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Business Officer Magazine

Put Your Eggs in Many Baskets

How do you tease out innovative thinking to position your institution apart? One sure way to kill innovation is to entrust someone to develop that next big idea, and then remind him or her not to blow it. According to general session keynote speaker Frans Johansson—bestselling author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment—that kind of all-or-nothing pressure essentially guarantees failure. Instead, "People need the freedom and flexibility of getting multiple bites on the apple," suggests Johansson.

  • Place purposeful, small bets. A better approach is to break up pilot funding for an initiative into a series of buckets to explore wildly different ideas. Almost every great or groundbreaking innovation began as something else, reminds Johansson. Pursuing diverse hypotheses through a series of small steps can eventually lead to something truly unique.
  • Follow the unexpected. Almost all innovations appear logical after the fact. Yet, many great ideas were based on assumptions that were either false or ridiculous at the outset, says Johansson. The opportunity to test an idea and to allow others to react to it can produce that moment of serendipitous response. When you do stumble across something unique, that's the time to double down, argues Johansson.
  • Insist on intersectional thinking. Diversity drives innovation, says Johansson. Cross-pollination of disciplines is also crucial to innovative thinking—allowing convergence of concepts that can produce unexpected aha moments. Johansson describes this as innovation through the side door—the indirect pathway of discovery.
  • Develop either-or strategies. A strategy is merely a decision to act, notes Johansson, and the best strategies are those based on alternate realities. Move in a direction, but always remain open to diversion based on emerging trend lines. Bottom line, says Johansson: "The world moves in unexpected and serendipitous ways. You need to move with it."

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