Influence and Innovation: Insights for Disruption from Within

Belinda - Blog PhotoBy Belinda Coniglio, current student of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program

On 20 July 2016, I attended the AFR BOSS Emerging Leaders Masterclass held at the University of Sydney Business School CBD Campus.

What most attracted me to the event was the title – Disruption from Within. The corporate world is one where innovation can be slow to adopt and where “out of the box thinking” is only embraced as a last resort, long after conception of the idea (which is normally dismissed as ludicrous at the outset) and when the masses are finally on board.

A stellar panel, chaired by the University of Sydney’s Professor and Deputy CEO of the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, Suresh Cuganesan and included presentations from Kevin McCann (former Chairman, Macquarie Group); Anita Oh (Principal, Boston Consulting Group) and Rob Sharp (Chief Executive Officer, Tiger Australia) who each shared how disruption within their company or industry changed the way that they did business.

For Macquarie this was how digitalising the banking experience allowed them to offer lower home loan interest rates and as a result, helped their business to acquire new customers. The CEO of Tiger spoke about how online retailing changed the nature of the airline industry (many probably do not recall the days before pre-paid meals, seats and entertainment online). And for BCG, it is how workplace design can be a transformative internal force.

Disruption has been the buzz word in business for the past few years.  From the panel discussion, there were clear synergies (applicable across each industry) that suggest it is really customer led design that drives disruption and innovation. The first is that disruption in not simply implementing innovation within your industry: it is looking to what has been done in other industries and applying it to solve company and customer pain points. Second, disruption requires thought (or ideas) leadership and the capacity to drive or influence industry change (also driving an increased demand for change management consultants).

With disruption on the mind of all in the room, I took the opportunity to socialise our own innovative product, developed as part of the University of Sydney’s capstone project for U-Bank: after all, consumer insights are the catalyst.  (Stay tuned to the AFR for an update on the Capstone)

Are you a disruptor? Share your ideas below!

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