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Not Business as Usual

The weather was wet and cool, but it didn’t dampen the energy on the first morning of the Boston Innovation Festival. There was a constant buzz as people from large corporations, small start-ups and consulting teams converged at the Seaport World Trade Center. A steady stream of smart speakers and panelists shared insights on trends and illustrated ideas with inspiring case studies.

The very nature of innovation is openness and creativity and the ideas shared were wide-ranging, inspiring and often surprisingly pragmatic. Speakers presented strategies, processes and lessons learned sharing a wealth of information. Some highlights, mostly from the “Disrupting Business as Usual” track in no particular order:

Culture is critical – innovating is risky and challenging and cultivating the right culture across your organization, from your nimble innovation group to your global leadership team, is critical to success.

Rigor sets you free – Consider the widest, wildest ideas and create a framework for evaluating them. Knowing you have a framework allows you to think boldly and embrace risk.

Learning is at the center – rigorous learning fuels innovation at every step in the process. Nimble teams, learning sprints. Learn from success, learn from failure. Learn from both likely and unlikely sources.

Unlearning is important too – the efficiencies and processes that make your core business successful are likely not the path to innovation. Embrace what you know and the success it provided and be willing to let go of what worked in the past.

Listen to your customers – their ideas are the seeds of innovation. Create regular listening opportunities in your customer journey, invite customers to participate, embrace human-centered design.

Be bold – set a vision that is aspirational. Create a clear narrative that outlines goals. Look forward.

Understand friction – where there is innovation, there is friction. It takes many forms -- cultural, brand, metrics, governance to name a few. Innovation is change and change is hard. Friction creates heat, harness the energy.

Partner strategically – whether it’s pairing a scientist with a marketing executive, seeking an outside resource to collaborate on a project or engaging a consultant to offer an expert perspective, innovation happen when smart people share ideas and learn from each other.

Innovate for impact – solve a problem, make a difference, dream big.

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