Insights from the Swiss Innovation Forum 2016

Insights from the Swiss Innovation Forum 2016

The Swiss Innovation Forum is the main platform for creativity, design, and innovation. The theme of this year’s edition was PLAY. Speakers described how playing, whether by understanding business models, addressing a personal challenge, answering the question “now what?” or “what would be if …?”,  can help foster creativity, the food for innovation.

This year’s Swiss Innovation Forum was about the topic of PLAY. But what does playing have to do with innovation? That was the question that addressed during numerous insightful talks, of which I would like to pick-out four.

Through the story of the LEGO group, David Robertson, provided interesting insights in how disruptive and incremental innovation allow a company to navigate through the challenging waters of profitability. A key insight is that over time any company needs to reinvent itself. This reinvention may come through onboarding new technologies (from wooden toys to plastic toys), changing the product (from types to bricks, from bricks to figures), or changing the customer experience (from customers constructing toys to customer playing with toys). Throughout this evolutionary process, it is key to avoid offering variety without value. Success requires doing great things with limited resources, that is, focus on doing more with less. But the most important lesson learned from the Lego story is to


date your customer, rather than fight your competitor
David Robertson

The second talk that caught my attention was titled the best way to complain is to make something by Tina Roth Eisenberg. She provided insights in her numerous businesses ranging from a co-creation space in Brooklyn (she felt lonely working all by herself alone at home) to wipeable tattoos (she disliked the tattoos that her daughter got in one of her goodie bags). Her main message was that success requires following your heart and avoid complaining. In addition, she contended to choose wisely with whom to hang out. And fun is good.

Franz Blach, from the legendary design firm IDEO, pointed out that playing is a key enabler of creativity. Indeed it allows being agile, competitive, and innovative, three key ingredients of creativity. The focus should be to move from now to answering the question now what?. To do so, the five guidelines for creativity, that is i) calling (adhering to a guiding purpose), ii) curiosity (believing in inspiration), iii) courage (exhibiting a bias towards bravery), iv) culture (allowing for experimentation and failure), and v) connectivity (exhibiting a sense for collaboration) should be followed.

According to the chief innovation evangelist from Google, Frederik Pferdt, innovation requires putting at the center of your vision, answering the question “What would be if …?”. Questioning the status-quo is key. This can be best achieved be being open minded towards change and focusing on “yes, and …” rather than “yes, but …”.

I would like to  wrap-up this small overview of my insights gained during #SIF2016 with a quote from Nikolaj Hvid:


Innovators never fail, they only have not succeeded yet!
Nikolaj Hvid

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