This week I’ve chatted (on-line) with Daniel Ilie, InnovX Mentor on Leadership and Organizational Culture about core values and key behaviors in time of change. I’ve said change and not crisis, as I think we are now facing an inevitable shift toward the new industry 4.0, only accelerated by this last “black swan” event (COVID-19). You can read Daniel Ilie's last article on the subject here.
In times of change it is important for any organization to communicate a clear set of values that defines its beliefs and can help taking decisions by coping with the uncertainty and thus economic blockage. Daniel was clear from the beginning that any successful adaptation to change must translate ambiguous goals into clear and concrete behaviors. As a CEO, you need to prove proactive leadership, commit, take ownership and make fast informed decisions, provide the team and partners with crystal – clear guidance, instilling them eventually confidence. Not communicating clear enough, periodically and constantly can induce decision paralysis inside the organization and inertia, people starting to act re-actively and chaotically. In the process of decisions making, also of importance, is to rank the values in order of their priority. Therefore, if confronting with a dilemma, that will resolve it immediately and help take the right action.
What are the specific values that you want to see in your organization in times of change?This is a question that at InnovX we’ve tried to answer by taking into consideration today’s reality. Here is the list of values that stands for InnovX Organizational Culture and these are also the values we are looking for in startups. I will detail them further bellow.
1. SAFETY: Even if Daniel recommended me to limit the list at 4 core values, I’ve added the SAFETY one ab-initio. And I guess there is no wonder why. Especially in these times, SAFETY comes first. And in taking the decision on how to deliver the Xeleration program in the next weeks, in-person or on-line, there was an easy answer! Even from 2019 at InnovX almost 60% of the program used on-line tools, so delivering the program virtually was possible with immediate effect from the announcement made by several EU countries of entering the scenario 3 of COVID-19 progression. We are proud to announce that our first batch of startups begun the pre-acceleration program this Monday exclusively on-line. Of course, we would love to see the entrepreneurs in-person and we look forward to the day when we will raise the first glass of wine at Mindspace happy-hours, until then, work on-line!
2. INNOVATION: At InnovX, when selecting startups for the xeleration program we use the straight-forward definition of Bill Aulet, Managing Director at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship: INNOVATION = Invention X Commercialization. Especially in the time of COVID-19, we are looking for the innovation capacity of a startup. According to Joseph Schumpeter’s “Theory of creative destruction”, in capitalism, it is innovation that have the ability to provide new and unexpected sources of economic growth, while taking the place of existing industries or SMEs. Putting aside any crisis, business usually takes place in a risk-taking and uncertain environment, and at the end, the business industry is an endless zero-sum game. In this dynamic, poor led companies that do not innovate will be replaced by innovative ones. Innovative startups need to be supported as they are the most likely to create growth and new jobs in the digital economy. Competition and innovation are related, companies that know how to innovate know how to compete. After the financial crisis from 2008, the COVID-19 one is a brutal stress - test assessing the ability of companies to adapt to the new industrial revolution 4.0. (BTW, according to Britanica, “the Industrial Revolution refers to a radical and profound change in economic relationships and technological conditions.”) At InnovX we stand to our mission to identify the innovative startups with growth potential and capacity to create new long-term sustainable and high added-value jobs adapted to the industry 4.0, and if the last report from the World Economic Forum is right, twice as many new jobs are about to emerge than those that will be lost to disruption.
3. HARD-WORK: a good idea worth nothing without hard-work. “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” Steve Jobs. It is important to take clear steps toward making your idea reality. At InnovX we challenge you to think big and visualize the outcome: successful commercialization of your innovation. Try to imagine reaching your goals, but also try to visualize the difficulties you might encounter and how to overcome them, because trust me, there will be a lot. James Whitcomb Riley said that “the most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” In these times of uncertainty, it is important to stay determined and to work hard. How long? ”All the way” as our mentor, Daniel Ilie remember us every day.
4. CO-OPETITION: According to Investopedia.com, “Coopetition is the act of cooperation between competing companies; businesses that engage in both competition and cooperation are said to be in coopetition.” Coopetition is a business ideology derived from the game theory, considering the ways in which synergy can be created by partnering with competitors. This tactic is thought to be a good business practice especially for startups because it can lead to the expansion of the market and the formation of new business relationships. At InnovX we encourage coopetition between xelerated startups and companies from acceleration programs partnering with us or corporations that want to innovate. The fact that in 2019 we’ve started strategic partnerships with the Swiss Society for VR/AR, MIT CEE Enterprise Forum , Startup Grind is an opportunity for startups that have the capacity to do so. More about our proposed formulae of co-opetition you can read in Daniel Dumitrescu article here.
5. ETHICS: As the effects of COVID-19 on humans are terrible, its incidence on society and economy revealed to the large population that any person and business has the possibility to act responsible towards our planet. The massive shut-down of traditional industries like energy, manufacturing, transportation that still heavily rely on fossil fuels, had as result an immediate and visible improvement of the air quality, a clear and undeniable argument in favor of a public and mass adoption of a clean/ green economy. The need to manage the food supplies while in quarantine, raised awareness among households regarding the need for a circular economy and economic efficiency. Investopedia: “Economic efficiency implies an economic state in which every resource is optimally allocated to serve each individual or entity in the best way while minimizing waste and inefficiency. “
To sum up, I will state InnovX mission for 2020: