Oftentimes, we read books and blogs, we listen to podcasts and audiobooks, we watch keynotes and take part in workshops, we umm and ahh, but despite all of the investment in consuming this knowledge, we rarely take the time to reflect and truly digest the knowledge so that we can become better at applying these insights. Taking time out to reflect on what yo’ve just consumed and perhaps scribble some notes down is kinda like downing a protein shake right after a workout to maximise your results - it’s an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to retention and application of key insights.
Over the past six months I’ve been fortunate enough to interview a number of thought leaders on the topic of corporate innovation, entrepreneurship and self improvement, culminating with episode 50. To celebrate this milestone, I took some time out to reflect on some of the best lessons from my podcasting journey and have prepared a list of the 50 most memorable lessons, as the ones that stick with you are usually the best.The podcast has also been a mainstay on the iTunes Business chart, peaking at #9 in July and is now receiving almost 50,000 listens a month and growing fast! This would not have been possible without you the listeners and my very special guests; so from the bottom of my heart - thank you!
Without further adieu, I bring you 50 key lessons on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship from 50 episodes of Future².
In chronological order…
While testing new ideas under a brand name can help to build social proof, sometimes it’s best to test new ideas under an entirely new name to truly gauge product market fit and market appetite and do away with any preconceptions, positive or negative, stemming from brand association. This also provides protection against reputational damage. Episode #3 w/ Humphrey Laubscher, Nab Labs Fintech Innovation Manager
What makes many startup ecosystems tick is the accidental serendipity that comes from geographic concentration, such as the connections made between founders, investors, mentors and so pm in cafes across Boulder, Colorado. Episode #6 w/ world champion investor and entrepreneur Niel Robertson
Corporates should work with startups in the early stages of the innovation lifecycle when the mindset and fast pace of startups aligns with the realities of early-stage innovation. Episode #7 w/ Fabio Oliveira, Head of Innovation at Kmart Australia
Using innovation options, which is not dissimilar to stock options in theory, you can re-assess the value of a startup investment at various stages to support talking accounting’s language, avoid the “what’s the ROI” trap, take lots of small bets and support follow-on funding decisions. Episode #8 w/ David Binetti on Innovation Options
Depending on which stage of the innovation lifecycle you’re at, you should identify your one and only metric that matters. For example, are you testing the problem, the solution, the features or the underlying business model? Your one metric that matters might be you advertisement clickrate when testing your problem. Focus on increasing this first. Episode #10 w/ Ben Yoskovitz on Lean Analytics
Data + a healthy dose of gut (or what I like to call professional judgment) = decision Episode #10 w/ Ben Yoskovitz on Lean Analytics
We are living in the ‘age of influence’ where anybody with an internet connection and some tact has a profound ability to build relationships with and influence people all over the world. Episode #11 w/ Ted Rubin on Return on Relationship (ROR)
Return on Relationship s the value that you accrue over time by nurturing a relationship - going far beyond simple dollars and cents. Episode #11 w/ Ted Rubin on Return on Relationship (ROR)
Horizon 1 (incremental improvement) processes, systems and values don’t support Horizon 3 disruptive innovation. To get this right, companies either need to create parallel frameworks or innovation outposts with their own KPIs, processes, systems and values. Episode #12 w/ Steve Blank on Corporate Innovation
Traditional R&D departments are unable to invest in disruptive innovation or even Horizon 2 adjacent innovation because they measure success with Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Return on Assets (NROA). As such, they focus more on the D (development) in R&D and not so much research - resulting in a focus on quick wins and low hanging fruit instead of going long to explore truly disruptive innovation in the long term. Episode #12 w/ Steve Blank on Corporate Innovation
Disrupting yourself and going after your dreams should feel lonely and riddled with “am I doing the right thing?” questions - it is not too dissimilar to building a startup which may take years to generate significant traction. Episode #13 w/ Whitney Johnson on Disrupting Yourself
