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Female Leaders from Bayer & Conde Naste Share Innovation Advice

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Michelle Shogren, Director of Innovation – Pharma R&D Clinical Operations, Bayer 

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What is a piece of advice you have for organizations looking to innovate today?

Innovation cannot be done in silo…it needs to connect to the business and live in a world where creativity, value, and strategy intersect to solve an unmet need.

What is the biggest challenge to innovation? How can it be solved?

First, in order for most people to succeed in their jobs they leverage their built in “protector” which causes people to look for challenges and shoot down risky projects. Second, in order to innovate you need to switch your mindset to one of the key principles “Benefits Before Challenges.”

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Lisa Rothstein, New Yorker Cartoonist, Conde Nast 

What was the biggest innovation of 2019? 

The ever-increasing integration of AI and smart devices with our everyday lives to the point where it's becoming "second nature." Cities and homes that used to be the stuff of comics or science fiction is now our day-to-day reality!

What is a piece of advice you have for organizations looking to innovate today?

Welcome diverse perspectives, and I don't just mean the kind of diversity that's such a popular topic today. I mean, get out of your silos and cross-pollinate across departments and disciplines in the company when looking for innovative ideas. And not just horizontally, but vertically. I recently heard a story where a receptionist contributed an idea that ended up being worth millions of dollars to her company. That couldn't have happened had she not been in the meeting.

What is the biggest challenge to innovation? How can it be solved?

The biggest challenge is the pull of habit, the safe, the familiar and the status quo, including in how we communicate. Breaking out of routine and communicating in new ways -- such as in drawings -- engages people's imaginations and frees them up to have unexpected ideas.

The other challenge I see is the tendency to innovate in a vacuum -- searching for the next "breakthrough" or "cool idea" and not take the time to gain a truly intimate understanding of the customer, how they really use our products and services and what they really like and want more of.

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