This week Grant Thornton New Zealand hosted an interactive innovation workshop for 29 independent directors in association with Appoint Better Boards.
The session explored whether or not innovation should be a fixed item on the Board agenda and if Boards and CEOs are well equipped to drive innovation.
Melissa Jenner, Head of Grant Thornton’s Design and Innovation Service facilitated the workshop.
“I’ve felt that innovation should be a fixed item on the Board Agenda for a long time now and insights gained from our workshop have strengthened this view. With a mandate to drive strategy and manage risk, innovation seems to sit in the cross hairs of the Boards’ governance role.
“I designed the session to foster a conversation between the participants about how they might take a more active role in setting the innovation strategy and having an innovation governance approach,” says Jenner.
There was a strong appetite from the participants for driving an innovation agenda from Director and Board level, but the majority said that the CEO must sit in the driver’s seat.
Jenner says, “CEOs need to lead through having a transparent innovation process or methodology. They need to encourage creative, collaborative behaviours and the co-creation of a portfolio of initiatives with both the Board and potentially outside partners.
Only 50% of Boards represented at the workshop regularly review innovation as part of their agenda and 62% have no set KPIs or reporting requirements around innovation initiatives.
Directors also explored nine possible innovation models that included everything from appointing a Chief Innovation Officer, to enabling creative ‘duos’ within the organisation. The adoption of a C-suite led steering committee supported by innovation champions was seen as the most effective way to fuel innovation in an organisation.
Jenner says, “If New Zealand companies are going to flourish in the innovation space, CEOs need to send a clear signal that they have an appetite for experimentation and the unknown, and then empower accountable executives to pursue and test opportunities”.
Key insights from Grant Thornton’s innovation workshop