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Workshopping innovation

An innovation workshop with IESE, the prominent Barcelona business school, revealed common challenges around bringing innovation to market and creating a more customer-focused orientation to corporate decision-making.

This last week at frog design we hosted a group of almost 40 global executive MBA's from IESE, the renowned business school in Barcelona. It was an intensive and stimulating day looking at issues of innovation - what methods are successful, what mindsets are required, and how do you bring insights from customers into the picture?

The participants were from all over the world, and many of them were working in countries other than where they grew up. Their industries ran the gamut from tech and software to oil and gas and mining, with everything in between, so it made for engaging and wide-ranging discussion.

One of the things that became clear was that companies of all sizes and types are struggling with many of the same issues around how to become more innovative and customer focused, and facing the same challenges of cultural change that are required to make address these issues most effectively. They are certainly difficult things to tackle - many a company can "luck out" with an innovation making it through the corporate bureaucracy, but it takes a cultural attitudinal shift to make this happen repeatedly if you are more used to step-wise product introductions.

Indeed, a Deloitte study from a couple of years ago revealed that executives resort to "back door" methods to foster innovations through the corporate pipeline almost 50% of the time. This type of "subterfuge" is necessary in a calcified environment, but by the same token there are often very logical reasons why that narrowing of corporate perspective has occurred, which cannot be rolled back overnight.

Thanks to IESE for collaborating with us, and thanks to my colleagues Ben Dempster (who ran and facilitated the event), Phillip Vasquez and Catherine Sun (who co-facilitated and helped with preparation).