Did you ever wonder how an innovation got to its finish line? How innovators saw the future, made a product, and created change – in our world and in their companies? I did. Innovation Storytellers invites changemakers to describe how they created their innovation and just as important – THE STORIES – that made us fall in love with them. Come learn how great innovations need great stories to make them move around the world and how to become a better storyteller in the process.
I’m Susan Lindner, the Innovation Storyteller. But I wasn’t always. I’ve been a wannabe revolutionary, an epidemiologist at the CDC and an AIDS educator in the brothels of Thailand helping to turn former sex workers into entrepreneurs. Trained as an anthropologist and the Founder of Emerging Media, I’ve spent the last twenty years working with innovators from 60+ countries. Ranging from cutting edge startups to Fortune 100 companies like GE, Corning, Citi, Olayan, and nine foreign governments, helping their leaders to tell their stories and teaching them how to become incredible advocates for their innovations.
Great innovation stories make change possible. They let us step into a future we can’t see yet. I started this podcast to shine a light on our generation of great innovators, to learn how they brought their innovation to life and the stories they told to bring them to the world.
How Insurance Becomes an Innovator’s Best Friend
I'm thrilled to have Mach Millett, the Chief Innovation Officer and Alternative Investment Practice Leader at Lockton Financial Services, join us on The Innovation Storytellers Show. Mach's impressive background spans over a decade at Marsh and a legal career at Skadden Arps, equipping him with a unique perspective on managing risks in innovation.
In this episode, we're not just talking about insurance in the traditional sense. We're delving into how to protect the future - the innovations and potential within our organizations. Mach's role at Lockton involves creating new insurance products for unaddressed risk exposures and serving as a technical expert in various complex fields. His experience crafting insurance contracts and resolving disputes gives him a unique vantage point on the intersection of innovation, law, and insurance.
Our conversation travels from Central America to the intricacies of the legal profession and deep into the insurance world. We discuss the importance of involving legal, compliance, and PR teams from the onset of an innovation project, forming an 'Innovation Council' to ensure all potential issues are addressed early. Mach shares his experiences with the challenges and triumphs of navigating innovation's legal and compliance landscapes, providing insights into how to foresee and manage the unforeseen.
This episode explores the support systems underpinning innovation. We delve into the importance of seeing around corners, anticipating risks, and extending a hand across different silos to foster successful innovation. Mach's journey from a legal expert to an innovation leader at Lockton illustrates the multifaceted nature of protecting and nurturing the next big thing.
How Stanford University Is Becoming a Green City
In this episode of the Innovation Storytellers Show, I spoke with Lincoln Bleavens, Stanford University's Executive Director of Sustainability & Energy Management. With a rich background in the global energy sector, Lincoln brings a unique blend of academic and practical expertise to his role, overseeing a range of operations from energy and water management to emergency preparedness and waste management.
Our discussion centered on Stanford's innovative approach to sustainability, viewing the university as a microcosm of a larger urban system. Lincoln highlighted Stanford's significant strides in aligning its operational needs with sustainability goals. Notably, the university's transition from a natural gas-fired plant to renewable electricity and from a steam-based system to more efficient hot and chilled water systems has substantially reduced energy and water consumption.
These changes, Lincoln pointed out, are not just about adopting new technologies but represent a fundamental shift in resource management, resulting in a dramatic decrease in distribution losses and water consumption. This approach positions Stanford as a leader in sustainable innovation, demonstrating how operational efficiency can coexist with environmental stewardship.
Lincoln's insights underscore the importance of sustainability as a driver of innovation. Stanford is setting an example for other institutions and cities by focusing on long-term, sustainable solutions. His passion for applied innovation and sustainability is a testament to Stanford's commitment to leading by example in this vital area.
In summary, my conversation with Lincoln Bleavens was an in-depth look into how Stanford is pioneering a sustainable future, offering valuable lessons and strategies that could inspire a broader movement toward sustainable innovation and efficiency.
Are You Deploying Your Venus Genius at Work?
This week I explore a unique perspective on innovation through the lens of gender dynamics and intuition. Our guest, Fabienne Jacquet, a scientist, corporate innovator, author, and the founder of INNOVEVE®, brings a wealth of experience and a distinctive viewpoint on the subject.
Fabienne challenges conventional wisdom by emphasizing the importance of both masculine and feminine energies in the innovation process, transcending the traditional gender roles. She discusses the neuroscience behind these energies, explaining how different brain compositions, including the distribution of gray and white matter, contribute to diverse problem-solving approaches and ways of connecting the dots in complex situations. This concept extends beyond mere physiological differences to encompass a broader understanding of how we, as innovators, can harness these diverse energies for creative and effective problem-solving.
An intriguing part of the conversation revolves around the role of intuition in innovation. Fabienne advocates for the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the innovation process, arguing that this diversity is crucial for accumulating a wide range of information and ideas. She emphasizes the importance of being open to new cultures, experiences, and ways of thinking, as this openness is key to fostering a creative and innovative mindset. Additionally, Fabienne touches upon the often-overlooked necessity of allowing our brains time to rest, highlighting how our best ideas often emerge when we are not actively trying to force them.
A particularly fascinating aspect of the discussion is Fabienne's exploration of how feminine energy, often characterized as chaotic and less predictable, plays a crucial role in the front end of the innovation process. This contrasts with the more structured and organized masculine energy that tends to dominate the latter stages of bringing a product to market. Fabienne's approach is not just theoretical; she has applied these principles throughout her career in various fields, from academia to corporate innovation.
My conversation with Fabienne Jacquet is a journey through the intricacies of innovation and a call to embrace a more inclusive and holistic approach to creating and implementing new ideas. It's a must-listen for anyone interested in understanding the deeper layers of innovation and how integrating diverse energies and perspectives can lead to more meaningful and impactful outcomes.
