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Researcher, Global Innovation Leadership Consultant, & Creative Thinker, Author

My research findings? Innovation leaders are ambidextrous!

Gaia Grant (PhD) is the creator of the unique ‘Innovator’s Profile’, a researcher on innovation with the University of Sydney Business School, a director of Tirian Consulting, and author of a number of books including: The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game, along with international bestseller Who Killed Creativity?... And How Can We Get it Back?

Current Work:

Gaia researches how to create a culture that supports sustainable innovation and draws on data she’s collected from multiple survey responses and interviews with global leaders. She is a course designer & lecturer at the Work Integrated Learning Hub / Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship / University of Sydney Business School. Her role includes evaluating and designing work-based learning and teaching for the future of work. Gaia was appointed by The Australian Institute of Company Directors and the peak Australian Superannuation Association Fund to research and report back on the importance of creating cultures in an organization that promotes accountability and integrity following the outcomes of the Haynes Royal Commission. Gaia’s qualifications include: PhD (USYD); MSc (State University of New York); Grad. Cert. Creative Change Management (SUNY); BD Hons (MCD University); BA Dip Ed (Macquarie), FHEA.

Gaia is the creator of ‘The Innovator’s Profile’ (iCLi) and ‘Polar Positioning’ (PoP) tools designed for navigating innovation leadership and culture.

Gaia’s corporate clients have included: Google (US), JP Morgan (Asia Pacific), Visa (US), Salesforce (Asia Pacific), Boeing (& Partner airlines), Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (Canada), Citibank (Asia Pacific), AMP Bank (Australia), Baker & McKenzie (Asia Pacific), Colgate Palmolive (Innovation Lab America), Deutsche Bank (Asia Pacific) & many other MNCs who can all attest to her insightful approach.

Gaia has given number of high-profile Keynote Presentations at events for organisations including: Salesforce International Roadshow | Gartner Symposium CIO Itxpo | World President Organization Global conference | Optus / Singtel national event |Growth Faculty Conference. Other selected industry keynote and workshop presentations have included Ci Creative Innovation Conference (Australia) and the Creative Problem-Solving Institute (State University of New York, US). Gaia has also presented her research papers at a number of universities internationally including across the US (such as Xavier and Miami), Asia Pacific (including Bhutan, Central Philippines University), as well as delivering at major US & European management theory conferences: Academy of Management, EGOS & PROS.

Gaia contributes regularly to several major magazines and newspapers and has also been featured in a number of international media including BBC and ABC TV along with commercial TV, Reuters, Harvard Business Review, HRM, Fast Company and the Wall St Journal. She has co-authored several academic papers on innovation and over 30 corporate educational resources, simulations and programs used by Fortune 500 companies worldwide. Gaia’s recent white paper on “What it means to be an ambidextrous innovation leader: Developing greater agility for sustainability in a rapidly changing world” is well received by global innovation leaders.

Gaia is a recognized thought leader and a highly skilled presenter, facilitator and consultant who has developed a wide range of strategies and tools that can be used to find solutions to the most difficult challenges. Along with her corporate client work, Gaia with her partner Andrew Grant has also researched, designed and delivered long-term innovation culture solutions for a number of not-for-profit organisations, including directing a one-year project working on innovation solutions for a government project that supports impoverished farmers with improving agriculture techniques in Indonesia, coordinating strategies for refugee organisations to overcome challenges internationally, and producing a health curriculum for more than 25 million teachers and students in India.

Talking Points

The Innovation Paradox: Are you an innovative leader? Dr Gaia Grant (PhD) / Andrew Grant

We need to be creative to be innovative. But the relentless push to innovate faster is producing a toxic culture that may undermine the whole creative process. In our rush for end results fast, we could ironically be killing the very thing that will lead us to innovation: creativity. Creativity and innovation are not interchangeable words, and it’s important for effective businesses to understand why. In these sessions we explore why we need both, and the paradoxes behind this that can impact our work.

1. The Innovation Race: Becoming Future Ready. Who will win, lose and be eliminated? What does successful & sustainable Innovation look like? Includes: best practices- Countries, Companies, Cultures & Innovation Leaders.
2. Ambidextrous Leadership: Identifying Paradoxical Innovation Orientations in Teams
3. Are you an Innovative Leader? Creating agile leadership teams: Identifying ambidexterity across different occupational profiles. Innovation profiling.

1. Harnessing Creative Intelligence (CQ) - for a Competitive Advantage.
2. Who Killed Creativity? And How to Get it Back? From the Classroom to the Boardroom.
3. The 7 Critical Creative Thinking Strategies for Designing New Innovations, & why Design Thinking often fails.

1. The Collaboration Deception: A gamified simulation social experiment, to explore building collaborative teams in a competitive environment.

