Z-Corp makes significant contribution to develop employee’s innovation capabilities
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Zubair Corporation (Z-Corp) has made a serious commitment to innovation and this dedication has taken its management team to recognise the importance of innovation across the group and make significant investment in the development of its innovation capabilities’, believe partners engaged in the implementation of the ongoing Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP).

Designed to help employees with workforce succession planning, ELDP is an initiative aimed at developing the high caliber employees of Z-Corp as part of the group’s talent management programme initiative SEED. The ELDP, which is an initiative designed in-house by the Z-Corp team, has set a new standard for corporate leadership development in the Sultanate. The ELDP is a holistic, rotational three years programme designed to equip participants with hands-on experience in different key roles across Z-Corp. The ELDP consists of several modules, covering a broad aspect of leadership subjects including, strategy, innovation, leadership, risk management and corporate social responsibility.

Professor Ronald Jonash, highly regarded innovation guru and chairman of the Global Innovation Management Institute (GIMI), who was here to conduct the fourth module of the ELDP titled ‘Leading Through Creativity & Innovation’ said that Z-Corp was ready to make “innovation” part of its everyday activity.

GIMI had conducted a leadership programme for all the major leaders of all the Z-Corp group companies about two years ago where it focussed on innovation leadership and how to become innovation leaders in the region.  GIMI focussed on helping Z-Corp in identifying each of their sector where the next growth opportunity was and what they would need to do to pursue that growth opportunity.

The ‘Leading Through Creativity & Innovation’ programme is focussed on next level of management across each of those sectors and Prof Jonash been working with teams from these companies to help them develop an improvement plan for the most critical capabilities and competencies both required to practice innovation and to lead innovation. There are two different sets of capabilities and competencies the Z-Corp team has been working on and doing that on not only training role but in an action learning way where they have projects they are working. GIMI have been advancing specific concepts that Z-Corp chosen leaders are going to be working on over the next two months.

Speaking of Z-Corp’s dedication, Prof Jonash who is also Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Hult International Business School said, “Z-Corp made a commitment two years ago to make innovation part of their firm and now they are acting on that.”

He also added, “They are making sure their leadership and high potential future leaders are all capable and confident in driving more innovative initiatives in the future.”

Suggesting that Z-Corp can be a role model for innovation in the country, Prof Jonash said, “It would be great if private and government entities embraced innovation the way Z-Corp has. It is good if all companies drive for innovation because then the whole country can become an innovation leader. You don’t need to be a Boston or Silicon Valley, you can make innovation your beacon, your magnet for success. Companies can support the innovation growth of their own businesses and they can do that by will. They can make it happen.”

Talking of Z-Corp becoming the first organisation in the region to be certified as an Innovative Management Certified Organisation, Prof Jonash said, “GIMI is a major professional organisation that certifies individual, teams and companies as masters of innovation. In order to get certified companies, have to not only know how to do it, they have to be trained and kind of learn how to apply. Basically, it is two levels of certification – one should get enough people and enough teams in the organisation to be certified – then the whole organisation becomes certified.”

GIMI had done a leadership programme for all the major leaders of all the Z-Corp group companies about two years ago where it focussed on innovation leadership and how to become innovation leaders in the region.  GIMI focussed in helping Z-Corp in identifying each of their sector where the next growth opportunity was and what they would need to do to pursue that growth opportunity.

Talking about the aspects about Z-Corp that stood out, Prof Jonash said, “When we do the certification, when we do the training, when we do the action learning with the team we do a lot of coaching. What was noticeable about Z-Corp is that there is an openness to learning to do things differently. I think there is a recognition that they now must do a lot more with external partners. I think there is a understanding that they have to be very explicit about their strategic direction for innovation, why it is important and how fast they want to move. So, there is a recognition and embracing of the need to have much more proactive strategy for innovation.”

He added, “I think there is a recognition that if they want to be an innovation leader in the region they need to recognise innovation leadership among its people. There is also much more of a commitment to reward innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Prof Jonash who is also Senior Partner & Director at Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL) explained the team at Z-Corp they have worked with have been very open to using those tools to be able to manage complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty much more effectively.

Speaking of his working association with Z-Corp, Prof Jonash said, “I think that there is recognition in the company that change is happening much more rapidly. So, there is a willingness, as opposed to resistance, to change. There is an openness to they have to do things differently and they want to do things differently.”

He added, “At Z-Corp they understand that if they are going to succeed both in their core businesses and some of the new business they have to do a lot of things differently. There is an openness to new ways of thinking and new ways of acting. People at Z-Corp are highly motivated both at the leadership level and next generation of leaders. So that is really encouraging.”

Prof Jonash said management at Z-Corp understand innovation is a strategic imperative and they have stepped up to it.

“I think it is going to be a great success,” said the professor who has led extensive innovation consulting and leadership development programmes over the last 30 years across a wide breadth of industries and geographies.

