By: Rob Hoehn
IdeaScale hosts a monthly podcast with innovation leaders, intrapreneurs, and other game changers out there. This past month our interviewee was Dr. Navin Kunde who currently leads the Open Innovation group at The Clorox Company, a US-based consumer goods company in the Fortune 500.
The Clorox Open Innovation group enables business leaders and innovation teams to make better decisions by helping them access and synthesize data, learn from external experts, and build partnerships. And the conversation with Dr. Kunde talked about building an innovation team, the skills you need there, the role it plays in a large organization, and more, but here were my five key takeaways:
Dr. Kunde starts the conversation with this insight: “Nobody starts out saying they’re going to work in innovation.” Most of the guests would agree with this. They are educators, students of the fine arts, compliance officers, entrepreneurs, and more. Dr. Kunde is no exception. But this well-rounded, rich history inevitably leads to some key insights that drive the discovery and storytelling that lead to a good innovation program.
Curiosity and humility play a rule in the innovation discipline. In order to find new solutions and learn more about the world, you need to nurture your curiosity. That curiosity is a super power that helps you listen to things like feedback and criticism with interest rather than with ego. Humility also plays a role, too – empowering you to always look to learn more elsewhere instead of desiring the pride of coming up with an idea on your own.
It’s not always about ideas… it’s about good decisions. In fact, that’s part of the Open Innovation group’s key deliverables: to help Clorox make better decisions. If they’re thinking about making a massive change or investing or acquiring… there’s a huge amount of research that goes into that decision. Dr. Kunde will bring in experts to help the leaders at Clorox see into some of the darker blind spots and bring them up to speed on emerging trends. Their belief is that – in the end – a good decision is an informed decision.
Great innovators need to be great storytellers. Dr. Kunde talked a lot about the power of data, but data that has no narrative also has no influence. They also are required to write project one pagers for all of their initiatives to contextualize and succinctly synthesize learnings. I believe that this skill set will continue to be more and more important for innovation leaders.
And this last one… perhaps the most important one. You can spend a lot of time in analysis. You should look at data and regard the problem from multiple perspectives, but the only way that you can bring value to an innovation program is to take action. The value comes from doing, as he says and that explains 80% of Clorox’s sales are generated from products that hold number one or number two spots for market share positions in their category
About the author
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.