Category: Innovation

Hacking Innovation Culture

The Australian Government’s recently released National Innovation and Science Agenda confirms that Australia is well and truly in the midst of an #ideasboom.

In an effort to promote eco-systems that support Innovation Culture, the government has proposed initiatives such as access to Crowd Sourced Equity Funding, an Incubator Support Program, tax incentives for investors and even a Global Innovation Strategy.

Typically regarded as laggards when it comes to innovation, this is good news for Australia. However, there is still some catching up to do. While we managed to avoid a recession, the benefits of Australia’s strong economy in recent years has not resulted in a culture of creativity and risk taking. Since 2004, Australia has dropped from 9th place in the UN’s Global Innovation Index to 19th place. Despite being ranked 13th in the world for Innovation Inputs we rank an unbelievable 107th in the world for Innovation outputs.

When compared to the #resourcesboom fail we can understand why Innovation Culture is now a priority for our government and our nation’s future economy. So here’s a question for you; what are you doing about fostering your Innovation Culture?

Innovation culture is the work environment that leaders cultivate in order to nurture unorthodox thinking and its application. Workplaces that foster a culture of innovation generally subscribe to the belief that innovation is not the province of top leadership but can come from anyone in the organization. Innovation cultures are prized by organizations that compete in markets defined by rapid change; maintaining the status quo is insufficient to compete effectively, thus making an innovation culture essential for success.

Having spent most of my background in disruptive innovation and startups and challenged many Australian corporates to shift thinking and practices, I propose the following model:

Innovation Culture model – An integrated systems-based approach to innovation:

Hacking Innovation Culture

Foundation: Safety and Inclusion: This is the most important aspect of any highly functioning Innovative Culture. Google recently reported that safety as a value was the key ingredient to them out innovating. Without this foundation your culture is unstable and risk avers. As with most values they must be witnessed and demonstrated from the top before being adopted by the rest of the organisation. To ensure that its safe to take risks, to speak up and hold everyone including leaders accountable is how you live this value. Going out of your way to be inclusive in strategic and tactical aspects of the business with employees that are not directly responsible for these agenda’s fosters inclusion and ownership. Hence Safety and Inclusion is a leadership mandate and a virtuous value cycle. The more inclusion demonstrated the more safety will be generated and the safer we feel the more we are inclined to be inclusive. From this cohesive base you are now free to make meaningful changes to the next level.

Leadership: We need a new lens for leadership, connect and collaborate leadership models outperform 20th century command and control models every time. This is the only way we can harness collective wisdom and ownership for high performance. Typically fear gets in the way of this change however but the ROI on connect and collaborate based leadership far out ways old models due to qualitatively better information flows, hyper engagement and collaborative approaches to problem solving to say the least. When supported with corporate social networking technology like Yammer and Chatter connect and collaborative leadership styles become even more effective. However, beware, your integrity as a leader will be subject to more auditing than ever before as the organisation heads towards a Holacracy.

Engagement: It’s never been more important to engage your employees effectively. Don’t and you’re organisation is prone to flight risk at all levels. Enabling purpose-driven participation by actively engaging people’s sense of intrinsic value turns work into something more meaningful. Be human with your employees, discover their passions and align them to how they can contribute to your mission. Best to do this on the way into your organisation by getting real on values alignment, mastery pursuits and purpose goals. This too can be enhanced with engagement technology by rewarding and recognising performers who demonstrate values and ownership best.

Execution: Now its all good to have great leadership and engagement but if I don’t have the tools, be it technology, funding and loosened delegated authority to take risks the friction barrier may be too high hence hindering any self governed intrapraneurs and more importantly get in the way of employee’s sense of autonomy. Access to tools, resources and people that enable rapid prototyping and acts of innovation is why Google endorse their 20% time on personal projects that help their enterprise.

The integration of the above dynamics leads to high quality innovations more often in a really scalable model. The virtuous dynamics between an engaged and equipped team supported by a collaborative and connected leadership team that’s underscored by a sense of safety and inclusion enables your organisation to be joined at the hip in pursuit of meaningful goals much easier and consistently.

