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Mimicking Google 'dumb' says its former chief Maile Carnegie

Mimicking Google 'dumb' says its former chief Maile Carnegie

Innovation needs to happen in a way that suits your business says ANZ's digital head

Innovation is about more than foosball tables and colourful decor, and mimicking Google’s approach is a dumb idea for most companies, says ANZ's Maile Carnegie.

“For me a dumb innovation programme is basically looking at the execution of companies like Google and saying I’m just going to reapply that – put some foosball tables in and paint the walls orange and we will be innovating. Awesome,” she told the audience as part of a panel at an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce event in Sydney today.

“It’s smart innovation. It’s figuring out how you apply the strategies in a smart way.”

Carnegie has been group executive of digital banking at ANZ since July, quitting her role as managing director of Google in Australia and New Zealand to do so.

At the time, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said Carnegie would help “shift the bank's thinking and champion a group-wide innovation culture”.

But, as she explained today, “the answer is not to disrupt the entire bank”.

Down the slide

Carnegie admitted she underestimated the degree of regulation and risk management in the banking sector, but those things were necessary given the bank’s business model.

“We need to stay very prudent and very practical in managing our credit risk and managing our market risk and all those type of things. But we do need to find pockets within the bank where we can actually operate a bit differently,” she said.

“One of the things I’m currently working on is how do you get that balance right? How do you keep the areas where you require the controls in place, and then where are the areas where you need to flex and change, to let the policies and the HR and the leaders… to enable some more flexibility.”

Indeed, Google, wasn’t completely free-wheeling, she added.

“Within Google there are parts of that business that are significantly more controlled than other parts,” Carnegie said. “When you are operating the servers – which basically keep their product up and going – It isn’t a free-wheeling, whoo-hoo, let’s-go-down-the-slide kinda culture, so we need horses for courses.”

In April, ANZ became the first bank to offer customers Apple pay and remains the only of the big four banks to do so. It is currently encouraging staff to become "their own little data scientist" by providing easy-to-use tools for them to draw value from the bank's fast-growing data lake.

A slice of the action

Carnegie’s fellow panellist, Australia Post’s executive general manager, trusted e-commerce solutions, Andrew Walduck, said large organisations needed to “fundamentally change” and “capitalise on the creative capacity of it workforce”.

“It’s the rate of change. So the biggest challenge with those types of structures [in large organisation] is getting them to go faster, make decisions faster, getting to having conflict discussions faster, using those to get to an outcome faster that you can move on,” Walduck said.

“When you tap into creative capacity you need to work differently to ensure the ideas can flow, decisions can be made to get things done. But there’s ways of changing how you execute and now how you work is how is as important as what you work on.”

Among the solutions was keeping team sizes small enough “to feed with one pizza” and give them autonomy and authority.

“It requires fundamental changes in an organisation in how it establishes itself to be able to do what it does and right now we have several hundred people in our organisation that run this way,” he added.

Walduck added the company, which this month saw its CEO depart, was currently exploring a digital identity platform and uses for blockchain within its business.

Australia Post this month signed a deal with Ali-Baba owned e-commerce network Lazada to extend its online storefronts beyond China to south east Asia.

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Tags Googleoptusaustralia postdisruptionMaile CarnegieBlockchainsmart disruption

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