Future Proofing with Innovation to Drive Global Competitiveness

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April 27, 2019

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The President of one of the country’s leading Mindanao based conglomerates believes nations, organizations and individual should future proof themselves to drive global competitiveness.

    “The Philippines is at a crossroads.  We can prepare for the next 10, 20, 50 and 100 years for our children and children’s children by taking steps to be globally competitive or watch the world pass usby and overtake us until we are way behind,” said Ramon B. Segismundo
    President and COO of Hijo Group of Companies in his keynote address during the Mindanao Beat HR Summit 2019 held last April 8 at Cagayan de Oro City.
    “The answer lies in future proofing ourselves.   Changes are proceeding at warp speed and we need to respond in an agile way.  To future proof, we need to innovate, innovate and innovate.”
    “It is by doing innovation at a national, organizational and personal level that can we really drive our country’s competitiveness,” Segismundo stressed.
Innovation Nation
    At the national level, Segismundo cited Israel, Singapore and Silicone Valley which became “hot spots” of innovation, as showcased in Gary Shapiro’s book “Ninja Innovation”.
    “Israel spends over 4 per cent of its gross domestic product on research and development. As a result, Israel has produced five start ups worth more than $1 billiondue to Tel Aviv’s healthy start up ecosystem,” he noted.
    “It earns high marks in entrepreneurial activity with 3.11 entrepreneurs for every 1,000 people.  Google acquired Israel-incubated Waze for $966 million.”
    Singapore boasts one of the lowest corporate tax rates and a high new business entry rate of over eight per 1,000 people. 
    56 per cent of its workforce is highly skilled and half of all college students earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.  It has produced two unicorns (i.e., a privately held start-up valued at over $1 billion): transportation company Grab and e-commerce start up Lazada.
    “I think we have an opportunity to create Metro Cagayan de Oro or Metro Davao as innovation hot spots.There is no standard definition of an innovation country or an innovation hotspot.  The Philippines will chart its own innovation journey and Metro CDO and Metro Davao will have their own paths as well,” Segismundo stressed.
    To jump-start this process, Segismundo suggests the following from the US based Consumer Technology Association:
    For  technology: invest in broadband, self-driving vehicles, short term rentals, ridesharing and drones.
    For society: foster diversity, freedom, environmental awareness, resilience and human capital development.
    And for the economy: invest in R & D, ignite entrepreneurial activity, drive Ease of Doing Business and support Filipino unicorns.
    These would create a more inclusive society, reduce poverty and create a vibrant and a dynamic entrepreneurial middle class.
Innovation Company
    At the company level, Segismundo cites intrapreneurship as the key to the successful sustainability of an innovation company.
    “You need not go out of your current organizations to be an entrepreneur- in fact, the word intrapreneur was coined.  Within your respective organizations, you can identify innovation projects that will either incrementally improve performance or achievesignificant breakthroughs or quantum leaps in organization performance,” he said.
    Per  his personal experience as a corporate executive and employee, he adopted two philosophies to drive innovation in companies: Honor legacy and heritage by respecting the past; and Reinvent the future.
    “Be willing to change the business model if you have to.   Be like a start up.  Be like a new entrepreneurial venture,” he stressed.
    Citing Eric Ries in his book “Start Up Way”, there are two ways to spark “Start-Up Thinking”: “Think big.  Start small. Scale fast”. This could be done by having “innovation project teams”within your organizations and having current organic teams work on innovation projects in addition to its usual work.
    “Thinking like a start up begins with talking to current and future customers.   This is where real customer centricity happens.  Oftentimes, we start with designing a technical product/service or solution.”
Done is better than perfect
    By looking out for customers’ needs that are now unserved or may be addressed at a superior level, design thinking can come up with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that could be an initial version of your product or service.  Then a version 2.0 after talking with customers then a version 3 and so forth with each version upgrade including a new round of inputs from customers. “Done is better than Perfect”.
    This  Build-Learn-Measure method of continuous innovation fosters a mindset that is always  ready to learn from mistakes and pivot to another project or persevere.
    The bottomline is that entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship is what will fuel innovation in organizations.  If you are an owner/founder of a start up or a corporate executive in a corporation or an officer in the public sector, doing more of the same or keeping the status quo may spell failure.
Key Questions
    Segismundo suggests some key questions to ask in the pursuit of an innovation company: identifying key personnel responsible for innovation and/or entrepreneurship in the company;communicating with current and future customers; constantly looking at ways to create new ideas tocreate value for current and future customers; looking out to sense developments in their respective your industries and IT applications globally; identifying in-house or outsourced capabilities to develop the next generation product, service or solution; and, allowing for failures as long as the firm is willing to learn from them moving forward.
Innovation You
    Most important, Segismundo cited the need to future proof individualsby doing their best to be innovative. He offered some 15 suggestions on how to be an innovator.
    Innovate or die. Experiment. Take Risks.  Learn, relearn and unlearn.Be Inclusive. Network.
    It’s ok to fail but fail fast. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Travel.Read a book once a month.Fight for a cause.  Reinvent. Seize opportunities. Know what you are great at. 
    Be true to your values.
    “In short, if we bring the Philippines, Metro CDO or Metro Davao closer to becomingan innovation nation/region, if we drive our organizations to become high performinginnovative companies, and if we all work hard to kindle the latent innovation in each of us, weare a step closer towards creating maximum value for our constituencies which theyrightfully deserve.”
    Besides Hijo, Segismundo is also CEO of 1-HR.X Pte. Ltd. and President of the Meralco Power Academy.

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