I’m very excited to report my film, Fly Me to the Moon, which was created to show the results of my research at Sibos has been nominated for a Most Important Futures Work by the Association of Professional Futurists (disclaimer: I am a member of the APF). This is a huge honor and as you can see by the competition is very high with Nassim Tableb’s Black Swan, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Jane McGonigal’s online game, Evoke. You can click through to see the other nominations. You can watch the video below, which was proudly shot and produced in West Hollywood, California, USA.
As Kosta Peric @copernicc (Head of Innovation, SWIFT) already wrote in the previous blog, Innotribe took part in SOFE2011 in London.
Innovation was a big topic throughout this event, as the main debate revolved around the dilemma between agility and operational excellence. Or, how do you manage risk, and implement changes, while maintaining the ‘5 nines’ of operational availability (99,999%)?
Kosta introduced the ‘Castle and the Sandbox‘ metaphor, to illustrate how we go about this challenge at Swift.
We all know the castle well enough, so that’s why we thought it would be a good idea to take a bus full of conference participants to have a closer look at an example of a sandbox.
One of our Innovation plenary speakers: Tony Fish has founded the InnovationWarehouse (www.theIW.org) @IWuk, it is the perfect example of what we envision as a sandbox, or incubator as we call it at Swift.
It’s a space where people with ideas find a place ‘to play’, to hatch their ideas, surrounded with the kind of support they need: meeting room facilities, office space, IT services, and like-minded people.
Of all days, we planned this bus trip through London onthe same day the public sector organised a massive strike and rallies in the city!
We decided to take a chance, and played the odds…
And it was very well proved it was a crazy idea after all! What was supposed to be a 10 – 15 minute drive, turned out much longer. So, after an hour of being stuck in traffic, we decided to pull over and walk the remaining distance.
I must say I hardly saw happier faces that week, than those of the 45 people being released from the bus into the open air 🙂
Once we arrived at the InnovationWarehouse, our host of the day, Tony Fish, introduced us to the innovators, the ‘obsessive problem solvers’ as he calls them:
Startup Intelligence – a business intelligence firm which identifies the fastest-growing companies in any region or sector.
Hipsnip – a personal shopping app to get you shopping advice and recommendations before you buy.
Worldlink Data – the home of real-time mobile applications.
This was Tony’s personal illustration of the ‘3Ps of Innovation’: Patience, Perseverence and Passion.
Dreamyume – a social network for exploring, understanding and connecting people through dreams and the subconscious using new Artifical Intelligence (AI) technology.
Digital Shadows – a cyber-security company focused on protecting organisations and individuals from targeted cyber attack.
After listening to their pitches, and seeing the stars twinkling in their eyes, we were invited to have a look inside the heart of the InnovationWarehouse, a zone referred to as ‘the hive’. This was the moment when people could have a relaxed chat with the entrepreneurs present.
Some took the opportunity, others wandered off and checked their mails and phone-calls, even others took the time to socialise with other SOFE participants.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking, and I was tasked to get these people back to the Park Plaza by 2 o’ clock, and preferably not on an empty stomach! But when worse things come to worst, a team pulls together; Kosta and Julie Cannock from Swift’s London office had arranged for pizzas. Within no time all the food was gone, the drinks were drunk, and on the bus we went, heading back.
Luckily the trip back to the conference centre went much quicker. However, we still were running late, and soon enough it became obvious that we wouldn’t make it back on time…
Finally, we arrived at 2.15pm at the hotel, only to find that there had been a fire alarm, so we couldn’t enter the building and all afternoon SOFE sessions were delayed. And that’s how we arrived on time after all…
All’s well that ends well!
Coincidence? You think?..
The recent SWIFT Operational Forum Europe (SOFE) ran an Innotribe stream on this – difficult – topic. Innovation in startup companies is a given, it is their nature. So how do we recreate this second nature in established companies?
The central idea that emerged is one of that we called the “Castle and the Sandbox”.
Consider the core business of your well established company as “the Castle”.
The castle is solid, with thick walls, long lived. As is your core business. But the castle is not very agile. The goal of the people in the castle is to make sure the castle serves its purpose – they are focused on optimizing, not innovating.
What do you think happens to this person when she talks to the people in the castle?
Usually, the castle people will not be very friendly to this person. IN fact – the more unfriendly the more her idea is disruptive. They might pour burning oil on her!!
“Large, well established companies face a number of inherent structural disadvantages when trying to pursue blue sky business ideas” – said Anthemis Group‘s Sean Park and Udayan Goyal. Anthemis Group is a specialist investment and holding company, focusing on joint ventures at the intersection of markets, finance and technology. One of the recent and notable investments of the group is Bank Simple (recently renamed to just Simple).
This is true of established companies, but also of larger communities such as financial services. Of course Innotribe knows that. The UK Government as well: Dr. Chris Sear, of the Financial Services Knowledge Transfer Network, explained how this organization, sponsored by UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board, uses the open innovation approach to foster innovation in the entire sector. We in Innotribe are ourselves absolute believers in open innovation as our key principle. But Chris also explained that when ideas are there, it is not granted that anybody will do anything with them! There’s a castle in the industry as well!
So: if the castle is not the most suitable place for innovation, where should it be? If you go back to when you where a child, where was it that you could play, experiment and do all sorts of crazy things?
The sandbox of course!
I introduced the idea of the “incubator” – a protected place where people with ideas can “play”, or to try out their ideas, without impacting the castle. Very much like the sandboxes of our childhoods. The incubator is the place where you can try, experiment, fail, try again, fail again, and eventually learn and succeed. The key ingredients for innovation.
Innotribe runs an incubator – for SWIFT and also for the financial community. I explained this program, which is funded, located in a particular place, supported by specialists and experimented people available to coach intra-preneurs from SWIFT and entrepreneurs from the financial industry. If you are interested by the Innotribe incubator or you think you have an idea that could be a candidate for incubation, please see this link.
Udi and Sean presented as well their approach to incubation, called “strategic venture acceleration” – the idea is to create a “Newco”, a venture between and established company and Anthemis Group, and drive this venture through a 3 step process extending over about a year, with a view of a clear “go/no go” outcome. They said this approach provides a way to incubate blue sky and disruptive ideas with a minimal financial risk to the investors.
Preparing for this session, the Innotribe team was thinking on how to illustrate an incubator for the audience – how to make it real for them? That’s where I thought about the Innovation Warehouse in London (www.theiw.org). Our friend Tony Fish, a big supporter of Innotribe, invited me earlier this year to see this place, where young (and less young 🙂 ) entrepreneurs can come for office space, advice, fellow startup support. A no frills place with very little hierarchy and administration, and full of people with sparks in their eyes and passion. So we took some 45 of SOFE participants in a bus and went to the Innovation Warehouse. I could see some were kind of overwhelmed, some were impressed, and some were … getting down to business!
I’m a big admirer of Tony – a very very successful entrepreneur. But on top of that, he impressed me so much when he explained how being a co-founder of this place was his way of “giving back”. #respect
We also ran a number of workshops with SOFE participants, including the big finale one where we asked them to build their own incubator. Here is the result – and I can certainly say we learned a lot but also had fun!!!
(cross-posted on @copernicc’s blog. Drawings by @copernicc)
This work by Kosta Peric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.