Byte The Future

Jonathan Rivers:

thank you for coming to hear my insane ramblings on innovation labs and why they fail

I argue with myself whether innovation labs are a bigger waste of time or money, and I decided it was time

I've been there at the beginning with excitement, and at the end where there is a smoking crater where your lab used to be

Innovation is a filler word that means something else that we don't quite have a grasp on

I think about my heroes - the leaders of the open source movement like Torvalds and Stallman

they made people free to develop without being on a corporate roadmap

Linus said "anybody can innovate. Don't do the big Think Different, 99% is getting the work done"

I define innovation as translating an idea into a good or service that creates value or that customers will pay for

at 3pillar I inherited an innovation lab, and I shut it down. When I am an executive it was really easy to do

but personally it as sad as it was the most interesting meeting of the week as I talked to smart people about ideas

Innovation Theater - all the fancy gadgets in the lab to look cool - a MS surface table, a 3d printer for some reason

there is more innovation in a stack of post-its than in a room full of fancy gadgets

Success for too many people is when the lab puts out incremental 5% improvements - product teams should be doing that

the senior execs need to own and be responsible for the output of the lab.

you need to be hiring everyone for innovation and transformation, not just those in the labs

Vision and strategy - how is your lab's startegy connected to your business's strategy?

Vision and strategy: you need to be clear and purposeful about what the lab is supposed to be doing

Vision and strategy - how is the lab going to deliver in time and impact?

Vision and strategy - what support do you need to make the magic happen? Is it scraps left over, or is it business funding

it's not just money it's resources -access to markets, access to your customers to get the information they need

Vision and strategy - google glass versus snapchat is an interesting case

Google glass- walking down the street surfing the internet. How is that connected to an advertising business?

snapchat glasses are in complete alignment with the business - a new form of storytelling that fits their business

snapchat glasses take away a barrier, and makes it easier to create content for their core business

Real versus vanity mertrics: we were setting up a new service but hadn't thought about metrics

our metric was "create 3 new product lines" not "create valuable products" and although we hit ti, it was a fail

the goods or services from the lab need to be absorbed back into the business - which causes Power politics

I have seen more Game of Thrones stuff over new products because execs fighting over KPIs keep projects out of production

turning a prototype into production matters - if it doesn't hit production it doesn't count

labs don't fail because we don't have smart enough people, but because we don't run it as a business

we need to do the work, not have labs as playgrounds for technologists

Jora Gill:

how many of you are involved in technology? 80% hm, so is technology getting in the way of innovation? No.

here's a graph of computing power in MIPS/$1000 - currently about the level of a spider

give then moores law growth, the best thing you can do is do nothing for 3 years and wait for technology to improve

1 guy: our data centre is old, and wants $75m to upgrade it, vs we have overcapacity in our data centre, can we sell it?

back in the 1990s we had the Y2k problem, which was the birth of offshoring

technology was seen asa cost, so we would outsource it to india and make everyone happy

by treating tech as a cost, it created a reactive workforce worrying about costs first

now, Agile, failing fast, big data, microservices are reactive because they are fashions everyone is doing

copying what other people are doing is imitation, not innovation

instead of Uber or Airbnb, lets talk about CVS - they used to sell tobacco, but decided it was against their values

if you are aligned with your purpose, customers will recognise that and be more aligned with you

the jackass fallacy: hit the donkey, donkey moves, work gets done

Tel Aviv University did an experiment: people whose tests were looked at rather than shredded worked longer and harder

Metro Bank opened in 2010 - the gap was that the big banks take customers for granted

purpose hase to involve stakeholders, not just shareholders

Ethics and values need to be at the center of the company's purpose

we need conflict to grow, but conflict from a crtiical friend or trusted advisor

Philip Black:

I'm Philip Black from Emergn and I want to talk about innovation acceleration- - I want to recap Jon's talk

Jon said Innovation is hard - companies doing innovation labs things, creating videos+lide decks, but don't build things

in the early 2000s, BT was doing a big transformation - the 21st century network, making it all IP inside

there was a process invented called hothousing - put the ceo, team and customers in a room for 3 days and build something

hothouses weren't a separate lab, they were part of the business process

at emergn we do this same process for other companies, such as walmart last year

Josh Hart:

biggest blockers to innovation are people, ego, politics - used to doing things a certain way and don't want to change

if you highlight that people will acquire skills to improve themselves it helps fight this

Asitha Rodrigo:

innovation is taken as a throwaway thing, but it is really hard work, and it needs to be tied into culture to work

if all the innovative ideas are published, the ROI is about 0.1%, as most of them will fail.

