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The Seven Challenges Haunting Innovation Leaders

Happy Halloween, all! If you think you're impervious to all of the frights that await you today, think again -- EX3 Labsan experience design and product innovation studio specializing in mixed/augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Thing (IoT) solutions, shares today's guest blog on the seven scares that keep innovation leaders up at night. 


Guest Author: Healy Crews, Marketing Associate, EX3 Labs

Last month, EX3 Labs launched our new podcast series, #UnlockingInnovation, produced in partnership with 1871 Chicago. Today, we’re sharing the 7 challenges haunting innovation leaders that have emerged from recent interviews of top corporate leaders on our podcast.

  • Inertia

In established corporations with steady revenue and predictable growth, it can be easy to continue operating the same way year over year, especially when executives get comfortable. However, according to Andrew Swinand of Leo Burnett, inertia is the biggest challenge organizations have to overcome in order to be innovative. Our guests have all echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of shaking things up in order to stay on top. 

  • Rigidity

With the tenure for Fortune 500 companies shorter than ever, disruption by startups is a real threat. How can corporations adopt disruptive thinking in order to avoid being disrupted? According to innovation leaders, collaborating with startups (rather than competing against them) is key.

  • Incuriosity

Having a thirst for knowledge is key to staying creative. Whether you’re seeking out new problems to solve within your industry such as Thatcher Schulte of Conagra, who says “I like things I don’t know how to do,” or making it your mission to travel the world such as Adam Stanley of Cushman & Wakefield, opening your mind to new ideas and experiences an essential trait of an innovator.

  • Greed

As Kim Holmes of Discover Financial Services puts it, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” In other words: make sure your innovative efforts are focussed on solving a specific pain point, so they have the chance to make an impact.   

  • Fear

Taking risks can be scary for large corporations with a lot at stake, but it’s absolutely necessary in innovation. One theme we continue to hear from our guests is the importance of a “fail-fast, recover quickly” mentality. What does this mean? According to David Westfall of Alight Solutions: getting good at experimentation, learning from failure, and moving on to your next idea with new knowledge under your belt will allow you to bounce back after missteps. 

  • Ego

A few of our guests have mentioned that a humble approach to leadership drives the best results. As Pat Burns of Dover puts it, one of the roles a leader plays is just to “stay out of passionate people’s way.” It’s important to remember that the best ideas come from collaboration, so providing a space where everyone can share their thoughts is key. 

  • Reactivity

When it comes to out-innovating competitors, corporate leaders must be proactive, rather than waiting for a catalyst. This means being able to predict future disruption and proactively making change. We’ve found that the most innovative leaders are also the most open-minded and forward-thinking.

 #UnlockingInnovation is a podcast series produced in partnership with EX3 Labs and 1871 Chicago. Rate, review, and subscribe to #UnlockingInnovation on iTunes… if you dare. 


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Topics: Insights

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