Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Creating a space and mindset for innovation

Decorative image business man and woman

Recently I caught up with two of our QUT MBA alums, and a conversation started around how to drive transformation in organisations of different sizes, ages and industries.

My two guests, Rowan Grant, Co-Founder Full Circle Venture Fund and Graham Yerbury, GM Performance, Risk and Finance at CleanCo Queensland, have both had rich and interesting challenges as they have either created or transformed businesses.

Graham has a long history of strategy work in global corporations, and Rowan in creating, launching and supporting tech-focused startups.

The common thread, as they shared their experiences, appeared to me to be around creating space and mindset for innovation. Whilst there are many excitingly dynamic processes and techniques for creating innovation, it is so often the bigger picture organisational structure and culture that enables ongoing transformation.

Finally we agreed that innovation and an innovation focus can enable actually drive transformative thinking.

At the same time, organisations need to deliver on business as usual. So they need to be ambidextrous: deliver today and create tomorrow. Ambidextrous organisations are able to excel at current business models and create new ones, at the same time.

This ambidexterity is the ability of senior leaders simultaneously to manage the existing core businesses (maintaining stability, ensuring that products and services are reliable and consistent in quality, and overseeing incremental improvement) and to pursue new opportunities—specifically, nurturing experimentation and discontinuous change through the innovation streams.

Graham and Rowan have agreed to participate in a panel discussion a workshop I am delivering early in 2020, designed for business leaders and managers wanting to be proactive in the face of digital disruption and secure long-term viability for their organisations.

The workshop will enable participants and teams to identify and address performance and opportunity gaps within their organisations that might be blocking innovation. We will explore the dynamics of organizational transformation – is your culture an enabler, or is it a messy fog, or worse!

We apply the powerful congruence model to create organisational balance and to enhance performance, with the overall aim of creating the conditions for ongoing transformation through innovation.

For workshop details go to: Enabling Transformation through Innovation on the QUTeX website.

Remember that digital disruption, competition and uncertainty are powerful motivators, and they create the context for incredible innovation, when we know what to do about it!

I originally learned my transformation craft working on a service climate and quality project for a large North America bank. From there, whilst working as an associate professor of marketing at Arizona State University, I joined the Center for Service Leadership, also at Arizona State University, where we developed and delivered large scale service transformation projects, with organisations such as Honeywell Aeronautical. My design thinking skills,capabilities and expertise were honed when applying the congruence model, as a graduate of, and now a business coach on, the Stanford Executive Education Leading Change and Organizational Renewal intensives.

I continue to support leading Australian and US organisations in their transformation journeys!


Tony is a Corporate Educator for QUT, teaching strategic thinking, strategy implementation, innovation and marketing. He has strong expertise in strategic thinking and business planning, innovation and creative processes, and leadership development. Tony’s research interests include employee loyalty, organisational climates, and corporate reputation.

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