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Embracing Diverse Thinking Through An Innovation Ecosystem To Advance Emerging Technologies
Wesley Rhodes, Vp Of Technology Transformation And Research & Development
To innovate disruptively, the enabling catalyst within an elixir of skills and opportunity is diverse thinking.
Some assert that innovation is a cataclysmic chaotic event that is stumbled upon and ends with a magnificent “aha” moment, the epiphany of genius. We challenge that thought and assert that innovation can be deliberate, intentional, structured, and repeatable with right environment, talent, managerial techniques and, most critically, if diversity is imbued and cherished.
Transparency within the supply chain has become increasingly more important as adapting operations to deliver efficiently on changing consumer expectations is a continuous effort
Innovation is cultivated through the development of rich ecosystem of employees, universities, partners, government, and non-governmental organizations.Disruption is enabled by a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience essential to overcoming the norms and perceived limitations of an environment. Repeatability is through collaboration with those that have different experiences and expertise that we learn from and who challenge our own thinking, explore new ideas, and eventually build trust which enables us to take risks with. All innovation comes at a price of experiencing failure; success is found through the honesty and corrective steps only engendered by trust.
Retail innovation has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer expectations or demands have changed dramatically throughout 2020 which drove changes in how consumers want to shop and how they expect to receive goods. Transparency within the supply chain has become increasingly more important as adapting operations to deliver efficiently on changing consumer expectations is a continuous effort. Additionally, new or evolving communication channels put new demands on consumer personalization and this rate of change will not wait for retail functionaries to learn new perspectives; new perspectives must be unsheathed from the collaboration of an ecosystem of diverse backgrounds and experiences. The speed that comes from this collaboration greatly outpaces the speed of organic growth within an existing knowledge base.
Nurturing collaboration and an ecosystem are made easier through proximity. One method is the development of university labs that offers the organization the opportunity to create an environment where a variety of collaborators can congregate, develop familiarity, build trust, and create a community. It is the community that builds competency at an exponential level. That community is a magnet for diversity and it is merely up to us to embrace it. Over the last two years, Kroger has opened university labs at Northern Kentucky University and University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation hub. Both are delivering meaningful results in their short history; looking forward to what we learn in 2021.