Alex Goryachev, Senior Director of Innovation Strategy and Programs, Cisco Systems, explored what it takes for business leaders to foster a culture of innovation across a workforce in his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2017 Human Capital Leadership Forum in New York on May 4. In his presentation, “Leading Cultural Transformation with Disruptive Co-Innovation,” Goryachev explained why business leaders must mobilize all organizational levels to drive company-wide innovation.
According to Goryachev, most of the Fortune 500 companies are dying, and perhaps it is easy to understand why. To illustrate his point, Goryachev provided several examples.
Goryachev pointed out that Kodak was surpassed by Instagram due to its failure to innovate. Ultimately, Kodak failed to embrace digital camera technologies and fell behind Instagram in a rapidly evolving global marketplace.
“Kodak missed the market opportunity,” Goryachev noted. “It didn’t listen to its employees and was very comfortable … because it believed it was in the chemical business and did not listen to the market.”
Also, Goryachev highlighted Blockbuster, which failed to capitalize on an opportunity to purchase Netflix for $100 million.
Blockbuster provided consumers with the ability to rent videos at any time. However, the company did not recognize the market opportunities provided by on-demand and streaming video. As a result, Blockbuster was overtaken by Netflix.
“Blockbuster never believed that people would consume video on-demand or through digital,” Goryachev said.
How companies embrace innovation may dictate their immediate and long-term success.
“I think the most important thing for us is that we disrupt ourselves. Unless we disrupt the way we think … good things are not going to happen.”
If a business deploys a culture of innovation, it may be better equipped to attract and retain top talent, Goryachev said. This company will listen to its employees and learn from them, and as such, be able to identify new opportunities faster than its rivals.
“If you look at innovation internally, HR is the best partner,” Goryachev noted. “When you think about innovation, it is all about talent.”
Furthermore, a company that drives innovation at all levels can foster engagement and trust across its entire workforce.
“When I work with employees, I can really change the experience of people I really know,” Goryachev stated. “That’s very rewarding.”
Today’s businesses must understand that innovation can come from any location, at any time. With a culture of innovation in place, a company may be able to embrace new ideas quickly and effortlessly, regardless of the source.
“Anybody can come up with an idea, and anybody can displace a Fortune 500 company, which presents a lot of opportunities,” Goryachev said. “This creates a lot of opportunities for startups, and this really forces us to be alert.”
Many companies have used innovation to reshape industries, Goryachev said.
For example, Airbnb has led many hotel chains to revamp their guest accommodations and amenities, while Uber has transformed the taxi industry.
“Every day, we discover a new company that is going to change our life, and we don’t know where it is going to come from.”
Industry innovators are unafraid to embrace change and have transformed the way both businesses and consumers connect with one another.
Meanwhile, many companies still rely on traditional practices and processes to generate trust with consumers, but these businesses risk falling behind rivals if they fail to adapt to the “new normal,” Goryachev said.
“People keep asking when are things going to go back to normal. The answer is never,” Goryachev indicated. “If you’re faced with change, you have two option: you can embrace it or resist it. But change is going to happen no matter what, and if you embrace the change, it will be easier.”
Companies must be prepared to search for innovation from unknown sources. They should be on the lookout for innovation constantly, Goryachev said; that way, businesses can embrace new ideas and use them to gain a competitive advantage over rivals.
“Every day, we discover a new company that is going to change our life, and we don’t know where it is going to come from,” Goryachev pointed out.
The mobile landscape likely will influence how businesses and consumers connect with one another over the next few years.
As new mobile devices become available, consumers will have more ways to connect with businesses than ever before. If companies embrace new mobile opportunities, they may be able to foster advanced collaboration and innovation.
“There are more IP addresses than humans, and most people have more than one internet-connected device,” Goryachev stated.
Disruption plays a key role in today’s businesses. Companies must be ready to disrupt, or they may struggle to get the best results possible day after day.
“You have to disrupt or be disrupted,” Goryachev said. “I think the most important thing for us is that we disrupt ourselves. Unless we disrupt the way we think … good things are not going to happen.”
Alex Goryachev is an entrepreneurial go-getter. He takes risks, thinks ahead, and loves making way for new innovations. Over the past 20 years, he’s made it his business to turn disruptive concepts into emerging business models.
For him, it’s all about a passion to create a strategy and then drive it home to “get things done.” And as Cisco’s senior director of Innovation Strategy and Programs, he has plenty of opportunities to put this passion to the test.
He sparks internal innovation by providing employees at all levels the chance to share their big ideas, many of which make their way into the company’s innovation engine. Alex also carries the torch for co-innovation across Cisco’s ecosystem.
He’s especially excited about Cisco’s Innovation Centers, which can be found in major cities around the world. Led by Alex, these hubs bring together customers, partners, startups, accelerators, governments, research communities, and universities in a lab setting. Their goal is to discover, develop, and implement game-changing, outcomebased solutions.
He also heads up the Cisco Innovation Grand Challenges. These polished events help creative thinkers bring their technology ideas to life. And then there’s the Cisco Technology Radar, the company’s engine for identifying emerging technology transitions.
Alex began his Cisco journey in 2004 with a singular focus: Innovation. He defined and operationalized several high-profile Cisco initiatives, including the company’s Country Transformation plan for Cisco in emerging markets. He also held senior roles in Development, Marketing, Finance, and Channels, providing him a 360 view of how a great company ticks.
Prior to Cisco, Alex was a successful consultant with extended assignments at Napster, Liquid Audio, IBM Global Services, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.