Innovation and Experimentation at CBRE with Hilary Reynolds, Head of UK/I Tech Enablement

There’s no doubt that successful digital transformation is supported by a culture of experimentation and innovation. But how to foster that culture? That was the question attendees wrestled with at Alternative Events’ 8th Tech & Innovation Leaders Hangout. For panellist Hilary Reynolds, Head of UK/Ireland – Digital & Tech Enablement at CBRE, embedding an innovation culture included actively embracing disruption to reinvent how they worked.

Agility is Key

Talent is the most important thing: “You need your people to drive that transformation.” Hilary also emphasised the importance of people being in the right environment, saying that at CBRE, they had changed both how they worked and their team structures. She saw agility as critical to innovation – and it’s not just about the technology. “Agility creates a good framework for teams to experiment and to learn really fast. We do hackathons and they are a great way to dive into a problem,” she said.

Innovation can also arise out of looking at the customer journey. “Start with the customer in mind and then work back from there. Design thinking is a fantastic methodology; all about empathetic learning, fast experimentation, and optimising ways of working,” said Hilary.

Focus on Data

Of course, these days its data that drive differentiation. “It’s a new language, and all our people need to read, write, and action data. Data is one of the big areas of focus for us at the moment. It’s creating that framework and skillset so that everybody can create this competency. Creating time to allow people to learn and get curious about topics is important,” she said.

Harnessing the collective creativity of the organisation is a big part of experimentation, and people need to be given the space to just think about a problem. “Innovation can come from anywhere in an organisation so creating opportunities for everyone to engage is really important. We run regular ‘innovation challenges’ to generate ideas. And we have a number of communities around innovation matters,” she said.

As always, collaboration is essential to innovation. “When you want to experiment and innovate, create cross-functional groups. You can really think outside the box. I’ve seen so many compelling ideas come out of a brainstorming or collaboration sessions,” she said.

And to come back to basics, clarity around the concept of ‘innovation’ is also important. “Transformation. Innovation. It almost always means different things to different people. So clarity around the terminology and allowing people to learn about those concepts is important,” she said.

Hilary Reynolds

Hilary is the Head of UK/Ireland – Digital & Tech Enablement at CBRE. She is a customer focussed product leader with over 10+ years experience delivering customer, product and commercial value at customer-facing companies across Media, FinTech, Retail and PropTech.