Innovation is bringing drastic change to the corporate world, and the consequences are more far-reaching than many people think. That was the clear message at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in NY, Dec. 5-6. Corporations should be preparing themselves for these changes by taking dramatic action that may at first glance seem counterproductive or even suicidal. Robin Bienfait, Senior Innovation Advisor-Chief Innovation Officer at Samsung Electronics, advised corporate innovators to be prepared to “lose their own jobs and be fired” to revitalize and recalibrate their companies. In doing so, corporate innovators can be better prepared for assuming a new innovation role elsewhere, she asserted. According to her, Samsung is avidly pursuing this approach — “disrupting themselves.”
Nick Davis, Managing Director of Corporate Innovation at Singularity University, spoke about the dramatic impact “exponential innovation” is having on companies, warning corporate innovators to abandon outdated, shorter term innovation processes in favor of longer term scenario planning and implementing what appear to be “science fiction” paradigms, which are actually “reality.” In essence, he advised those innovation officers to foster a turbocharged future-oriented product environment now rather than allowing exponential change to swamp archaic innovation processes. He summarized this new innovation process as “ideate, incubate, and leap.” Part of that process involves charting a long term “customer journey,” and devoting special effort to educating consumers about breakthrough technologies, he said.
Unsurprisingly, much of the attention on technology disruption at the event focused on the impact of such technologies as artificial intelligence, VR, AR, 3D printing, robotics, and bio-technology. Davis noted, for example, that 3D printing is already having an impact on recreating human organs to the point where 3D-printed hearts may very well become real in the “next 10-15 years.” He also anticipated that around the year 2040 “information will be downloaded directly into our brains,” dramatically increasing opportunities for shared learning. He pointed out that earpieces are already available that allow the downloading of information to our ears.
Another distinct takeaway from the conference was that cutting-edge companies are increasingly diversifying and expanding the scope of their businesses well beyond their traditional innovation mandates. MINI’s Urban-X accelerator division was cited as a clear example of this trend. As Micah Kotch, Managing Director of Urban-X/MINI noted, that group has a broad innovation mission to provide business development and engineering support to startups in not only transportation and mobility but also in such areas as “urban agriculture and connected real estate” that seem far afield from BMW’s traditional businesses.
Featured photo by Eric Garcetti on Flickr. Peter Marx, former Chief Innovation Officer for Los Angeles pictured.