Unlocking Innovation: Strategies from Silicon Valley CEOs (podcast and article)

I recently moderated an on-stage conversation in Silicon Valley with a group of four amazing and successful CEOs of very successful companies.

This was the kickoff evening of a multi-day conference, and our objective was to lay out the topic of innovation as the core theme for the days that followed.

To to get things started I asked them each to share some personal perspectives and examples about how they unlock, drive and nurture innovation inside large organizations.  

While there were clearly a number of common themes, it was also fascinating to see the differences in approaches and insights that each of them shared.

Our group of CEOs included:

–          Greg Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments

–          Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts

–          Aneel Bhusri CEO of Workday, and

–          Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe

Here are a few key takeaways: 

  • Greg Johnson, Franklin Templeton: 
    • To me, innovation is the DNA of business. It’s what you do. You can’t just outsource it.
    • Sometimes disruption and innovation are confused and put in the same bucket. But they are not the same. Innovation is about knowing your clients and their needs.  Many of the best ideas that we’ve had have come directly from clients.
  • Aneel Bhusri, Workday:
    • I believe that the mindset of the CEO is that of an optimist.
    • I’ve always been a believer that innovation does not happen with 200-person development teams. It happens with groups of 10 or 20 led by entrepreneurial people who are on a mission to change the world.
  • Andrew Wilson, Electronic Arts:
    • We see culture as the collective habits of an organization.  The more we can incent and reinforce desired behaviors, the more it contributes to the culture we want.
    • An innovation culture can be created through consistent actions and outcomes by team members. By helping drive and incent those actions and outcomes you want, you can help shape the broader culture over the long run.
  • Shantanu Narayen, Adobe:
    • Preserving the status quo is not a business strategy. If you are not always thinking about disrupting yourself, some person in a garage is going to disrupt you.
    • As leaders, what we inspect and where we spend our time are really representative of how we and our teams think of innovation at Adobe. And we think a lot about what examples we’re setting.

To listen to the podcast of this entire conversation, or review the transcript, go here:  http://us.beyondbullsandbears.com/2019/06/12/podcast-unlocking-innovation-strategies-from-silicon-valley-ceos/

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