Executive Summary - Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit

photoWe are still reveling in the Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit experience! The two days were filled with an incredibly rich exchange of insights from an incredibly smart group of R&D leaders. We were amazed at the willingness of people to share as much as they did – including the good, bad, and ugly. Part of the openness was our promise that ‘what’s said in the room stays in the room.’ The other part was a common bond that formed quickly among everyone. To respect the confidentiality, presentations and other materials are posted on a password-protected section of this website. What we can share publicly, however, are some highlights.

Key topics were culture change, metrics/risk management, supplier innovation, ecosystem expansion, and enabling tools and technologies. Table discussions surfaced such challenges as:

  • Sustaining culture change – what do you do after ‘unfreezing and re-freezing’ (Lewin’s model)
  • Cross-generational collaboration and incentives – bridging the gap between older workers and Millenials; creating a strong workforce for the future
  • Tapping the startup ecosystem – where to look for the best ideas and talent
  • Focusing the portfolio; select the best ideas, kill the zombies — and think big!
  • Re-setting expectations with suppliers, how to change the paradigm from commodity provider to innovation partner
  • Balancing investors’ and stakeholder’ priorities with the longer horizon (allocating resources among core, adjacent, and new – knowing when to adjust or shift)
  • Taking bigger risks – why, when, who and how

Speakers offered a wide range of approaches to create change and accelerate growth, including these memorable words of advice:

  • To create culture change: Use subtle pressure applied relentlessly
  • To overcome fear of risk: Remember, zero risk= zero deals
  • For stronger partnerships: Think win-win-win (not just win-win)
  • To be an effective leader: Walk the talk, be a role model, make sure you believe yourself. Tell the truth – repeat the message 5-15x (or whatever it takes)

Overall to create change, the recommendations were to decide what you want your culture to be, stay committed, and continually review. Know where you want to excel and focus. Communicate, quantify and measure, be open and transparent, develop allies one at a time, and build trust by being trustable.

To generate growth, develop an ecosystem strategy, look at what startups are doing, look at megatrends, and look at university research. Continuously build your network, solicit ideas from everywhere, listen closely to customers (pain points, not specs), and listen to customers’ customers. Big bets should be balanced with bread-and-butter, but don’t fear risk. Don’t spread resources too thin. Remember you can acquire or borrow capacity from outside, but capacity is not the same as capability. You need both. In terms of partnerships, evaluate each deal uniquely. The process of developing a term sheet is as important (and telling) as the terms themselves. The more open you are, the more you get out of relationships. Don’t let the past limit you.

Topics for deeper exploration were also identified by participants. We plan to follow up with a series of virtual meetings (webinars, teleconferences, etc.) as well as interviews and articles over the coming months. Some will be for participants only, but many will be open.  If you would like to receive updates, please sign up here or check our website often.