It took me most of the weekend to get my head around what I experienced last Thursday.
I felt very privileged to be invited as a special guest on a day organised by the Good Lab and Newco and compered by Oli Barrett MBE) where the Innovation Leaders from the UK’s 10 largest charities were treated to an amazing day long safari of experiences.
The theme for the day: Fixing Hated Industries.
The 15 or so of us had closed doors discussions and presentations from the CEO’s of businesses disrupting and taking on industries that have been traditionally hated - Energy, Insurance and Banking.
In the Energy sector we were with Hayden Wood from Bulb Energy. In the Insurance sector we were with Jason Stockwood, CEO from Simply Business and in the Banking Sector, Tom Blomfield from Monzo (fresh on the back of closing a £22m fund raising half an hour before we saw him).
We then had panel discussions with Chris Moss (the CMO/CEO who launchedVirgin Atlantic, Orange and 118 118, with Mark O’Neill, CDO at the Department for Education, Jessica Chapplow from the MEC, Michelle Dewberry (winner of the Apprentice) and David Wilson, Head of Strategic Transformation from Barclays.
So. What insights and learnings came from the day?
There were many. For brevity, I’ll keep it to 5.
- The first was that all the businesses were driven by a mission. The missions varied in nature but were all powerful. For Simply Business and Bulb to create something better for the customer. For Monzo, the rallying call was to solve all the annoying problems around banking;
- The second was the power of leadership rather than management. Jason Stockwood nailed it when he said that smart people don’t need managing - they need leading and to be shown a clear direction;
- The third was the power of culture and putting this right at the heart of an organisation. Values was one of the first areas to be espoused by Simply Business and re-endorsed when Chris Moss made the observation that Culture trumps strategy every single time. With a team who work together and are cohesive every problem is an opportunity waiting to be solved;
- As someone who used to run a Data Science business, it was no surprise to see that Data Science was being used all businesses to created a clear leading edge. Making data easy to access by everyone in the business and encouraging everyone to use a data driven approach is where it’s at. Change in the business starts with a hunch, intuition and is then fast and effectively tested. Businesses that don’t learn this approach will be left behind. It’s as simple as that;
- The customer. Putting the customer at the heart and centre of things is probably one of the most commonly heard business strategies. It’s there because it’s true. All these businesses are driven to fix customer problems and needs and truly serve the customer needs and outcomes.
I can’t think of a single industry which couldn’t benefit from sitting down with a blank sheet of paper, building from these principles and designing the business of the future. If it’s being done in Energy, Insurance, and Banking, then why not in any other space.
Start with a clear mission, leadership, culture, a data driven approach and a burning focus on customer needs and outcomes. Start with the blank sheet and then work out how to disrupt your own business/ organisation to make it happen.
As one of my mentors used to say to me, If you plan to be in the business that you’re in now, in 5 years time, you won’t be in a business. Most businesses go for incremental improvement. Why not be daring and brave. Go for radical evolution. The journey will inevitably be bumpy and you’ll need the right building blocks. If you don’t do, someone else will.