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60 Leaders on Innovation — Preface

Corporate innovation is not easy. While most of companies out there claim to be innovative, it is only a minority of them that are able to systematically create value through their novel products, services, or business models.

George Krasadakis
60 Leaders
Published in
6 min readNov 26, 2023

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There are companies that only scratch the surface of innovation — they focus on ‘appearing innovative’ — while others try hard to foster innovation but with no success. In practice, even the most expensive, well-thought innovation programs and sophisticated innovation labs often fail to produce real innovation outcomes. Considering that there are plenty of ‘tested’ and ‘proven’ methods and recipes for innovation, this leads to an interesting quest for the missing element that prevents companies from becoming truly innovative.

Reflecting on my experience across various multinationals, technology startups, and big tech companies, I would argue that the single most important success factor of corporate innovation is a vivid environment characterized by ‘diversity of thought’ and a special ‘discovery mode’.

In such an environment there is both plurality of ideas — coming from all directions and across the hierarchy — and the readiness to exploit them — the ability to consider novel ideas as drivers of business success. The former requires inspired, capable people who believe in the organizational purpose and engage ‘naturally’ with innovation activities. The latter requires the right innovation capabilities along with a special leadership style that supports a continual ‘opportunity discovery’ function. Such a business setup inspires creative minds across the hierarchy of the organization — it brings together scientists, domain experts, technologists, and business leaders as a single force, a cross-disciplinary team that works and innovates ‘naturally’ towards big, meaningful organizational objectives.

This principle of ‘diversity of thought’ was precisely the source of inspiration for producing this very special book. I envisioned ’60 Leaders on Innovation’ as a synthesis of expert views against a fixed set of ‘tough’ innovation questions — answered not by a single ‘innovation authority’, but by active leaders across disciplines, industries, and geographies. Interestingly, these perspectives are not always in perfect agreement or alignment — and this is the beauty of this initiative.

The book is organized into 22 chapters. Each chapter presents one question and multiple answers reflecting a variety of backgrounds and standpoints. Some of the questions focus on the characteristics of innovative companies — for example, we asked our leaders ‘What makes a company innovative?’ or ‘How is innovation different in the startup world?’

Other questions target the essential innovation methods and digital tools, the skills that aspiring innovators need to have, the role of business experimentation, and the interlink of agile product development and innovation. We also asked questions about the role of the C-Suite in empowering innovation, the importance of a strong innovation culture, and how a community of innovators could play a role in a corporate environment.

We challenged the need for a Chief Innovation Officer, and we unpacked one of the most popular business buzzwords of our time: ‘Digital Transformation’. Finally, we looked at the future and asked how innovation can help humanity solve the big problems of our time.

This book brings together unique insights and ‘practical wisdom’ on corporate innovation. I am extremely grateful to the 60 leaders — the amazing group of academics, business leaders, technologists, investors and start-up founders who made this ‘crazy idea’ a reality. I am also grateful to Robin Nessensohn, my partner in this project, who believed in this idea and committed to making it happen; and to Coy Chen for creating the cover of the book and assisting in setting up some visual aspects. A project made of pure passion for innovation from 63 people across the globe.

This book is ‘connected’: you are welcome to join the discussion and participate in the ongoing exchange of thoughts through our innovation group on LinkedIn — where you may share your thoughts and ask any question regarding innovation.

July 2021

Dublin, Ireland

George Krasadakis

Author of ‘The Innovation Mode

Contributing Authors

Adi Mazor Kario, Adrián Heredia Iglesias, Alex Adamopoulos, Alex Farcet, Alf Rehn, Andrea Kates, Anthony Mills, Brian Kennedy, Carlo Rivis, Carlos Oliveira, Charlie Widdows, Christos Dimas, Cris Beswick, Daniel Burrus, David Blake, Davide Matteo Falasconi, Dermot Roche, Dimitris Livas, Diane Hamilton, Marily Nika, Dragana Vukasinovic, Enrico Gentili, Enrique Dans, Eric Martin, Erik Schumb, Evangelos Simoudis, Fabrizio Ferrandina, François Candelon, Frederic Laluyaux, Ger Perdisatt, Gijs Van Wulfen, Isaac Sacolick, Jesse Nieminen, Joe doyle, Johanna Rothman, Jonathan Rose, Jonne Kuyt, Kelly Dawson, Lisa Seacat DeLuca, Maria Paula Oliveira, Marica Labrou, Mark Settle, Mathew (Mat) Hughes, Michael Stephen Crickmore, Misha de Sterke, Narjeet Singh Soni, Niko Bonatsos, Patrick Van der Pijl, Pedro Costa , Peter Hoeller, Ralf Wilden, Richard Turrin, Rosemarie Diegnan, Scott D. Anthony, Sofia Fernandes, Steven O’Kennedy, Tom Goodwin, Tony Ulwick, Vincent Pirenne, Warwick Peel.

