March 16, 2017

Tips From Some of Canada’s Greatest Intrapreneurs

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We jump at any chance we get to learn from great intrapreneurs. That’s why we were thrilled when Symbility Intersect’s own Amber Foucault moderated a panel at the Dx3 conference in Toronto featuring some of Canada’s best intrapreneurs and focussed on how big enterprise companies can drive innovation.

Towards the end of the panel’s discussion, Amber asked each of the panelists what their best tip would be for fellow intrapreneurs looking to help drive innovation in their own organizations. Today we want to share their answers with you:

“It’s cultural and it’s about telling and sharing stories.” – Rick Neuman, EVP, eCommerce & Technology – Walmart Canada

When Walmart Canada was working to introduce an eCommece platform into their mobile app, Rick Neuman knew that he had to get the execs of the company fully onboard. He wanted them to understand how a customer feels when placing online orders so they can build the app with the customers’ perspective on ease of use – not the corporation’s. In order to do this, Rick issued a challenge to the executives and his team to only shop online for a full month (he made an exception for buying gas for those that drove cars because there isn’t a good ecommerce solution for that industry… yet). In order to keep them on track, he offered incentives for the people that could actually stick to the challenge.

Once it kicked off, Rick would gather his team and all the executives together once a week so they could discuss their experiences. They would get together and share stories of what they bought that week, what they liked that certain retailers were doing with their ecommerce, what they hated about their experience with certain platforms, and how the experience was overall. Through the sharing of these stories, the team was able to better understand each other’s thoughts and build a great ecommerce experience.

“People don’t like change, but you need to get them comfortable with it.” – Jessica Weisz, Chief Customer Officer – SoapBox

Innovation means driving change. Whether that means changing a process, a product, or doing something completely different than what a company has done before. However, sometimes accepting change can be hard, and getting others to accept it can be even harder. Jessica Weisz calls making change her “Sisyphus project.” For those of you not well-versed in Greek mythology, Sisyphus was an ancient Greek king who was very deceitful to his people. The gods punished Sisyphus by making him roll a boulder up a hill that would always slide back down, forcing him to be forever pushing the boulder up the hill.

Creating change can be much like Sisyphus’s punishment. You make a bit of headway only to be pushed backwards, and you have to keep trying to get up that hill. Jessica’s advice for getting through this uphill battle is to do your best to make people comfortable with the idea of change. To do this, she says that she not only encourages people to accept change, but that she makes it known that she demands and expects it. People will always resist change, but the more comfortable you get them with the idea, the less effort it will take over time to move that boulder.

Beachball of Doom

“You have to be a little bit unreasonable.” – Ewan McNeill, Director of Interactive Customer Experience – LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario)

As mentioned above, innovation, especially inside established businesses, means trying new things. Ewan McNeill of the LCBO believes that if you’re going to try new things, you may as well go big. Like Jessica, Ewan knows that people don’t cope well with change. When faced with really big changes, or opportunities to innovate, people are going to tell you that your big ideas are too out there and can’t be done. However, Ewan also believes that in order to truly innovate, you need to find ways to get the undoable done. That’s why you need to be a little bit unreasonable in order to move efforts forward.


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