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13 Innovation Ideas from Executive Spring Summit

Last week, we hosted an Executive Spring Summit together with Boston Consulting Group, the first of its kind. We invited C-level executives to learn and network around the topics of imagination and innovation.

With keynotes by Martin Reeves, Chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, and Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, the chairperson of several large companies, we explored how leaders can enhance innovation in their organizations. To dive deeper into the topic, Martin and Sanna were joined in a panel discussion by Tero Ojanperä, who provided concrete examples of how AI can play a role in this process.

Here, we share 13 actionable insights from the summit:

Boost Imagination

1. Identify and Explore Unexpected Opportunities

“One of the key things is a focus on surprise—in other words, a focus on the things that don’t fit your mental model or your historic business model in the external environment.” – Martin Reeves

2. Focus on Anomalies rather than Averages

“I forbid looking at averages. Averages are for those who don’t really wanna understand what’s happening.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

3. Regularly Rotate Leadership Roles to Bring in Fresh Perspectives

“I’m a big believer in rotation. I believe in giving young people chances and putting them into difficult places with a great help of some carrying over. They will come with brilliant ideas because they haven’t yet gotten too security driven.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

Foster an Innovative Culture

4. Encourage Development and Testing of New Concepts

“It’s not just an issue of validation—it’s an issue of colliding an idea with reality to create even more surprises and even more clues as to where the future may lay.” – Martin Reeves

5. Promote a Culture of Continuous Improvement

“Sometimes we see innovation as something radical—you try to find this one brilliant magical thing. Instead, you should look at the organization and ways of working for incremental improvement in all areas. I believe that if you do that, then even the big ideas will come.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

6. Don’t Take Success for Granted

“There are two characteristics I saw in companies that are able to reimagine themselves. One is external orientation, which is to stay in contact with the outside world, not only focus on the internal reality. And the other one is not to take their success for granted.” – Martin Reeves

7. Foster Open Communication and Embrace Failures

“One of the biggest issues I see organizations face is this lack of trust, lack of daring, to share also the things that fail. And it’s important that you do that, because that’s the only way you can learn.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

Embed Innovation to Strategy

8. Make Innovation a Recurring Item on the Board’s Agenda

“Any chair should require innovation on the yearly board planning.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

9. Dedicate enough Time and Budget to Future-Focused Activities

“I tend to say you have to always put at least 10% of your time and budget into the future.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

10. Leverage the Board for Strategic Input on Ideas

“I don’t think you should do workshops or any kind of creative workshops with the board. But let’s say you have 10 different ideas, you can use the board as a sounding board for defining these ideas.” – Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae

Bring AI into Your Action

11. Invest Significantly in Technology to Stay Competitive

“Technology is the biggest transformative force. And if we look at the Nordic companies, and especially Finnish companies, there have been studies that show that we are underinvesting in technology.” – Tero Ojanperä

12. Ask AI for Alternative Courses of Action

“One of the challenges that leaders have is that there are no alternative paths—they believe in one truth. And there, AI can help you create these alternative paths. If you have an analysis done, you could easily throw that into a model and ask ‘Hey, can you propose a course of action here?’” – Tero Ojanperä

13. Use AI to Assist in Decision-making

“Use additional prompts to get good ideas and then work on those with your own imagination. I think that’s ideal: the human-machine combination. I believe that AI is here to stay as a working partner.” – Tero Ojanperä


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