Are you an Ambidextrous Innovation Leader? What the latest research reveals about how to lead for sustainable innovation

“What it means to be an ambidextrous innovation leader: Developing greater agility for sustainability in a rapidly changing world” How is it possible to deal with the challenges of constant change in order to innovate and thrive? This session includes a fascinating validated assessment and interactive exercises to help explore individual unique Innovation Change Leadership (iCLi) profiles. Gaia Grant’s latest research reveals how understanding ‘Paradoxical Innovation Orientations’ (PIOs) and applying the ‘Polar Positioning Tool’ (PoP) at the individual, team and organisation levels can assist with fuelling innovation. In this session participants learn how to manage the dynamic tension between the principles of exploration, for breakthrough new innovation ideas, and preservation, for incremental continuous improvement. They learn how to lead teams so they are propelled forward by the creative dynamic between these positions rather than ripped apart by the tension, and through this process come to appreciate the importance of becoming ambidextrous innovation leaders. Drawing from her research with thousands of survey responses, multiple interviews with heads of innovation and a deep dive case study immersions - along with fascinating case studies from her consulting work with organisations over 30 years - this session reveals how leaders can fuel sustainable development. (Academic version with White Paper also available)

The Innovation Paradox: Why so many innovations fail… and what to do about it

For many years people have believed that innovation is about by being open and taking risks. Risk takers like Steve Jobs have been venerated for their innovation accomplishments, and cutting edge companies like Google appear to be leading in the ‘innovation race’ due to their ‘open’ strategies. Yet Gaia Grant’s research from interviews with more than 70 global innovation leaders and surveys with more than 1,000 - along with our international consulting work with leading innovative companies over 30 years - has revealed that most leaders and organisations today have only half the story right. Few are set up for long term survival. This session is based on Gaia’s recent book The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game and identifies the unlikely paradoxical elements needed to be ‘fit for the future’. It can include an interactive game board exercise with a global challenge and connected case studies to identify the principles for sustainable innovation. Through the session Gaia reveals her unique research findings on how to fuel innovation through successfully and dives deeper into the 4 key innovation ‘Paradox Pairings’ and the ‘Innovation Change Leader (iCLi) Profiling tool.

Who Killed Creativity?... And how can we get it back?+ Harnessing Creative Intelligence (CQ) skills for a competitive business advantage: Identifying the key psychological blocks to creative thinking and how to deal with them.

We need to be creative to be innovative. But the relentless push to innovate faster may be undermining the whole creative process. In our rush for end results, we could ironically be killing the very thing that will lead us to innovation: creativity. Recent research has revealed that creative thinking will be the most important leadership attribute in the next 10 years. Yet it has been identified that even though IQ has been on the rise, creative thinking (CQ) has been rapidly declining since the 1990s. CQ has also been found to drop over an individual’s lifespan. We are now at a point where all the design thinking strategies and innovation labs in the world won’t help a team if there are significant psychological or environmental and cultural blocks to the creative probes. This session takes the participants on a journey from the classroom to the boardroom to understand the impact of the current creativity crisis. The session covers the implications for the workplace and reveals how it is possible to develop a creative and innovative culture.

Specialist Topics, Academic Papers & Deep Dives

1. ‘Sensemaking & Paradox Theory’, ‘The profile of highly effective innovators’
2. ‘Rallying around a shared purpose: How the top management team experiences paradoxical demands in strategizing.’
3. ‘Profiling innovation leaders: Developing and applying a multidimensional measure of paradoxical innovation leadership orientations.’ ‘Dual leadership dynamics: Identifying how dual executive leaders navigate competing innovation sustainability demands in growing organisations’
4. ‘How Leaders Navigate Scaleup tensions’. ‘From detecting dichotomies to navigating dipoles: How senior leaders negotiate competing demands.’
5. Creating agile leadership teams: How shared leadership models can better manage sustainable innovation and growth ambiguities.
A phenomenal session! The feedback was excellent and many of our members gave this session a 10 out of 10. Really unique in bringing real depth and understanding to innovation. I saw a lot of lights go on today with our CEOs, and this will help our CEOs to be more effective in innovating. Excellent job - It was much appreciated! Chief Executives Guild, USA

Gaia's presentation provided our clients with great tools to help them become a marketing success.


Superbly presented - scoring a very high evaluation feedback of 6.8 out of 7. Gaia is a knowledgeable and entertaining presenter who presented an excellent session for us, really well facilitated and introduced. Really enjoyed it and liked the creative presentation through the game.

Australian Institute of Management Australia

You did an amazing job to help us translate big ideas into execution.

AMP Bank

Your contribution in so many ways turned the Optus Learning Fiesta into a smooth event with very interested participants and a great atmosphere for discussion & collaboration.

Optus / Singtel

Your knowledge, professionalism, and willingness to work with us were key to the success of these digital virtual seminars. I learned a lot from you, and really enjoyed working with you.

Boeing USA
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