Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15, we spoke to Jonathan Prosser, Group GM – Strategy & Growth, Cronulla Sharks RLFC.
Jonathan’s leads a team of intrapreneurs who work as the in-house innovation and ventures team, building new and non- traditional businesses, at the Cronulla Sharks Group. His professional background spans international relations, business, and sport.
He has worked in over ten industry sectors during his time in the strategy practice of a major global consulting firm; has significant experience in the not-for-profit sector; and spent time as a Research Fellow in a leading think-tank. He played hockey at an international level, and has held governance roles off the pitch in a variety of sports. His diplomatic sector experience comes from an MA in International Relations, and work with embassies, research bodies, government, and think-tanks.
What prevents innovation?
Let’s break that into a few levels:
Firstly, for a nation, the conditions offered for business to start, grow and thrive either present an opportunity, or a barrier. The UK has now incentivized venture capital through the tax system, a reason for startups to launch there rather than other countries. Without such government support, the conditions are harder.
Secondly, a lack of investment is perhaps the most common barrier stopping a great idea from being developed further. This is however often the greatest opportunity, as there are examples of true creativity being required to unlock and exploit new ideas in an environment of very limited resources.
A third would be vision, culture, and process. If those of an operational mindset are allowed to clip the wings of the innovator and their programmes, be that through lack of support, existing processes that are not fit for the purposes of the innovations, of simply through an inability to see the bigger opportunity that could be created, the biggest barrier of all will be presented.
How important is collaboration for effective innovation?
The stock answer is 'very' but the more accurate may be centred on collaboration with purpose and mutual benefit. The key is why to collaborate, and if the answer is because it unlocks speed of launch, access to expertise, brand association and advocacy, and multiplies the scale of the opportunity, then collaboration is very important.
The obvious but perhaps most important point is the benefit of having a more diverse group of people involved, with different experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge to draw upon, and collaborating to enable these facets to collide and innovation to spark from this.
Can you teach somebody to be an innovator?
We developed and run the ICIG Programme, which stands for Intrapreneurship, Creativity, Innovation, and Growth. This exposes people to the environment of an innovator, how to zoom out to think on a very large scale, and then zoom in to focus on detailed planning to ensure delivery.
Regardless of the person’s background or acumen coming into the program, if they are driven, passionate, and open, they will make strong progress and develop as an innovator.
Are there pre-requisites for effective innovation?
A remit, and space.
The remit should come from the CEO and the Board who agree with the vision and then provide the space for the work to take shape.
Micromanagement, over-reporting, an overly short-term focus – these factors will kill innovation.
What can our audience expect to hear from you in Sydney?
A panel of leaders from four worlds are coming together to discuss innovation in unexplored territory, considering the space of diplomacy and cultural relations. The goal is to provide a thought provoking dialogue that will offer a macro perspective often not considered in business.
You can catch Jonathan's presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15.