A new study by the Commonwealth Bank found that businesses are earning $2 for every $1 spent on innovation. Further, innovations implemented by Australian businesses over the past year have contributed $110 billion to the economy.

This is certainly good news for the Australian economy. However, for the average business, creating an innovation culture is far from straightforward. Many organisations don’t know where to begin.

Unlock innovation through people and data

Matt Wood, General Manager – Policy Services at Allianz believes that an innovation culture rests on a combination of the right people and metrics, with data at the core of high performance. Wood is an operations management expert with a strong track record of delivering business process improvement for financial services firms across Australia.

When Matt first arrived at Allianz, he felt that because people didn’t have total visibility of their performance outcomes, they had no way of knowing whether their contributions were adding value to the team.

Further, it was difficult for team leaders to pinpoint where innovation was happening within the business, and if so, who was driving it.

“I felt that this needed to change. My team needed to be able to set an operating rhythm, analyse their performance and make necessary adjustments based on real-time data. The foundations of an innovation culture depended on it,” he explained.

The struggle to maintain visibility of performance is common across every industry. Without access to data that details individual and team performance, it’s difficult for people to identity gaps in business performance and understand which systems and processes are lagging behind.

Here are some of Matt’s key insights on how data enhances visibility across the organisation, thereby elevating performance and innovation.

How data enhances visibility across the organisation

  1. Real-time data enhances transparency.

    For any business wanting to create an innovation culture, real-time data is a powerful tool. From the top down, greater transparency and visibility of data helps to streamline operational processes and improve both individual and organisational performance.

    Data capturing also provides specific detail around performance metrics, enabling managers to plan and review outcomes on a daily or even hourly basis. This means that team members can get together and brainstorm innovative strategies for filling performance gaps.

  2. Visible metrics pave the way for high performance.

    Most people genuinely want to have pride and responsibility in their role at work. When performance metrics are published and available for the team to see, employees will inherently strive to achieve targets. They will also be able to manage workloads more efficiently.

    The publishing of metrics is fundamental in building an innovation culture. Team members want to feel proud of their accomplishments and be able to demonstrate any improvements they have made, or creative projects they have led. In this way, visible metrics ensure that people feel valued, with their contributions acknowledged.

  3. A top-down approach is key to innovation.

    An innovation culture relies on visionary leaders and changemakers who think outside the box. Leaders must also demonstrate openness to change and nurture creativity within the team.

    Like any business transformation, innovation needs to happen from the top down, with leaders who consistently model the behaviours of the change. After all, if the team doesn’t understand why there is a need for innovation and change, it’s very unlikely that they’ll be on board. They may even actively resist the change.

With transparency around data, performance metrics and capacity, leaders can make more informed decisions and actively drive innovation. A top-down approach to innovation is fundamental to success, because if leaders don’t demonstrate the behaviours they want to see in others, employees are unlikely to embrace the change.

Going forward, businesses that achieve transparency and visibility around data and performance will be better equipped to elevate performance and create an innovation culture.