Hint: Entrepreneurialism can be learned. “Absolutely!” says serial business builder and author of ebook Blue Sky Mining, Adrian Turner. “People misunderstand entrepreneurialism as being about risk taking, but entrepreneurs are calibrated risk takers. There’s methodology to de-risking any new venture.”
mission at GE is to create, not imitate. She’s been declared one of Australia’s top 50 CMOs, and despite a stellar, continuously evolving career in industries that have included movie making and insurance, she readily admits having felt twinges of FOBO. “Yeah, anyone can become obsolete,” she agrees, but she offers encouragement: “Acknowledge what you don’t know and hang out with people who do know, and you’ll find yourself in a community of innovation—it’s exciting!”
1) What lies behind our fear of becoming obsolete in the face of technological disruption?
I think it’s the fact that technology is evolving at a pace that we’ve never seen before, and the speed of that disruption is scaring us. We need to think differently about how we deal with that speed.
Previously in the corporate world we may have taken 12 months to go off to research and run different financial models to develop a business case. Now, in a much faster moving world you’re getting data simultaneously, you have to test things in market and then pivot. It’s certainly fear-inducing for organisations that have been running their businesses by setting up business cases.
The media definitely plays a role in inflating success stories, celebrating those that move fast with the times. I think we need to be mindful that there are as many failures, if not more, for every success—so it’s OK to fail!
2) Which two catalysts could most help Australians overcome inertia?
Where we’ve seen innovation work really well, governments have played a part. I’m really pleased to see new incentives for innovation coming through here—a desire to attract investment in Australia, a desire to help startup companies and get their ideas across the line. The next wave of software innovation doesn’t have to come out of Silicon Valley; there are people in Australia who are incredibly talented and with great ideas. We need to provide the support for them to realise those ideas.
And it’s underestimated but we need great storytellers. People who are able to articulate the story and get mind share to create market share are going to be incredibly successful in this environment, because they create a vision of what life could be like. That’s how you get investors and that’s how you get people on board.
3) What will characterise innovative goods and services in coming decades—the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
There are so many opportunities out there to drive better outcomes and better productivity. When I think of what GE does with the industrial internet and its own software, we’re talking about sweating assets for a longer period because we are better at avoiding unplanned maintenance. We’re making the asset more efficient because we’re able to predict when that asset is likely to break down and we’re able to fix things before that happens. So I see this as a really great way to improve productivity for Australia and for the rest of the world.
More features on the Australian innovation race:
Infographic: Australia's innovation optimists
Why we all need to own the Innovation Nation