Category: Innovation

Observation changes the game

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 13 days ago


What sets truly disruptive innovators apart? According to Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and co-author of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, innovators have a special set of skills that help them create value-generating ideas. Observation is one of those skills, and one that engages multiple senses. The observations innovators make spark questions that, and as we covered in our previous post on this topic, can challenge common wisdom. Innovators carefully watch the world around them, and they connect common threads among unconnected data. They are keenly aware of what doesn't work and innovate uncommon business ideas to solve them. 

For innovators, this observation skill is always turned on. For the rest of us, it's an untapped resource.

Developing your skills of observation

So what does Gregersen's research tell us about improving our own ability to observe, and turning those observations into value? He suggests the following tips for developing this important skill:

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Getting answers with catalytic questioning

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 4 days ago

Stuck on a problem? Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and co-author of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, suggests solving vexing challenges through thoughtful questioning. His 4-24 project challenges us to set aside four minutes every day to ask nothing but questions--an exercise that can help us see problems from new perspectives.

In his decade's worth of research into the source of disruptive innovations, Gregersen found that questioning is how innovators do their work—it's the catalyst for other "discovery behaviors" that make up an "innovator's DNA," such as observing, networking, and experimenting. Innovators ask a lot of questions to better understand what is and what might be. They ignore safe questions and go right for the crazy ones--the questions that can question common wisdom and can even disrupt an entire industry.

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Innovation by association

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 11 days ago

The Innovators DNA book

Ever wondered how some of the world's greatest innovators came across their breakthrough ideas? According to Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and co-author of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, the following skills are at the root of most value-generating ideas: Associating; catalytic questioning; deep observation; diverse networking; and rapid experimentation.

Each week on the innovation@work blog, we'll define and contextualize each of the "discovery skills" that Gregersen identifies as part of the innovator's DNA.

Discovery skill #1: Associating as the basis of thinking differently

Innovative ideas flourish at the intersection of diverse experience, whether it be others' or our own. You've likely heard of the "Medici effect," a phrase used to describe the spark that occurs in a geographic space or market where a combination of novel ideas coalesce into something quite surprising. This effect occurred in Islamic and Italian renaissances, for example, and in places like Silicon Valley. It also forms the basis of ideas conferences like TED--places where diverse people join together in a conscious attempt to cross-pollinate their ideas and perspectives.

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Why platforms beat products every time

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 25 days ago


Is the product business model broken? According to Professor Marshall Van Alstyne, Research Associate with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and moderator of the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium panel, "Platform Shift: How New Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry and the Role of CIOs," the answer is definitely yes

Case in point: BlackBerry. While there remain some holdouts relying on their BlackBerrys, the numbers don't lie: in 2009, BlackBerry had nearly 50% market share in U.S. operating systems, and now the company has 2.1% market share.

On the other hand, in 2013, 14 of the top 30 global brands by market capitalization were platform-oriented companies. These are companies that have created and now dominate areas in which buyers, sellers, and third parties are connected. In addition to the platform-oriented brands listed in the chart below, standout platform companies include Uber and Airbnb. They've each created innovative and disruptive business models that have drastically changed how consumers (and now businesses) secure transportation and lodging. (Read our previous posts related to Uber and Airbnb.)

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Can a global consulting giant build a culture of innovation in India?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 3 days ago

These days, innovation is one of the main drivers of growth and the market’s confidence in any company's future success. Yet innovation is disruptive and often risky. What if your company's core business is built on the exact opposite--providing clients with services firmly grounded in reliable and standardized practices? How do you combine that legacy with nurturing an environment where creativity and bold ideas can flourish?

Building on a foundation of executional excellence

This is the challenge that the global consulting giant Accenture is tackling in its India Delivery Centers (IDC)--methodically and systematically. Using the Gartner Innovation Maturity Model, which ranks levels of corporate innovation in ascending order as Reactive, Active, Defined, Performing, and Pervasive, Mr. Raghavan Iyer, the managing director charged with fostering innovation at IDC, says that the company currently is at Level 3 (Active), but has its sights set on Level 5, i.e. a world-class leader in new methods and practices where innovation is a core competency in all business activities. This is an impressive ambition and judging by my experience at IDC in Bangalore a couple of weeks ago, they are on the right track.

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Even an epic blizzard can't get in the way of disciplined entrepreneurship

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 26 days ago

The 2015 Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) wrapped up at the end of January and was a resounding success—despite epic blizzard conditions in Cambridge!

This year's EDP gradating class included 132 participants from 32 countries—including Nepal, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, Estonia, and Korea. Within the first three hours of the program, participants formed teams around 20 innovation-driven business ideas pitched on the spot. These diverse groups of global executives then embarked on the most intensive week of hands-on learning, rigorous academics, and spirited competition that MIT has to offer.

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News on MIT's Innovation Initiative

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 17 days ago

It's a big news week for the MIT Innovation Initiative. First, Associate Dean for Innovation and Co-Director of the MIT Innovation Initiative Fiona Murray was honored by Queen Elizabeth with the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) award. Murray received the award in recognition for her services to the United Kingdom in entrepreneurship and innovation. As the Boston Globe reported, fellow honorees included Joan Collins of Dynasty, British actress Kristin Scott Thomas, and poet Carol Ann Duffy.

And Murray isn’t the only "celebrity" involved with MIT's Innovation Initiative. On January 13, 2015, MIT announced that former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick would become a visiting fellow at the Innovation Initiative. In this new role, the former governor will make "regular appearances at campus events, including seminars with students and faculty."

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Tackling Climate Change—Collectively

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 months and 12 days ago

Climate change is an enormous issue that affects us all. Unfortunately—according to MIT Sloan Professor Tom Malone and his colleagues at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence—national legislative initiatives, while significant, haven’t done enough. However, now through a crowdsourcing platform called the Climate CoLab, people throughout the world can collaborate with experts and contribute ideas that might alleviate the climate change problem. 

The old adage, two heads are better than one, has never been more applicable than at the Climate CoLab, a virtual think tank based at the Center. Except instead of two heads, we’re talking about 33,000. The Climate CoLab is a platform that gives anyone from anywhere the opportunity to collaborate with experts to create and develop possible solutions that address climate change. By its very nature the Climate CoLab community is diverse—comprised of a mix of concerned citizens, business people, and investors, as well as scientists and policy makers. Talk about collaboration.

 “Anyone is allowed to contribute. No matter who a person is or where they come from, they can contribute ideas and have them reviewed by an international community of thousands of people—including world-renowned experts from organizations like NASA, the World Bank, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and leading universities like MIT, Stanford, and Columbia,” says Malone, who is Director of the Center and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab. 

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