian Management Creative and Innovative?’ completed in 2008 revealed that whilst 81% of Australians believe they are creative and innovative, less than half believe their organisations are creative.

So herein lies the challenge - how do we make organisations, themselves, creative?

With that challenge in mind, we developed what we understand to be a world first, the Creative Leadership Index (CLI) an internal research/survey tool enabling senior management to obtain a holistic snapshot of the organization as a creative ecology.

The CLI does this by asking employees to respond to a series of 30 questions around organisational culture, environment and practices and the creative mindsets its employees bring to those concepts. This results in a Management Innovation Report outlining the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for the organization to transform itself into a high powered continually innovating operation - a vital strategic capability for any organization in this time of uncertainty generally.

If innovation is a core value for your organization, the CLI enables you to understand how that core value is currently perceived and functioning and what needs to happen to develop its full potential.

The most important learning for us through the design and testing of the CLI has been every single organization is systemically and uniquely creative. Every single organization has its own DNA. Therefore, it is vital to understand and reflect on that DNA because it is after all what makes the organization successful whilst also holding the key to its failure. Looking at external organisational models or theories is of some value simply to understand what exists. However, attempting to copy or impose external models on an already existing DNA is fraught with danger!!

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Creative Leadership Index and would be happy to discuss it with you or your organisation at any time.

To learn more,

Contact: Grant Crossley, Chief Executive, The Creative Leadership Forum

e: gc@thecreativeleadershipforum.com

m: +61 (0) 408 844 009


Ralph Kerle interviews Dr John Best, Vice President, Technology, Research & Development - Thales

Ralph Kerle interviews Dr John Best, Vice President, Technology, Research and Development - Thales from Grant Crossley on Vimeo.

Ralph Kerle, Chairman of The Creative Leadership Forum interviews Dr John Best, Vice President, Technology, Research and Development of Thales, one of the world leaders in weapons development. Thales deliver weapon critical defence systems with a broad spectrum of products and services.
They talk about The Australian Transformation and Innovation Centre (ATIC), a facility where Thales has invested significantly in order to provide an environment where their customers can come in, experiment with the technology and trial the benefits of new products in a safe environment.
The importance of prototyping as an essential component in the creative process of product development is also discussed.