Sustaining Innovation Culture – Top 5 keys to sustaining your innovation Culture include:

  1. Measures – Organizations with innovation cultures measure success by asking what business value the person has delivered, how sustainable that value has been, what new ideas they’ve brought to the table and how many of them actually were executed. Change what you measure and you change behaviour.
  2. Coherence – Occurs when honesty, authenticity and integrity are easily identified within an organisation. Without this you are subject to hidden agendas, miscommunication and projections from leadership that are destructive. Carving out time for constructive and safe criticism so that you can surface issues within the culture before they become a cancer.
  3. Attitudes to Failure – If your culture deems failure to be negative in the pursuit of improvement you are destined to be left behind. Failure is a necessary part of the innovation process because from failure comes learning, iteration, adaptation, and the building of new conceptual and physical models through an iterative learning process. Almost all innovations are the result of prior learning from failures.
  4. Real Time Performance Reviews – The days where annual performance reviews where best practice are gone and for good reason. With the advent of engagement technology and social corporate networking platforms organisations can now get real time in project feedback on performance, which in turn affects sentiment, retention and engagement.
  5. Team Retreats – Not the old school reward only retreats exclusively for your high performers. Facilitated by organisational transformation agents who know how to get under the tent, enable a cohesive team environment through inquiry into the thoughts and beliefs that get in the way of team performance such as trust and honesty will foster true connectedness and purpose in the team where everyone thinks and acts like owners.

Nothing is more constant than change. Furthermore, the speed of change is accelerating. How will you keep up?

Constantine Georgiou has spent the last 15 years designing, building and scaling Innovation Culture through his own startups Velteo and One Million Acts of Innovation and currently with CapitalPitch, an Investor Readiness Accelerator for startups and scaleaups.


Innovation is a Space, how are you creating it?

With the benefit of my old role at Velteo  (Acquired by Bluewolf in Oct 2012) and the types of projects we got engaged on we had the opportunity to witness common themes across diverse industries. One of the most important and most frustrating themes is how most companies recognise the need to change in pockets but those pockets don’t have the power to affect the change. In fact the pockets that can affect the change are often fearful of it and are not willing to make the paradigm shift to drive innovation. As Steve Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ presents, innovation is made possible by creating space for it.

This is a serious problem, which is affecting the Australian Economy daily, the recent announcement by Ford to close its plants is just another example of the impact of lack of innovation despite receiving funding a few years ago to prop the business up. According to the World Economic Forum,  Australia has dropped yet again in its Innovation rankings to number 18 for Innovation Capacity from 9 in 2004. This during a period when the rest of the world has been in recession, something is not right and we need to do something about it. There is a direct link between jobs, wealth and welfare and the Innovation Capacity of a country, Australia can do better.

I am coming at this topic from a few angles, notably Leadership and IT. Since Velteo (Now Bluewolf) is at the cutting edge of Cloud Computing, Customer Engagement and Cultural Enablement we are in a good position to recognise why so many companies are stuck. More often than not it comes from bad past experiences, lack of education, a stage 2 or 3 culture where true collaboration is non existent and genuine fear of change. We have seen and convinced many companies (not all of them though) that change is inevitable and that change is speeding up. It has never been easier to start up a competitor, to crowd source ideas, to collaborate with the collective workforce and to execute ideas using agile and mobile technology like and Apple’s iOS. Innovation is also cultural as the Digital Natives in our world begin to come into power (50% of the worlds population is under 30 and in 10 years 40% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here) new competitors will rise and move at breakneck speed leaving the Fortune 500 waning i.e. Facebook.

More often than not it has become the IT Departments of most organizations who seem to be the brakes on innovation. It seems Consumerism has taken hold and the business wants the tools to execute on the ground, yet traditional IT Departments hold back and more often than not cannot keep up with the demands. Sighting best practice compliance and security concerns they get in the way of your companies innovation and competitive advantage. With Cloud Computing all of these concerns go away, leaving your IT departments with more time to plan and execute on higher value tasks and projects and drive true innovation, not better Data Centre’s but better engagement models and applications. The new age company understands this and has converged traditional silos into one organisation where IT/Management/HR/Marketing/Sales/Service are one profit centre.

We also see old school management styles struggle with the new paradigm, Digital Natives. This hold’s organisations back due to their inability to harness the collective, retain talent and attract the best. The new age workforce thrives on Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery. Most organisations still treat their staff as a means to an end without concern for synergistic drivers. Its the organisation who can marry up an agile culture with the fuel of empowerment that will out compete and win in this ever increasing hyper-connected world where Service and Care are the new main pillars of success. Although many organisations are beginning to adopt corporate social networking platforms to address these concerns they will fail unless they address the underlaying structural faults of their organisation as referred to by Tribal Leadership. Only Stage 4 companies (where the status quo is “We’re great, they’re are not” versus Stage 3 “Im great, you’re not” can put to great use these social tools where sharing is done without fear and unconditionally. Where social performance management tools like can be used without an underlaying sense of dread that ‘this is just another stick to be used by my boss to get me to work harder’.

