Key takeaways from the Chief Innovation Officer Summit 2018

Leveraging technology to enhance education, innovating workspaces and staying away from the "herd effect" to encourage innovation were among the topics covered at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London


Through keynote presentations, discussion panels and workshops, industry leaders came together at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London to discuss innovative ideas and techniques, highlighting the challenges and impacts that the implementation of innovative ideas has had on their businesses.

Some of the speakers that attended included UK-based real estate company Rightmove, social service app creators from TAP London and TapSOS, and humanitarian organizations such as The British Red Cross and Humanitarian Leadership Company.

In case you missed the event, here are our top three takeaways from the summit:

Education systems need to harness technology to maintain relevancy in today's digital era to enable positive learning behaviors

The first speaker kicking of the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, Jamie Brooker, co-founder of UK game-based learning platform Kahoot! and founding partner of We Are Human, discussed the need to harness technology to create a learning model that will change learning behaviors based on today's digitally driven era.

"Innovation is ultimately about growth, and for me growth stems from the way you design the experiences and your ability to impact an individual's life; the higher the impact, the more chance you have of growth," Brooker said.

Brooker pointed out that "behaviors in the learning space haven't changed for the past 100 years or so, people are sitting in rows of desk and told to learn the same thing, at the same exact time". He said that even though classrooms started to introduce technology, students have still got their head down and buried in their devices – they weren't having fun.

Kahoot! launched in 2013, aims to transform learning experiences in classrooms, Kahoot!'s platform presents an opportunity to interact with peers. Through the app, instead of offering passive learning, the game offers a more inclusive learning behavior with its in-app challenges and tasks.

Prior to the summit, when Innovation Enterprise interviewed Brooker, he said: "For me, technology is an enabler of human behaviors (at scale) and if we're to truly use technology to "disrupt" the existing norms, then we should be focusing on how technology can motivate new human behaviors that improve the lives of a diverse range of individuals and help create a more positive society as a whole."

Find out more about how Kahoot challenges the traditional method of learning in a classroom.

Businesses and organizations should implement a trust over fear framework and become a "tornado" to invite innovation within workspaces

Adele Barlow, head of partnerships and diversity initiatives at Makers, a London-based coding training provider, argued that deploying a trust over fear framework is essential to harness a positive work environment

In 2015, Makers' CEO Evgeny Shadchnev introduced a unique, a self-setting salary process, which was a strategic move toward his vision of a self-management work team structure.

According to Barlow, Makers, launched in 2013, is committed to bringing diversity and inclusivity to the tech industry. Barlow stated that Makers is more than just a school, the company is a story in itself, a story of building culture and engagement.

"Trusting people to be adults and making them feel safe and letting them bring their whole self to work is the ideal but it's a work in progress. We are definitely still figuring it out at Makers, but I have seen that it works," Barlow explained.

"In terms of turning theory into practice, thinking about how you would encourage a loved one to be more creative is a useful analogy to apply to a company," she added.

Additionally, Bank of Ireland's head of innovation Andy Reid referred to an organization as a "tornado" and outlined that people have the option to choose whether or not they want to become the change or be the change within the digital era.

"Think of your organization as a tornado – it's twisting and turning and its complex; we can measure, analyze and add things in, or we can be the tornado, be the system and watch change from the inside out," Reid commented.

"You have 100% control over how you interact with the environment, what you think, what you choose to believe and your behaviors. If we focus on those, the by-product of that is innovation," he added.

Andy's five tips to innovate your workspace to improve work culture:

1. Open your workspace up: To enable interaction within the workspace

2. Do not eat at your desk: Bad for physical and mental health

3. Post company achievements: To further develop and aim higher

4. Be aware of the posters around the office: Subconsciously impacts your thinking

5. Use your environment as a teaching tool: To simplify complex conversations and solve problems

Stay clear of the "herd effect" and the "not normal issue" to avoid pitfalls that permits innovation

Innovation has come far, but according to Strategy Distillery founder Natalie Reed, it is not all good news. There are a number of human behaviors within workplaces that hinder the creation and development of new ideas that invite innovation.

"Depending on what research you read, somewhere between 70–90% of innovative ideas failed within the first two years but there are better stats that show what is happening underneath," she said.

Reed added that the Strategy Distillery was set up to fundamentally change how people and businesses innovate.

"When we set up our front-end innovation consultancy we set ourselves our first big task, which was to figure out what was going wrong, what is causing innovative ideas to be harpooned," she said.

According to Reed, there are five common practices that hinder the development of innovative ideas and the combination of what she refers to as the "herd effect" and the "not normal issue" is the first saboteur of ideas. Good ideas do not even make it out of the ideation stage because it's not leveraging the skillset or expertise in the room to judge what are the good ideas that can go forward.

The "herd effect" is part of business dynamic and business culture; Reed said that it is characterized by people discounting their own information, or in other words, bypassing their own beliefs.

"Imagine you're in a room, you might be debating, in an ideation workshop, whatever the methodology is, it's human nature to follow the most senior people in the room rather than having guts to do their own thing," she said.

On the "not normal" issue, she said that the way everyone looks at new ideas, assess new ideas, dissects information, communications, marketing communication and advertising is comparatively diverse from those that are of a senior position.

Furthermore, Reed outlined a statistic that stated that if you earn more than £75,000 ($96,767) per annum you are in the 5% of the consumer population that has particular interests different from the other 95% of the population. As an example, she stated that where the majority of consumers might think katsu curry is over and done with, the minority consumer is only just starting to become aware of it, she said. "Their lives are different to the norm, they go to particular type of bar, particular types of restaurants," Reed added.

"So, what ends up is, rather than an impartial decision-making process based on skills and assessment in the room, it's based on an individual's likes and biased assumptions," she said.

In addition to the initial saboteur, the ideation stage, ideas also get sabotaged because of how they get built, assessed and communicated, as well as lack of knowledge about the parameters of the idea.

Reed ended her presentation by saying that if we could have this new world where ideas are executed effectively innovative new ideas would get to market more efficiently and it would remove internal hassle or need for justification and with a more cohesive ideation system businesses can build more ideas than what is already being developed.

Brooker, Reid, Barlow and Reed were speaking at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London on October 3–4, 2018. Check out Innovation Enterprise's Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York on December 6–7, 2018

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