Cover and Visual Design by Coy Chen.

Further reading

1. Accelerate — John Kotter (2014)

2. Building a Culture of Innovation: A Practical Framework for Placing Innovation at the Core of Your Business — Cris Beswick, Derek Bishop, Jo Geraghty

3. Business Model Generation — Alexander Osterwalder Yves Pigneur (2010)

4. Collaboration Explained — Jean Tabaka (2006)

5. Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential — Diane Hamilton (2019)

6. Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver — Johanna Rothman (2017)

7. Creating Innovative Products and Services: The FORTH Innovation Method, Gijs van Wulfen (2016)

8. Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation Paperback –Patrick Van Der Pijl, Justin Lokitz, Lisa Kay Solomon, Erik van der Pluijm, Maarten van Lieshout (2016)

9. Designing for Growth — Jeanne Liedtka, Tim Ogilvie (2011)

10. Digital Darwinism: Survival of the Fittest in the Age of Business Disruption (Kogan Page Inspire) — Tom Goodwin (2018)

11. Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology — Isaac Sacolick (2017)

12. Eat, Sleep, Innovate: How to Make Creativity an Everyday Habit Inside Your Organization — Scott D. Anthony (2020)

13. Effectuation elements of entrepreneurial expertise — Saras D. Sarasvathy (2008)

14. Flash Foresight — Daniel Burrus (2011)

15. Flash Foresight: See the Invisible to Do the Impossible — Daniel Burrus (Author), John David Mann (2011)

16. GInI Enterprise Innovation Architecture

17. How to take the measure of innovation, McKinsey & Company, Podcast — Guttorm Aase, Sri Swaminathan, Sean Brown & Erik Roth (October 8, 2018)

18. Innovation for the Fatigued: How to Build a Culture of Deep Creativity (Kogan Page Inspire) — Alf Rehn

19. Innovation Lab Excellence: Digital Transformation from Within — Richard Turrin (2019)

20. Innovator’s Dilemma — Clayton Christensen (2011)

21. Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice — Tony Ulwick (2016)

22. Oslo Manual 2018 — Guidelines for Collecting, Reporting and Using Data on Innovation, 4th Edition — OECD (2018)

23. Secrets of success for family businesses in the new era — Marica Labrou

24. Taking the measure of innovation, McKinsey Quarterly — Guttorm Aase, Sri Swaminathan & Erik Roth (April 20, 2018)

25. Testing Business Ideas — Alexander Osterwalder, David Bland (2019)

26. The 10x Growth Machine: How Established Companies Create New Waves of Growth, Misha De Sterke (2019)

27. The affordable loss principle — Nicholas Dew, Saras D. Sarasvathy (2009)

28. The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage — Daniel Burrus (2017)

29. The Big Data Opportunity in our Driverless Future Paperback, Evangelos Simoudis (2017)

30. The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete and Succeed — David Blake, Kelly Palmer (2018)

31. The Goal — Eliyahu Goldratt (1984)

32. The Innovation Mode: How to Transform Your Organization into an Innovation Powerhouse — George Krasadakis (2020)

33. The Other Side of Growth: An Innovator’s Responsibilities in an Emerging World — GInI Global Innovation Institute (2020)

34. The Phoenix Project — Gene Kim (2013)

35. The Real Startup Book: Find the Right Product for the Right Customers — Kromatic (n.d.)

36. Truth from the Valley: A Practical Primer on Future IT Management Trends — Mark Settle (2020)

37. What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Services — Tony Ulwick (2005)

38. Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies — Cesar Hidalgo (2015)

39. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future — Peter Thiel (2014)

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George Krasadakis
60 Leaders

Technology & Product Director - Corporate Innovation - Data & Artificial Intelligence. Author of https://theinnovationmode.com/ Opinions and views are my own