Executive Spotlight

Our Executive Spotlight series features interviews with accomplished business leaders from around the world and puts a focus on insights, ideas and perspectives that shape organisational culture and performance across key industry sectors.

Hart Hillman, CATA national Leadership Council Member, recently conducted interviews with several Canadian Leaders about Innovation. The largest high-tech association in Canada, CATAAlliance (http://www.cata.ca/) matches businesses with opportunities across almost every sector, so that we can all do business together. Reaching out from Canada, CATAAlliance members are connected with investment and partnership opportunities with the major global companies. We share the interviews here and acknowledge strict copyright to CATAAlliance.

Darren Entwistle, President & Chief Executive Officer, TELUS

Darren joined TELUS as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2000, bringing extensive and diverse leadership experience in global telecommunications operations. Prior to TELUS, Darren, a 30-year veteran of the communications industry, spent seven years on the senior leadership team at Cable & Wireless in the United Kingdom, culminating with his appointment as President of Cable & Wireless (United Kingdom and Ireland) in 1999.

How can you improve, promote and develop innovation?

I think we need to raise our risk appetite. The companion of innovation is risk. We’re too conservative in our outlook… and in a world that is so globally connected… we all have to set our ambitions to a more lofty standard.

How is innovation implemented and fostered at TELUS?

You ask people to define innovation, and typically, what they think about is technology… but sometimes I fret because it’s always technology-based innovation or new product development-based innovation. I would say ‘Please, don’t forget about behavior-based innovation along the way.’ When you look at how we drive innovation in the TELUS organisation, I would say we’re disproportionally focused on the behavioral component, because we think the technology component, the product component will flow from that. And so, when you look at our organisation, we have four values, and all of them either directly or indirectly are tethered to driving a culture where the mentality is all around innovation.

So, one of the four values is having the courage to innovate, which means having the courage to make mistakes. But not being arrogant about it. We still have to suck the tuition value out of the mistake so that we elevate our cadence for success… but you know, recognising that it’s going to take courage that we’re going to do things on a differentiated basis and that we recognise that risk and innovation are inextricably linked.

The second value for us is a passion for growth. I would say that’s the fuel for innovation. Having that desire to be better, that desire to be best on a global basis, having a dissatisfaction with the status quo or whatever prevailing paradigm presents itself on a given basis. That’s not good enough for me. I want to do better. Having a passion to view customers as the most cost-effective consultants we could ever be presented with. It’s not just listening on a perfunctory basis, it’s actively listening, doing something about it and then telling the customer that the reason we did this was because of what you told us.

Another one of our values is embrace change and initiate opportunity. We live in an extremely dynamic world. Yet so many organisations recognise that change is inevitable but they don’t do anything to position themselves to leverage that change.

What can you tell us about the remaining value you focus on at TELUS?

The fourth value for us is belief in a spirited teamwork, and that’s all about collaboration. I believe the collaboration of an organisation and the effectiveness of the collaboration of an organisation can be enhanced by several things, and these are things that we focus on. If you have a diverse organisation, then you know, you’re not all chasing the same opportunities and missing the same threats. The mathematical expression of the success of diversity within an organisation is where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You have different perspectives on the world, different perspectives on the client experience, technology, interactions, so on and so forth. And heterogeneity within an organisation brought on by diversity elasticises the thinking of an organisation. It expands the universe of opportunities and also some of the threats that you might not have seen, which actually are great catalysts for innovation because the status quo is not good enough. We’re going to have to do something about it because there’s this eventuality that’s going to present itself that undermines the efficacy of our strategy, and I believe fervently that diversity drives that within an organisation.

At TELUS, as an organisation, we believe that the only sustainable competitive advantage that we have is the culture of our organisation.

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