Corporate Innovation

(Last week’s Women’s Foodservice Forum Executive Summit featured excellent educational content from industry leaders and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management faculty.  Here’s the next in this week-long series on key learnings from the conference.) 

brand-as-business bit:

It seemed like Robert Wolcott, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Kellogg Innovation Network and Senior Lecturer at Kellogg, covered a year-long course on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship in his session.  My top 15 takeaways:

on innovation:

“Innovation management is about resolving uncertainty through a rational process… Innovation strategy is about building a portfolio of options on the future.”

“Companies need to operate like a fortress and a sailboat – fortification and exploration.”

“10% of 10 FTEs doesn’t make 1 FTE.  Innovation needs to be at the top of the priority list for at least one or two people to make it work.”

“Innovation is usually a vestige of history and momentum.”

“The key to a successful incubator is to insulate it, but not isolate it.”

“You can innovate on anything you do as a business.”

“Instead of trying to manage the rate of failure, manage the cost.”

on thinking differently:

 “Entrepreneurial people start with the opportunity – the art of the possible – and deal with the constraints later.”

“Companies in the same industry tend to innovate on the same dimensions, which leads to parity. You need to define other dimensions, which lead to differentiation.”

“The most obvious solutions fit within all the constraints, so start outside of constraints.”

on business:

“Rarely does a big threat come from a direct competitor because you already know what they’re doing.  It almost always comes from the periphery.”

“The better you are at what you do now, the harder it is to adapt to what you need to do.”

“To see how serious a company is about the long-term, look at the CEO’s calendar.”

“When you define the question well, smart people are more likely to find the right answer.”

“If you have to explain to customers how to do business with you, that’s a red flag.”

Check back tomorrow for insights about career transitions from a panel of industry leaders at the Women’s Foodservice Forum Executive Summit.

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