Becoming a digital business requires transforming literally every aspect of your company, including the way you innovate. Because digital business breaks down boundaries between industries and markets—think Uber—innovating within the walls of your organization doesn’t work any longer.

The challenge is that for many years, companies have invested in creating first-class innovation organizations and capabilities. This has resulted in a mindset that innovation is best done within and not without. After all, when you spent millions of dollars creating a capability you are proud of, it’s hard to shift your approach.

Yet changing to a new model is exactly what’s required today. Further, this new model must stretch your boundaries beyond your organization’s four walls, compress learning from years to days, and increase expectations of what’s possible in that short timeframe.

With this in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a new hyper-innovation model to succeed in a digital world.

  • Utilize the Talent Cloud – In a digital world, you must bring together uncommon talent with a common As reported in Forbes, there are an estimated 54 million Americans freelancing. This represents approximately 34 percent of the total U.S. workforce. And because freelancing can pay better than traditional jobs, much of the top talent across multiple disciplines can be found in this group. Several organizations including the Freelancers Union and Upwork make it easy to team with the right freelancers to achieve your innovation goals. In addition to individuals, you need to innovate with partners across multiple industries. For example, if you lead innovation for a technology company that is developing a consumer product, consider all of the industries that your target customer must experience in conjunction with your solution. The list could include transportation, financial services, and retail, among others. Chill Money 2020 Picture
  • Avoid a Mirror of Your Own Creation – Effective innovation requires you to be bold and brave enough to embrace co-creation. This can be difficult for those of us who learned to protect what we create. Co-creating means giving up some of your ownership and agreeing to cooperate with other participants. But, because the sum of the whole will be greater than the parts, there will be enough for every participant to be amply rewarded, even more so than if you did it alone. It is also critical to avoid projecting your reality onto a given situation during the innovation process. Letting go of your preconceptions will help achieve a greater outcome.
  • The Art of Doing – Understanding the art of doing—not thinking—is key to successful innovation. While this may sound counter intuitive, we’ve all heard the term “analysis paralysis.” This stagnation is greatly amplified in a world that is moving so fast. “Doing” means utilizing rapid prototyping to quickly turn ideas into things that can be tested in real time with customers as an integral part of the innovation process. It also means avoiding debate about things that are illogical or based on personal opinion. Customers really do know best.
  • Work in Sprints, Not Marathons – Sprinters win the innovation race. In the Digital Vortex, where 4 out of 10 incumbents in each industry will be displaced by digital disruption in the next 5 years, there simply is no time to run innovation marathons. Highly compressed sprints of 24 to 48 hours create pressure, which becomes a valuable asset in achieving ambitious goals. Working in a compressed timeframe also helps to eliminate waste and increase efficiencies, leading to a better outcome.

Cisco has taken elements of this innovation approach to create CHILL, the Cisco Hyper-Innovation Living Labs. I will be sharing more detail about this process along with co-speaker Martin Enriquez, Sr. Director, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships for Visa at Money20/20. Our session is titled, Next Generation Innovation with CHILL – Cisco Hyper Innovation Living Labs, which takes place on Monday, October 26 at 5:10 p.m. in Las Vegas. If you are attending the event, please come see our session.


Joseph M. Bradley

Global Vice President

Digital & IoT Advanced Services