Innovation at Enterprises with Ed Olson-Morgan at Bain and Company

Episode 13: Innovation with Bain and Co's Ed Olson-Morgan

Hosts: Fahad Shoukat and Andrew Wolfe

Today's Guest: Ed Olson-Morgan, Head of Bain & Company's Americas Development Lab, ADAPT

ADAPT@Bain helps you fuel innovation and accelerate transformation while also helping you build your own in-house abilities. Bain & Company's Advanced Digital and Product Team, includes experts in human-centered design, prototyping, software engineering, digital marketing and advanced analytics.

Show Notes

What is Innovation? (1:01)

It's very broad. Not always disruptive or extraordinary.

--Process and/or human-based.

--Doing something different in an impactful and measureable way.

Nurturing Innovation at a Large Corporation (1:45)

Takes an appetite and empowerment for risk-taking in the organization; especially risks that might not work out.

--Takes grit.

--Innovation is built over time like good architecture. Many times this is a long series of small steps and achievements (innovations).

--How do you find and motivate innovators in a large organization? Cross discipline, focusing on a smaller scale for each innovation, listening and empowering small innovations when you see them (as a leader).

Process of Innovation (5:41)

Where do you start? Picking something on which you want to move the needle (especially a pain point tied to revenue). Then figuring out how to take action and get a result early on. 6-12-18 weeks for the first win(s). Create process that generates excitement and tangibility.

--Innovation roadmap? Good idea, not?  Good tool but needs to adjust as the process executes over time. E.g. evolve the roadmap as necessary. Need to be flexible and adapative.

--Pivoting isn't giving up, it's letting go.

--Keeping the why in plain sight is critical. The goal, the why needs to remain strong.

--Innovation Side Effects: Keep an eye out for low effort, high-value process tweaks or quick wins.

--Innovation isn't just data collection. Innovation needs to deliver value immediately and then certainly, accelerate that over time.

--Nurturing a mindset of innovation at all times is key to building this muscle into the culture of a large organization.

--Many techniques: kaizen and continuous improvement

Innovation: Releasing fast or slow? (16:30)

--GE or Bell Labs vs Amazon release pacing.

--In some ways, both need to be held in balance.

--This question is mostly a result of the immense acceleration in the pace of the ability to release innovations and products. We can provision tech so quickly now.

--Crossing the Chasm- Segments of the market. There are many more early adopters now.

Downside of Speed (20:40)

--The ability to move fast has allowed too many bad ideas to flourish and poor products to see the light of day.

--Not always good to move fast and break things.

--Organizational discipline helps filter bad stuff before release.

The biggest opportunities for enterprises (22:06)

--To innovate internally at the same rate at which they're trying to innovate externally.

--Customer-first focus.

--Equip your innovative teams internally; improve employee tools

--"What can we make self-service?"

--Embracing open-source tools.

--Be very careful, very judicious with build vs buy decisions.

Mistakes are enterprises making when thinking about innovation and tech (27:27)

--Tech-first, early-adopter thinking. Need to identify the jobs to be done first and then fit the tools/process to the use cases.

--Avoid the big bang innovation/change. One big bet/solution rarely produces organizational value as envisioned.

--MUST earn the right to complexity.

--Micro-services-as-a-fad. Refactoring to micro-services isn't inherently a good idea. It's a forever-project. Can be a big mistake. Rather, take a CapitalOne approach.

How to Thoughtful Innovation (33:20)

--People-first, small wins. Innovation really is a human problem first and foremost.

--Failing a few times and learning the lessons along the way.

--Always ask: What are the human needs involved?

--Picking the right tech to solve the problem is critical.

--Incentive structures in large organizations get in the way, too. Innovation for the sake of innovation is bad. Full stop.

--Many times, innovation is simply taking ideas/tools from one context and applying them to a new context.

--Timing and the supporting ecosystem is important for launching innovations.

--Downfall of RIM/BlackBerry and the transition to iPhone.

What's next in 2019 and Beyond (41:50)

--Few months: see how companies respond to immediate changes in the economy as staggering economic growth plateaus. Impact on business models.

--React Native and the impact on app development. A few years out: excited to see the impacts of how easy it will be to write and launch a mobile/web app. How will freed-up developers be utilized post this.

--Low/no-code platforms for data science, ML, and AI.