Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building Connected Networks in the 21st Century: Start-ups & Partnerships (Roche/Genentech)

This Learning Lab was presented at the Back End of Innovation 2014 Conference, by Ayelet Baron, Futurist, Simplifying Work and Innovator in Residence, Roche/Genentech.

Ayelet helps people thrive – she is a global strategist who speaks, writes and consults people and organizations to gain a 21st century edge. Today Ayelet is at the forefront of fixing what’s broken in business and transforming organizations. Ayelet is an Innovator in Residence with Roche’s Product Development Strategic Innovation team.

This talk started with another conference leitmotif: get out of your work building and go into the world.  The team she is working with at Roche have started a program called “Get Out of the Building” as a way to not only get exposed to new ideas but also to build new relationships.

Ayelet shared that she recently went into the Ecuadorian jungle to learn from the Achuar community. All aspects of their culture reflect spirituality oriented around dreams and visions. Each morning finds tribe members sharing dreams and interpretations. This was a wake up call for Ayelet. Honor your dreams, both your literal and figurative dreams.

Imagine if you could dream the future. You can, she says.

Many people and organizations are still stuck with archaic, 20th century practices. Scarcity is the mindset of the recent past--and this shadow is still cast over today. Remember, she says, "cookie cutters work only when we are baking." We need to understand our culture and know what will and won’t work and not try to follow someone else’s playbook. Every culture is unique.

One constant in our world is change. Therefore, let's not manage change; let's embrace it. We need to be more agile and better integrate the world into our businesses.

21st Century: abundance. We live in a world of opportunity and possibilities and the organizations that will thrive will be the ones creating new markets instead of those focused on taking market share away from their competitors.

Healthcare shows this category-swapping sense of abundance. Who would have guessed that Disney, Nike, Google, and Apple would have been in the healthcare space? Perhaps how we define Industries will change.

"What is exciting about the 21st Century is that you don't have to take away something from someone else to create," says Baron. Abundance comes from experimentation, risk taking, disruptive innovations, partnerships, and conscious leaders.

One shortage we will face in the future of work is talent. Therefore, the next generation working model may be network-based, a nodal system of partners that come together over projects. Tapping into internal and external talent and intelligence is key, especially when 40% of the US workforce becomes contingent in 11 years.

How we engage changes, too. In the 20th Century we have meetings, in the 21st Century we have conversations. We connect with each other over conversations so we can co-create and innovate.

The last point: work-life balance is a myth. In the emerging model think Life-Work. Life fits into work. Questions like What's your virtual policy? What kind of mobile devices are supported? Can I work from home one day a week?

Welcome to abundance. It's yours if you want it. After all, life is about relationships and getting to know people. Relationships are the gold worth mining in this era, a community or "connected network."

The goal is to become a connected network inside and outside of organizational boundaries. The method is empathy and the ability to understand patient’s points of view, for example. We need to think beyond our current structure and listen to the people in our expanding network.

Roche is applying Design Thinking and empathy with its clinical trials and role-playing. Their experiments with co-creation patients, payers, doctors, and caregivers. Their Innovation Advisory Board helps bring together their connected network to have conversations and solve issues.

So, what can you do?

·       Connect with an innovator
·       Remove silos
·       Introduce your networks and get out of the way
·       Work out loud
·       Take risks
·       Listen, have conversations
·       Get outside your comfort zone
·       ____________________ add one here from your experience. 


Ayelet ended the provocative talk by encouraging leaders to lead from the edge, to look through the eyes of abundance. Connect and prosper. Dream.   

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