There are many other areas of business that need to be addressed for improved and sustained Innovation but in my  humble opinion the two areas of Leadership and IT are a great place to start. Once an ecology where hunches, ideas and concepts can be shared without ridicule exists and the black hatters understand their role without abusing it, it is then that real breakthroughs materialise. From there its how an organisation can execute the ideas by way of an operational system that will affect results. Bringing down the silos and connecting internal organisations for effective engagement and collaboration has been the primary engine to creativity and innovation in history, so why not harness this for your organisation and create the space to enable it.

It doesn’t stop there however, its not just about creating innovation in business, we need to foster an environment of  innovation in Education, The Arts, Governance and Science. We must enable collaboration amongst all these traditionally isolated worlds, thats how countries like Switzerland and Singapore have managed to achieve 1st and 2nd place in the rankings. They have shown an enhanced capacity for Innovation through strong collaboration between Academic and Business sectors, combined with high company spending on R&D ensures that much of this research is translated into marketable products and processes, reinforced by strong intellectual property protection and government support of innovation through its procurement processes.

Waiting for our Government to take the lead on driving a space for Innovation is fruitless, we need to be asking ourselves how can we empower ourselves to create a space for Innovation daily. When was the last time a teacher fostered this, when was the last time your boss supported this and when was the last time a parent nurtured this approach? I hope together we can discover how we can create a space for Innovation and lead from our current position.

The following brief video on where good ideas come from is invaluable in understanding the Innovation Paradigm:

Rant: Service IS Sales & Marketing

I dont know about you but I am fed up at being ‘Sold To’ and even ‘Marketed To’ especially by organisations who dont know how to Service their customers.

Wake up business, Service is the new Sales and Marketing.

I have access to more information at my fingertips than ever before. Information about products and services, access to other people’s experiences, both bad and good, and it is easier than ever for me to compare these experiences. There are even online services that will compare these experiences for me.

So, let me decide how I would like to use this information. More often than not, after accessing this information, I know more than your sales reps know. As a retail customer and a business customer I demand service and service starts before you have even sold anything, I dont want to keep repeating my question to every new sales or service person I get flicked to and I certainly dont want to be treated like I dont know what’s going on behind closed doors.

This post has been a long time coming but of late I have had so many bad service experiences from all sorts of businesses that I just have to let it out or risk having a breakdown in some shopping centre or on the phone in front of my colleagues. I know you feel my pain and thats probably why you’ll keep on reading, but Im not going to name names or single out any particular incident other than to say that its unacceptable. Its unacceptable that paying customers need to spend hours on the phone telling and re-telling their stories to disempowered staff who I am sure mean well and are fed up themselves at being unable to help. This is NOT a sustainable business model people and with the explosion of the digital world combined with our Social DNA we can expect that organisations that think they are immune to this new paradigm will perish, this is now a vehicle for contagion.

Consider the following statistics:

  • 91% say consumer content is the #1 aid to a buying decision
  • 87% trust a friends recommendation over a review by  a critic
  • Social network users are 3 times more likely to trust peer opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions
  • 1 word of mouth conversion has the impact of 200 TV ads
  • Social Media sites are still the fastest growing category on the web – doubling their traffic over the past year.
  • IT buyers trust social media more than any other content source
  • Word of Mouth is he cheapest and most effective form of marketing
  • Negative Buzz from social networks can be devastating as they are less contained.

Social Media impact on the Sales Funnel

So, given this dynamic it would seem pretty obvious what businesses need to:

Increase their level of service and quality of product and people will organically love their brand.

I know, easier said than done right? But the way I see it you have no choice. Businesses need to improve their levels of service by addressing what I like to call the holy trinity:

Culture, Process and Technology.

For a great example of how Culture is key to Service look at Zappos and how they have infused the Tribal Leadership framework into how they provide service and do business. They are also a great example for best practice Process by enabling a Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operative (HERO) dynamic which aligns the business and removes the silos. Of course this is all supported by the right Technology to drive automation, workflows, seamless collaboration, customer intimacy, knowledge management and social integration so that businesses can do one thing: Provide the best level of service to their customers because this is a good thing and will lead to more business.

