10 Leaders on How to Turbocharge Innovation
Managing bias in artificial intelligence, the innovations accelerating progress on the SDGs, business as a platform for change: These are a few of the major themes that appeared this week at Dreamforce where we hosted the FQ Lounge with Deloitte Digital.
At the conference, we heard from trailblazers like former U.S. President Barack Obama, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and athlete-turned-advocate Megan Rapinoe as they offered perspective, vision, and solutions for a better world. Read on for a look at how these leaders are propelling their companies forward and actionable insights on how you can drive yours.
We’re Better Together
“That is why we’re here as trailblazers: to improve the state of the world with trust, customer success, innovation, and equality.”—Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-CEO, Salesforce
Dreamforce kicked off by celebrating trailblazers who are igniting change for their customers, companies, and communities. With new digital tools, organizations are better equipped to move towards transformation. Whether it’s empowering people to learn in-demand skills or making it easier for companies to connect with customers, Chairman and Co-CEO Marc Benioff says leaders must work together to help businesses deliver on changing customer expectations.
The Power of Human-Driven Leadership
“If you start with deeper questions about what humans need, you can unlock entirely new and very inspiring ways of doing things that lead to layer upon layer of innovation. This is what will make the world a better place to live.”—Alicia Hatch, Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital
Thanks to technology, the lines between our professional and personal lives have blurred beyond recognition. As Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch says, the ability to be conscious of your surroundings, recognize each person’s unique strengths, and adapt quickly is one of the most valuable assets you can bring to the modern workforce.
Use Tech to Connect
“When we have a homogenous group creating technology, if you’re not thinking of the unintended consequences, you’re doing it wrong. We’re leaving a lot of undeveloped talent on the table and that’s not good for anybody.”—Dr. Frida Polli, Co-Founder and CEO, pymetrics
With the rise of technology, conversations around ethics and responsibility in the use of data, technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions continue to grow. Dr. Polli believes that we need to consider candidates for their soft skills and their potential. She touched on the importance of diversity, addressing the lack of representation in the tech industry. The main takeaway? To create solutions that benefit everyone and avoid the pitfalls of AI, we need news founders who ask the right questions. As Co-Founder & Executive Chair of Socos Labs Vivienne Ming advised, “Always ask yourself: does this [technology] make me a better person, even when I turn it off?”
Value Enhances Innovation
“At some point, you recognize the reason we are all here is to help someone else. That is the sole reason. Once you get that in your head, life gets so much simpler.”—Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook joined Marc Benioff to discuss the importance of mobile app development for businesses as well as the intersection of innovation and values. Cook shared that he discovered his personal sense of purpose in his late 30s. He said he maintains this focus on values, like sustainability, equality, and privacy, while leading Apple towards innovation.
Encourage More Girls to Pursue STEM
“Everything we’ve done at the organization and what motivated me to create Black Girls CODE was to give girls— who were not getting the skills to be able to create the next Facebook—the tools they need to create something even better.”— Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code
Research shows that girls opt out of STEM/STEAM once they reach middle school. Why? Without role models who look like them and approach the subject from diverse perspectives, girls begin to feel that STEM/STEAM is “not for them.” Let’s change that.
Self-Care is Key to Reaching Our Full Potential
“There’s so much suffering in the world that we cannot immediately solve but this is something we can solve simply by changing the collective delusion that to succeed we have to burnout.”—Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global
Pivoting from technology to wellness, Arianna Huffington spoke to Dreamforce attendees about her mission to eradicate the stress and burnout epidemic, which she calls the “civilization’s disease.” She added that lifestyle, behavior, and stress are responsible for 90% of the healthcare problems and costs we face as a society.
Community Cultivates Creativity
“When I want to tap into my best self, I connect externally. I have a group of women I get together with once a month. We have similar careers and backgrounds, but we don’t talk about work. It’s more about family and other personal things.”—Elisabeth Charles, Chief Marketing Officer, Rodan + Fields
Getting advice from other people and tapping into the power of the pack is how Elisabeth Charles, CMO of Rodin + Fields, gets her creative juices flowing. Be open to learning from others, interacting with different crowds, and exchanging perspectives. You could end up asking yourself, “How can I apply that idea to my business?”
Everyone Can Be a Champion for Change
“People say you can’t understand someone else’s perspective. You can; just ask them.”—Megan Rapinoe, World Cup and Olympic Champion
US Olympic Medalist, Entrepreneur and Activist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe took the main stage to discuss how they use their platforms to stand up for equality and demonstrate allyship. As captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team, Rapinoe used the World Cup victory to raise awareness around equal pay. Ibtihaj became the first Muslim-American woman to earn an Olympic medal while proudly wearing her hijab and representing her community.
Eliminate Bias Beyond the Hiring Process
“I think of diversity as a business imperative. It’s not something you think about after the fact— it’s something you do along the way to make sure that you get the best result in the end.”— Heidi Messer, Co-Founder and Chairperson, Collective[i]
For Heidi Messer of Collective[i], diversity isn’t just an add-on— it’s an essential ingredient for any business that wants to last. “If you start to have teams that all look alike and all think alike,” says Heidi, “Then nobody is there to check the bias and make sure that you’re getting a better result than when you started.”
Tech Can’t Fix Everything
“Part of solving big problems is not just a matter of finding the right technical solution, but also figuring out, ‘How do we restore some sense of our common values?’”— Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America
The former president emphasized the importance of hiring a diverse workforce, explaining that it helps companies (especially in technology) avoid blind spots. “If you’re running a business right now, and you’ve got no African Americans or Latinos or Asian Americans… around the table, you’re missing a marker,” he said. “I still believe the internet could be a powerful tool for us to see each other and unify us,” he added, “But right now, it’s splintering.”