Innovation is Spelled Risk



The Creative Innovation Conference in review by Lindsay Rogers


The Creative Innovation (Ci) conference 2015 was a sight to behold, over 900 delegates over three days came together to talk about innovation across sectors, brands and life. We were in awe of robotics, genomics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, sensors, disruptive thinking and so much more. 

One theme emerged from Ci when it came to entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and leadership; you don't make disruptive headway without risk. Interestingly, the word Entrepreneur derives from Latin, meaning 'amongst all, the one who gets it first'. Perhaps I'd like to add to that, the one who gets it, but also gives it a go first. 


Nolan Bushnell, best known for developing a plethora of video games we know and love over the decades, hiring Jobs and Wozniak before they were famous and turning down a third stake in Apple for $50,000 in 1976, spoke on innovation in his opening keynote "Everyone loves the idea of innovation! Until I show you my idea, then it looks risky and you ask for another example of innovation. It's never easy. You have to have a real sense of what's right, and perseverance."

Lots of disruptive conversations and thought provoking insights led me to consider who within organisations, or moreover, within society has the guts to disrupt an entire industry? Was Uber taking on public transport of the world, risky, Airbnb taking on hospitality industry risky? In the shadow of success it's easy to think decisions to disrupt was a no-brainer, but perhaps throughout time, the people who have had the most success, also risked most. Scott Anthony put it best in his second address "some ideas are right, some are wrong. The trouble is you don't know which at first, for every one of our failures we had spreadsheets that looked awesome!"  

So, is it those who can communicate convincingly that enact innovation within an organisation? I'd suggest it's those who have the most influence who create buy-in, trust and vision for the opportunities innovative thinking opens up. One of the earlier sessions at Ci was in an adventure based talk, comparing adversity on the front line of world record breaking adventure feats with forging new territory in business. An interesting formula they had for gaining trust is credibility times by intimacy divided by risk. 

Nicole Velik from the Ideas Bodega, a consulting firm working with brands and agencies to explore techniques on ideation, and I had coffee at the conference, it was interesting hearing her take on it, she says "Leaders need to be the first ones to come up with a risky idea and an idea that could potentially flop. This carves out a safe space for others to put forward risky/big ideas. Ideas can be risky and they should be. 

Nothing really innovative ever sounded safe when it was first thought of. I always ask my clients to present at least one idea that scares them in some way. We need to stretch ourselves  out of our comfort zone otherwise we will keep rehashing old ideas over and never come up with anything truly innovative." 

So if we're willing to risk, perhaps we're through step one of innovation initiation. Here are some of my thoughts on disrupting a process, product, or heck, even a whole industry! Give it a go, create a frugal pretotype, create a prorotype, implement, fail fast, get up, try again, turn it on its head, look for inspiration in unusual places, use hard data, talk to people and constantly review.

Nobody really knows how life will be in the future by 2025, but here are a few thought provoking predictions:

You'll be fine with artificial intelligence hearing every conversation you have.

70% of kilometers will be in self driving cars. 

There will be 50 companies on the Fast 500 list that don't exist today

Healthcare as we know it will be dramatically disrupted

Sensors will become so cheap they'll be commonplace

Lindsay Rogers is the co-founder of Chello, a creative content agency. Based in Surry Hills, they work with some of Australia’s leading brands to produce filmed, animated and digital content, along with design, creative installations, branding and photography.

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