Kelsey Margey Kelsey Margey
Manager, Strategy and Innovation


February 16, 2024


Innovation is central to the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s mission of harnessing the power of business to create solutions for the good of America and the world. In celebration of U.S. Innovation Day on February 16, we summarized corporate innovation trends from a recent report published by  

Check out their report for more innovative thinking.

Internal Innovation Functions 
The evidence is clear: Diverse groups make better decisions. Also, successful innovation portfolios include a series of small bets instead of a few big bets. The same holds true for innovators in other fields, like comedian Chris Rock.  

New and Emerging Technologies 
AI and automation tools can help evaluate many ideas to identify leading solutions, biases, and gaps. Imagine a world where ideas are generated while we sleep or products evolve independently based on user feedback. One example the report cites is Coca-Cola’s Y3000, a soda created by humans and AI meant to taste like the year 3000. (Unfortunately, this is not available in our local grocery store.) 

Experimenting with ideas is like dating without committing to marriage. Teams must be adaptable. Learn to fail fast and disband projects that don’t deliver real value.  

When people feel ownership of an idea, they’re more committed to incubating and implementing it. The authors note that leaders at Panera Bread instill this sense of ownership by asking their colleagues simple questions designed to empower individuals while identifying barriers and hidden solutions. 

Validation and Viability 
Validation refers to demonstrating that a potential product or service meets real customer needs, while viability means determining whether a new offering can sustainably work as a business by attracting enough paying customers to generate profitable revenue. Siemens Digital Industries Software spends eight weeks validating an idea by talking to customers and assessing the market, according to the report, which notes the incubation process lasts a year.  

Assessment of Teams 
The AEM-Cube is a test that evaluates teamwork skills in three areas: connecting with others, trying new things, and handling complicated situations. Innovation can be measured through activities like interviews, ideas generated, and prototype testing. 

Time, Talent, and Trust 
Time is critical. The foundation of successful innovation is trust. Leaders can build trust with their teams by responding to ideas with curiosity and asking questions instead of making statements.  

Identify Problems and Launch Intrapreneurship  
Finding the right problem can be more important than seeking good ideas. Ericsson ONE promotes intrapreneurship through an open idea platform and a rigorous incubation process through which, the report says, intrapreneurs receive funding, coaching, access to technology, patents, and customers. This is said to have engaged more than 11,000 employees and resulted in 250 strategic investments. 

Open Innovation 
Open innovation leverages the collective intelligence of stakeholders and approaches to solve problems, including open source, crowdsourcing, and user innovation. 

Nudge People to Embrace Innovation 
Rank does not matter in innovative companies. These cultures empower all employees with a voice, regardless of roles or titles. Nudging innovative mindsets among all employees elevates engagement and reduces turnover rates.  

Our big takeaway from this report aligns with the words of Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma: Managers “need to create a context in which each organization’s market position, economic structure, developmental capabilities, and values are sufficiently aligned with the power of their customers that they assist, rather than impede, the very different work of sustaining and disruptive innovators.” 

In the spirit of innovation, we asked Claude, Anthropic’s AI-powered chatbot, to recommend additional reading for this blog posting.

  1. Internal Innovation Functions: "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen - THE seminal work on disruptive innovation.
  2. New and Emerging Technologies:"Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence" by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb - Explains impact of AI.
  3. Nonattachment: "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries - The handbook for failing fast and lean experimentation.
  4. Ownership: "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel Pink - Research on motivation and ownership.
  5. Validation and Viability:"The Four Steps to the Epiphany" by Steve Blank - Outlines customer development process for validation.
  6. Assessment of Teams:"Creative Teams at Work" by Michael Arena - Examines team dynamics and behaviors that enable innovation.
  7. Time, Talent, and Trust:"The Speed of Trust" by Stephen M.R. Covey - Making the case for trust as the foundation.
  8. Identify Problems:"Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim - Framework to create new market space by redefining the problem.
  9. Open Innovation: "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology" by Henry Chesbrough - Coined the term "open innovation."
  10. Nudge People to Embrace Innovation:“Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman – Leaders who amplify the capabilities of those around them.

About the authors

Kelsey Margey

Kelsey Margey

Kelsey Margey is the manager of strategy and innovation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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