What’s a leader’s opinion worth in the Innovation Age? That value is changing, and so is the role of leadership, Intuit Co-founder Scott Cook told the audience at the 2012 World Innovation Forum in New York City.
In Cook’s talk, “Leadership in the Innovation Age,” he described how leading organizations, including Intuit, are now using rapid experimentation as a key tool in driving innovation and growth at their companies.
This new model for leadership is a shift from an era where the opinion of the senior leadership is being replaced by data from actual experiments with customer behavior as the core foundation for decision-making. In other words, it is a shift from bosses voting with their opinions to customers voting with their feet.
Cook described some of the keys to creating a successful culture of rapid experimentation. First, leaders must allow ideas and hypotheses to come from anywhere in a company, not just the top. These hypotheses must then be quickly turned into experiments. And then the data and insights from these experiments need to be incorporated into new iterations of products and services.
Instilling a culture of rapid experimentation and using this approach to develop new offerings is working for Intuit. Intuit’s TurboTax business unit went from conducting seven experiments in 2005 to 141 in 2012. This new approach enabled ideas to prove themselves and allowed small teams to do what they once thought impossible.
Those are the kind of results that make many leaders take notice and embrace their new role in the Innovation Age.