Scott D. Anthony is a Senior Partner at Innosight. He has written eight books, including most recently Eat, Sleep, Innovate (2020), from which this piece was adapted, and Dual Transformation (2017), which describe how forward-thinking organizations can navigate disruptive change and own the future.
Scott D. Anthony
Excerpt from Scott's answer on 'What is the role of the C-Suite in empowering in-novation?'
One of the most impressive examples of innovation-driven trans-formation comes from Intuit, a financial services software company. More than a decade ago, Intuit’s founder and still active Board Chair Scott Cook set a goal with then-CEO Brad Smith of making Intuit one of the world’s most innovative companies. In 2017, Intuit achieved this goal as Fast Company named it as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in design, and, in 2019, Innosight research identified it as one of the top 20 strategic transformations of the past decade. From 2010 to 2019 its stock price increased by 25 percent a year. Intuit’s in-novation transformation was multi-faceted, of course, but there are two general lessons innovation-minded executives can take from it.
The first lesson is what Cook dubs “learning by doing, by everyone.” Leader role modelling is a staple of any kind of change management process. That can be a real challenge for leaders seeking to encourage innovation habits, because those habits are probably least familiar to them. “The top execs have to change,” Cook said in a panel discussion at an Innosight event in 2018. “It is their habits that drive the company, and it is their habits that are the barriers to change.”
Cook learned that the best way for leaders to make the transition was to get them to experience new ways of working first-hand. So Intu-it‘s top 25 leaders formed groups of three and performed foundational research on pre-determined topics, such as changes in finance in China, Artificial Intelligence, and how young people interact with computing. “The leaders in the case were actively driving the discovery process,” Cook noted. “They couldn’t delegate it. A number of them wanted to delegate to their teams because that’s what they do. But not in this case. You had to do it yourself, which means you had to be on the plane to China.”
Of course, changing 25 people doesn’t change the culture. Hence the “by everyone” part of Cook’s advice. By analogy, he described how US auto manufacturers struggled for decades to decode the famous Toyota Production System, even though Toyota happily shared its process openly and widely. “If you send one guy to see the new process,” Cook said, “and that guy gets all excited and comes back and tries to teach the other 10,000 people it never works” [
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