How Australia Post’s IT and marketing chiefs lead digital change - together

The one-time CIO and CMO of one of Australia's oldest and largest companies talk about digital transformation and what they're doing to put the emphasis on customer engagement

Greg Sutherland (left) and Andrew Walduck (right)
Greg Sutherland (left) and Andrew Walduck (right)

What innovation means

How has digital impacted what innovation means to you?

Andrew: Innovation is fundamentally about having an idea, but then being able to execute it in a way that realises something of value for you. I think many organisations are trapped in that they have lots of ideas but don’t have an ability to either execute them, or execute them well. These ideas need to be realised frugally initially - you need to create a learning culture where ideas are implemented, you learn, grow, iterate and then evolve to where you need to be.

Our approach to innovation at Australia Post is based on many different tools and methods. These include hack days internally to accelerate something more quickly, and in working form within 24 hours, to a more measured design thinking approach, where we have a very deliberate method of diverging and converging on an idea that helps us create something that is a step change and disruptive difference for the business. We’re also looking into how we use incubators to accelerate certain ideas where our capacity might not be able to support it at a given time, but we know we need to do it.

Increasing numbers of organisations are establishing innovation labs or teams within the business, but struggle to then execute across the business. Is this the right or wrong approach?

Andrew: It’s your ability to create and disrupt how you work which will be the competitive advantage of the future. The bit that’s really important is to acknowledge everything that’s made you great, while also bringing online the capabilities you need to drive the future.

And it’s not about separating digital from change. There is a new way of working that will create the success of future enterprises. This new way has to embrace creativity as a primary asset, and the human capital that exists inside the organisation.

The creativity of being able to come up with an idea, and have it executed and implemented in a way that creates value, is the thing that will be your competitive edge. You can badge that as innovation, but I think it’s more an opportunity to embrace a fundamentally new way of working where you have much shorter timeframes in which you can be tremendously successful.

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