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7 Top Takeaways from the Chief Innovation Officer Summit

Last week I was the chairperson for the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Singapore. This attracted a regional group of experts on innovation within the corporate space. The speakers and attendees bought a range of experiences and innovation approaches and shared these over 2 days. The summary below, is my short list of key takeaways:

  1. In many ways the safe approach for large companies is to separate innovation away from the business into a hub or even a funded start up. Their downside here is manageable, and largely known, and the possible upside although low in probability, is large. The more courageous “play”, is a transformation of culture & leadership (and corresponding structure and business practice) to create a genuine commercially innovative organization that is nimble enough to respond to commercial disruption and capable to generate its own breakthroughs.
  2. Notwithstanding the above, every organisation is going to have to find places and spaces for entrepreneurs within or alongside their business. These people will at a minimum provide a new healthy disruptive voice, and possibly lead the discovery of bold new ways.
  3. There is an opportunity for systemic innovation or, what Georgio Mosis from Reinsurance Group of America called “Ecosystem”, -lead innovation. Multiple co-invested groups joining an ecosystem to push for new boundaries and systemic opportunities.
  4. Bridging innovation strategy from the organisation’s vision or purpose, will be core to getting leadership alignment and will allow the people charged with the change, to make sense of the new ways. This will give innovation the best possible chance of success.
  5. Current innovation strategy comes in many shades and shapes. Different speakers at the conference presented many possibilities, however with their own justification based on personal experience and mindset. The challenge for a coherent and robust innovation strategy will be effective team or group decision making, that goes beyond a series of campaign pitches.
  6. Talent, culture and people matters. Innovation may in the future happen machine to machine, however for the next decade we will still rely on high quality talent, leadership and teams for innovation to be effective and for successful execution to occur.
  7. Disruption is not all positive. There will be an increasingly large cost both at an individual & collective level from new technologies and new business structures. How do we turn innovation around and consider more creative responses to the human cost of rapid change both at a corporate level and at a community level?

Mark Powell