This weekend, IBM invited me to help host a global “jam” session, pulling thousands of thinkers into a conversation about the “Internet of Things” (IoT). You can join the three-day (Oct 14-16) global event by clicking here.
When Strategies Shift
In 2008, at the start of the economic crisis, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner was stepping off an airplane in New York City. As he approached the car that would take him into the city, the porter carrying his luggage commented that the stock market’s decline had continued that morning.
It’s been 15 years and I still vividly remember the moment when one of our very first clients killed off a multi-million-dollar idea. They were a leading global logistics company, getting excited about the opportunity to operate shipping ports. The conversation heated up, the possibilities … the brilliance … the potential!
The anger that fuels my mission today surges from a speech I heard a year ago, in Las Vegas, in a packed conference hall. The keynote speaker opened with the line: “I have come to believe that large organizations cannot innovate. They produce ‘innovation antibodies’ that attack new ideas.”
You have an idea that will generate new profits for your company and make you even more of a hero. You can already feel the pats on your back and the industry keynote speech you will deliver, humbly explaining how you did it.
The world seems to have suddenly discovered a nirvana of agile prototyping. Some call it lean or lean start-up, some use human-centered design or design thinking, and you may even hear reference to agile or scrum. Whatever the name, the core message is the same: stop trying to build an idea (a business plan, product, marketing message) to perfection. Instead, conduct small experiments with your stakeholders to learn and improve.
The days when innovation was the sole responsibility of the chief innovation officer or corporate venturing group are over. Today companies are realizing they need to harness the innovative power of all their employees if they want to grow.
Here is the fundamental issue: innovation seems too risky. Your company says they want it. They hold innovation events, call “innovation” a top priority, and build internal innovation teams. But no one, even the most admired innovators, is confident their efforts are paying off.
This week, we convened innovation heads from places like Chubb Insurance, Estee Lauder and Macmillan and mixed them with a world-renowned innovation expert (Professor George Day from Wharton) and one of the leaders of GE’s Crotonville leadership training center (Bob Cancalosi). Over four hours, they teased apart our shared challenge: how to unlock innovativeness, entrepreneurship, and growth trapped inside organizations.
I’ve been thinking lately that it all comes down to one question: What’s it worth?
Were the nights away from my kids, years invested in school, midnight sessions hammering away on my next book as I built my consulting business worth it? Was the time you invested selling, stressing, persisting as you built your business worth it?