Innovation may seem like an overused “buzzword,” but research indicates it’s yet to lose its luster. The need for leading companies and economies to constantly reinvent themselves through new products, services and business models is an eternal demand of the marketplace.
Stern Speakers’ roster features many of the leading innovation experts of all time. Here we highlight six outstanding women who are changing the way we think about building innovative companies, designing new products, improving core social services and reorganizing our entire economic system to maximize its innovative potential.
Creating a More Innovative Economic System
Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Business School professor and author of the highly anticipated book “Reimagining Capitalism” (Hachette, 2020), argues that single-mindedly focusing on shareholder value has diverted companies’ attention from promoting long-term innovation and growth to pumping up quarterly earnings. By adopting a new framework based on sustainability, we can save our economic system and form the basis of future prosperity.
Mariana Mazzucato, author of the recent book “The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy” (Public Affairs, 2018), warns that modern capitalism operates with a warped sense of value which prioritizes extraction over creation. Her prescription is for business and government to work constructively in public/private partnerships that ensure a decent return on the latter’s investment, to the long-term benefit of the former.
How to Build Innovative Companies
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, one of the 50 most powerful women in the world, published “Men and Women of the Corporation” (her first book) more than four decades ago, and has been at the forefront of trends in the business world ever since. An expert on corporate leadership and culture, Kanter specializes in advising leaders on turnarounds and managing change during times of turbulence.
Designing Innovative Products
How do some innovators manage to disrupt and transform entire markets through a single invention? The key, says Harvard Professor Beth Altringer, is to understand the power of design and desire. Altringer, who will be unveiling her new app Chef League at SXSW 2019, uses her revolutionary “Desirability Framework” to help companies move beyond the surface level of product development to understand who their target consumer is and what he or she really wants – even if the consumers do not know themselves.
Using Innovation to Improve the World
Innovation can do more than improve corporations’ bottom lines. It can also expand prosperity and opportunity for millions by increasing affordability and accessibility. Ann Christensen, president of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, focuses on how companies can find ways to reform under-performing health and education systems throughout the world. She helps them harness innovation for a wider social purpose, while offering insights on how to pursue growth through market disruption.
While innovation and disruption have upended nearly every industry, there remains one where competition is suppressed and stagnation is celebrated as a sign of health: politics. For this last frontier of innovation, Katherine Gehl proposes a radical shakeup in her groundbreaking work with renowned strategy expert Michael E. Porter on the topic of disrupting the politics industry. As the U.S. struggles with gridlock, dysfunction and a political system that only benefits insiders, Gehl’s work applying business innovation theory to the way the government is chosen and run will become increasingly relevant and crucial.
Innovation has been on the mind of business leaders for a long time now, but it will only become more important as change and uncertainty accelerate. With the expertise of these six women, discover what awaits your company in the future – and how to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of ongoing transformation.