The impact of diversity on innovation
Getting “innovation ready” begins with who you hire, Olivier explains. And this is where employers have the chance to become a more innovative business – by focusing on building diverse teams.
Forging partnerships to boost innovation
Olivier also shows how working with other organisations or charities can level up the outcome of your innovations:
“Most of the programmes we’ve developed have been bolstered by a partnership with a charity or organisation that’s got the relevant expertise,” Olivier highlights. “For example, we recently launched the Longitude Prize on Dementia, which is about using AI devices to help people live at home for longer as their cognitive and memory skills are declining. We partnered with Alzheimer’s Society to make sure we have access to their networks and expertise, driving the impact of the programme.”
We love this insight, as it shows the impact of collaboration (and diversity) on innovation. Pulling different viewpoints, skills, expertise and networks together to increase the scope of innovation and help remove doubt. Having innovation partners also expands your circle of connections to drive action, making things happen faster and more seamlessly.
Making sure innovative ideas are heard
“I think it’s really easy for organisations, particularly as they grow, to get quite bureaucratic, siloed and overly structured,” says Olivier. The consequence for innovation? The people innovators need to share their ideas with don’t have the bandwidth or inclination to take notice.
It means that making anything happen “is a constant uphill struggle,” says Olivier. “I’ve experienced that in previous jobs where I wouldn’t get support from management when I had an idea. Rather my input was often viewed as disruptive. And if a proposal did go off it would never get discussed and die.”
Fostering a culture of innovation
Olivier emphasises that it all boils down to who’s running the business. If the leadership don’t have the right attitudes or don’t engage with their employees in an open, approachable way, this is a huge barrier to innovation.
“There’re many cases of organisational leaders who treat the company like their personal fiefdom, and who aren’t interested in being challenged,” Olivier says. “Creating a culture where junior team members don’t have that sense of psychological safety where they can actually suggest things.”
Building on his earlier point, Olivier emphasises how employees need to feel comfortable with sharing their ideas.
A final note from Olivier
“As organisations change, the dynamics change too. If you’re not careful, the processes that once made you an innovative organisation start falling to bits. Your teams become less coherent and your working culture becomes less and less effective. That’s why leaders have to be quite conscious, thoughtful and deliberate in the way they evolve their organisation as it grows.”
Don’t miss out on our discussion with Olivier in full — there’s plenty more insight to digest! Listen to the podcast.