Disruption Insights: Test Early Ideas in Their Natural Environment

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Paulina Burzawa

Mar 15, 2022 • 6 min read
Esther Seidl-Nussbaumer Disrupion Insights miniseries Blog header

In this episode of the Everyday Innovation miniseries, Esther Seidl-Nussbaumer gives us a glimpse into her work as the Head of Corporate Innovation at SIGVARIS GROUP.

Esther is a passionate strategy and innovation professional, characterized by an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to network and think analytically and strategically. Being an MIT Sloan School of Management graduate with more than 14 years of experience in strategic management positions, she has gathered know-how and mastered skills that enable her to easily navigate through the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of today’s world.

Our guest presents ways of getting buy-in for innovation projects, emphasizes the importance of the right approach towards testing and prototyping innovative solutions, and shares the foundations of success in innovation.

In the Disruption Insights series, we discover inspirations and insights from global innovators who shape how we live and do things today. True innovation doesn’t happen as an overnight breakthrough — it’s an ongoing process of constant trial and error done by teams and organizations who strive to solve real human problems. Esther Seidl-Nussbaumer is one of the people who push those ideas forward, making things possible.

💼Corporate innovation

How do you choose one idea out of one hundred?

Ideas for innovations are selected using transparent criteria such as strategic fit and business value. The selected ones are transferred to the proof-of-concept phase before we decide whether or not to bring them to the market. In this phase they are tested back and forth for their desirability, viability, and feasibility. Only if all areas show good results, the idea is transferred into the pre-project phase.

How do you convince decision-makers to back innovative ideas?

Show the strategic importance of a particular idea, its business impact, and customer value. Engaging decision-makers in co-creation processes is another method to get buy-in for innovative ideas. It is important to show real data, for example, early user tests. Buy-in is easier to get if the innovation idea is de-risked as much as possible through testing.

One thing you’d change about your work

I love working with different people inside and outside my organization. Everything we do in innovation contributes to our corporate strategy and to better serve the customer.

What I see is that organizations that are used to delivering high-quality, premium products frequently face difficulties testing a prototype or even a pretotype with customers.

They are used to coming with a perfectly developed product to a customer or user. This prevents experimentation and de-risking innovation. Fortunately, perception of prototyping can be changed by education and raising awareness of the value of testing early ideas in their natural environment.

💪🏼Innovation mindset

One personality trait that helps you at your daily job

My entrepreneurial mindset, which comprises curiosity and perseverance, helps me to motivate people around me and myself.

What drives you at work?

The positive impact my work has on other people’s lives. It is the possibility to help others, to develop people and organizations.

Your dream profession when you were 20

I wanted to be a chemist and run my own company.

The biggest milestone in your career path

It’s not a specific milestone, more an accumulation of experience and know-how that helps me in my current job. Most positions require not only technical or business knowledge but also a lot of self-competence and empathy. It’s indispensable when working in innovation and strategy.

The biggest accomplishment in your career path

The creation and execution of digital transformation strategy to reach and help more patients and serve existing patients and customers better.

💡Inspiration corner

Biggest source of daily inspiration

Conversations with people around me. Additionally, I am a lifelong learner. I love reading books and taking courses on agile strategy development, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Books that inspire you

  • “Seeing Around Corners” by Rita Gunther McGrath
  • “Alien Thinking” by Cyril Bouquet, Michael Wade, Jean-Louis Barsoux
  • “Open Strategy: Mastering Disruption from Outside the C-Suite” by Julia Hautz, Kurt Matzler, Stephan Friedrich von den Eichen, Christian Stadler
  • “The Design of Business” by Roger Martin
  • “Humanocracy” by Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini
  • “Bridging the Innovation Gap” by Martin Steinmann, Heiner Kaufmann, Daniel Huber
  • “The Grand Design“ and “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

Blogs and magazines you follow

    • Strategy Tools
    • Sifted
    • No Mercy / No Malice by Scott Galloway

Podcasts you listen to

  • Management Under the Microscope from I by IMD

Movies that inspire you

  • “Interstellar”
  • “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Want to be a part of the Disruption Insights series? Shoot me an email at: paulina.burzawa@netguru.com


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Paulina Burzawa

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