How the ABC is using startup thinking to “reinvent” itself – StartupSmart

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is experimenting with startup thinking and setting an example for innovation in big business, ABC technology director Ken Gallacher says.


Gallacher was a judge at the SE-Corp CIO Summit Shark Tank in Melbourne on Thursday and says he has been making an effort to actively immerse himself in the startup ecosystem.


“Part of being on this panel of judges and I’ve been on others is to really start to involve myself in the experience and not just read about it,” Gallacher tells StartupSmart.


Like many CIOs at the conference, he says he is interested in learning more about startup culture and different ways of integrating it.


“As an organisation that’s been around for 80 plus years we’ve got to continue to reinvent ourselves,” Gallacher says.


On the night, CIOs represented a range of well-established long-term businesses like Hyundai and AusPost and many acknowledged that “startup thinking” would be useful not just in defending themselves from being disrupted out of the game but also in driving economic gains.


Gallacher says he has already started this integration at the ABC by empowering its technology group with startup skills and new approaches to creating better business solutions.


“This idea of experimentation and moving to a minimum viable product with a startup means we can really get to that stage a lot quicker,” he says.


Commencing the trial about six months ago, Gallacher is now focusing on partnering with groups, from startups to incubators.


“From a tax payers point of view, our goal is to make sure every dollar is spent wisely so I would rather find out very quickly experimenting in a few areas that this is something worth considering,” he says.


On finding and harnessing entrepreneurial talent at big companies, Gallacher says it starts at the recruitment process.


“We’re so focused on hiring skills but you’ve got to be more focused on people’s passion,” he says.


Instead of just looking for a system administrator or infrastructure developer with a specific skillset, Gallacher says employers should look for candidates’ deeper motivations.


“You’ve really got to say: I need somebody that’s going to take me to another level with these sorts of things and is able to be a people person as well as a technician,” he says.


He says it’s important to protect entrepreneurial employees from the organisation.


“You’ve got to make sure that they don’t get disenfranchised because of their approach being different and you’ve got to keep them as part of the team,” Gallacher says.


When things get questioned and new skills, ways of thinking or solutions are presented, Gallacher says it’s important to nurture and support this “diversity of thought”.


“If your team starts to see that and be part of that then I think it’s the best of both worlds,” he says.


“You get these disruptive innovators and you get the teams that are delivering the rock of resilience working hand in hand.”

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