In the interest of full disclosure I am part of a business which addresses this challenge and does so through the integration of best practices and technology such as however I am seeing that without the Culture aspect there is only so much that can be achieved. An aligned business that is structured to benefit from our social DNA and collaborative efforts will far out perform any business that is built on purely a utilitarian model. So by infusing all three aspects of the holy trinity we create alchemy. Or maybe just a Happy Customer and Staff :-)

I can go on about this for hours but I wont, if you want to know more feel free to reach out to us at Velteo. Or reach out to me directly on

How Velteo DNA created Talent Gravity

I keep hearing about how difficult it is to find talent in the current climate. Dont get me wrong there is definitely a skills shortage out there but at Velteo we don’t deem skills alone to be the be all and end all. Talent in my book is the make up of a combination of motivation, awareness, experience and competency otherwise referred to internally as DNA. I would much rather hire a person based on their match for us on motivation and awareness than just experience and competency alone.

At Velteo we have discovered and are harnessing what we call the Velteo DNA:

Velteo DNA

Extracted from our Company blog here…

Velteo gets engaged with

I know, its been a while,

Been a tad busy disrupting the disruptive market place.  ;-)

These last 6 months have certainly been eventful for both Velteo and myself. Hence the time between posts. With the completion of the acquisition of Hallman Enterprises (one of the premier technical consultancies) to compliment our maturing business process improvement consultancy and our first conference appearance at’s Cloudforce in both Sydney and Melbourne, we have learnt a heap, achieved a lot and gained some great customers along the way. To them we say thank you and we look forward to the journey ahead.

In our experience we have found that too many organizations attempt to address improvements in sales, marketing and customer service through either technology, training or some process improvement. However, our approach to improvement integrates the collective power of all three of these dimensions. That’s what makes Velteo different.

As we set out to help organizations leverage the power of for the infusion of best practices our customers and partners have confirmed that this approach is valid.

Improvements in customer engagement are not just about any one of the dimensions, its about the integration of all three to create the collaborative value chain that extends from the customer to staff. The enabling platform is technology but only when deployed with relevancy. Meeting customers and staff where they are on their terms is engagement, understanding what they want and when is intimacy and that is nirvana for any top performing organization who wants to have customers for life.

Our recent projects have seen customers enable self service strategies via online portals and seamless customer service automation, empower the sales force with mobile workforce management applications on iPhone and iPad’s, provide simple to use user experience via Visualforce for intuitive CRM and improved adoption, enhanced visibility to reports, activities and data for real business intelligence and access to lead indicators to help management drive the business. Marketing Automation for improved campaign ROI and influence with tight integration into, the silo’s are starting to dissolve. Our popular Sales Maturity Assessment is proving its worth with customers experiencing 3200% returns on recommended improvements to their sales practices.

So from a Customer Engagement stand point we certainly have a lot to offer, but how about Staff Engagement?

With the release of Chatter, is now empowering the workforce with this phenomenal engagement tool. They call it Facebook for the Enterprise, but I call it Corporate Social Networking. What better way to keep abreast of developments in the organization or even that team proposal your working on than to have Chatter notify you of contextually relevant updates. In this age of data smog and time poverty, Chatter cuts through and enriches your access to valuable information when you need it most. By integrating’s Ideas, Knowledge and Content we are seeing organizations become more agile and effective as they relinquish their old world shackles and embrace the collective power of the organization to stop reinventing the wheel, oh and without the hardware.

Finally, I wanted to say a big thank you to the team at Velteo, together we have crossed the challenge of integrating both companies and have come out stronger. I have the pleasure of working with some of the sharpest consultants in the field which has in turn caused me to raise my own game. We liken Velteo to a pirate ship, everyone is a specialist in something different but together we are a finely tuned machine with a dynamic culture and a passion for fun and happy customers. So if you want to be a Pirate on a journey of disruption then contact us here.

Oh and a BIG thank you to the advisory board, you know who you are, for without you it would have been near impossible.

In the meantime I hope to be able to post here monthly, so stay tuned and if you want to know more about Velteo, feel free to contact us here.



My review of Prezi – Awesome in so many ways

Been very keen to play with Prezi since I discovered it a month ago. Its a cool tool for creating more contextual, fluid and relational presentations in the cloud and locally on your computer. My buddy, Franky, started playing with it and demonstrated its power to me recently as well so I though I would use my Social Golf Club Presentation Night last night to play with the tool myself.

