Heather Price, CEO of Symmetra

Centre for Innovation outside Seoul

As a seasoned Diversity consultant for 20 years I would like to share an exciting new emerging trend which I have been witnessing in several global corporates – a trend which clearly signifies that Diversity and Inclusion is truly being integrated into the mainstream of business strategy. What I am witnessing is that Directors of Innovation and Directors of Diversity are suddenly beginning to collaborate closely, at the intersection of these two fields so as to equip leaders of their organisations to achieve innovation through inclusion.  And Symmetra is being engaged to do work for several global corporates to achieve just that.

I was in Seoul last month to deliver Symmetra’s ‘Innoclusion™ program to a Fortune 500 global health care provider whose mission is to deliver innovative health care solutions for better patient outcomes. . Our objective has been to work with their global senior leaders for the last two years to build their capability to innovate and stay on top in their very competitive industry.  Next quarter Symmetra will be working with a Fortune 500 company in the manufacturing industry, headquartered in the US, who are developing substantial new revenue streams through the launch of a new innovative product range. And at home in Australia we are starting work with the leaders of companies in financial services and professional services in a similar vein.

Why is innovation so important for companies today? Even though efficiency is essential for business success, in the long run, it alone cannot sustain business growth. It is clear that almost every organization and business is feeling the impact of globalization, migration, disruptive technology, the knowledge revolution and clients who want “more for less”. Not surprisingly studies confirm that today all businesses want to be more innovative. In the current day economic scenario, the ability to innovate has become a major strategic lever for sustainable growth and wealth creation.

Innovation implies the use of new ideas that lead to the making of new products, services or processes as well as new business systems and new methods of management, all of which have a significant impact on productivity and growth. In this respect the capacity to innovate is a capability that every senior leader needs. As leaders assume real seniority their focus must shift from straight forward delivery and execution to additional skills in innovation and discovery.

Inside the Centre for Innovation

So what does this have to do with inclusion? Well companies can gain that innovative edge by empowering their leaders to leverage innovation through inclusion (this is what Innoclusion ™ means), by leveraging the diversity of thought in their teams which has been empirically linked to driving higher performance and innovation. Symmetra is working side by side with the experts who empower leaders with the strategic models for innovation relevant to their specific industry. But our focus is on effecting the paradigm shift and behavioural changes that are needed by these leaders to drive innovation effectively, to translate the strategies they have learned into practice,  so as to embed a culture where innovation can actually happen.

Witnessing at firsthand what is occurring in South Korea which has become such a hot bed of innovation over the last half century has been nothing short of astonishing. Fifty years ago, the country was poorer than Bolivia and Mozambique; today, it is richer than New Zealand and Spain, with a per capita income of almost $33,000. For 50 years, South Korea’s economy has grown by an average of seven percent annually, contracting in only two of those years. South Korea now has bragging rights as the all-around most innovative country in the world! They were named number one in the 2014 Bloomberg Rankings – where they evaluated more than 200 countries and sovereign regions based on seven factors, such as R&D expenditure, the percentage of public high-tech companies and patent activity.

It is no wonder that many companies operating in countries like South Korea are at the forefront of such initiatives and it is a privilege to participate in this process of corporate evolution.

Symmetra has a specific service offering named ‘Innoclusion™’ – achieving innovation through inclusion. Please contact Gail Laffer at <Gail.Laffer@symmetra.com.au> for more details