Collecting a half-dozen engineers in a snowbound mountain cabin is a surprisingly effective way to get creative. So are Friday afternoon “break talks” with engineers lounging, connected by a video wall to coworkers in other locations. Fostering leading-edge innovation has always been top priority. Just as important in start-ups as it is for Fortune 100s.

An innovative workforce is no longer desirable for only “the few.” It is a necessity to stay relevant.

It’s not surprising that KPMG’s 2016 CEO Outlook showed that most CEOs feel the same. A significant majority indicate that they need to foster innovation in their organizations and proactively address the disruption in today’s business climate. The stakes are high.

  • Over 80% of CEOs surveyed are concerned whether their current products will be relevant to customers in three years.
  • Almost half believe their organizations will have transformed into significantly different entities by then.

That is disruption on an enormous scale. But, when every company must disrupt just to survive, disruption loses its meaning. It’s time for CEOs to aim higher, to enable their workforces to deliver creative ideas at the same time they’re “getting things done” – fast.

A create-and-do mindset gets the stuff done that helps companies grow. It improves retention, shareholder confidence and, importantly, customer satisfaction. An innovative idea is worth nothing if you don’t bring it to market and make sure it’s relevant to customers. Do is the new disrupt.

The Employee Complaint: More Mad Men than Iron Man

Most employees want to be innovative, but say they don’t have the tools and resources they need to get it done. According to Gallup, only 13% of adults feel engaged at work. That’s shocking! And even our most basic form of collaboration, meetings, works against innovation. Employees believe that 50% of meetings are wasted time – one out of two!

Forrester recently reported on the importance of the physical world in innovation. How well an employee works is impacted by their physical workspace, and employees want to be in innovative workspaces. Yet so many of the places we collaborate, like our meeting rooms, haven’t evolved in decades. Is your conference room more Mad Men than Iron Man?

Employees are of course right. Two billion of them globally use smartphones, touching them an average of 2,600 times per day as they do everything from navigating traffic to drawing to learning. The magic combination of hardware, software, and apps is our personal gateway to creating and doing. But workplace tools are not yet measuring up to this.

The Intersection of Psychology and Technology

For great products to take off, it takes the right timing of two forces coming together: psychology and technology. People need to be excited by the possibilities and the experience of using a product — the psychology. At the same time, the technology must be ready to provide an amazing experience.

A couple billion smartphone and tablet users have embraced the magical combination of hardware, software, and apps for creating and doing. I feel pretty confident in saying that the psychology was there to make the revolution happen.

That same combination has not been available for teams in the workplace. Getting it right presents an amazing opportunity to change the way we meet. And to enable an innovative workforce.

The collaboration industry has been taking small steps toward this intersection of technology and psychology for a long time. Register to watch live on January 24 as we make the leap.

Cisco Spark Event 1.24.17


OJ Winge

Senior Vice President & General Manager

Team Collaboration Group