Liberating Leadership, Innovation and Creativity

Innovations From Which To Dream BIG

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“All innovation is driven by people.”
– Louise Kyhl Triolo, VP Intrapreneurial Culture, Airbus A3

From the early days in her career working with L’Oreal in Paris, to landing a job with Airbus Helicopters in the south of France, to ultimately spearheading a groundbreaking innovation project with Airbus A3, Louise Kyhl Triolo has always believed in the power of intrapreneurialism.

“Intrapreneurialism, for me, is not a trend; it is the most natural form of human expression – thinking, creating, federating, building, making…. Although not each and every one of us has the desire, nor the skills to do so, I believe nevertheless that it is our way forward,” she said.

“Intrapreneurship allows businesses and organisations to ‘drill holes in the walls’ – it creates airflow between in and out, thus more oxygen within. It revolutionises ancient and outdated systems, processes and workflows that stifle initiative, autonomy and mastery.”

Louise was instrumental in creating Airbus’s crowdsourcing innovation initiative and cultural transformation project known as Dream Big. People from within the organisation, of which there are over 135,000 across Airbus, are encouraged and supported to see innovative ideas come to light. Internal innovation labs and programs offer intrapreneurs space, coaching and capital to work on their ideas, taking them all the way through from concept, to acceleration phase and, in many cases, implementation.

The business is now cementing the intrapreneurial mindset within both its culture and processes by updating policy, redefining roles and responsibilities of management and HR, and defining the recognition system for those who step up and offer new light to the culture and inner workings of the business.

“Intrapreneurship is now becoming a priority for our various businesses as it’s seen as a way to accelerate new growth and change our ways of working,” Louise said.

Dream Big became a reality after Louise was asked by the management of Airbus Helicopters to lead the cultural transformation of the business. While the company was maintaining success, forward-thinking leaders of the time knew there was a better way forward. With a small team by her side, Louise invented New Ways. With this system, performance management was overhauled, along with leadership programs and business objectives.

“What I learnt as a result of this experience and felt passionate about, was that people drive all innovation. The way we work, think, collaborate, learn and incubate ideas, is all dictated by the culture in which we do it in,” Louise recalls.

Two years later, Airbus was poised to establish an innovation centre and venture capital fund in the Silicon Valley, US. After her work with New Ways, Louise had some innovative ideas of her own when it came to such a project:

“I thought, if we were to do that, we needed to focus on the technological and financial side of innovation, as well as the human side of change. We should learn about the culture in which all the disruptive ideas are born and implemented, to extract what could help us at Airbus,” she said.

“So I wrote a note of what, in my opinion, was needed for us to learn there and I landed myself a job four years ago in the Silicon Valley!”