Why Corporates Need Corporate Innovation?

I will go straight to the point this time, no BS here. ­čśë

Here are the FIVE Observations that make corporates need Corporate Innovation, within this year:

  1. The corporation no longer effective in capital allocation. It only spend on what it has been doing over the years since its founding days. The growth is stagnant? Right? There have been talks about why the auto market is stagnant, utilities market is stagnant, banking market is stagnant and education market is stagnant? Is it really? Think again. The corporate hiring is all time low, even if they do it is only incremental. How big can you hire anyway? How much capex do you want every year?

  2. The employees in that corporations have been out of touch from the customers worldview and realities – things they go through in every day life. The employees think that if you are an executive or business people, you will need a bank account so you will go to the bank freely without the bank having to promote to you any service. So they hesitantly “provide service” with the hope you will get out the branch quickly. The employees only know their job (think they know?) and only worry (pay attention) to their yearly increment. The employee has never thought how important you are because he is not in the marketing department!
  3. The people in the corporations no longer recognize each others strengths and passion anymore. They know each other by searching the names in the company database by their work title and department. They only care about numbers, bottomlines, KPIs, processes, SOPs and their own bosses. They forget the empathy in their colleagues and the motivation they come to work for.
  4. The corporations are a lot less helping the nation progress and becoming productive. Profiting RM100 million a year isn’t the same as elevating 1,000 people out of electrical poverty or lack internet access. The corporations care-less about the environment they operate and the shared prosperity – they only care about batches of production they need to make, the stuffs they have to deliver. They polluted the areas and take away the prosperous-ness in the areas.
  5. The suppliers and vendors of the corporations are non other than the same big boys instead of local business and startups with creative and innovative products and services with energetic and entreprneurial founders. The corporations with all their busy-ness tending to the bottom line didn’t get out of the building to look for what’s new, what’s better and what’s ahead. They are confined confidently in the comfort of large, air conditioned and well equipped office.

In the Corporate Innovation program, corporations will unbox, rediscover the untapped opportunities within the layers they have and assets they kept are abound; right on their backyard, under their nose and in their neighbourhood.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

#corporateinnovation #innovation


Corporate Innovation Pain Points

*First appeard on LinkedIn in April 2019

Corporate Innovation Program is the buzz word these days for very good reason. The awareness and action of many companies responding to change is getting better because “innovation” a must have agenda for top management and high level discussion including nations alike. The focus of innovation is “awakened” in the last few years so much so the word leadership has become low-key. I for one advocate leaders with big title if they couldn’t innovate their days are numbered or they should be shown the door. Run!

Innovation for it’s best intention solving pain points of the organizations, also carry it’s own inherited pain points. Well, pain points may sound negative. However negative it may sound, it is almost impossible to resolve it indefinitely before any launch of corporate innovation projects. The pain points highlighted are meant to be aware of, taken into consideration and minimized its negativity impact when possible. Let the goals of the corporate innovation be our guiding light, not the pain points. After all, no pain no gain.

Here are the Five Pain Points:

1.Departmental / Divisional Fiefdom

Fiefdom is there not for a good reason, definitely to be tear down in corporate innovation. The fiefdom stems from who owns the corporate innovation project. It could be the IT, Sales, Human Resource or CEO’s office. This way the budget can be better spent and realized, it is just the project impact is risked. Fiefdom mindset drags collaboration on its feet so much so other department rather sees the project fail than doing well. Fiefdom limits the upside potentials of any corporate innovation project.

Steve Ballmer, formerly CEO of Microsoft once said, “After all the things we want to do is aligned, the final piece of the puzzle is how we work together.” The differences of views and opinions are critical to growth, yet, there are also the stumbling block of productivity when not handled well or fully understood.

2. “Seen All Done All Nothing New” Top Management

It is common these days to include diverse at the top management line up. Diversity is key and we all know that diversity has to be worked on and build. It wouldn’t come by itself. There’s a lot of trust building, empathic engagement and sheer intolerance of incompetent senior management. Their backgrounds while may be helpful on their CV, when put to work they find themselves unable to take differentiated point of views and lack of willingness to change. They like the glory days of their past from other workplaces and using force (and bootlicks) to have it their way. New ideas shunned, opposing views silenced and change is too big to address because they have “seen all done all nothing new” mindset. They block any attempt to change by hoarding resources, veto decisions and play the upper hand with the Board or shareholders.

Top management that deter collaboration shouldn’t be in the line up at the first place. As we grow into leadership role at higher level, it is very much less about us, it is about them; our customers and our team members.

3. Only Pedigree Can Give Ideas

In this kind of organization, ideas are treated sacred. Only certain people deemed can give “great” ideas and only selected alumnus from certain universities can voice their opinions. The pedigree culture blocks other people from participating in what matters to the organizations. To make matters worst, pedigrees get rewarded handsomely that further reinforced unhealthy behaviours among peers and employees alike.

Developmental talent programs such as top talent sometimes create this unwanted differences in the day to day operations. The waiting culture seep in where without the pedigree there’ll be no decision of moving forward. No one is willing to make mistake because of huge career setbacks might affected their standing in the company and future development. The behaviours also could be manifested in negative ways such as bullying, narcissism and abuse of authortity.

