After Alabama native Aaron Kelly moved to Sweden he joined Kanthal’s “Innovation Board”. But Aaron soon realised that he needed help from thought leaders to understand the concept. “As soon as I’d joined the board, my first thought was ‘What does innovation even mean?’” he says.
”I imagine most people’s first thoughts are very technology-centric. I included myself in this group,” Aaron says. “Whenever I would hear the word ‘innovation,’ I could not help but to think of AI, EV:s, and other fancy abbreviations, but it is so much more wide-reaching than that.
In the end, he felt that business professor Clayton Christiansen’s term “disruptive innovation” had captured the essence of the concept. “The process of turning insights into solutions that add value,” Aaron summarizes. “Innovation does not have to be revolutionary, like it is commonly made out to be, it can also be small, and it can apply to so much more than just technology."
For the past year, Aaron and his colleague Jesper Ejenstam have interviewed thought leaders for a podcast that’s shared within Kanthal. “We wanted to give our coworkers different perspectives on what ‘innovation’ could be in a company,” he says. This spring, they managed to get innovation megastar Tony Ulwick on the show. “Aaron was so starstruck he could hardly speak,” Jesper recalls.
For Aaron, who’s now Kanthal’s Digital Platforms Manager, the interviews have taught him so much that he has a hard time pinpointing his favorite insights. “Tony Ulwick says the biggest enemy to innovation is a lack of understanding and agreement about the needs you are trying to solve for the customer,” he says.
“I would say the most critical aspect for getting an idea to go from concept to reality is collective support,” Aaron says. “Nothing will kill an idea quicker than a lack of support and I don’t mean the obvious tangible support, like resources and budget, but the intangible support, such as belief, determination, and passion.”
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