In early August I participated in a strategic planning meeting in the Boston area. I was there in my role as a board member of the Institute for Data Driven Design (ID3), a research and educational nonprofit established to help define the principles, contracts and rules needed to empower individuals to assert greater control over their personal data and digital identities. To implement and enforce these principles, ID3 is developing an open software trust framework platform along with a variety of software tools and algorithms.
ID3 was co-founded by MIT Media Lab Professor Sandy Pentland and by Media Lab Research Scientist John Clippinger. They both participated in the planning meeting, along with senior executives from one of ID3’s industrial partners. The objective of the meeting was to explore potential collaborations between the industrial partner and ID3.
At the beginning of the meeting a few of us made brief introductory remarks. I was asked to talk about the organizational challenges that companies generally face when embracing disruptive innovations like those being developed by ID3. This is a topic I am quite familiar with having lived through it at different times in my career as well as being a subject I often discuss in seminars. Given that I had 15 minutes for my introductory remarks, I distilled them into three key points: the need for a clear, compelling strategy that the whole organization can rally around; the management of disruptive innovation initiatives; and the importance of top-down leadership and support. Let me elaborate on each of these points.