The Innovation Sandbox – the place where “heads of innovation” meet


It’s been a while that I have on my to do list to network with my peers – the people who have the same job as I have.

The job I have (and love!) is “Head of Innovation” at SWIFT (www.swift.com), and co-founder of Innotribe (www.innotribe.com) – SWIFT’s innovation arm. In my particular case, I lead a small (10 people) team – or should I say squad ;-) – of incredibly talented people whose overall mission is to “enable collaborative innovation” in the company and also in the financial industry surrounding SWIFT.

I’ve in the job long enough now (3 and a half years) to know that every “head of innovation” out there has a different mission and objectives. Some are like me (enabling), some are about new product development (R&D), some are about skunkwork “under-the-cover” projects, some are about people and culture.

Of course, I do meet them at our Innotribe events and other occasions such as conferences. What I meant by networking in the introduction of this post is something different. A forum where a quality discussion started at an event can continue and a place where we can share experiences and help each other. Where we keep in touch.

I remember when I started my job. Lazaro Campos, my CEO, told me:

“I want the company to be more innovative and creative”

And right after he told me -

“Go away and do it”

He is like that ;-). I remember going into a period of deep research. What does it mean, to be innovative? Who is who in innovation? What conferences should I go to? Who should I talk to? I remember I would have paid top dollar to have some enlightened advice and yes, sometimes I wished for a fellow “shoulder to cry on”.

So here we go – I have created a Yammer community called “The Innovation Sandbox”.  This should be the place where “young” heads of innovation can find coaches, where “experienced” heads of innovation can find inspiration. And also, where heads of innovation of any kind can find a partner for a beer when visiting a city where they don’t know anybody, and get some ideas as a bonus.

DM, tweet, email me to get access. And you will be able to invite other fellow heads of innovation. Let’s see where this takes us.

Why this name – the sandbox? It comes from this post, where I explain my own “recipe” of how to innovate in established companies.

Just a final word on why I’m doing this now.

This idea was simmering in my (long) list of to-dos somewhere far down from the top. You know what happens with these, don’t you? ;-)

Well, I mentioned coaches earlier in the post. There’s one person out there who very kindly and periodically provides some advice to me.

Tony Fish, of AMF Ventures and also the author of the “My Digital Footprint” book, is one of our Innotribe Enablers. For those of you who don’t know what this means, suffice it to say he is on a team of very experienced people who advise the Innotribe team on the projects we do. As such, Tony observes my team and me periodically. And he is kind enough to provide to us and me, on top of his business advice, some coaching about how to do things. Very simple advice, straight to the point.

He asked me recently:

“How do you keep in touch with your friends?”

Meaning my peers. And he sort of electrified me to dig this to-do from the long list and bring it to the top.

The other influencer here is Leo from zenhabits.net. I’m a long time follower of this blog, and the one lesson I have learned there is that all major changes start always with very small, easy steps.

So while I had (and still have) some big ideas in mind about networking the “heads of innovation” community, I figured I’ll start small.  A very easy step.

“The innovation sandbox”  yammer community. See you there.

One thought on “The Innovation Sandbox – the place where “heads of innovation” meet

  1. This is (forgive the lack of creativity) awesome. We have been waiting for a professional culture of thinkers, not workers. It seems it is finally upon us! I look forward to reading more posts and perhaps meeting kindred spirits in the near future. I will help drive this attitude and way of being from here, across the pond…

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