Research: “The Innovation Race”

Gaia Grant Sensemaking: Dealing with Organisational Sustainability Paradoxes. Gaia is a researcher / staff at Sydney University School of Business. (BA, Dip Ed, BD (hons), Grad Dip of Change Leadership, MSc in Creative Thinking, MPhil / PhD in Innovation & Culture Change.)

Gaia Grant: Speaking at Hargraves' innovation2018
Are you innovation ready? What the latest research reveals about the unique paradoxical traits of innovation leaders and organisations.

Dealing with organizational sustainability paradoxes in innovative ways


Research whitepaper Innovation Pathways Model

With the iCLi Innovation Change Leader assessment developed from this research, we can now identify leadership ambidexterity for individuals (try it here). We can also assess ambidexterity in the organisation culture through our Innovation Culture Index (iCi). In Gaia’s research (through Sydney University Business School) she has conducted: 66 innovation leader interviews, 2 year-long case studies, 1071 survey responses, and focused on responses from 118 innovation leaders – and all of this information has been analysed and compiled into this White Paper, which outlines the specific ambidextrous traits needed to be an innovative leader. We believe this will have a great impact on leaders, teams and organisations to prepare them for the future.

Whitepaper Innovation Gaia GrantDOWNLOAD Gaia Grant's White Paper on the importance of building ‘ambidextrous’ organisations and leaders here >


  • Grant, G.  (2015). ‘Can we meaningfully compare creativity across cultures?’, in Culpepper, M. & Burnett, C., Big questions in creativity (vol 3), ICSC Press, State University of New York, Buffalo.
  • Grant, G., Knight, E. & Cuganesan, S. (2017). ‘Rallying around a shared purpose: How the top management teams experience paradoxical demands in strategizing’. Presented at the 33rd European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium, Copenhagen, 8 July. 
  • Grant G. (2018). ‘From detecting dichotomies to navigating dipoles: A theoretical and practical model for identifying paradoxical innovation leadership orientations’, 34th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, Tallinn, Estonia, 7th July 2018.
  • Grant G., & Cuganesan, S. (2018). ‘Dual leadership dynamics: Identifying how dual executive leaders navigate competing innovation sustainability demands in growing organisations, Academy of Management Specialised Conference ‘From Startup to Scale-up’, Tel Aviv, 17 December.
  • Grant G., & Dowson, M. (2019). ‘Profiling innovation leaders: Developing and applying a multidimensional measure of paradoxical innovation leadership orientations’, 35th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, Edinburgh, Scotland 10th July.

The Paradoxical Innovation Process:
The value of synthesising the paradoxes. Understanding the challenges of innovation journey, from imagination and ideation to implementation. Gaia looks at four key paradoxical pairings related to the exploration/exploitation tension that have been identified as needing to be resolved at each stage of the innovation process (the successful management of these paradoxes ensures the culture for innovation is purpose-driven).

The paradox theory is the latest theory to help organizations embrace change. But did you know that we have traced this as far back as ancient Egypt?  In the first paradox chapter of our book, we explore the principle of ‘guided freedom’, and travel back to Egypt – “to discover that the grand 750 metre causeway stretching from the life giving Nile to the city of the dead desert plateau, in Saqqara Egypt, was built for the sole purpose of accommodating the great King Unas’ funeral procession (2350BC). Remarkably, it captures the tensions of a key paradox revealing distinctive drawings of the extremes of ‘chaos’ up one side of the causeway and ‘order’ along the other.  Guided freedom, can guide us between the extreme of oppression on the one hand and chaos on the other. As an essential starting phase for the process of innovation, we need to build an environment of freedom — balanced with clear guidance and support — that enables open enquiry and provides a platform for growth. Where there is no freedom there can be no initiation of the innovation process,” (The Innovation Race)