By cutting out distractions (email, notifications, messages and so on) we can support getting into ‘flow’ which can increase productivity, particularly on creative pursuits, by 500%. Episode #15 on Flow
To get into flow, there are a number of psychological, environmental, social triggers in addition to flow state busters. For a complete list of triggers to help you get into flow and cash in on massive productivity gains check out this post. Episode #15 on Flow
When it comes to corporate incubators, there are four models that companies can opt for. A step in the innovation process, paying it forward, developing intrapreneurs or testing new work environments. Episode #20 w/ Evangelos Simoudis on Corporate VC, Incubators and M&A
Corporates should create a corporate incubator or venture arm if creating an acquisition pipeline, seeking to understand emerging sectors in breadth, seeking to understand markets and geographies that are high priority and wanting to break away from long innovation cycles internally which inhibit the company’s ability to explore disruptive innovation. Episode #20 w/ Evangelos Simoudis on Corporate VC, Incubators and M&A
Measuring the success of content marketing is difficult to measure so CMOs and marketing executives at large companies tend not to invest in effective content marketing campaigns, which creates an opportunity for companies willing to redefine success and invest in this area. Episode #22 w/ Rand Fishkin on Online Marketing for Large Companies
In order to measure the success of content marketing campaigns, consider running isolated A/B tests between different cohorts with similar attributes, in order to gauge effectiveness. Episode #22 w/ Rand Fishkin on Online Marketing for Large Companies
Focus less on paralysis by analysis and more on getting sh!t done. Analytics are important but there comes a point where they take away from their purpose which is to drive improvements. If you’re spending 40% of your time on analysis then you’re spending less time delivering. Episode #22 w/ Rand Fishkin on Online Marketing for Large Companies
The blockchain is essentially a globally distributed spreadsheet hosted on thousands of computers, is updated every 10 minutes across the entire network, is completely transparent (you can see all transactions), secured by public key infrastructure (PKI) and in order to hack the blockchain, you’d need to rewrite the entire history of the blockchain, virtually impossible without anybody noticing. Episode #25 w/ Alex Tapscott on the Blockchain Revolution
Post the Haiti earthquakes, half a billion US dollars in foreign aid was made available to Haitian authorities to build homes for 130,000 people. 6 homes were built. The blockchain can do away with corruption by increasing transparency and using public key encryption to ensure that intended recipients receive the aid they so desperately need. Episode #25 w/ Alex Tapscott on the Blockchain Revolution
The blockchain can support real-time clearing and settlement of transactions at almost zero cost which has the potential to not only significantly disrupt payments, foreign exchange and remittance services in the next few years but also open up profound opportunities for the world’s unbanked, who currently can’t afford bank fees. Episode #25 w/ Alex Tapscott on the Blockchain Revolution
Artificial intelligence beat human beings at the Turing Test for the first time in 2014, not only fooling the human judges into thinking it was human but doing so when the humans failed to convince the judges of this same fact. It did so writing a very abstract poem, proving that AI can be creative too. Episode #29 w/ Brian Christian on Artificial Intelligence
Brian defined ‘optimal stopping’ as a tool to help you make difficult decisions. For example, if you’re looking for a car space and have given yourself 10 minutes, using optimal stopping, or the 37% rule, you would settle for the best space so far after having allocated 37% of your time, or 3 minutes and 45 seconds, towards looking. The same Brian says, can apply to clothes, car, home and even significant other shopping. Episode #29 w/ Brian Christian on Artificial Intelligence
In order to become a better manager or drive innovation, you must first become more self aware. A lack of self awareness is a silent innovation killer. Episode #31 w/ Dave Gray on Creating a Culture of Innovation
In order to change the culture in your company, you must first identify the roadblocks and enablers including behaviours, stated levers (explicit such as rules and incentives) and unstated levers (values and beliefs) and identify ways to navigate these. Episode #31 w/ Dave Gray on Creating a Culture of Innovation
In order to innovate in fast moving age, we need to move away from what Otto Schermer calls the towards a collaborative ecosystem made up of p[artners, suppliers, customers, other companies, Government, academia, not for profits, members of the general public and so on. Episode #31 w/ Dave Gray on Creating a Culture of Innovation
