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Innovation in the ‘20s: leadership is the challenge and design might be the solution - 18 Feb 2020

The roundtable took a leadership perspective to innovation in today’s turbulent times and discussed the contribution that a design-driven approach can give to leadership, featuring Roberto Verganti and Mattia Bianchi, professors at the House of Innovation and co-founders of The Garden – Center for Design and Leadership.

What are the key challenges that innovators will face in the coming decade? We argue that the next big challenge of innovation has to do with the strategic leadership of an organization, rather than its ability to solve specific problems. We live in a world where ideas, technologies, and features are extremely abundant. The key challenge for innovators today is not generating yet another brilliant idea. Instead, it’s about making sense of this abundance, finding new meaningful directions to navigate this sea of opportunities. Game-changing innovations will be those that propose a new deep meaning to individuals, connected to their fundamental needs while adapting to a world that is in constant mutation. The search for new visions and meaning is the job of leaders, therefore today the innovation challenge is very much a leadership challenge! 

However, traditional leadership models are ill-equipped to address the wicked problems in our current social and economic systems. We need new leadership principles, models, and tools and we believe that design, as a discipline, can help us develop them. The aim of the roundtable is to increase our understanding of what innovative organizations need today to succeed and to investigate the role that design (thinking and doing) can have in shaping the next generation of business leaders. Through our discussions, inputs from academic research on the topic will be shared and enriched with insights from practice, that you as a leading practitioner will provide by participating in the roundtable. We will also provide short tasks for self-analysis and reflection. 

This Breakfast Roundtable took place on 18 February 2020 and was part of the outreach program of the Jacob and Marcus Wallenberg Center for Innovative and Sustainable Business Development, and the Scania Center of Innovation and Operational Excellence, at the SSE House of Innovation.