Collis: Telstra had identity crisis

Collis: Telstra had identity crisis
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According to Mark Collis, Telstra’s former head of brand and innovation, the telco didn’t know what it stood for during his tenure.

Speaking at the Wake Up with Landor breakfast panel discussion series in Sydney this morning, Collis said he spent the first three months of his employment with the company “freaking out” because he didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing.

Now working for Y&R’s Innovation Factory, Collis also said that organisations future success will hinge on “their ability to be creative”.

“When the methodology of design thinking was introduced organisations jumped on it, using it as a way to build innovation.

“What’s happening is they’ve forgotten about creativity. The purpose of design thinking was that it was actually a methodology of creativity.”

Perched upon the hot seats with Collis, Dominic Walsh, managing director of Landor, said he believes an organisation’s brand can often block innovation.

“It’s a lens through which you see product innovation and in many places it limits your thinking. It’s almost better to put brand aside and open up the possibilities of what you can do from an innovations perspective, then put the lens of brand back over the top and see if there’s a connection there.”

On the other end of the panel, David Redhill, Deloitte’s CMO puts forward the notion “the best ideas are going to be incremental”, adhering to the fact that many organisations believe innovative ideas need to be huge, game-changing ones.

However Redhill believes that isn’t the case, that innovation and creativity will help the success of a brand through small increments.

In research conducted by Landor, the survey asked 500 business leaders what innovation means for them.

While 80% of people believed innovation helps improve their lifestyle, a heavy disconnect was discernible as further results indicated only 10% of people rank innovation as important to them and their lives.

James Sykes, who now carries out global marketing for Teacher’s Scotch Whiskey and Canadian Club within Beam Inc, made up the foursome upon the chairs and outlined how he believed a lot of young folk are what’s needed for an organisation to be innovative.

“If you have people that do things that are interesting and exciting, it’s because you’ve got a lot of people who are curious and are good at asking the question why? Often these are the people starting out their career, not ending it … but you actually need a lot of young folk who have a lot of energy and who really want to do stuff that’s different and keep asking those questions and hold senior management to account.”

Gesturing for clarification, the “air sandwich” places senior personnel on top of the sandwich with young guns at the bottom. Sykes believes that sandwich needs filling with butcher’s paper and the like.

All four panelists are in agreement, it’s time organisations realise innovation is not a cemented process, it requires a little bit of magic and with magic comes uncertainty.

Image: Mark Collis

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