A Culture of Innovation and Digital Transformation

Sean Paley Blog

On June 29, 2012, at Hyper Island in Stockholm, I pitched an idea to the Global CEO of Adecco Group, to create an innovation lab. The next day he announced to the company’s senior leadership that he was going to fund it. It was literally a dream come true.

I spent the last four years building Ignite, working with amazing people, and experiencing plenty of highs and lows. Suffice it to say, the experience was like nothing I could have imagined. I experienced first-hand why there is so much potential to innovate within big companies, but also why it is so hard achieve results, and why so few companies in non-R&D driven industries succeed at it.

The Ignite Team created some amazing products (WickedSmart, Path.To) that couldn’t find enough traction in the market. Through lots of blood, sweat, and tears we also built plenty of great products that made a large and growing impact. We proved that a dedicated innovation team can apply techniques like design thinking and lean startup to create real, measurable business value.

Over the course of the last few years, I got to know a lot of folks at a sister company, Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), who were constantly seeking advice on how to drive innovation in a space that is increasingly demanding “more digital” — even if the market doesn’t quite know what that means. 

I learned so much in the process of building Ignite. At LHH I saw an opportunity to apply what I’d learned innovating from outside the business to innovating inside, and to be able to compare first-hand the pros and cons of the two approaches. So I decided to take the leap into a new challenge.

This is my first week at LHH. My title is Senior Vice President, Digital Innovation. (What’s funny is I don’t like either of those terms — they tend to be overused and are overly broad!) And my focus will be to apply the HuDiLeDa approach I developed at Ignite:

  1. Empathize with the people we help — leaders looking to transform their workforce as well as individuals looking to transform their careers
  2. Leverage the latest technology to change how we provide services to those individuals.
  3. Use a lean, iterative approach to vet and develop ideas interactively versus in a board room.
  4. Measure the results and learn from the data.
  5. Excite and empower my colleagues around the world to apply this process themselves.

There are plenty of sources out there to read and learn about innovation and digital transformation. Many are not that helpful; some are good. My plan with this blog is to share the experiences of an intrapreneur in the real world, in real time.

Follow along and let me know what you think!

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