4. Customer Voices Not Heard

With all the good business strategies and goals for the customers, there’s huge hesitation to talk to the customers to get feedbacks, opinions and suggestions. By the way who supposed to do it? Some say marketing, some say IT or procurement, maybe human resource? Everyone should do it. Sometimes the organization pressuring those “little” staffs at the counters with huge responsibilities to get feedbacks from the customers. Challenge is those little staffs are receptionists or call centre agents that have little means to understand the complexities of interactions happening with the products and services from across the organizations.

Besides, they also have limited authority to do customers recovery or beyond to directly attend to customers needs and wants. The survey provided with checklist won’t be able to extract feelings and emotions of difficulties of getting the services done.

Additionally, there is tendency to lead the customers to tick surveys quickly with long winded survey because customers are always in a hurry. Not knowing their pain points, struggles or hear their stories could lead to organization that is myopic of the challenges faced by their customers. This also applies to internal customers that are using our processes to get things done.

In some organizations, the quality policy used is different to meet certain standards, such as an independent Procurement department, whereby only the Procurement is certified with ISO 14001 and the rest do not. It is a mess!

5. Tools Before Strategy

It used to be Porter’s Five Diamonds, then Organizational Development, then Agile, then Lean, the Six Sigma, then Blue Ocean Strategies, then Design Thinking, then Heart Thinking and so on. These are tools. Someone said, “A tool and a fool seldom differ.”

Organization should put their business strategies above anything else. What do we want to achieve? How do we get there? What is our value? Who should be our target customers? What capabilities that differentiate us to deliver our value proposition? These are strategic questions called Strategic Five by strategy+business knowledge portal – let’s get down to basics.

Our answers (or no answer!) to these questions will help determine the “mix” of tools you might need. No one tool fits all strategic needs of any organization in today’s environment. One thing for sure, our people and workforce needs to learn more than one tool to make them nimble, agile and empowered in decision making when interfacing with the customers. Always remember, “structure follows strategy”.

Brickbats? Please email to donkhairul@gmail.com Thanks!

The EIGHT Leadership Beliefs

Leadership is both art and science. It means it is unique to that person yet it can be learned methodically from one person to another. My journey to learn about leadership is about the same, i saw what my leaders do and i follow. I practice the good ones and congruent with my own values that I appreciate. In the process I also learn to let go some leadership characteristics that I found later to be excessively manipulative and with prejudice. Besides, through reading and observing how other leaders and followers interacting, I learn a great deal as well.

Now, I have learn to form up my own leadership characteristics and styles that I call Leadership Beliefs. There are EIGHT of them, I have to do a deep thinking to really extract out these beliefs. It is deep seated inside me and direct the way I respond (sometimes react) to situations in my own life and see the world. When I apply them it looks natural to me, nevertheless I do hope to refine them over time. The reason I do this is to codify these beliefs so I can remember during challenging assignments and projects. Nothing beats writing it down and drill it into the mind!

“Leadership demands us to make tough choices.”

1) Powerful conversation can change life

I always look for different and powerful conversations in my life. I had a number of them although not many people are open for it. Powerful conversation makes you think and usually push you to greater heights. Words can be life changing.

2) Have a vision, it’s very important. What’s your WHY?

Simple statement that we call vision can help you believe in what you do in trying times. Without, I find myself go with the flow then drown in the “busy-ness” of day-to-day things. Have your WHY, then your How and What will follow suit.

Here’s my WHY: “I am the source ENERGY to CREATE MORE and BETTER touch points for leaders to create more and better touch points to make the world a better place.”

3) Develop people and yourself

It is easy to give┬ásomeone opportunity, however to provide enough support to make that someone successful or excel a different matter altogether. Often, as leaders the opportunity we give is work in disguise but we also need to relentlessly ensure the work get’s done. I am in the opinion that only with sheer commitment to develop ownself can a leader gives more to develop others. Leaders are readers.

4) Do leap when behind

Sometimes, I get assignment that is spiralling down and waiting to go bust. When this happens, i don’t wait or go by the books. I push things and step on some people toes along the way (sorry). Some people like to see something to fail and you happen to be there. The goal is to make the leap, because playing catch up not going to make it.

5) Free up knowledge

This is my life tagline. I am not a fountain of knowledge (too strong a word to describe me) but i know i have something extra. A lot of knowledge is either too deep in someone’s brain or the organization’s bureaucracy, it is wasteful and a sin to let this continue. Knowledge gives power and we can make a difference in the market place.

6) Think big, start small

You probably noticed my blog’s tagline carries this. I love to dream about something big, and i also have learned the hardship to do something big. Thus, i believe starting small would allow room for improvement and creativity. During the small stage, i usually spend a lot of time experimenting and testing hypotheses. The moment it’s ready, scaling up would just about adding resources. This belief also lead me to introduce significant innovation in products and processes throughout my career.

7) Be situationally pragmatic

Dealing with many people from different levels and in many situations demand great communication skills. While some leaders suavely good at this, i tend to stumble. I used to get carried away when i had conflicts with co-workers and colleagues. Surprisingly, i had very few problems with my leaders/bosses. The rule of thumb is to relentless be honest and pragmatic. As the equilibrium point moves, so does your pragmatism.

8) Stay hungry, stay foolish

I borrow this from Steve Jobs. I even wrote something about it in this blog, read here. I suggest you read from that post. Another learning from this belief is to run my own race. Sometimes when things don’t go my way, i get entagled with perception trap about how the grass is greener on the other side ( it’s always had right!). So, when that happen i have to realize quickly that my time will come and i just have to be patience with my mind and hands open.


Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com