Davide Falasconi has a wide international career in strategic transformations, inno-vation, and digitization, being a manager, advisor, and start-up investor. He worked at Pirelli, McKinsey, and recently in the Public Sector. Davide holds MSc and BSc in Engineering and MBA at LBS.
Chief Innovation Officer
Italian Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition
What are the essential roles, and skills in a truly innovative environment?
Former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt said that we are in the world of combinatorial innovation, which is the process of creating innovation from combining new or existing ideas, services, and products. This concept can help in differentiating between the two typical characters in innovation: the inventor and the innovator.
The inventor is focused on leveraging own knowledge, research, and expertise to create totally novel ideas, solutions that could be even patented. The primary goal of the innovator though is to develop and disseminate solutions that create impact – by combining and applying existing knowledge and inventions from others. Thus, being an innovator means having robust technical skills (to be able to foster the development of new solutions and to talk to inventors) and extraordinarily strong emotional intelligence. Communication skills are also paramount to support an innovation opportunity being shaped (the problem), developed (the invention), successfully understood, and adopted (the communication).
Lastly, the ability to leverage project management methods and tools is another differentiating factor – as this allows innovators to structure and smoothly combine different sources of innovation. The same can be applied to a company: a structured portfolio management (e.g., funneling) and project management approach is critical for any company that aims at fostering innovation. For instance, companies can set a specialized function that operates as an innovation factory with a ‘dream team’ (for instance to develop machine learning use cases and modules). Typically, the dream team includes people who can talk with potential customers, understand customer needs (business experts), de-fine and build solutions (solution engineers), think laterally (inventors), communicate the solution (marketers), testing with users, and setting up the "iterate & adapt" process: listen, create, test, select, communicate and again [...]
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