We are living in an extraordinary time. During the Digital Era of the past 30 years, every industry has become social, mobile, and global. With the arrival of Sensors, Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), AI (artificial intelligence), Machine Learning, 3-D printing, and Robotics, we are moving rapidly into a new Hyper-Digital Era. Every industry is becoming smart and connected, and companies that do not adapt are rapidly falling behind.
Business leaders are rightfully asking: What disruptions are coming and where can we do the disrupting? Where are the open fields of opportunity where no one is yet the recognized leader? What is the future of manufacturing? Of financial services and insurance? Of mobility and transportation? Of healthcare? Of cities? All industries are once again being transformed – and at a pace that will require exceptional foresight and the capacity to rapidly innovate at all levels of an enterprise.
Part of the answer for leaders will be to do a better job of harnessing the collective intelligence and imagination of their people. The world is too complicated and fast moving to rely on top down or lone genius approaches. Plus disruptive ideas often come from the fringes and are sparked through the interaction of diverse perspectives and disciplines. Leaders need to actively engage their workforce in creating a portfolio of possibilities. They must invite and empower intrapreneurs to step forward and begin innovating at startup speed to develop the game changing ideas that will define their company’s future.
Seeing and then seizing disruptive opportunities is not an easy task. These bold ideas are harder to conceive and easier to kill, because they are typically more risky and can threaten existing operations and arrangements. The greater the market risk and the larger the internal threat, the higher the hurdle for approval and funding. Senior leaders must create the conditions under which these big ideas can surface and survive long enough to prove their potential.
Disruptive ideas don’t just happen. They are not concepts that can be handed off. These ideas must be championed. Someone must take ownership of the idea and be responsible for navigating all the organizational barriers to success. And in doing so, intrapreneurs must address two fundamental truths when leading big idea innovation:
“The human brain is a wonderful organ. It starts to work as soon as you were born and doesn’t stop into you get up to deliver a speech.” -George Jessel
Being able to reach and teach an entire workforce how to innovate better is why tools like CO-STAR and the One Hour Innovator exist. They offer a disciplined approach for how to create new business value in a transforming world. Being able to perfect and pitch ideas is a foundational skill for today’s workforce, and one I predict will be even more important as we enter the hyper-digital era. After all, individual employees are a business’ primary source of innovation. When its workers become more innovative, the business will become more innovative.
If you want employees to embrace an intrapreneurial mindset and champion disruptive ideas, leaders need to clarify their expectations and commit to a “Day 1” philosophy like Jeff Bezos.
“What does Day 2 look like? That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic. Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” -Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com
To bring intrapreneurship to life, leaders must ensure their people are able to see the future, turn insights into valuable ideas, pitch them in a compelling manner, then turn the best of these ideas into pilots and prototypes (with pivots as needed), and move them all the way through to launch. If you want to learn how to scale innovation across your enterprise and create a disciplined approach for creating market-changing ideas, start by visiting onehourinnovator.com/ideascale.
By Laszlo Gyorffy
Laszlo Gyorffy, M.S. is President of the Enterprise Development Group. For over 20 years, Laszlo has worked with organizations around the globe to expand the possible; helping them refocus, redesign, and reenergize their business strategies and innovation practices to succeed in an increasingly dynamic and demanding market place. Laszlo is an accomplished speaker and author of Creating Value with CO-STAR: An Innovation Tool for Perfecting and Pitching your Brilliant Idea as well an opening chapter on innovation leadership in the textbook The Global Innovation Science Handbook. He is a certified instructional designer and trainer and has delivered transformational programs like the Innovation Advantage and the Secrets of Silicon Valley. Laszlo recently developed the One Hour Innovator, a cloud-based toolkit that helps people innovate better, faster, and smarter. The methods used in these trainings and tools have created business solutions worth millions of dollars in new revenue and cost efficiencies. You can reach Laszlo at [email protected].