Background - Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit

photoThe second Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit will build on the deep and candid sharing of the first one held in Chicago. Those two days were filled with an incredibly rich exchange of insights from an incredibly smart group of innovation 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’ – a promise we are repeating. The other part was a common bond that formed quickly among everyone. Again, we expect this to happen in Phoenix. To give you an idea of the takeaways, here’s a quick summary of the first Summit:

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

  • Sustaining culture change – what do you do after ‘unfreezing and re-freezing’ (Lewin’s model)
  • 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 shared tips and insights from their own experience, including:

  • To create and sustain change – 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. These topics, along with participants’ current challenges, will shape the discussion in Phoenix.