Insights on Innovation in the Corporate World: Putting Ideas into Action

17 September 2018

Let’s talk about innovation... How does this word make you feel nowadays? Do you feel confident as in “I’ve got this”, or do you feel shivers rolling down your spine? Well, more often than not, it seems that it is the latter. How come?

Welcome to our VUCA world…

Yes, the world around is rapidly changing, in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous way. We don’t know what the next hype cycle will be, and even less if this will be relevant to our business. In the meantime, we see that software really is eating the world, like Marc Andreessen once predicted, and that we seem to have a lot of blind spots when it comes to knowing our next competitor. On top of this, we are witnesses to the enormous changes in our society due to the rapid adoption of social, mobile and cloud-based technologies, in combination with the changing demographics of customers and employees.

Of course this is not a static situation… Change is constant, reputations can be made or broken overnight, the speed of innovation will pick up, disruption will be ubiquitous no matter what. Organizations need to accept the fact that this will be a constant from now on, and not shy away from the risk that innovation inherently will bring to your organization. Disrupt or be disrupted, the middle option of doing nothing is forever gone or will be very soon.


Embrace Risk

Because the world has increasingly become complex, most companies have placed strategic risk on top of their executive agenda. Disruption is always lurking behind the corner, and it has the potential to destroy the value creation and business model of the company. A lot of times, and this defines ‘disruption’, this happens as a surprise, only showing the true impact after it is too late for the old business to respond. These types of risks, threatening the core assumptions of a company, are very hard to spot, and almost impossible to recover from. Traditional ways of risk management just don’t cut it anymore.

Although this might seem scary to you, this has a very positive side as well. If you are able to spot the risk in time, and put together the right program to respond to it, this has the potential to be a real game changer for your business, setting you apart from your competition with a comfortable head start.

Lean Innovation Foyer

Innovation, a thing you do with human beings

Risk increases in part because of the unpredictable nature of humans. Humans are flawed creatures, with biases, and very bad at predicting the future. In the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Kahneman sheds light onto our cognitive biases as humans. Our brain makes the wrong decisions because the faster part overrides the deep thinking part, and we seem to make decisions based on the (wrong) intuition all the time. We don’t do that only in our private time, we also do this when we are at work, when we are making decisions for the future of our business.

Because of this, we misunderstand or underestimate the effect of events that can disrupt our businesses and inflate our ability to react accordingly. We are hard wired to avoid risk at all time, or to ignore it as long as we possibly can. The irony lies in the fact that this cognitive (but also biological) behavior is not without risk.

On top of this, an organization in itself is already hard to manage because of the people who are shaping it. Siloes, different agendas, bureaucracy, control, being busy all the time but without true impact, group-think, reactive behavior instead of proactive, these are all important roadblocks for organizations on their path for survival.


The smart thing to do…

The smartest thing you can do, is accept this situation. It is here to stay. Adapt for change, and develop a systemthat helps you deal with unexpected change. Know that you are not alone in this situation. And get your facts right when it comes to innovation. We have interviewed a broad group of decision makers in the corporate world on the subject of innovation, and found a lot of commonalities. In our Foyer of October, we will shed light on these findings and match them with yours. We will provide the opportunity to talk to and learn from your peers about this topic.


We would love to welcome you at our next Foyer and demystify innovation together. Register today to secure your seat.

“Business as usual” is gone forever. Discover. Learn. Validate. Prepare. Disrupt. Or be disrupted. Doing nothing might be the biggest and deadliest risk of all.

Kathleen Demol

Written by Kathleen Demol

Kathleen Demol is the lead UX – CX service designer at AE with a heart for people. She enjoys helping companies build innovative products, teams and cultures and helps teams to implement cross-functional collaboration, building relevant products by marrying product strategy with best of class UX practices, in order to maximize business success.

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