212. Fostering Innovation Within Organizations feat. Safi Bahcall

unSILOed with Greg LaBlanc

Nov 16 2022 • 50 mins

Innovation is a crucial part for organizations to stay ahead of their competitors, adapt to changing circumstances in the environment and create long-lasting businesses. Yet, many big corporations eventually stagnate and become obsolete while a lot of groundbreaking ideas come from small companies.

Safi Bahcall is a second-generation physicist, a biotech entrepreneur, former public-company CEO and author of the highly acclaimed book “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries”.

Safi advises CEOs and leadership teams on strategy and innovation, and has delivered keynote presentations at industry conferences, investor events, leadership retreats, medical meetings, and leading academic institutions around the world.

Greg and Safi discuss how organizations can borrow from science to implement systems and incentives that nurture innovation, risk-taking and experimenting which ultimately lead to radical breakthroughs.

Episode Quotes:

Having a chief incentive officer will help you grow your organizational scale

49:29: You have a chief revenue officer whose role is strategic, given a marketing budget. How many dollars can we make? You have a chief technology officer whose role is strategic, given a fixed technology budget. How do we ensure the optimum technology use across the organization? Why don't you have a chief incentive officer? You have a fixed compensation. You try to stick within a fixed budget of cash and options. Why aren't you trying to have someone who's focused on maximizing the return that you get from that? It's pretty obvious. Which would you rather have, a force that has the latest smartphone gadgets or a force that's the most motivated in the industry? I'd rather have the latter.

On increasing innovation

10:38: If we want to increase innovation, risk-taking, and experimenting, we can't use the same systems. We have to use an opposite system, metrics, and rewards.

Two helpful frameworks for every CEO

08:19: It's a helpful framework to keep in mind if you're a CEO that addresses real-world topics or leading a group, or even managing a small team; you need to have two phases in your mind. One, we just need to deliver stuff on time, budget and spec consistently with quality to our customers. The other, we need to think of wild, crazy, new ideas on the one we're reducing risk on the one we're increasing risk.

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