Speaking about the participants of the Leading Through Creativity & Innovation training, Prof Jonash said, “They are high potential leaders of Z-Corp who were selected. They are most automatically inclined to believe that this is critical to their success and organisation’s success. There is a middle management that resists change but that is not what we have here, what is we have is rising high potential leaders who are middle managers now but they are clearly willingly and want to do things differently. We need a significant of middle management who aspires to do more for Z-Corp and we will coach them over the next two month execute improvement plans and innovative initiatives. With these teams, I will be doing webnairs to coach them for specific innovations and building capabilities.”

He added, “Innovation is a context work you have learn by doing you can’t read books you can’t just take a training course, you have to actually do it. It is only by doing it sticks.”

Mr Carlos Guevara, Founding Partner of ShiftIN Partners shared details about how the three day "Leading Through Creativity & Innovation" session went. The ELDP delivered in partnership with ShiftIN Partners; an internationally recognised consulting and training firm specialised in strategy execution and innovation, with strong focus on capability building. 

He said, “There was great engagement over the over days. The talents had the opportunity to work in teams to develop an innovative opportunity out of the existing core business of their sectors. It has been a very practical training where the talents learn the latest techniques to manage innovation and the tools to make innovation real.”

He also added, “As part of this module, the talents at Z-Corp will have to lead a team of university students, over eight weeks, to produce advanced business concepts that tackle a pre-defined challenge, identified during these three days. In short, we will be recruiting around 10 teams, of about four students each. The teams will compete to solve the challenges posted by Z-Corp. This is a greatly innovative programme because it truly integrates private sector with university to create value to both parties. The students will not only receive a great experience, but they will also get certified on Innovation Management Level 1 by the Global Innovation Management Institute, while increasing their chances to get a job offer from Z-Corp. For Z-Corp the value is clear, it gets closer to a talent pool while strengthening its relationship with one of Oman topmost universities.”

Stressing that Z-Corp has made a serious commitment to innovation, Mr Guevara said, “This commitment has taken the leadership team to recognise the importance of innovation across the group and to make significant investment in the development of its innovation capabilities. This course is an evidence of such commitment. From the business side, my prediction is that we will start to see the development of an innovation pipeline that will drive the future growth of Zubair Corporation.”

Talking of ShiftIN Partners association with Z-Corp Mr Guevara said, “We have been working together since 2015 when we facilitated the certification of the whole management team on Innovation Management, becoming the first organisation across the GCC obtaining this global recognition by the Global Innovation Management Institute. We are currently partnering for the development of the ELDP, acting as project managers for the whole programme that seeks to elevate the capabilities of the next generation of leaders of Z-Corp. We are very proud of counting Z-Corp among our clients and we are happy to continue developing new areas of collaboration.”

Speaking of Z-Corp’s commitment to grooming the talents in the company and being a role model, Mr Guevara said, “During these years, we have seen tremendous commitment of Z-Corp’s top management with growing its talent, something that is characteristic of organisations that aspire to lead in everything they do. I believe that when it comes to talent development, Z-Corp is a role model, not only in Oman but in the region. Investing in talent will always pay off. But what makes Z-Corp talent development really unique is the combination of next generation content and facilitation, with best in class certifications and practical application. This approach has provided, ShiftIN Partners with sufficient room to design tailored made programmes that create immediate value to the organisation. This approach stands miles away from traditional / academic approaches.”

Waleed Al Balushi, general manager, finance, Oman Computer Services LLC, who has been part of the ELDP since its initiation said the programme has helped him develop as a leader.

“It has allowed me to better understand my own potential as well as of those around me. Frankly speaking when we started doing this programme I thought there won’t be any benefit but over the last couple of years I have learnt to deal with change and importance of working in groups,” Al Balushi said.

Stressing that there have been direct and indirect benefits, Al Balushi said, “We have been able to share what learnt with our colleagues who didn’t attend these sessions. For example, after completing module 1, we shared our experience with our colleagues and applied what we learnt in office. Now our colleagues have adapted new ways of operation. As a result of participation in this programme, Z-Corp now has a growing cadre of highly motivated and engaged employees and potential senior leaders.”

He added, “The projects we have been assigned has encouraged us to think out of the box and group assignments has opened our mind to new ways of thinking as business leaders.”

Al Balushi said, “I am prepared, take better decisions especially in consultation with team and have become a more effective leader and manager in my current positions and scope of responsibilities. The course has taught us to think and operate in terms of teams which was not there before.”

Thanking the Z-Corp for investing in its employees, Balushi said, “Thanks to the decision of the shareholders, we have effective leaders, strategic thinkers, and agent of positive change in the company. I am applying what I learnt not just to my professional life but my personal and family life too.”

About the ‘Leading Through Creativity & Innovation’ session, Balushi said, “I am certain attending this module will increase our ability to work and make decisions around risk, uncertainty and ambiguity. We will be equipped with the necessary skills and confidence to manage innovation across their organisation.”

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