Change that's not just for the sake of change - GulfToday

Change that's not just for the sake of change

Rania Laing

Rania Laing – customer behaviour expert, business transformation consultant and executive coach.

Manjula Ramakrishnan

Rania Laing is a customer behaviour expert, business transformation consultant and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate world. With an established reputation for driving innovative strategies that deliver radical results, she is known for her unique ability to turn ground-breaking ideas into reality.  

As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) and Vice-President of the International Coach Federation (ICF), UAE Chapter, Rania has put to good use her rich experience, to deliver revolutionary performance of corporate entities. 

In conversation with Panorama, Rania speaks about purposeful advancements and change not just for the sake of documenting a difference, but ushering in meaningful difference that will impact the larger community and society.

Can you briefly explain “purposeful innovation” that you advocate?

What we, as a society, need the most right now is the ability to understand true innovation. I don’t mean innovation as technology or Artificial Intelligence. I mean innovation as the creation of new processes and products/services that are created to advance the current methods in a way that also advances our communities, both business and social.

What are the challenges involved in spreading awareness about it?

There are challenges that come down to understanding the paradoxical nature of innovation. It’s human nature to want something new, you are drawn to buying new things and consuming new media ideas. As humans we are excited by novel ideas. Yet, when we are grouped together as cultures, in all forms – nationality, vocational, lifestyle, popular/media etc, we create a preference to mass conformity. This conformity creates barriers and obstacles to developing the innovations that we need to advance ourselves and advance our societies.

The biggest challenge my clients have is thinking they need and can come up with the next big idea by throwing as many ideas as possible at the mass market and hoping one gets picked up. While it may seem that global brands do this, and some actually have the budgets to do so, there’s an alternative way which has come out of modern leadership skills of being mindful and applying that to the rest of the organisation. In other words, an organisation that adopts a mindful and purposeful way of developing new ideas, products and processes will bring greater long term value to their customers and employees.

How are the barriers that stymie growth eliminated?

As an innovation mentor and business consultant, the biggest hurdle I find is with the thought patterns of the decision-makers, the leaders that approve new proposals in their businesses. Dependent on the company, the decision-makers can be from strategy teams or finance or elsewhere. What they all have in common is the inclusion of certain thought patterns that hinders their ability to make sound decisions based on new ideas. We need to, therefore, start exploring our approach to developing new ideas. So, I work with them on that first; once you understand your personal filter to what you are evaluating, it becomes much easier to organise your people and resources.

But aren’t newer ideas the essential tool for growth?

Yes indeed, but new ideas cannot be a random scattergun approach, for the costs and risks are too high for most businesses to sustain. My approach works on the concept that new ideas, when generated purposefully for the greater good of the communities they serve, will start off with a small uptake of customers and will continue to grow and grow until they reach the popular mass market. This is what I call purposeful innovation. It cuts down business risk and the cost of R&D dramatically as it’s based on a number of established theories that are used as standard strategic models in business. The foundations I work with have been self-generating in that I have developed new ways to create models that help clients create and leverage new ways of thinking within their businesses. Ultimately, their remit is to produce new products and services for their customers. But, understanding the innovation paradox is key.

While collective purpose drives the direction a new idea needs to go in, the growth process needs to be consciously managed. I advise clients on seeding new ideas and evolving them in growth cycles that enable the business to continuously learn and change as they nurture them into final creations. This method is quite exact in that you know exactly what stage you are monitoring to move into the next stage. It’s a kind of low-waste model where all ideas have an opportunity to be understood well enough to increase the potential.