Diversity has been a bit of a hot topic of late, so we thought we would address this as part of the Nimble Hippo and corporate innovation.

Diversity comes in lots of forms, and there are many opportunities to increase the diversity in your corporate innovation program. Here is a short list, and I welcome comments and suggestions in order to add to this list and make it more comprehensive.

Diversity on the innovation council: The innovation council should be cross functional (business unit heads, functional heads, geographical heads), but also diverse in thoughts, priorities, and timelines. This creates an active discussion and ultimately the best and most diverse outcomes.

Diversity in ideas: Ideas can come from anywhere, and your employees, stakeholders, leaders, channel partners, customers and other industry leaders should all help you generate ideas.

Diversity in customers: We are big fans of customer validation, early and often. Too often companies talk to the people they always talk to … their biggest fans. Start talking to customers who have recently left, those you would like to see as customers in the future and those who you don’t think would ever want to be customers. This insight could be valuable.

Diversity in geography: The way people buy and what they buy can vary country by country, region by region, state by state, city by city. By reaching out to test your ideas across a few different geographies, you can start to build an idea of what drives customer behaviour.

Diversity in innovation teams: There isn’t a perfect way to set up an innovation team. Look for ways to create teams that are from different groups, backgrounds, and skillsets. In the past, we often paired college and university co-op students together who came from different backgrounds had different skillsets and found that was highly valuable.

Diversity often makes us uncomfortable because it can cause us to be pushed outside of what we normally think and do on a day-to-day basis. We will never grow if we don’t experience discomfort and if we aren’t growing, then there is no way to become, or stay, a nimble hippo.

Photo: Hippo, by Kate Henderson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

About The Author

Craig Haney
Director, Corporate Innovation, Communitech

Craig is leading the charge for corporate innovation in Canada. His work with Canadian Tire Innovations helped launch the LeanLab project at Communitech, helping large, non-tech companies become faster and more innovative by engaging with startups. As Director of Corporate Innovation at Communitech, his focus is to grow the ecosystem by exposing small companies to big problems they can solve for some of Canada’s largest players. Craig has an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technonogy (MBET) from the University of Waterloo.