Wardhan also participated in All Things Innovation’s roundtable on transformational innovation, held at the FEI event. One question asked of Wardhan and other participants, is what was the approach that you brought to the roundtable as far as design thinking, disruption and transformational innovation? The answer is all about people, says Wardhan.
“One thing that I keep going back to is start with people inside and out,” Wardhan says. “When we talk about people, we keep talking about, who’s the end customer? Who is the user? But I think we need to look around. We need to think about all the stakeholders, and that’s the approach that I keep going back to. And the other approach that I take is alignment on language when we say transformational innovation. What do we mean by transformation? What do we mean by innovation?”
Of course, when you go around a table, or a room or a group of executives, no one has the same definitions for any of these words. How can we actually collaborate with key stakeholders if no one is speaking literally the same language? We also found through the roundtable there was a concept of kind of loving the problem as opposed to the solution—kind of coming at it from a problem standpoint as opposed to a solution standpoint, because you can get collaboration around a problem, while it’s more difficult to sell a solution.
“Don’t quote me on this and I know I’m saying it on video,” says Wardhan. “It might be Einstein who said this. If I have 60 minutes to cut a watermelon, I would spend a majority of it, 50 minutes, sharpening the knife. That’s what it means by needing the problem until and unless it gives you the solution itself. What is surprising about that quote is it’s a different approach to look at the problem, not the solution. For those that are within large organizations, technology is a tool. But remember, it’s about the people. It feels like we’re reimagining how we act and actually go about innovation so that we can get to that resilience that each organization is striving for.”
“I would say we are relearning what innovation is,” Wardhan adds. “We are not necessarily talking about anything new. We are just trying to remind what innovation means and everything around it.”
See the video from FEI for more on learning, the impact of AI, people-centricity, sustainability and the rest of Seth Adler’s conversation with Harsh Wardhan.