The Heart Of Corporate Innovation Is About Asking Who Your Company Wants To Be When It Grows Up

At the end of February we gathered a group of intrapreneurs in Toronto for an event filled with networking, learning, and some bagels. During this event we brought out three innovation leaders from some of Canada’s largest companies that operate in regulated industries to talk about what innovation means to them and their companies and how they go about creating it.

As we opened the panel, our moderator, Amber Foucault , VP Product Management at Symbility Intersect, asked each of the panelists what innovation meant to them and their businesses. While this sounds like a simple ice breaker for a panel all about creating innovation, the answers that our panelists gave were actually quite eye opening and reveal how large organizations think about themselves and how they need to approach the future if they are to stay relevant to the marketplace and customers.

While all three panelists answers are quite interesting to hear, one line that specifically stood out to us was when Ryan Spinner, Head of Innovation for Aviva Canada said that “Aviva is a 320 year old company […] and what we’re really good at is actually pivoting our business at really critical times, and that’s really what innovation is all about. Six or seven years ago we realized that it’s time to start pivoting our business, it’s time to start thinking about what is our business going to look like in the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years? Who do we want to be when we grow up?” (Emphasis is ours) Sounds a bit strange to hear that last question coming from a company as old as Aviva, but is it really all that strange?

Innovation is all about evolving. Sometimes that means evolving a product to take advantage of new and better technologies. But sometimes that means that companies and organizations need to be thinking about how they solve their business problems and the problems of their customers not only today, but also how they will continue to do so in the future. This means that they need to be thinking about what is coming next and how is their company going to fit in?

As you’ll see in the video below, all of our panelists believe that innovation is important because it’s how their companies are going to continue to stay relevant and useful to their customers, ensuring that their businesses continue. However, we thought it was interesting to hear it presented as companies that are already quite successful and established saying that they’re thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.

Now, watch the video to see how Ryan Spinner, Shelley Burnett, National Director of Digital Health and Innovation at Bayshore Health Care , and Xavier Debane, Vice President of Innovation and Business Development at Manulife Canada, describe how they and their respective organizations think about innovation as a whole.