A big thank you to all our friends and partners who turned up last week at Zenit Design in Malmö to hear about the Seco Innovation Journey. We all were very fortunate to have Anders Ericsson head of Innovation from Seco join us to hear firsthand about their experiences. Our partners Sigma shot a video of the event we hope to publish soon for those who were unable to join us in person – stay tuned.
Between a breakfast and lunch presentation we were able to talk with dozens of thought leaders in the country where the future may have arrived first. The discussions before and after the formal presentation were the highlight of the day. Our meetings at Zenit Design on Open Innovation were just one of the many events in a much larger regional theme last week celebrating all things innovation in south Sweden.
Why is Sweden so competitive?
Perhaps Sweden ranks so high in global competitiveness because Swedes are so curious about innovation – this was certainly the case last Monday. The dialog with the audience was well informed and very insightful. Everyone seemed to find benefit in the openness and sharing not only the good stories but also the defeats and setbacks. It seems that we all concluded that there is a not single right or wrong way for a company to innovate. Rather than a one size fits all model the perfect innovation solution seems to be a unique methodology and tailored process that fits your specific organization.
Going to San Francisco to innovate
Going West seeking fame and fortune is not new. Maybe things have changed just a little? While I was there to promote San Francisco as the center of innovation I also pointed out the dark side of too much traffic, no place to live and the difficulty breaking into the networks. We explored how firms can foster innovation including starting up an innovation outpost in Silicon Valley. We tried to challenge the conventional wisdom that going all in with your own innovation outpost is the only way to tap into the ecosystem. The Seco story of sending a small team to San Francisco in a shared facility offered a different lower risk approach while still producing amazing results. Seco’s creation of a new digital product and business line called IDEM in less than six months stood as evidence that the model can work.
User Centered Design
Jonas from Zenit helped to remove some of the mystery around “Design Thinking” a term very much in vogue today. Explaining how we all first met in a small town in northwest France Jonas shared the journey’s humble beginnings with a series of onsite workshops and trainings. While enjoying the local menu the team came together for the first time in preparation for their 6-month stay in San Francisco with SeriousFun. Beginning to end we tried to capture both the seriousness of the mission and also the occasions for some fun.
Horizon Three today
Who doesn’t want to be disruptive and innovative? It is the “How” that is the big challenge for most. With a shared desire to balance the investment portfolio of innovation and bring the Horizon Three disruption home today the audience agreed to a common shared dilemma. The universal challenge is not just coming up with the good ideas but also implementing them and building profitable new lines of business. At the end of the day the audience saw firsthand how Anders sponsored a bold experiment in open innovation sending a team away for 6 months to San Francisco. We shared honestly what worked well and what we would have done differently. The audience had their own innovation journey stories to share as well making for a lively interchange of experiences.
I really enjoyed making new connections and reconnecting with friends. Sweden is such an amazing place to do business and invent the future. People are always open and interested in new ideas. Traveling from San Francisco one feels a kinship with a country of early adopters. The Silicon Valley connection to Sweden seems so strong and vibrant because pioneering new technology seems like second nature in both locations.
Jet powered electric surfboard
Also got a chance to visit Radinn and see their most excellent new office space. Located in the up and coming dock industrial space in Malmö they have the perfect blend of high tech loft vibe with get stuff done maker space. Love the job this team is doing pioneering an entirely new segment in mobility and green extreme sports. They can’t build them fast enough to meet demand – a good problem to have as investors. Go team go!