The director as innovator

Published on April 30, 2020   35 min
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Hello. My name is Mark Powell and I'm very pleased to be here today to talk to you about "The Director as Innovator".
Let me start by just giving you a little bit of background on myself because I think it will help to understand the direction for which I am going to come from for the remainder of this lecture. I've had about a 30-year corporate career. I've held senior executive and partner roles in a variety of organizations, and I have worked in pretty well every country in the world that you can think of. In addition, I've also had a long-term academic career. I've worked with several business schools, teaching and lecturing on a variety of subjects including innovation. During this time, what I've learned increasingly is that organizations actually struggle to innovate. To this end, I also in more recent years have been very actively involved in a company called 'The Human Energy Organization' which I set up with my co-author, Jonathan Gifford, to explore how to help organizations change and adapt their approaches, and practices, and behaviors in order to be able to succeed and be more successful in the modern world that we all live in today.
The three books that I've put on the slide in front of you are the three books we've published recently, which all explore different aspects of how organizations need to change if they're going to continue to grow and survive in the modern world. Lots of these books have been around the key idea that we have to rethink some of the assumptions on which modern organizations actually operate. This is particularly relevant for the directors of today and the new directors of tomorrow, because in my view, those directors, particularly the next generation are going to have to adopt very different behaviors, mindsets, and attitude if they're going to continue to lead successful organizations into the future.
Let's just start with the concept of director. I've been a director in a number organizations and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what a director is myself anymore. If you look at the official definition that is most used, and I put that on the slide in front of you about the director is a person from a group of managers who leads or supervises, etc. That's a very doing perception. It's a very active concept of a director as someone who does things, manages things, and directs things. There's absolutely nothing in there that relates in any way, shape, or form to the concept of innovation. I think that's part of the problem. Directors are often not seen as people who are actually involved in innovation. My view is that's fundamentally flawed. The director as innovators is probably the single most important role that any director in any company faces, but it's not about the director being an innovator necessarily, and that's something we're going to explore further over the next little while.