Innovation Insights from #CINONY

Renee Hopkins's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Dec 10, 2015

For this chat we will discuss insights I'll share from the Chief Innovation Officer Summit. The event will be next Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, and features speakers from top companies, such as NASA, GE, Samsung, MetLife, and NBCuniversal. Some sepakers are CINOs and some are CEOs or strategy executives.

I'm hoping to find out more about:

  • The CINO's role and how it's expected to evolve
  • How large corporations are approaching innovation these days, and if they expect changes to their approaches
  • Who's responsible in corporations for incremental innovation and for transformative innovation — different people or units, or the same?
  • How do organizations build innovation pipelines, processes, cultures.
  • And, of course, anything else I can learn!


Here are some observations and some possible questions:

I heard talks from companies that had embraced innovation, with very little focus on "how we got started", mostly on "here's how we do it." VERY different from innovation conferences 10 years ago.

Main topics:

Innovation culture: Does everyone at your organization have to be innovative? 

  • Only 30% of the people in an organization are innovation "believers". Focus on them and stop trying to convert the 70% to the innovation "cause". Find people who are open to being innovation and use them. 
  • Employees need to be on board with the culture of innovation, but they don't have to be innovative.
  • Yet, innovation runs counter to the mainstream culture of an organization. Those who lead innovation call themselves "corporate arsonists", "troublemakers", "not afraid to be fired".
  • Find a way to talk about innovation to the 70%.
  • Bottom line: Stop trying to convince everyone to innovate!


  • Open innovation lives!
  • "Expertise can be limiting" and diverse views important.
  • Is open innovation always preceded by open opportunity?
  • The tech doesn't have to come out of our shop, but the know-how does (referring to cloud-based tech).

Experimentation and failure.

  • Don't celebrate failure, but don't hide from it.
  • Don't cast all of your innovation efforts as experimental. Show bottom-line orientation, if not results. 

Many proptotyping and design stories.

  • Don't just experiment - understand how to learn from the experiments.
  • Don't go too quickly into pilot phase - it's not the same as prototype and experimentation.
  • Don't wait too long to start prototyping - people will be too attached to the idea.
  • Minimum Viable Product for testing: How minimum? How viable?
  • Do it: Just write it, draw it, name it, sculpt it, code it.
  • Find a way to talk about it: a metaphor, some way to describe it so people can understand. ie., Uber for X


  • The competitive fight is not over products, services, or content, but over the customer experience.
  • If you're a bank, you may be competing with something over here that may not be a bank
  • You have to question assumptions - but at what level? How many? 
  • True corporate disruptors mentioned: Nike, Goodyear, World Bank, Alaska Airlines, ExxonMobil, Exelon - are there others?

Business models.

  • If you're not taking share, how innovative is it, really?
  • What is your why? - Luxottica; What is your quest? - Ty Montague
  • "We like adjacencies because we don't know much about them." - Pam Henderson
  • Difference between opportunity and idea: opportunity is market need + value + conditions that get value to the need
  • "The business model is not just for us to make money" - Jorge Garcia, Estee Lauder

Innovation Sandbox:

  • Act like a VC: portfolio, startup investment, 
  • Companies talk about building an innovation ecosystem, about creating innovation portfolios. 
  • Four innovations in 20 years is not enough - Dow Jones' Edward Roussel
  • Half of your innovation efforts should have a 3-5 year payout (MetLife) and more than half should be incremental.
  • The ROI of innovation has to be better than the RO-Biz-as-usual

Strategy vs innovation.

  • Which comes first, which drives which?
  • Do not wait for strategy to think about execution.


  • There are many frameworks within which to place innovation, including economics and math (@spigit); complexity; invention thinking, opportunity. None is right or wrong, all have value. 
  • Hope is not an innovation strategy - James Gardner, Spigit (@bankervision)

Possible Questions:

  1. How do we frame innovation as a company?
  2. How do we talk about innovation internally and externally?
  3. How do we move from innovation projects and initiatives, to innovation portfolios, to innovation ecosystems or sandboxes?
  4. How do strategy and innovation differ? Which drives which?


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