Great Tech Doesn’t Guarantee Innovation

Great Tech Doesn’t Guarantee Innovation

Throughout my career I have seen some amazing technology come to life. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the great business leaders of the 20th and 21st Centuries, witnessed their creativity and ingenuity first hand, and watched as those innovations have transformed industries across the globe. But for every success, I have seen dozens of failures. For every brilliant idea, I have seen many fall at the first hurdle – or progress, limping towards an uncertain future. I have seen many leaders also rise and fall on the back of their idea – some have been able to taste success. Others continue to search for it. And as one idea, leader, team or organization fails and falls, another rises to take its place. The momentum and energy that sustains innovation seems to readily transfer from one project to another and one person to another. It is as if the role of innovator comes with a certain yet necessary degree of amnesia. We forget the pain and heartbreak of failure on the journey towards our own success. More often than not, our successes are built on a string of smaller failures which we learn from and improve – so this idea of failing before succeeding tends to make sense to those with an innovator’s mindset. In Silicon Valley, this approach to failure has been popularized and optimized under the term “fail fast”. But in the risk averse environment that many of us operate, even failing fast can carry a negative connotation that lasts long after the project fades. Writer, Rob Asghar suggests that “failing fast”...
Take Steps to Crack the Glass Ceiling

Take Steps to Crack the Glass Ceiling

We still have some way to go before we can honestly claim to have shattered the glass ceiling. That invisible barrier between minorities and women that prevents access to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder still requires our attention and action. The Economist’s glass ceiling index for 2015 reveals that the United States ranks below the OECD average, behind Germany and Australia and well behind countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden which rank highest. The Glass Ceiling Index combines data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. It draws on data from a range of sources including the OECD, European Commission, World Economic Forum and others. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators. The interactive version of this chart allows you to see how the weightings can modify the results, showing how that a focus on specific factors can transform a whole country’s performance. You can hover over each country to delve into the figures for each country – and when we do this for the US, the data is revealing – especially when we contrast it with some of the other countries in the list. Let’s extract the data for a few countries: USA Canada Britain Finland Higher ed gap 5.0 11.3 2.2 12.9 Participation gap -11.5 -7.0 -11.4 -2.5 Wage gap 17.9 19 17.5 18.7 Exec positions 42.7 36.0 34.3 32.0 Board roles 21.2 18.3 22.6 32.1 Childcare cost 35.1 29.3 45.7 22.5 Paid maternity 0.0 8.0 11.7 14.1 GMAT exams 38.3 38.5 27.4 53.6  Women in parliament 19.3 25.2...
New Horizons

New Horizons

This week I start in a new role as Chief Product Officer, leading global product and commercialization strategy for NTT Innovation Institute (NTT i3). NTT i3 is the Silicon Valley-based open innovation and applied research and development center of NTT Group. I will lead the development and commercialization of NTT i3‘s groundbreaking platforms and solutions aimed at today’s Digital Businesses. You can read the full press release here. This is an incredibly exciting time to be stepping into this kind of role – one I see more and more leading businesses creating. We are living in a time where our lives are increasingly connected – not just in terms of people and devices, but also “things”. We used to think of these as trends, like the “internet of things” or “social networking”. But the truth is, they are now our realities. The technology that we use consciously or unconsciously shapes the way we live, not just how we live. It is this that excites me. As Srini Koushik, President and CEO at NTT i3 says: Like all major drivers for change, the interplay between technology and the evolution of human experience is complex. Just as the first human societies were shaped by their use of tools—the technology that we are inventing now is re-inventing us. This new role will be a challenging and exciting one. It will require invention and re-invention. Leadership and innovation. And I look forward to sharing my insights with you...
Women Who Lead

Women Who Lead

We hear a lot of talk about gender inequality at all levels. From the board room to the call center and everywhere in-between, we seem to have a problem. This is particularly in the technology field where qualified women are abandoning the industry in record numbers. In 2014, “big tech” got together to analyze the situation, releasing a report that showed that men outnumbered women 4:1 – or more – in their technical sectors. And we’re not talking “old skool” tech companies here – we are talking Google, Apple and Facebook. Collectively we are facing a huge challenge. Not only do we face the challenge of attracting women into the science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM), once they are there, we have trouble retaining them. It’s an issue of culture. As I have suggested previously, we need to put a STEM in STEM for Women. Laura Sherbin, director of research at the Center for Talent Innovation sums it up: It’s a really frustrating thing. The pipeline may not improve much unless women can look ahead and see it’s a valuable investment. But the news is not all bad. Monique Thorpe has created a website that showcases and celebrates the real worlds of women. There are already dozens of interviews of business owners, innovators, artists and activists. In fact, they come from all walks of life. Some of these women are early career. Some are executives. Some are following their own paths. Earlier this month I was featured as one of the women who lead. But there are plenty more. Take a few minutes to read the stories of...
The Three Ms of Mentoring

The Three Ms of Mentoring

Mentoring is one of those strange, unknowable beasts. It can be hard to do, difficult to explain, but can have enormous benefits for all involved. Both mentors and mentees find significant value in the process – but it’s more like a dance and less like a business relationship than you might imagine. And in today’s multi-level, matrixed organizations, finding just the right mentor-mentee relationship can be like finding a needle in a haystack. For women in particular, the challenge is even more complicated. Studies show that women find it more difficult to find mentors – and a LinkedIn survey of over 1000 working women indicated that 20% of women have never had a mentor at work. Over the years, I have been a mentor and have, in turn, been mentored. And I have come to realize that there are three clear elements that need to align for mentoring to be successful. I call them the “three Ms”: Match-making: In many ways, mentoring is like dating. What you are looking for is a “match” – and this goes far beyond whether you “like” someone or not. To have a successful match – on both sides of the mentoring equation – it is essential that you find someone who is actually interested in the mentoring process. If you have been matched through your work, then you might find there is just not the level of commitment you want or need. Ensure that your mentor-match has the time, focus and interest that you expect or need. Mentality: Do you know – or have heard about your mentor-match? Do you respect their experience...
Is the Digital Age Over and, If So, What “Age” are We in Now?

Is the Digital Age Over and, If So, What “Age” are We in Now?

View image | gettyimages.com In speaking with colleagues recently, the question came up as to whether or not we are now post the Digital Age and, if we are, what would we call this next wave? Some robust discussion and debate followed. One perspective is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of the Digital Age. With the Internet of Things (IOT), advancements in mobile still unrealized, eye-sensor technology that merchants now can place on shelves to assess how long a consumer is looking at product, the virtual dressing room, wearable and gesture-based technologies that are coming of age, it could appear that we still have a long way to go before calling an end to the Digital Age and the dawn of the next age. To me, the personal computer followed by the internet ushered in the “Information Age.” For the past 2 decades or so, we’ve seen amazing advancements based upon these technologies. But, today, we see that computers and the internet are more or less making improvements on the fringe within these two areas (i.e. faster computers, more memory, etc. and faster, more broadly accessible internet). The real exciting stuff, in my opinion, is the interpretation of all of the data and information being generated by computers, mobile devices, wearable technology, beacons/sensors, etc. If we are moving beyond the Digital Age, and I am not suggesting that we definitively are, then perhaps what we are moving into is the era of the Age of Insights. And, in short, it is all about the data! One can argue, for example, that companies like Nike, divesting themselves out...