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Session at Davos:  Cool Ideas from Older Industries

I sat in on a great session with representatives from a variety of industries that can be thought of as older or more mature.  Here’s the summary from the WEF:

Summary
Cool Ideas from Older Industries

Panellists were asked to look at their companies’ experience with innovation over the years and their personal experiences in introducing change with a view to exploring two questions:
1. Is it easier to effect change under duress, i.e. in a crisis?
2. Is it always necessary to reinvent the wheel?

Key points

A cool idea is an idea that not only makes money but also makes the planet a better place

What is old is suddenly new again.

Surveys show that innovations tend to be made by companies that entered an industry a decade or so after the pioneer.

Where did the myth come from that you have to be small to innovate?

Wal-Mart wasn’t a “cool idea” but it is very successful and innovative.

You can’t drive change through teams.

Don’t set top-down time limits; set incentives. Also do this for those who shoot down projects that aren’t panning out.

When you realize you are about to hit a wall, it is easier to bring about change.

Innovation has to be made every day, not only under threat.

Every individual has to feel that he or she matters.

There used to be planning departments, but none of their plans were ever realized. Therefore, the departments were disbanded and individuals had to start making their own plans.

How can a self-organizing system within a company be set up?

More knowledge can be found using Facebook than with any internal system.

Use a software platform that allows employees to interact and vote on how to change the company.

Break up a huge network into compartments responsible for their own success. Act like a start-up when there are hundreds of independent teams. Internal competition to see which team is best, fastest or leads the group will create rewards.

Rather than focusing on those whose dreams have been realized, look at the ones whose dreams are still to be satisfied.

Creative directors create products which the public is not aware it desires.

By listening to customers, employees become aware of the value of their products.

Customers don’t know what they will like tomorrow, only what they like today; this is why rapid prototyping is important—customers can give you feedback.

Creative employees are needed to come up with ideas, and people with commercial skills are needed to implement them. Commercial people do not know how to innovate and creative people don’t know when to stop. Somebody always has to define a time frame.

Change what you can change, influence what you can influence and leave the rest alone

Session Contributors
Moderated by GALLONI Alessandra Bureau Chief, Southern… The Wall Street Journal Italy
Panellists ANDERSON Bradbury H. Vice-Chairman and CEO Best Buy Co. Inc. USA
Panellists CONDE Cristobal President and CEO SunGard Chile
Panellists HEITMANN Axel C. Chairman of the Board … LANXESS AG Germany
Panellists KELLY William J. Chief Executive Officer Netjets Europe Ireland
Panellists RIGBY Darrell K. Partner Bain & Company Inc. USA

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