Why businesses should never stop innovating
Ever wondered how to foster innovation and embed a culture of learning and continuous improvement? Well at OFX we think it’s pretty important so we took some advice from the entrepreneurial experts at The Beanstalk Factory and took the plunge. Big time.
What is the Concept?
With $1m in CAPEX up for grabs, The Concept is a company-wide initiative whereby we invited our company talent across 7 global offices to take part in a 2-day immersive ‘hackathon’.
The Concept is about bringing teams together to innovate, but with one clear objective, to enhance the customer experience! By instilling cross-functional collaboration across the teams the ideas pitched to the judging panel were given the best opportunity to thrive.
Ordinarily, when we think of entrepreneurship and innovation we think of Silicon Valley. So we brought Silicon Valley to OFX with the support of the team at The Beanstalk Factory who hosted and facilitated the event and all interactive learning sessions in the lead up to the hackathon.
These sessions were designed to educate the teams on the mindset of the lean business modelling strategy; a framework adopted by many start-ups and agile organisations.
After a few months of preparation and ideation, 124 ideas were submitted by the global teams, of which 15 were shortlisted to compete in the hackathon.
“[OFX is] capturing that talent and the ideas and turning them into innovative new services, revenue and shareholder value.”
Glen Frost, Co-founder of First Rung & Seed Money and Founder of FinTech Summit & FinTech Awards.
Before entering the Shark Tank each team were coached on how to pitch and after 2 full days hacking, a lot of coffee and pizza, and two tough practice pitches the teams faced the judging panel made up of internal and external experts;
Sarah Bernhardi – OFX Global Commercial Director
Jason Nadar – OFX Head of Digital Security
Hugh Macdermott– OFX Global Head of Product
Jason Kumpf – Alliance Manager & OFXer of the Year
Glen Frost – Co-founder of First Rung and Seed Money and Founder of FinTech Summit and FinTech Awards
In the midst of the 2-day hackathon, guest judge Glen Frost and the Beanstalk Factory CEO and Co-founder Peter Bradd spoke about how businesses should always be moving towards becoming more agile and innovative. The risk of not doing so in the age of disruption is that the businesses won’t survive.
Adopt an innovation mindset
Not every company is in a position to fund large projects like The Concept, so finding ways to embed innovation into the daily culture of a business is crucial.
“There’s really only three ways to drive shareholder value. That is, your own innovation, your partner, or you buy in. Your own innovation is crucial, and what so many organisations have is these latent assets called ‘people’ and these people have great ideas,” Glen explains.
“What OFX is realising and doing now is capturing that talent and the ideas and turning them into innovative new services, revenue and shareholder value. And if you don’t do that, you die.”
For companies looking to adopt that innovation mindset, Peter recommends the 3 C’s; Clarity, Culture and Capability. Clarity of direction helps employees understand what it is they’re actually working for in the long-term. “Event’s like this help people get excited and show them what they can do if they believe in themselves a little more, and that momentum carries forward,” Peter added.
Boost innovation through outside collaboration
In terms of partnering and collaborating with others, Glen explains that “one idea behind innovation is that sometimes you do need help from the outside and recognising that is key”. The benefit of looking outside your company to see how other people are innovating and disrupting the market is an important aspect for companies looking to foster better collaboration. “There’s so much existing capability outside your organisation,” Peter says.
Glen explains further, “You’ve got to hang around with other founders. If you’re looking for entrepreneurial flair and motivation there’s one place to get it, and that’s from the people that are innovating, it’s so important!”
Invest in learning
Building a culture that encourages and actively invests in ideas is part of the new corporate world. The contemporary CEO needs to be an entrepreneur, and those coming from more ‘traditional’ career backgrounds, according to Glen, often find themselves completely out of their depth. But there are still challenges for the CEO’s of companies that are agile and innovative.
“The hardest part about being a CEO in an organisation like OFX is that you’ve got to be a bit ambidextrous. You’ve got to focus on today, and tomorrow. And that can be really hard,” Peter explains.
It can be difficult for companies to invest in new learning when everyone is so focussed on their day jobs, or the ‘today’ of the workforce. But it is very important for businesses to be more agile in the future. One thing that OFX really focussed on when implementing The Concept was bringing in the team at The Beanstalk Factory to train people in the tools that their organisation, and other innovative companies, are using all the time.
The benefit that OFX had for the competing teams was the access to company data which is pivotal when building and validating business cases. Not all companies necessarily make business data accessible across the organisation which can, unfortunately, stifle innovation.
So, what makes a good business leader in the age of innovation? “Someone who’s actually got the guts to say, ‘I need to run up to that cliff and jump off’ because that’s what start-ups do!” Glen says. In our increasingly technologically capable world, businesses and their leaders need to be able to adapt to keep up, and the best way to do this is by fostering a culture that can innovate.
IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. UKForex Limited (trading as “OFX”) and its affiliates make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.