Here’s a cool conceptual video that illustrates the power and the difference of Prezi:

I discovered that the tool is great for ideas creation and brainstorming, its free flow and intuitive user interface allows you to focus on your ideas and get creative. I can easily turn my sketch of ideas into  a presentation because its all happening in the same place. I found myself thinking differently about how I would present the information and how I should make the presentation flow. This enabled me to create the presentation quickly and have fun at the same time, even my 13 year old daughter was impressed and you know how hard it is to get that kind of a response out a of a digital native. With the use of their zoom and flip functionality it made the presentation more appealing , you can find my Prezi presentation  here .

My Prezi presentation

My Prezi presentation

I also discovered that it would come in handy for taking notes in class and meetings. That would be richer, and could easily be presented when needed. This makes for better learning and time use as this Stanford video demonstrates:

The cost? They use a freemium model so the free version allows you to use the web and the desktop app (free 30 day trial) too but when loading in the cloud you post your presentation in the showcase for all to see. So beware of giving away all your secrets. Otherwise, for $59 per year you get more storage and privacy. So what are you waiting for, give Prezi a go and you may even surprise yourself with your creativity let alone your audience.

My rating 10/10 for so many different uses and reasons.

Can’t wait to work on my next Prezi for more than just a prezi.

Startups using social networking to go giddy up

Social media sites across the Web don’t seem to be scarce, in fact they continue to evolve and increase in number and functionality. The real question is however “What’s their use?” Many have answered the question, “It depends who you are and what you want”. So in this age of time scarcity how can an Startup Entrepreneur best use his/her time to take advantage of social networking for business and promotion? For entrepreneurs who are on-the-fly, I can recommend four “must join” social networking sites/resources:

1. LinkedIn.
This is definitely one of the most valuable professional networking sites around. Their current slogan is “relationship matters”, and this site certainly has what it takes to really last, being one of the original social media enterprises. Whether you’re searching for a new job, trying to stay connected with peers or making an effort to establish your company, there is an array of resources which are readily available. If you’ve got the time, it’s certainly best to interact on a daily basis, and to check out the group feature of LinkedIn as well. You must list your keywords accurately and clearly establish your brand so that you’re exposed to – and aware of, the best match of potential partners, business opportunities and service providers.
If you can invest the time, and you’re able to really interact, you’ll be able to establish yourself as an expert in your field by leveraging the power of LinkedIn Answers. The more you interact with others, the more your marketing message may be perceived as desirable and trusted, in qualitative terms. The controls in place ensure that experts are just that and that show pony’s get thrown out of discussion quick smart.

2. Biznik.
Some entrepreneurs believe that a network that charges for membership will usually be made up of individuals who are quite a bit more serious, and much more likely to be active members too. Biznik is surprisingly serious about its position, and it has gone so far as to brand itself as the network that “actually cares about the entrepreneur.”
There are three levels of membership available here; two of which are paid, up to $24 a month for the “pro” level. Their approach is – go it alone, but as a part of their team, and their rules are that you have to use real data in a system which uses a human review system to continually make sure that everybody is keeping it real. This site can be a shoulder to cry on, or a source of inspiration, but once again its benefits will come from an active involvement on your part.

3. StartupNation.
This option is rather different. It is a site created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, but it is chock full of content and advice. Apart from a great podcast, you’ll find innumerable articles on almost every business idea that you could envisage as well as active forums. In some respects it is also like a giant “super blog” where you can pick up so much information in one place without the feeling that you are being drawn to so many different sites during your research. The instigators of the site, Rich and Jeff Sloan, are nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs, publishers, celebrities and award winners, and the composition of this site reflects this in its details.

4. TWiST – This Week in Startups
Run by Jason Calacanis, this weekly Podcast is full of great tips, reviews, insight and humor. Jason does a great job oh hosting the podcasts and interviewing the entrepreneurs. His following online via the #TWiST tag has grown in popularity and they do a great job of keeping the sessions interactive by fielding questions from Twitter followers and seeking reviews on the show in real time. I love listening to TWiST during a long drive or flight, Jason never ceases to crack me up with his sometimes brutal candor.

So there, any time poor person can reap best value out of intelligent and targeted use of time while embarking on a social networking campaign to build business relationships, brand awareness and credibility in your field. The alternative route for achieving the same result would cost much more time and money, long live social networking for business.

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