In order to cure the monkey mind and ramp up productivity, simply write down that thought in your head. The sooner you get it onto paper or onto a task management tool (I like asana) the quicker you can focus on the task at hand. Not only that, but you’re far less likely to forget that moment of inspiration which usually comes from a place of flow - see episode #15 for more on flow). Episode #32 w/ David Allen on Getting Things Done
As the gig economy takes further hold, with more than 40% of Americans expected to be freelancers by 2020, people will move towards becoming generalists, as opposed to specialists, which is incredibly important in a fast-moving Century where adaptability is key to survival. Episode #33 w/ Arun Sundararajan on The Sharing Economy
Upon meeting, human beings are always looking for points of familiarity but the same old “what do you do?” questions get boring. Instead, ask open ended probing questions to dig deeper and get people engaging on a deeper level and foster stronger relationships. Episode #34 w/ Patrick King on the Art of Persuasive Leadership
You can test ideas and build solutions in just 5 days and sometimes the most obvious solution doesn’t actually work. In one case, Jake told the story of Bluebottle Coffee whose initial designs for a website that felt like a cafe fell flat. What worked? A website full of content that demonstrated Bluebottle’s expertise. Use customer-facing sprints to rapidly discover what customers like and stop wasting time on what you thinkcustomers will like. Episode #36 w/ Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky on Sprint
Countries are less likely to go to war over geography now because of a joint investment in technology and infrastructure. This is especially true in traditionally feuding parts of the world such as regions of Africa, the Middle East and India/Pakistan. For example, if China gets attacked then American powerhouse Walmart suffers. Episode #39 w/ Parag Khanna on the Future of the Global Economy
Teaching entrepreneurship to children is powerful but what is even more powerful, not only in the context of children, but also for large organisations, is creating an environment where people can behave like innovators and entrepreneurs. Episode #41 w/ Angela Maiers on Transforming Children’s Education
Fixation, self doubt/self censoring, jumping to conclusions and overthinking are four of the 7 fatal flaws of thinking that inhibit innovation in most companies. Most importantly, back yourself. By censoring yourself you miss out on the opportunity to share ideas and learn and grow from feedback you would otherwise forfeit. Episode #44 w/ Matthew E May on Winning the Brain Game
Brainstorming usually suffers because of group-think. What one person says everybody might build upon or provide a variation of which is essentially rooted in the initial idea or ideas. To be truly innovative we must ‘work alone together’. Episode #46 with Robert Kegan on Building an Everyone Culture
To truly motivate people they must see what they do as an investment in their own personal development, not just a job. Episode #46 with Robert Kegan on Building an Everyone Culture
Brexit was a result of exclusive globalisation whereby people who felt left behind, or that their voices weren’t being echoed by the UK Government or Europe, took back control. Ultimately, this might have come down to messaging.
We already have abundance at a macroeconomic level (education, healthcare etc is better than it’s ever been, for anyone, in any part of the world), it’s just not distributed evenly. Even if blockchain and AI creates untold wealth for humanity, the question of distribution will still remain. Episode #50 with Chris Kutarna on the Age of Discovery
Given the rapid change in technology and business, we might be on the cusp of a productivity paradox, whereby the next generation might need to take a step back in order for subsequent generations to flourish, not too dissimilar to Europe during/after the Renaissance or manufacturing after the introduction of electricity. Episode #50 with Chris Kutarna on the Age of Discovery
---What a wild ride the past six months have been and to think that this is only the beginning. We've got an absolutely star-studded array of guests lined up for you over the coming months including some of the most influential names in the world of corporate innovation and entrepreneurship such as Ash Maurya to name but one!As always, if your organisation is embarking upon its own innovation journey and you'd like to connect with me, feel free to set up a time in my calendar atcalendly.com/steveglaveski
Until episode #51, "Future Squared out!".
This eBook explores the reasons why organisations struggle to innovate, the innovation blockers within companies and how your organisation can setup a culture that supports innovation.