You might not expect an evening with Eric Ries (author of The Startup Way + creator of the lean startup methodology) and Adam Grant (Wharton’s Top Rated Professor + author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B) to include a ballet performance, talk of pixie dust, multiple Game of Thrones references, and an emphasis on failure, but that’s exactly what an audience of creatives, entrepreneurs, and business leaders got on October 16, 2017 at the Prince Theater.
Prior to the start of the official program, BalletX treated VIP ticket holders to a taste of their groundbreaking choreography, demonstrating how they push the envelope of classical dance for today’s audience. While networking in the theater foyer, attendees could scrawl answers to provocative questions about innovation on the wall for all to see. (Thanks to AIGA Philadelphia for providing that experience.)
Ries and Grant took the stage first for a conversation about how organizations big and small can use startup techniques to drive growth and adapt quickly in today’s fast-changing world. Ries shared his experience working with large enterprises such as GE to help them be more agile – experiences that are at the core of his latest book, The Startup Way. Ries found himself explaining to company executives that lean startup is a “methodology, not magic pixie dust.”
Declaring that he “eat[s] failure for breakfast,” Ries stressed the importance of not being afraid to fail – something that gets in the way of middle managers at many enterprise-level firms. There’s far too much uncertainty in the world to eliminate failure altogether; the key is to “fail fast” and “celebrate” the learning that comes with it.
When asked how Philadelphia can win the Amazon bid, Ries spoke ABC’s language: the key, he said, is to highlight Greater Philadelphia’s thriving arts and culture scene. It’s these “lifestyle factors” that draw people to cities.
Grant and Ries were then joined onstage by Comcast’s Ebony Lee, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development, for a conversation about mentorship and the company’s forthcoming launch of Comcast LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs, which includes a mentorship powered by Techstars . Adam Grant’s take? “It’s crazy that companies don’t have a coach when athletes and musicians do,” said Grant. “You can’t see yourself honestly like a coach can.” Lee followed up, “we know the learning between corporations and startups is a two-way street. That is one reason we launched Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs, a program that will partner entrepreneurs and business leaders,” says Lee. “We’re thrilled to be part of this event and take part in the conversation about how teams of all sizes can collaborate to be more nimble in today’s rapidly-changing marketplace.”
Vanguard’s Lisha Davis, Head of the Vanguard Innovation Studio, then took the stage for ABC’s Strategy Salon, where regional leaders share ideas, initiatives, and/or questions for thought leaders like Ries and Grant. “Successful innovation doesn’t happen overnight. It requires an environment that fosters collaboration and experimentation, and provides individuals with the necessary resources and flexibility to bring their ideas to fruition. Vanguard’s Innovation Studio enables us to be more efficient, with a centralized decision maker and process for taking calculated risks, away from the daily demands of the business,” says Davis. “We’re excited to share Vanguard’s story, and learn from other innovation leaders in the region.”
Michelle Berryman, Managing Director, Strategy + Innovation, LiquidHub and Toan Hyunh, Accenture’s Managing Director of the Fintech Innovation Lab, Cloudfirst Financial Services and Liquid Studios all contributed to this innovative panel/mini TED talk mashup that led to discussions about being “people-centric,” innovation, and the value of prototyping.
Click here to view a gallery of photos from Startup Way.