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Roberto Verganti      

Professor of Leadership & Innovation, Director of The Garden – Center for Design and Leadership at Stockholm School of Economics, Faculty in Design Theory and Practice at Harvard Business School

Roberto Verganti is Professor of Leadership and Innovation at the Stockholm School of Economics – House of Innovation, where he is Director of The Garden – Center for Design and Leadership. He also in the Faculty of the Harvard Business School, where he teaches Integrated Design, and is a co-founder of Leadin’Lab, the laboratory on the LEAdership, Design and Innovation at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano. Roberto serves on the Advisory Board of the European Innovation Council, at the European Commission.

Roberto’s research focuses on how to create innovations loved by people, both their users and their creators. He explores how leaders and organizations generate radically new visions, and make those visions come real. His studies lie at the intersection between leadership, design and technology strategy. In his research Roberto combines methodologies of in-depth analysis of cases with experimentations with pioneering firms, in a variety of industries and contexts.

Roberto is the author of “Overcrowded. Designing Meaningful Products in a World Awash with Ideas”, published by MIT Press in 2017, where he provides processes and methods to create breakthrough transformations. He is also the author of “Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating what Things Mean”, published by Harvard Business Press in 2009, which has been selected by BusinessWeek as one of the Best Design an Innovation Books, and by the Academy of Management for the George R. Terry Book Award as one of the best 6 management books published in 2008 and 2009. It has been translated in 8 languages. His research on management of design and design clusters has been awarded the Compasso d'Oro (the most prestigious design award in Italy).

Roberto has issued more than 150 articles, including “Developing Products on Internet Time” published on Management Science, and “Innovating Through Design”, “Which Kind of Collaboration is Right for You”, “Designing Breakthrough Products”, and “The Innovative Power of Criticism” all published on the Harvard Business Review. He is in the Hall of Fame of the Journal of Product Innovation Management and has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek. Roberto is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review online magazine.

Roberto, together with his team of likeminded researchers-consultants, has served as advisor to executives and senior managers at a wide variety of manufacturing and service firms including Ferrari, Ducati, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Gucci, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Zappos, Microsoft, IBM, Johnson&Johnson, Nestlè, Philips, 3M, Tetrapak, ARUP, NTT, Deloitte. He has also helped national and regional governments around the world to conceive design and innovation policies.

Speech Topics

"What? You too?” - The power of pairs in innovation

We tend to think that innovation comes either from a lonely genius or from a community. Yet, if we look at many stories of breakthrough ventures, we discover that at the core there often is a pair: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The magic number in innovation is 2.

Innovation of course requires people and resources. The more we are, the better it is. But there are key moments, in any innovation journey, where things move forward only through the close collaboration between two persons. The trusted protected environment of a pair enable us to dare sharing half backed and unorthodox ideas, before exposing them to a larger audience. It also creates frank dynamics of mutual challenges and growth, just like sparring partners in boxing: I challenge you because I want you to win. Finally, when we are committed to another specific person, we feel personally accountable to her: when the journey will be at risk, I will hardly step back. The intimate space between two people is therefore a source of protection, reflection, resilience, which is essential to create breakthroughs. How do you find your sparring partner for your innovation journey? How do you create and nurture the intimate space that enables the two of you to go where you would never go alone? How do you move between collaboration in a large community, and pair collaboration?

This speech will tell you the unveiled secrets of many innovation leaders: the capability to pick and work with an inspiring sparring partner.

Design-Driven Transformation

Leaders know how difficult it is to drive transformation in an organization. Traditional change management paradigms promoted a classic top-down approach, assuming that people is unwilling to change: they suggest the creation of a burning platform, the communication of a change program, and the extrinsic motivation of people. And they fail.

Design Thinking is offering leaders a totally new perspective on how do drive transformation: an engaging bottom up approach, pervasive, inspired by purpose and meaning, centred on users. With Design Thinking people drive change rather than being driven into change. This speech explains why Design Thinking is the next revolution in the theories of business transformation. It shows how it works and how you can use it to become a pioneer in leadership and growth.

Overcrowded - Designing Meaningful Innovations in a World Awash with Ideas

We live in a world awash with ideas. We have become more creative, and thanks to digital technologies, we have easy access to an unprecedented amount of novel opportunities. How to make sense of this overabundance of opportunities? How to envision the next big thing? How to avoid trying everything and fall into the paradox of ideas (the more ideas we create the less we innovate)? To succeed in an overcrowded world we need a meaningful direction. To focus our creativity and the creativity of others towards a new, shared purpose. The speech shows how to take the first crucial step in any innovation journey: the design of a meaningful direction. It provides the mindset, the process, and the tools. Leveraging on the experiences of firms such as Apple, Yankee Candle, Nest Labs, Philips, Gucci, Deloitte, it shows how we can nurture a new purpose that is actionable, and that people love.

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