Think HBR


Christina Gerakiteys
UtopiaX and IdeationWorX
A report from the 2018 Front End of Innovation conference held on 23-16 April in Boston, USA.
Day one of the Front End of Innovation is complete.
There is so much information to absorb and share. The information comes to you from speakers and workshop presenters, and from other delegates in conversations, both brief and extended. The information flows from you to other delegates in conversation and in participation in interactive activities. This is why nothing will really replace ‘being there’.
The energy in a face to face conversation isn’t replicable online.
This is my fifth FEI. I am addicted to learning and expanding my knowledge and my resource kit. I write innovation programs for organisations and consult with SMEs. I awaken hearts and minds to what is possible. And if I don’t have a handle on what is happening I can’t inspire those I work with to seek what might be possible in their industry.
Sometimes it’s not just what you learn. I present at, or attend, several conferences and summits (at home and internationally) each year. And I read. A lot. So for me it’s also about spotting trends and themes. Here’s the ones that emerged today.
Transformational Innovation. Most transformational innovations come from outside of a company or organisation. Peter Koen, the founder of the conference stated, “You don’t see what you are looking at, you see what you are looking for”. And I get it. We’ve been programmed by our routines and
what we experience regularly which makes it difficult to see something with fresh eyes.
I walk. When I am at a conference I make sure my accommodation is at least 40 minutes from the venue. As I walk I observe. People, buildings, horizons, plants, the pavement... everything. When I return home, I take the same skill with me for a few days and see my own city through the eyes of a traveler.
If we are going to encourage transformative and disruptive innovation, we need to break the schema. That’s why innovation usually comes from people outside the organisation.
It is developed by users.
Be Your Own Customer. The recently departed CEO of GE believes the best way to advance industries, particularly the health care industry, is to be your own customer. When developing a Value Proposition that is valuable, we need a customer. Crucial to innovation and business success are the conversations we have with our customers. Talk to people who use the product. Seems ridiculous to even be writing those words yet I have worked with people who make so many assumptions on behalf of the customer it is embarrassing. What we want are outcomes for customers, and they go beyond solutions to problems.
Tactility and Experience. Nothing ‘does it’ better than experiential learning. Per Kristiansen is the author of Building a Better Business with LEGO Serious Play. LEGO is a great way to express things that you cannot find the words for. It also introduces the concept of play, which frees creativity. It certainly isn’t a secret that creativity is one of the most soughtafter qualities in C-Suite executives. The beauty of LEGO according to Kristiansen is, “It makes the intangible concrete.
We start with the individual. Everyone has the same bricks and everyone is equal”.
Unlearning. Magnus Lindkvist, Futurologist, closed the day. Just as important as what we learn, is what we need to unlearn in order to relearn. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. And it’s not the first time I’ve heard the story of Ignaz Semmelweiss, who, in 1847, proposed doctors wash their hands to reduce the mortality rate in maternity wards.
Semmelweis had no scientific explanation for his findings.
Some doctors were even offended at the suggestion their hands were disease carriers. Semmelweis died in a mental asylum and it wasn’t until years after his death that his theory was accepted. Had the doctors been willing to unlearn their schema, that everything had to be first proven, countless lives may have been saved.
Day one is complete. I have had numerous meaningful conversations, had important learnings reiterated (after I unlearnt them of course) and sated my curious mind. For today.
Tomorrow we begin again.
ChristinaGerakiteysHeadShot copy Christina Gerakiteys

Christina Gerakiteys is the Founder of UtopiaX and CEO of SingularityU Australia Summit. She is a change catalyst and instigator of Moonshot Ideation. Christina opens hearts and minds, inspiring impossible to possible.