Category: Digital Transformation, technology, Business, Challenges, process, COVID-19, enhance, problem solving
Did you know that today is #WorldCreativityandInnovationDay? (#WCID) To celebrate creativity and innovation and to gain a better understanding around what these terms really mean in practice, we met Zoi Gioti, Head of Digital Transformation at Siemens UK.
Zoi is a young inspirational leader whose strength is around getting people to explore opportunities outside the traditional ways of thinking and working to achieve business outcomes. She thoroughly enjoys getting people to work in powerful eco-system teams that unlock creativity and diversity of thinking.
And that is what she believes holds the key to a successful digital transformation journey: empowering people and providing the right means – technology and processes – to enable their creativity in coming up with innovative solutions to business and challenges.
So what does innovation mean to Zoi and how can it be translated into business?
“For me, innovation is coming up with a new method, idea or solution to existing or upcoming challenges or opportunities. It’s not exclusively around new technology, it’s largely around linking the dots, thinking of existing tech or non-tech solutions in a different way to enable problem solving and to enhance opportunities.
“Let’s take what we face with the COVID-19 situation for example. How can you use what is already there to find impactful methods to adjust to a new reality? Well, for many of us Covid-19 meant rapidly shifting from an office-based environment to a virtual work setup. We haven’t come up with the technology itself to enable our virtual office; we have, though, experienced innovation and creativity in practice in order to make the most out of the new business reality. Virtual working means connectivity, different ways of engagement and flexibility in order to maintain employee effectiveness.
"All this happened using existing means (tech, processes, tools) in new ways. And much of what we are experiencing now will stay with us in the post-Covid ‘new normal’ working life that will inevitably shape up. The same goes for other professionals: field service employees being creative with remote services, manufacturing employees repurposing production lines to respond to PPE challenges and so on.
“When thinking about the new normal, I think of it like a cook reworking a traditional recipe: mixing up base ingredients – aka traditional ways of working - and adding new, unexpected flavours – aka new ways of working – in order to offer a compelling new approach to enrich the taste palette, while maintaining the recipe’s substance,” said Zoi.
How do you drive innovation in your Digital Transformation programme?
“To address internal and customer-driven challenges and opportunities, we have introduced a crowd-sourcing platform to help us generate new ideas and encourage creative and innovative thinking based on the wisdom of the crowd principles.
“Digital Transformation is all about creating enough different options to address enough different needs, internally and externally. Our crowd-sourcing platform, the ‘Innovators’ Hub’, helps us generate these different viable options to address current and upcoming challenges and turn them to opportunities.
"Recently, we used the Innovators’ Hub to collect ideas around practical application of robotic process automation (RPA). Of the 30 attendees at the RPA awareness day, 45 ideas were generated on the day, followed by a virtual hackathon among the final 15, to determine the top three that will be sponsored and implemented. When you have more ideas than people in the room, when your colleagues get passionate about contributing in the innovation process, that’s when you know creativity is flowing and you live and breathe a culture of ownership.
“Crowd-sourcing helps us identify solutions faster and in a more inclusive as the process is fully transparent to all employees. I am a firm believer that people come to work with an appetite to contribute. This has been strongly demonstrated throughout the crowd-sourcing projects we are running and gives me very high hopes that we are on the right track in establishing a different culture around innovation and ownership,” said Zoi.
So what are the benefits of this approach?
“First of all, it encourages diversity of thinking: people contribute using the experience they have to creatively address the challenge in place – which could be around any topic. That diversity helps drive new solutions coming from different areas of the organisation, from people that bring breadth and depth of expertise. In turn, this results in the submission of compelling ideas that add value to the challenge. At the same time, the tool offers radical transparency with all ideas visible and employees can contribute with comments and votes, a fact that provides confidence to the idea owners that their input won’t go unnoticed. Overall, openness to contribute, diverse expertise and radical transparency play an instrumental role in employee engagement and drive around innovation that translates into impactful business solutions. Diversity of thinking is a huge inclusion factor that helps us navigate the rapidly changing landscape in digital transformation.”
Speaking of diversity of thinking, Zoi rates mentoring and reverse mentoring as an interactive way to be learn and be creative. She mentors two employees at Siemens and has her own mentors too. She describes mentoring as a two-way street where both the person being mentored and the person mentoring, learn from each other.
“The culture at Siemens is to continually learn and be open to share. It’s amazing how much you can learn and how many new ideas are inspired from this exchange. Mentoring is a fantastic way to share experiences and drive innovation and creativity across diverse backgrounds and demographic groups,” said Zoi.
Zoi is a leading digital transformation professional at Siemens who believes that a creative approach is vital in accelerating change in our rapidly moving landscape. But who inspires her?
“I get inspired by people that fill the room with their energy and presence. People that authentically speak to the heart of the audience using facts while articulating the purpose behind the need for an inclusive and sustainable future. People that are committed to making a difference to better their organisation, their industry and society at large.”
When asked what advice she would give to the younger generation Zoi said:
“Be curious, be present, listen, then reflect and speak up your mind. Make a conscious effort to discover what your purpose is and what you stand for. And work towards staying true to that purpose, because this is what makes each of us unique. Finally, being open to new challenges and being open to learn are key enablers to unlocking opportunities and to continuously growing oneself. And don’t forget to be creative!
Zoi’s background is in strategic and applied communications and marketing, with a master’s degree in Sustainability Strategy. In her role in Digital Transformation she is leading and enabling the company’s transformation journey focusing on people mindset, developing culture for digital and technological adoption. Zoi operates accordingly as a business consultant, as a coordinator and as a project manager, coming up with concepts and projects in-line with business needs and foreseeing future requirements. Zoi is from Greece and has been with Siemens UK & Ireland for 7 years.
Our thanks go to Zoi for taking the time to talk to us.