Beth Comstock on Being Bold

 Beth Comstock on Being BoldI spend a lot of time thinking about how to be bold, aspiring to be bold, fretting over not being bold enough – not just clever, smart or imaginative, but audacious.

The tough part is that the world keeps shifting and taking away the firm ground that would allow us to take action. The rise of new technologies, the flood of analytics and data and the accelerating speed of the global enterprise can complicate decision making for even the most confident executive. So, how do we stay bold?

Recently, GE released the results of our fourth annual Global Innovation Barometer, which surveyed business executives from across the globe to better understand the state of innovation today.

What did we find? Executives are increasingly shaking off paralysis and looking to take control. In contrast to last year, when ”innovation vertigo” was the watchword, they are now searching for ways to make their businesses ”disruption-ready.” This shift signals an openness to adopt new thinking about innovation, implement emerging technologies and create the powerful partnerships they need to succeed.

So, what steps are these executives taking to become efficient, ”disruption-ready” innovators?

  • Continuing to focus on collaboration, despite potential risks. As collaboration, especially with startups and entrepreneurs, begins to generate revenues and ROI, concerns around IP protection are easing. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of executives – particularly in emerging economies – are increasingly willing to explore new models of partnership. And almost two-thirds (64 percent) have generated revenue as a result of those collaborations.
  • Prioritizing human capital and new skill sets. A strong majority of executives, 79 percent, believe that attracting and retaining talent is critical to innovation. Building on the ”disruption-ready” mindset, data and analytics capabilities are increasingly prized as essential skills.
  • Unleashing productivity through Big Data and analytics. A full 70 percent of executives indicate that Big Data will be critical to optimizing operational efficiency, but only one in four is prepared for it. For those who make the jump, 69 percent find that data analytics adds value to the innovation process.

There’s no question that our decisions about innovation are some of the most daunting we face. After all, it’s about the future of our companies. Still, we’re learning that for executives who embrace technological change, act boldly and take steps to become disruption-ready, the rewards are enormous.

Beth Comstock is chief marketing officer at GE. This piece first appeared on LinkedIn and IdeasLab

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Julie Anixter is the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She also serves as the Executive in Residence for the Disruptor Foundation. The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on future innovators. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Education, Manufacturing and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference.  You can follow her @julieanixter

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