Culture by design at 2017 CEO Summit

21 March 2017

Over 350 New Zealand business leaders gathered at the Better by Design CEO Summit 2017 in March to be inspired and to connect with their peers. 

With a theme of Culture by Design, we set out to explore the relationship between innovation, disruption, purpose and culture. Speakers focused on what it takes (process, conditions, tools) to develop a culture of innovation within an organisation, how to evolve that culture as you scale, and how to link that to what your customers actually want.

Over two days, we heard from an impressive group of international and local speakers, including: Tom Waller from lululemon, David Gram from LEGO Group, Noreen Chadha from citizenM, Anna Curzon from Xero, and Peter Cullinane from Lewis Road Creamery. We learned about challenging industry norms, the future of play, using insights to rethink the customer experience and how to tap into the creative potential within organisations. 

There were plenty of insights and a few themes that kept surfacing, including the importance of understanding your organisation’s purpose and ‘why’ and how designing your culture around that purpose enables people to do the best work of their lives. We were reminded about the need to get out of your comfort zone and how a simple tweet or email can have a huge impact.

We also heard how storytelling is a great way of sharing values and reinforcing culture within an organisation, and while having ideas and vision is great, it really comes down to the execution. Underlying all of this is authenticity – if your story, your values and your mission are not underpinned by authenticity, your brand and culture will suffer.

Speakers and delegates alike were buzzing, but don’t take our word for it – check out this highlights video to see why.

Quinten Hall: Look, I think coming along to these type of events really inspires you to go back and rethink how you’re doing things and I think we’re going to get a lot of ideas out of this Summit.

Dr Tom Waller: We absolutely have a purpose within our company. From day one, I think the specific wording was “Elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness.”

Hamish Whyte: Tom, from Lululemon spoke about using everybody in his business to come in the creative space and have the opportunity to prototype. I just thought that was genius. 

Hamish Acland: I guess one of the things the Summit has inspired me to do differently or think differently about is just probably how to grow myself and how this can be really pegged against the company.

Dr Michelle Dickinson: So, I’m going to totally change the way that I think about branding and social impact within business because actually it’s what people care about.

Pic Picot: The Summit’s inspired me by the idea of getting in and stuck-in and trying something, seeing how it works and dumping it if it doesn’t go.

Gareth Hughes: To go away and engage with our community more. There’s great social media platforms to do that now, and it’s not just about what we decide to do in the boardroom; we need to go out to our customers and engage so as we get that collaborative buyer.

Jennifer Boggiss: I think a common theme across all the speakers has been about the quickness of taking a product from initial thoughts right through to market validation and to market.

Noreen Chadha: Yes, it was much more about, you know, “Can you understand yourself and therefore can you understand others and lead them and inspire them that way?”

Nigel Bamford: They had four speakers from different corners of the globe and they’ve all talked about this vision, they’ve all talked about having a strategy and they’ve all talked about having a purpose.

Daniel Flynn: At the beginning I said, “Ideas aren’t worth much; they’re not - we have to have the courage to get out of our comfort zone, to execute them a way that maybe no-one else has before and we have to be grounded on our purpose, our why?”

Anna Curzon: And if there’s one thing I could leave with you, just how important it is that we allow our people to do the best work of their lives.

Minnie Baragwanath:So, I think Better by Design needs to be really acknowledged for creating a space where you feel welcome and you can connect and learn.