Jora Gill:

nobody really knows what innovation is - it's about what models we have to think about

in manchaester, bradford in the 19th century when they discovered electricity, for 20 years productivity flatlined

it was only when they changed practices rather than using old models that productivity took off

having existing corporate structures can be at odds with innovation compared to a startup's cross-functional teams

Josh Hart:

a spark fo magic is needed to come up with ideas, but we can use a good process to prioritise and track them too

a challenge can be is that you forget the paths that failed so you end up retrying them again

Asitha Rodrigo:

I think the informed accident model of innovation works better than the supposed scientific method

most innovations are happy accidents that work out - having a long list of innovations that you prioritise can kill it

Jora Gill:

most people don't believe in their company's mission statement, or even remember it. Purpose needs to be simpler

when google floated, Brin said that they would experiment and make mistakes, not always grow. That did set purpose

people are so focused on the politics of the organisation that they forget the customers

CEOs want their technology department to be the centre of innovation, but they don't know how to convey it

John O'Donovan:

I want to talk about "Learning to Listen" - we all think we're listening to customers, but we don't always do it

the media industry is being disrupted - it is an overused word, but people do not buy newspapers any more

newspapers didn't know who the customer was, they just threw paper at them

The WSJ website looked like the paper, but it always did have a digital paywall

but with the website the WSJ still told you what was important and expected you to listen

we used to be obsessed with traffic not revenue. now its not how many people read my story, but how many people signed up

wsj moved from advertising at the core to subscription at the core

we found a lot of people shared articles from the WSJ to show hat they were smart enough to read it

our paywall was an opportunity - 40%-50% was free; section editors would decide what was free

success was measured by eyeballs, subscription conversion was a secondary KPI

we did work to understand our customers and what made them pay to subscribe

we identified 6 segments in readership - print traditionalists, conservative retirees, mobile movers etc.

we separately profiled the advertising readers and piped it into our paywall machine

we then had to decide how to open the paywall to maintain reach but keep conversion

old systems weren't necessarily built badly, but were built for a different purpose than we have now

first we wrapped an api round our old platform, then built a sidecar next to it, then an api around both

once we understood our data we reduced the steps to subscribe

we used to have a pitcure of our editor in the subscribe process, and it improved when we took it out.

we needed to model the customer and make dynamic subscription offers in real time

the decision between what is free and what is paid is no longer for newsroom editors, but for the machines

Data debt is one of the worst problems - everyone had a different view of it

we had to agree on a single customer view, so we could discuss across teams

Laurence O'Rourke:

The Rosetta mission started 20 years ago - the hardware was built in the late 1990s and launched in 2004

after 10 years of travel in space we had to innovate in how to steer using these old rockets

we built the spacecraft in Holland, operated in in Germany, and now we're in ESAC near Madrid

the solar system formed 4.5B years ago, with the planets clearing their orbits of dust and gas, comets were left over

there are 2 belts of comets outside our solar system - the Kuipe Belt and Oort cloud wiht billions of comets in

Asteroids are big rocks, or metal chunks, comets are smaller and are made of snow and dirt - like a dirty snowman

as the comet comes close to the sun, the ice melts and the dust streams outside as a tail

Rosetta weighed 3 tons, with about 2 tons of that being fuel, with solar panels as wide as a 767s wingspan

Rosetta flew past the earth 3 times and mars once, and then past asteroids Steins and Lutetia

Rosetta arrived at the comet 6 August 2014, before it had a tail, so we could land on it

we thought that the biggest problem flying around the comet would be gas, but it was dust

comet gases smell of rotten eggs H₂S, Horse manure NH₃ and other bad smells

we see explosions of gas coming off the comet as it heats and rotates, pushing out ice boulders and dust