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Innovation Leadership Researcher (PhD)

My research findings? Innovation leaders are ambidextrous!

Gaia Grant is a passionate PhD researcher and internationally recognised thought leader. Gaia has uncovered fascinating original insights into how to lead a culture that will support innovation. In her presentations Gaia combines a rigour for identifying fresh and relevant research results with decades of executive consulting experience including for Fortune 500 companies through to NFPs worldwide. With an engaging and unique interactive presentation style, Gaia is recognised as a go-to expert in the area and she is regularly asked to share her insights globally.

Current work

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” has been well received by innovation leaders globally, and her Innovation Change Leadership Profile (iCLi) tool has been used in a broad range of contexts including by the government of Dubai, by CEO organisations in the US, and by global finance institutions along with NFPs.

Gaia has also co-authored a number of books on her insights, including the breakthrough book ‘The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game’, and international bestseller ‘Who Killed Creativity?... And How Can We Get It Back?’

Gaia contributes to a number of major magazines and newspapers, and she has also been featured in a number of international media including BBC and ABC TV along with commercial TV, Reuters, Huffington Post, Fast Company and the Wall St Journal.

Previous experience

Research:Gaia’s breakthrough studies with the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney have led to the creation of the breakthrough ‘Innovation Change Leader’ (iCLi) profile measure and ‘Polar Positioning’ (PoP) tools, which identify how to lead a sustainable culture for both incremental improvement and breakthrough innovation. Her research has included intensive year-long immersion case studies, interviews and surveys with hundreds of global innovation leaders, and surveys with thousands of other leaders internationally. She has also helped to produce a Business Innovation Leaders Podcast Series through the university.

With a unique ability to apply her fascinating research insights in her work, Gaia has assisted a range of clients including Google (US), JP Morgan (Asia Pacific), Visa (US), Salesforce (Asia Pacific), Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (Canada), Citibank (Asia Pacific), Baker & McKenzie (Asia Pacific), Colgate Palmolive (Innovation Lab Central America), Deutsche Bank (Asia Pacific) and many other MNCs who can all attest to her insightful and engaging approach.

Presenter: Gaia has presented engaging and interactive keynotes at a number of high-profile events including Salesforce International Roadshow, Gartner Symposium, Optus / Singtel national event, Worktech International Conferences, Vivid, Integrity, and the Growth Faculty Conference. Selected industry keynote and workshop presentations have included Ci Creative Innovation Conference and the Creative Problem Solving Institute at the State University of New York. She has also presented her research findings in a number of universities and at major academic forums, including the Academy of Management and European Group of Organisation Studies Symposia.

A particular area of interest is ‘purpose-driven innovation’, and as part of this focus Gaia has worked on a number corporate responsibility and sustainability programs with a range of clients, including for PriceWaterhouse Coopers, YPO (Young Presidents Organisation), and IFC World Bank. She has helped to design a program for Nestle headquarters in Switzerland on how to produce sustainable innovations for emerging countries, and she worked with Duke Executive Education to help design and run a program for Google headquarters in the US on how to improve social responsibility in the local area. Additionally, she has worked on a long term program with a government funded organisation assisting with poverty alleviation through improving agricultural techniques in Asia.

Talking Points

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

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.

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.

The Creativity Crisis: Is creative thinking dying just when companies need it the most?

How can we deal with the psychological and environmental blocks?

We need to be creative to be innovative. We have heard of the importance of ‘design thinking’ as a tool to be more effective. 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. An IBM survey of over 1500 CEOs has revealed that creative thinking skills are the greatest attribute needed for leaders in the coming years. And yet research has shown that while IQ has been on the rise, since 1990 creative thinking (CQ) has been rapidly declining. Whilst 98 % of children are ranked as “geniuses” in divergent thinking, by adulthood this number has dropped to a mere 2%. This session takes the participants on a journey from the classroom to the boardroom, helping them understand the current creative thinking crisis. It looks at the implications in the workplace of a number of dramatic statistics, and shows how it is possible to rise above these stats and develop a creative and innovative culture. Includes a quick interactive CQ Torrance testing that thoroughly engages the audience.
"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

“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.”

SALESFORCE (4 city roadshow)

“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.”

AIM (Australian Institute of Management) Australia

“I have worked at the university level for 25 years, and I would put Ms. Grant in this context in the top 5% for intellectual ability, and with respect to writing skills, persistence, organization and dedication I would place her in the top 1%. Simply put she is an excellent writer and thinker.”

International Center for Studies in Creativity USA

“Gaia’s presentation provided our clients with the tools to help them become a marketing success.”

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