Top 5 Learnings from our Summer Innovation Roundtable


Top 5 Learnings from our Summer Innovation Roundtable

we asked 50 leading innovators to give their personal take on trend forecasting


We recently held an Innovation Roundtable in collaboration with Voltage Control to discuss trends in innovation capabilities, with guest speakers from companies including Sony, Capital Factory, Red Hat, Pfizer / GlaxoSmithKline, Oracle, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual, and Alpha Guardian. During this open forum, our speakers shared their insights on how they’ve optimized their own processes, departments, and companies for innovation. 

Before we dive into our learnings, in a separate effort we asked 50 leading innovators at forward thinking brands like BISSEL, Starbucks and Phillip Morris International to give their personal take on trend forecasting and this is what they told us.


Here are 5 of the biggest takeaways from this discussion:

Test and Learn Launches

Smaller organizations are often strapped for resources in a way their larger corporate competitors might not be. Instead of trying to innovate and produce at the same scale, smaller companies can work with online retailers to test products before putting them to a larger market. By offering an online exclusive version of their product, you can see if it has traction and gather consumer feedback -- and if consumers like it, you have better traction to then move this proven product in-store.

Innovate Your Innovation Strategy

Before you can create innovative products and ideas, you need a tight innovation strategy. At higher levels of innovation, companies need to make sure their processes align with their overall strategy and understand what capabilities are required to act on that strategy. For capabilities they lack, they can either develop them internally or work with a partner to fill in the gaps. Remember that any minor changes in a process can create a ripple effect across an entire organization -- you don’t have to overhaul your entire innovation strategy to see positive changes.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Without a strong innovations-focused company culture, you can’t create powerful change. This culture has to run in all directions, from the top-down and the bottom-up. Your C-level executives have to advocate for internal innovations brought about by your innovations team and give everyone the ability to make whatever internal changes are necessary for innovation. The employees executing on these innovations have to believe that what they are doing is smart, efficient, and meaningful. 

Optimize Your Structure for Innovation

Any source of friction in your company’s structure can grind innovation to a halt. If you make it easier for people to do their jobs by minimizing administrative tasks and side work, your employees will be happier and find more meaning in their work. Happy employees stick around for longer and -- no surprise -- are more willing to engage in innovative thinking for your company, as they feel more invested in where the company is headed. It’s important that you make innovative discussions easier as well by encouraging employees to connect with one another and collaborate. Look consciously at your company’s structure and eliminate any points of tension that inhibit innovative thought.

Innovate Outside of the Box

When your competitors put out a new gadget, should you build one of your own in response? Not necessarily. There’s only so far you can go by chasing after your competitors -- and by the time you create what they’re selling, they’ll have moved on to something new. Instead of following in their footsteps, focus your attention outside of your direct competitors to others in  your industry or adjacent industries. What weird features are trending and how can you integrate them into your products? Don’t be afraid of looking to non-obvious or off-the-wall sources of inspiration for your next innovation.

Developing your innovation capabilities is critical if you want to stay at the forefront of ever-changing trends. Want to know where trends are heading in your industry? Let us help.


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