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10 Things We Learned About Diversity in Digital Innovation

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In the digital environment, innovation is all around us. The industry is built on the desire to push boundaries. The heroes of the digital world are those whose innovation has literally changed our world whether it’s platforms, products or services. Ask people to name a technology innovator and you may get Jobs or Gates, Brunel or Edison. They could have centuries between them but one thing they will probably all have in common is that they will be men.

However, innovation is changing. It is now less about tools and infrastructure and more about personalised services. Our Innovation Award winner Hannah Bowden led the event trying to uncover the secrets of innovation. Hannah has successfully merged her past experience in psychology, AI and community regeneration to lead innovation at BetterPoints, which designs and implements digital behaviour change interventions for health in the UK and Europe.
Hannah was joined by our two panellists Mike Altendorf, NED, investor and advisor to a range of tech and digital businesses and Adel Du Toit, IT Lead for User Experience at Boston Consulting Group. Missed the event? Don’t worry, below are the 10 things we learned:
  1. You need a mixture of skills, aptitudes and personality types within a team to be able to make the most out of innovation. Hannah added ‘It’s not a women or men thing it’s all about the right mixture of traits’.
  1. Digital needs to be mixed with the human side of innovation. Adel adds ‘it’s all about blending people and technology, that’s when it works best. You need to be able to understand the problem and empathise with it.’
  1. The way we innovate is changing. The MVP, fail fast approach is still relevant however these days it is all driven by the data which means greater insight and less failure. Mike adds ‘Building learning loops is crucial in successful digital innovation and transformation. Discovery, finding proof, growth, getting to market these are the core loops that interact. It’s about reducing uncertainty as much as possible.’
  1. Data, data, data. Data is a very important part of innovation. When you start to see what data means and where it can take you, that’s when it can become something very exciting. Hannah says ‘Understand the data and work out what it means and what it can change. Apply that data into something useful.’
  1. Moving away from the fail first approach isn’t easy. ‘It takes courage to look at the data in a different way. Evaluate why it didn’t it work, and what to do differently next time. It will lead to quick fire development.’ said Hannah.
  1. The cultures in start-ups are changing. Mike says ‘The focus is now about values and getting the right people. Moving away from the ‘just do it’ mentality. There is also a focus on LAU (learning as usual) rather than BAU (business as usual) as a founding principle. You need the right organisational models to make this happen’
  1. We need to invest in the future, children need to be able to learn transferable skills for the upcoming job market. Mike adds ‘We need to ensure our young people are employable.’
  1. Be able to be open about honest with your team and colleagues. It’s ok to show emotion at work. Adel said ‘what I’ve really seen change recently, is it’s ok to bring feelings to work. Its ok to cry (it’s not healthy to hold it in) be more honest with the people around you’ Hannah adds ‘stay honest, stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will respect your integrity.’
  1. You need to be determined in innovation. Whether you are a man or woman. Getting investment for a start-up can be tricky. Mike adds ‘You need to be resilient when looking for investment, you might get a few setbacks.’ Helen adds ‘don’t give up, the doors will open for you.’
  1. Passion needs to be at the heart of innovation.

A final takeaway…“First to market seldom matters, rather first to product/market fit is almost always the long-term winner”. Andy Rachleff, Co-founder Benchmark Capital.

Well…what a great event that was.

The event was kindly hosted at the Bright Innovation offices, our brilliant marketing partners. It was a great event, we’d like to thank the panellist and everyone who attended, and we can’t wait for the next event on 24 January, sign up now.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on diversity in innovation and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram. As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here:

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Diversity in Digital Innovation