That historic moment when the perfect team unifies beyond an opportunity, pregnant with possibility, is the essential scene of any great innovation legend: think Jobs and Wozniak when they created Apple, Gates and Allen with Microsoft, or Page and Brin with Google.
If people try to tell you that pivoting is the new thing, that it’s the fresh Silicon Valley approach to business designed for today’s fast-paced digital world, don’t believe them.
As a leader, encouraging your employees to innovate isn’t just a nice thing to do for them. It also delivers tangible value for your business. But what exactly can you do to motivate innovation from within your organization?
Last month, I was thrilled to attend Parliament’s PowerShift, a gathering of diverse opinion leaders, change-makers, creatives, and corporates seeking to find interesting solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges. At the event, I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Sims, CEO of Parliament, about some of the themes of my forthcoming book, Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen.
What you measure matters. Consider a bridge built in Laufenburg, a town that straddles Germany and Switzerland. As the two halves of the bridge being built came together, it became (embarrassingly) clear that they would not align because they were at different heights.
In 1986, when Robert Swan first reached the South Pole after a 70-day, 900-mile walk — leading the first team to do so — his irises bleached by ultraviolet radiation passing through the newly opened hole in the ozone, he reported having had two thoughts: “We’re not dead,” and “Now what?”
Netflix made headlines recently for their unexpected decline in new subscription growth and drop in subscriptions in the US, which pushed their stock price down. Critics are asking if Netflix’s business model is relevant in the changing competitive environment, when Disney and other content owners have started pulling back their content from streaming services like Netflix in order to build their own.
With technology’s modern pace of change, how can companies (and humans) best adapt? In March, I had the pleasure of leading a workshop with Tracey Zimmerman, President of Robots & Pencils, to answer this very question and offer a few potential solutions for today’s executives.
In 1968, Olympic fans and athletes watched in bemusement as a college sophomore jumped over the high bar backward. Until that day, every gold medal winner, indeed every Olympic athlete, who had competed in the high bar had gone over forward. Dick Fosbury literally turned his back on that tradition … won the Olympics … and forever changed the way the competition is played. Within eight years, 90% of high jumpers were using what came to be called the “Fosbury Flop.” Today, the Fosbury Flop is just the way you do things.
Professor Moran Cerf contributed research and insights for this article.
I’ve had a few conversations with Sophia the Robot, an invention of Hanson Robotics making the rounds of tech conferences worldwide. Preparing for a session at Webit 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria, I had a surprisingly engaging exchange with Sophie. (Unfortunately, she didn’t cooperate during our interview in front of 5,000 people. Stage fright, perhaps?) It’s unsettlingly easy to see how one day, after the clunkiness resolves, it will feel natural to engage with our technological colleagues. I feel I’ve gotten to “know” Sophia in a way and look forward to our next conversation.