Takeaways from SU’s Exponential Innovation Program

Recently, a new class of exponential innovators attended our Exponential Innovation Program, joining hundreds of EIP alumni around the world. This fall marked the one-year anniversary of the program, and it has been gratifying to meet so many talented innovators. Here are some of the top takeaways that our September class identified during our three days together:

1. Unlearning is key to seeing new possibilities. 

One of the biggest challenges for experts is that it is much harder for them to see new possibilities because they already know everything that is “not possible.” This is one of the reasons why so many great ideas come from people who are new to an industry—“in the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities.”

Unlearning is the concept of identifying the mental models we use that have become outdated or obsolete (imagine using a 20-year-old map to drive around Dubai!) and actively choosing new ones that will be more effective in an exponential world. Only by reducing our preconceptions and biases can we see the potential opportunities that the future holds.

2. Legacy mindset remains the biggest barrier to innovation, but there is hope.

Closely related to unlearning, legacy mindsets are holding back large organizations from fulfilling their innovation potential. We’ve built up processes and ways of working that have been successful for times of scalable efficiency, but as SU faculty member John Hagel, Co-chairman of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, said during the program, we are now moving to a time when scalable learning is a new imperative for organizations.

While there is no silver bullet for moving beyond a legacy mindset, there are possibilities that can be discovered by better understanding your organization’s purpose and DNA to derive a unique and differentiating roadmap based on your aspirations instead of your fears.

Exponential Innovation Program

3. Rapid prototyping is a key tool for hacking mindsets and starting to create 10x ideas.

Pretty words and slide decks don’t communicate world-changing, 10x ideas. But drawings and crude prototypes made of cardboard, pipe cleaners, tin foil, post-its and glue can. It may not seem like you can prototype a high-tech solution such as a drone, or augmented reality, or a robot using these materials, but you can with remarkable ability.

The act of building these prototypes and watching how people, including others inside your organization, react to using them unlocks insights into the relationship between user and technology in a fraction of the time and budget of building out traditional prototypes. And it unlocks your innovation team’s imagination as well.

If you’re an innovator who wants to bring 10x thinking to create your organization’s future and the challenge of creating exponential innovation is on your mind, I hope you’ll join us for an upcoming Exponential Innovation Program. Our focus on the implications of our exponential future on corporate innovation and strategy is a unique opportunity and one from which our participants, faculty, and SU team all benefit. All that’s missing is you!