How Gen Z at OSU’s Innovation Center are Generating F500 Breakthroughs
In the latest installment of the Innovation Storytellers Show, I had the pleasure of engaging in a profound conversation with Paul Reeder, the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation Strategies at Ohio State University. Our discussion explored what innovation truly means for businesses today, far beyond the superficial trappings that often masquerade as progress.
Paul Reeder is a name that resonates with authority in the realm of innovation. His mission at the Center for Innovation Strategies is not just about fostering new ideas; it's about orchestrating a symphony of collaboration that resonates with value creation for a diverse range of stakeholders.
From the hallowed halls of Ohio State to the corporate boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, Paul's influence on innovation is profound. His expertise has been sought after by industry titans such as Procter and Gamble, Honda, and Nationwide Insurance, all seeking to infuse genuine innovation into their DNA.
Our conversation was a clarion call against the backdrop of what Paul aptly terms 'Innovation Theater'—a facade of innovation that is all too common in today's corporate world. It's a world where the appearance of innovation is often mistaken for its substance. Paul's insights revealed a troubling trend where companies are quick to set up flashy innovation studios, complete with trendy furniture and attire, mistaking these superficial elements for the heart of innovation.
However, Paul argues that true innovation is not about the optics; it's about the impact. It's about understanding and serving customer needs in ways previously unimagined, identifying new customer segments, and creating a 'blip in our business' that signifies real growth and evolution. This kind of innovation doesn't just happen; it requires a cultural shift and a commitment from every level of the organization, especially the C-suite.
Throughout our discussion, Paul emphasized the need for a new paradigm to measure innovation—one that accounts for cultural change, customer engagement, and the ability to break new ground. We discuss how traditional metrics like cash ROI fall short in capturing the essence of innovation, which is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that Paul's vision for innovation is both a challenge and an invitation. It's a challenge to businesses to look beyond their walls and engage with external innovation groups, creating partnerships that fuel creativity and drive growth. It's an invitation to step out of the conventional box and embrace a broader vision of what innovation can be—a strategic pillar essential to the future of any organization.
How to Innovate The Human Experience
In this compelling episode of Innovation Storytellers, I am joined by Brian Solis, the Head of Global Innovation at ServiceNow. If you've ever been fascinated by how technology serves as a catalyst for business transformation, then this episode is a must-listen for you.
Brian Solis, who has spent over two decades studying digital Darwinism, discusses the evolving role of Executive Briefing Centers and Innovation Centers in the tech industry. These spaces, once merely showrooms for platforms like ServiceNow, have transcended their original purpose. They now serve as critical hubs for business transformation, providing a bespoke experience tailored to the unique needs of visiting executives and prospects. Such spaces facilitate targeted, transformative discussions and foster meaningful partnerships. They guide businesses toward increased agility and resilience in an ever-changing market landscape.
However, the journey isn't without its hurdles. The episode also delves into the challenges involved, such as the potential for information overload that can overwhelm visitors. It questions whether these centers, despite their high-tech allure, run the risk of becoming mere 'window dressing' if not updated regularly to reflect current trends and technologies.
The conversation shifts seamlessly to a critical look at the marketing landscape, emphasizing the importance of empathy and storytelling. Brian shares insightful thoughts on how conventional marketing frameworks like personas and journey maps could potentially limit a business's ability to genuinely connect with its customers. He introduces the novel concept of employing storytelling techniques, inspired by Pixar's and Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, to humanize the customer experience.
As the episode unfolds, Brian challenges listeners to rethink technology's potential impact on life and work beyond its "wow factor." He offers an example related to AI, questioning the ethics and long-term impact of replacing human roles like copywriting with machine-generated content. Instead, he proposes an innovative approach—augmenting human capabilities to create new, premium services, thereby creating new avenues for revenue and growth.
In essence, this episode provokes thoughtful debates and challenges conventional perspectives. It urges listeners to not only marvel at technology’s capabilities but to question and understand its broader ramifications on society, business, and human well-being.
How to Humanize Innovation Leadership
In today's fast-paced, ever-evolving business landscape, leadership is under constant scrutiny. The spotlight often shines on the balance—or imbalance—between two critical aspects of decision-making: logic and intuition. While some say good leadership relies on hard facts and analytics, others argue that instinct plays an invaluable role. I sit down with Mary Pat Knight, an authority on humanized leadership, who compellingly addresses this intricate balance between head and heart.
Mary Pat Knight has a fascinating perspective that even engineers—often regarded as the epitomes of logic and structured thinking—can use to hone their instinctual skills. She points out that engineers are generally trained to rely on data, to scrutinize every decision through the lens of calculations and structured processes. However, the art of leadership requires more than just crunching numbers; it requires acknowledging that sometimes, instinct whispers critical pieces of information that raw data can't capture.
What's remarkable about Mary Pat Knight's view is that she doesn't advocate for the abandonment of logic for instinct, or vice versa. Instead, she champions the harmonious blend of passion and logic, the quintessence of what she calls humanized leadership. Leaders who successfully balance their analytical skills with emotional intelligence create work environments that value instinct and data, leading to more well-rounded decisions.
Listen in as Mary Pat Knight unravels the intricate process of integrating intuition into a traditionally logical decision-making environment. Whether you are leading a team, building a business, or simply curious about the subtleties of effective leadership, the insights she provides are both practical and transformative. She makes a compelling case for the need to be both analytical and emotional, logical and instinctual, in our roles as leaders. This multi-faceted approach to leadership is not just about making better decisions; it's about making decisions that are comprehensive, inclusive, and, most importantly, human.