USI 2014, Unexpected Sources of Inspiration (2/2)

La Bourse Paris USIUSI new acronym Unexpected Sources of Inspiration kept its promise. Following first part, here’s a sum-up of some inspiring and surprising talks.


Anne lauvergeon: Innovation 2030

‘Atomic Anne’ recently handled a commission of experts to complete a report on innovation, on behalf of the French government.

Anne Lauvergeon USI

  • Innovation is not limited to technology;
  • We reviewed major trends and tensions, to inspire our work on innovation: energy, water supply, population moves, digital transformation, personalization, sharing economy,… looking for innovation that meets its market;
  • We pointed out the strengths we could build on: infrastructures, public research, education, dynamic demography, large companies and innovative SMEs, searching for growth;
  • Following benchmark and multiple auditions, we came out with 7 strategic ambitions: material recycling, energy storage, marine resources, vegetable proteins and green chemistry, individualized medecine, silver economy, big and open data;
  • Along with strategic ambitions, we issued one innovation principle: start teaching risk-taking culture at school, and right to experiment in enterprise, implementing quest for simplification in entrepreneur’s DNA; you need a minimum self-esteem to dare to innovate: we should teach that in our education system; to innovate, we need to think different, to design across borders (aka research on Pb isotope leading to cure pancreas cancer) and it relies on true innovators: we need to turn innovators into modern heroes!
  • We opened worldwide innovation contests, whose only condition to participate is to invest in France: 626 projects and 58 laureats in round 1 in March, 600 projects in found 2 in June; moving from k€  200 to m€ 2 and 20 BPI funding, according to project’s progression; projects are quite heterogeneous, ranging from big data, to storage and silver economy; surprisingly, material recycling doesn’t attract many candidates, we only had one laureate!
  • We wanted to create a consensus, a momentum on innovation, create a favorable ecosystem, and give an impulse;
  • The 7 French strategic ambitions are soluble with Europe ambition; one could imagine national innovation contests all over Europe, bringing winners from one country to another.

Hal Gregersen: Innovator’ DNA

Hal Gregersen is an authority on creating innovation culture, coautor of ‘The Innovator’s DNA’, and executive director of the MIT Sloan Leadership center.

Hal Gregersen USI

  • Disruptive, sustaining, efficiency, there many paths for innovation: focusing only on efficiency can be the beginning of the end;
  • Innovation premium is how I believe you will do something different in the future; they think differently because they act differently, they question things catalytically: you get disrupted when someone starts asking questions about things they don’t know; asking yourself every morning: how many things am I deadly wrong about? Be comfortable about being uncomfortable;
  • What is the right question is more difficult than the right answer: when they realize taxi right cost more than the airplane airfare at Sao Paolo, they built a bus line; use catalytic questioning: pick one problem/possibility, brainstorm questions only; only a few questions help you see the problem differently;
  • Observing, networking, experimenting, the more we know the less we actually see! So 1) Ask questions and 2) Go to the world to observe, network and experiment; what is surprising, what is unexpected? Who could imagine than SMEs managers start their day by checking their bank account? If we don’t look for surprises, they will look for us!
  • Networking is vital: talk with people who are not like you, hold conversations across the industry; Where do you get your best ideas? some say cycling!
  • Going small, fast, and cheap makes all the difference; ideation requires excellent execution: are there solid ideas or boost up ideas? Innovation is a team sport, it’s the combination of innovator and executor that make it work;
  • Innovative organizations are led by innovative leaders, with a philosophy that everyone can find new ideas; in the end, ‘we are our choices, build yourself a great story’ says Jeff Bezos; be a creative leader: make a difference for yourself, and for the people around you.

Edgar Morin, confronting complexity

Edgar Morin is a famous French philosopher and sociologist.

Edgar Morin

  • Complexity is a mundane word: one shall not confuse between what is complex and what is complicated;
  • Everything is linked in our world, bound within ecosystems, and this is what complexity is about; things are not isolated, and to connect them is complexity’s issue;
  • Binary alternatives don’t make it, we need to develop knowledge to untie complexity’s node, a new way of thinking; knowledge is about translating, then rebuilding. Emotion is blended with perception: “traduttore, traditore“;
  • We can fail in every moment of our life, mistakes are part of our educative experience. To adjust, you need to analyze causes: Ich lerne aus verlehrn. Mistakes can be fruitful: looking for India, one discovers America!
  • One needs to live globally, with an holistic approach. Our ideas can turn into ideology, and be misleading: we must enter into a dialogue with our ideas; thus dialogism is about sparkling with ideas which both contradict and complement; a relevant knowledge puts things in context, overviews all aspects, and develop a global vision;
  • I am a producing product, I belong to the human species, and it’s inside me, by its language, culture, and education; the part forms into a whole, and the whole is within the part: unity holds diversity;
  • Complementarity and antagonism, linking opposite ideas, dialogism, rationalism and passion, and turning paradox into correlation, this is what complexity is;
  • Emergences are the essence of living organizations, and soaring of new attributes has no end; action will be beyond your control and enter a cycle of reactions: ‘ecology of action” places innovation in a general evolutionary context. Every decision is a bet, one must follow-up action with a strategy, not in a programmatic way;
  • Encompassing complexity does not prevent from uncertainty: what was unlikely often occurred; rather than predicting what is likely to happen, let’s expect the unexpected: being intuitive is guessing what others think through hardly noticeable signs; understanding others is difficult, and intuition is vital to read and discern;
  • ‘Complex knowledge’ helps to master uncertainties, and envision global relationships; in-depth thinking, reduction and disjunction, differentiating and linking, ‘complex knowledge’ is a way to progress in life.

Related post (part 1)

Credits: USI events photo album

espace démo USI (2)


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