Business lessons from the front-line of national defence
Pete Williams is one of the youngest Lieutenant Colonels in the British military. He is also the Head of the jHub – the innovation arm of UK Strategic Command. For the last two years he has been leading a team of innovators to deliver solutions at pace to solve national security challenges.
On Wednesday 10th November, he will share his experiences and explain how lessons from the War Zone can be applied to the Boardroom.
We caught up with him to ask some questions – here are just some of his candid insights:
• What can a serving military officer bring to the world of innovation?
“I am used to leading high-performance teams in volatile conflict zones; I don’t have a traditional technology background. Somewhat to my surprise, I have found this to be an advantage: you need to harness the expertise of a diverse multi-functional team to be effective in roles such as this, rather than be an expert in any particular area. Leading innovation teams, I believe, is about: being adept in ambiguity; being able to provide a clear vision to guide efforts; building, leading and getting the most from a team; exercising sound judgment in decision-making in unfamiliar areas… these are things I spent 10 years learning – often the hard way – on combat operations.
• In your experience, what drives success?
“Embracing conflict and crisis. Let me explain…
The UK’s deterrence doctrine has changed. Forget the binary distinction between war and peace, we have developed a new mindset: ‘constantly competing below the threshold of war’. Life – be it global business or national defence – is a persistent, competitive conflict. There is nothing like the imperative of a conflict or crisis to drive innovation – from wars to the national COVID-19 response (including our rapid deployment of a symptom tracking solution – with Clustre’s help – in under 6 weeks). Urgency focusses everyone on delivery – and drives a more permissive environment for intelligent risk-taking, empowerment and decisiveness. So what? Recognise and embrace the persistent conflict that you are in. Take risk and empower your people as you would in a crisis. Be ruthlessly focused. And never, ever, become complacent”.
• What do you most need for delivery?
“There are lots of components to successful delivery, but the most important in my view is senior leadership support. I could not deliver without top-level commitment to the innovation agenda. My brief is to deliver disruptive capabilities that often don’t have a natural landing point in the current system. Many projects are hugely ambitious and crosscut traditional capabilities. There’s no way I could deliver successfully without direct backing and visible support from the CEO – in my case, a 4-star General”.
To have the Head of Innovation for UK Strategic Command speak at our November Innovation Talk is a rare privilege. But Pete’s reasons for wanting to share his thoughts and experiences are both refreshing and revealing: “From War Zone to Boardroom – Business lessons from the front-line of national defence”. Join us for a unique and fascinating executive briefing.
Wednesday, 10th November, 9.00 – 10.00am
This special ‘Innovation Talk’ is entirely free but highly likely to be over-subscribed. Please make your reservation now