In our Innovation Interview series, we recently caught up with Melissa Steach, CEAS I, Human Factors & Ergonomics Specialist, Thrive Portfolio, HermanMiller, who shared what she thinks is the biggest innovation of 2018 and 2019, and why creating a culture of innovation is so important today.
Why is execution key when it comes to innovation?
Steach: I went to art school for a good portion of my academic life. We were trained to innovate; to see white spaces and imagine how to fill them, but we were graded on what was manifested. Without execution, innovation is only a wonderful idea. Execution is the outcome; the exciting outcome that everyone who lives outside of your mind, can enjoy and ideally benefit from.
Why is a creating a culture of innovation important today?
Steach: As humans, imagination is what primarily sets us apart from all other species. Imagination is what has allowed us to rise to, and remain on top, of the food chain. Beyond that, imagination captures and fuels our spirit. Without it, we are dull automatons accepting to live with anything dished our way. Our ability to imagine is what propels us forward, stoking the flames of our drive to improve our societies and our planet.
What is the biggest innovation of 2018?
Steach: Using social media to mobilize a global movement. For instance, the #Me Too movement. Whether you agree or disagree with this cause, it can't be ignored that legislation in France was enacted based on an article posted in the U.S. and carried forth into action by American women - in under a year no less! The innovation here is not so much the tool itself, but the way it was used.
What do you think will be the biggest innovation of 2019?
Steach: Continuing the theme in the previous question, the biggest innovation will be to embrace the tools we already have in a way that is good for us. For example, IoT is nothing new, and yet few companies around the globe use it in an effective manner. Implemented across the floor plate, IoT brings inanimate objects to life! It supports well-being at work by making the workplace custom fit the needs and rhythms of employees as well as provide real-time data on space utilization so that companies can make better real estate, energy consumption and purchasing decisions.
What are you most excited for at BEI this year?
Steach: The talks about intrapreneurship and validating ROI excite me. As younger generations feel the pull of the gig-economy, companies will feel the lack of dedicated employees. Fostering a culture that understands how to capitalize on innovative employees by giving them room to create is a win-win: the company gets the most out of its brightest, and the brightest get the most out of a company that is well-funded and supports their ideas. Validating the ROI on this will be important since innovation is intangible in its earliest stages. Lastly, the nerd in me is super excited to attend a conference where so many smart, successful people come to connect!
Why should innovation executive attend your session?
Steach: An innovation executive should attend my session because the topic offers insight on how to support people. On the back end of every innovation is a team of people with real needs, drivers, and expectations. People are the motors of all great innovation. Taking care of them is smart.