Large enterprises across all industries constantly need to keep up with the rapidly changing environment that come with technological advances. At the Chief Innovation Officer Summit San Francisco, innovation thought leaders from Fortune 500 companies came together sharing challenges and hurdles of the past, how they use innovation and the catalytic decisions they’ve made to achieve excellence and maintain a competitive edge.
The two-day conference produced by Innovation Enterprise was filled with invaluable insights and inspiration on concrete solutions, new measures with actual, impactful and differentiated results through innovation.
Below are a few of the lessons from #CINOSF that we learnt:
1. ”Build innovators, not innovations.” said Mark Randall, Chief Strategist at Adobe in his presentation, “The Innovation Revolution: Thinking Inside The Box,” directly referring to Adobe Kickbox, Randall pointed out the wealth of ideas sitting within companies from each of their own employees and the need to bring out the impassioned innovators within them. Their solution, Adobe Kickbox, is a toolkit that provides a step-by-step guide on how to innovate. its simplicity encourages all to participate whilst providing the necessary tools to harness the ideas and turn them into reality.
2. Innovation is leading change from the heart with compassion and vulnerability. “To truly innovate, we need to deeply connect with ourselves to be able to connect with others. … If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can help people change their lives,” asserted Busy Burr, VP of Innovation at Humana. With a human centered approach there is a better understanding of the consumer’s needs, which results in satisfaction and in turn a stronger connection. ”Empathy is a doorway into consumer centered design,” and to do this vulnerability needs to be allowed within the company, which is then shared with the customers. Burr cited Brene Brown’s popular TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability to espouse their company’s belief that leadership starts with compassion and vulnerability.
3. “We innovate by having a theoretical model on what forces are driving the world.” are the words of Jay Walker, Exec. Chairperson at U.S. Patent Utility in his profound and vigorous talk in making the case that focus should not be on the company’s ideas but instead on the superforces that will shape the future. In the field of healthcare as an example, Priceline.com’s cofounder named 8 superforces that will drive its future: biosensors, connectors, software (AI, Big Data), augmented senses, synthetic biology, 3d printing, nanotechnology in the organic world, and robotics. Stressing, in conclusion, the importance of finding out and understanding the superforces surrounding one’s particular industry as a key source of future growth.
4. Storydoing beats storytelling. Storydoing companies, like Tesla, are led by their quest, said Ty Montague, Cofounder and Co-CEO at Co:Collective. “Their quest is outside their car business” and is instead in the business of clean energy. ”Storydoing companies are better companies than storytelling companies,” Montague argued. As the old saying goes ‘actions speak louder than words’ – storydoers are more memorable than storytellers. So much so that they don’t need to have significant spend on advertising, quoting Jeff Bezos, “Advertising is just a tax you pay for lack of innovation.” In closing Montague posed two questions to ponder “What is your quest?” and “What business are you in?”
5. “Start by the Why.” advises Jean-Claude Junqua, VP of Innovation and Product Development at Panasonic. “Finding the meaning is powerful to innovate,” explaining further that it is in discovering the meaning that reveals desirability, feasibility and viability of a product. “The biggest source of failure is building something that nobody wants.”
6. Key partnerships with diversity of thought. In thinking forward, collaborations partnered with a leader in the community is what works at Evernote. In forging key partnerships however, “It is crucial to have diversity of thought,” reminds Troy Malone, General Manager – Asia Pacific at Evernote about innovation. “If we’re business partners and we all agree all the time, one of us irrelevant.”
7. “It is as much about mindset, culture and behavior as it is about the process, tools and training.” Innovation is the creation of new value for the consumers, customers and the enterprise. Because innovation is an integral part of corporate strategy, in culture and in capabilities, tied to the company’s vision, it must start from the top and ‘anchor in’. According to Deb Arcoleo from the Advanced Innovation Center at The Hershey Co.
8. Highly structured traditional culture and mindset need to be transformed into that of a startup. In their panel discussion Ismail Elshareef, David Borlo, Oliver Hanish and Aaron Eden agreed that innovation in large enterprises can best be achieved. It can be done through instilling the process of developing, validating and iterating an idea and the Minimum Viable Product, referring to the build-measure-learn model of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. One of the challenges to prepare for and that needs to be managed effectively, is the high possibility of chaos created while “stirring the pot.” It calls for the CEO’s support to be staunch, visible and explicit.