With 25 years of experience in research, strategy and innovation, Suzan has grown Swarm Vision from a garage start-up to a trusted solution provider to global Fortune 500 clients.
- How do most corporations attract, train, and retain their innovation talent?
Most companies lack a focus on innovation talent, which is a crazy because this talent is a massively important lever and force multiplier. When companies do consciously focus on innovation talent, they tend to assume that R&D or IT talent is the same thing. It’s not.Organizations tend to select their “high potentials” based on an employee excelling in the current, mature, business, not an employee’s likelihood to thrive and lead in change, or drive future growth.
- What propelled you to create Swarm (swarmvision.com)?
From the global research we conducted in 2014-15, my team had this extraordinary insight into innovation talent. We’re based in Silicon Valley, so we also have the ability to make that insight available in easy-to-use enterprise software. Today 83 percent of large companies feel they are at risk of disruption. So the opportunity and timing were irresistible. It became our mission to discover and develop innovation talent — this priceless resource — for large enterprises.Developing one’s innovation skills, like curiosity, creativity, agility…makes life richer, juicier. It’s a positive force we ALL should be able to enjoy, feel confident in, and tap. Not just the few, the elite.
- What makes Swarm different than a pure innovation assessment? Please describe.
At the core, the Swarm Innovation Profiler is an innovation talent assessment. But that is just step 1, identifying the talent you have now – where it is, by location, division, function, and what kinds of innovation you’re set up to deliver.But there’ a complete SAAS solution behind the Profiler, that algorithmically designs better teams, identifies more innovative candidates, trains your people to become more innovative and measures your innovation culture — to ensure you support the behaviors that drive results. It’s a complete system to help you thrive in the Innovation Age.
- How can companies get the most value out of the platform?
The main thing is to use the whole Swarm system. You may get started with assessing employees or candidates, but then you discover the whole kaleidoscope of Swarm tools, which let you do things the human brain cannot do. That’s the beauty of software.It’s also key to use Swarm to reflect on your current hiring, retention, training and rewards systems, and your culture, and to set concrete goals.
- What changes do you want to see in the world of innovation? (13)
The innovation field has been largely consultant-driven, and as such, driven by case studies and assertions, more than by data. We are living through the “data-fication” of every business function, and innovation will come of age when it embraces data, and of course, digital tools.Our education and talent systems are stuck in the Industrial Age….producing specialists who “answer to the test.” But we are living in the Innovation Age, so we need to develop a different set of skills to thrive at scale.
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Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.