Innovation – ignore it at your peril

Author: Rob Shelton, Global Innovation Strategy Lead

Take 1,600 senior executives and thought leaders from around the world, focus them on growth Rob Sheltonand innovation for three days, and you get some amazing insights. That’s what happened at the World Economic Forum’s Summer Davos, The Innovation Imperative, held September 11-13 in Dalian, China.

I led some exciting discussions regarding breakthrough innovations at the event and contributed to a wide range of sessions on different aspects of growth and innovation. One thing became clear; around the world, executives are changing the way their company innovates including shifts in the innovation strategy, portfolio, partnerships, and processes. Companies are adjusting their culture and governance to create sustained levels of breakthroughs.

But I heard a disturbing comment at one point: “If you don’t innovate, death will find your company. If you do innovate, you’re chasing death.” This mindset causes paralysis. If you believe it, there’s no way to win - but losing is inevitable. Not only is this a defeatist attitude, but we’ve got recent data that disproves the logic.

We released the results of our Global Innovation Survey at Summer Davos, based on 1,757 interviews with executives in 25 countries and across 30 sectors. The survey confirms the transformation is underway.  Executives are already seeing higher growth and expect even higher growth in the future as a result of their innovation efforts. In fact, the top 20% of innovators in our survey are expecting three times the growth of the laggards over the next five years.

The leaders at Summer Davos and the pioneering companies in the survey are already demonstrating that innovation can be managed and harnessed to drive growth. The challenge is for companies to make the transformations rapidly to capture the lion’s share of the growth. The reality is that death comes to those who dawdle.

Rob Shelton is PwC’s global leader for innovation strategy. He specialises in integrating breakthrough and incremental innovation—new business models and new technologies—into an organisation's strategy and operations to drive profitable growth.


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