HelloMasters Podcast Episode 13 – Rachel Gordon – Growth & Innovation Leader (Part 1/3)

HelloMasters Episode 13

In our thirteenth HelloMasters podcast episode, we speak to Rachel Gordon. Few people can truly talk about corporate innovation from a 360 perspective. However, our expert guest has over 20 years of experience driving corporate innovation in Europe and the US; on the brand side at Pepsi, Nestle, Virgin, and the NBA and now in a new VC/venture studio in New York. We’re super proud to have her on our podcast

Keys to drive corporate innovation

According to Rachel, there are a couple of important keys to success in driving corporate innovation in a global environment.

Internal vs External mindset

Firstly, Rachel speaks about the internal vs external mindset: “Often when you’re in an organization, you spend so much time focusing on internal stakeholders and how internally, the company perceives itself. It can be very all-consuming. It’s hard to think about the rest of the world, and what’s going on there.”

Companies who are successful with innovation (and generally) are companies who are constantly looking at the outside world – and how it is changing. Or at least, a portion of the population working inside the business is “out of the house” exploring insights and trends but also partnerships and ecosystems and how NOT how to do everything on your own.”

A major trend in the future is the eco-system idea of partnering and not trying to do everything by yourself. By the way – it’s likely that if you have an idea for a new product, service or business: someone is already working on it!”

Operating systems within a corporation

Secondly, Rachel indicates that an organizational “operating system” needs to be in place to support innovation: “The second thing is about organizational structures and systems in the organization – the operating system. This consists of many elements. In a nutshell, it means a C-suite and board-level focus on innovation. You also need the equivalent resources to implement i.e. funding.”

Use of incentives

Thirdly, Rachel explains that companies need to incentivize for innovation differently to mainstream incentives in organizations: “At the moment, the incentives to innovate work in the same way as people in the main businesses are incentivized! There is room for rethinking how to create incentives for innovation as these are different jobs which are entrepreneurial and they should attract people who are attracted by a different compensation scheme.”

The right people

Lastly, Rachel talks about people. She says that innovation experts are very much needed and that organizations need to build up the innovation function in the same way that the marketing or insights function is treated. “Finally, it’s also important to focus on people! I have a certain point of view on this. What you really need from a people perspective is innovation experts. This is a specific capability that is a function. In some organizations, it’s considered part of marketing, but in others, it is a function in itself. I think, increasingly, it’s becoming understood and recognized as an actual domain that needs to be treated inside big organizations the same way as marketing or insights are treated. It’s still early days for that!”

Rachel has given us her expert advice on the magic, frontiers on what she wants to see in the future of innovation. To read more on her career on innovation, as well as her insights on innovation from a 360 perspective, listen to the full podcast.

Or go to Spotify or iTunes.