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How Language Impacts Innovation


How Language Impacts Innovation

Kaihan Krippendorff shares an article that identifies how to use language to stimulate innovation.

Last week, the Outthinker Strategy Network (OSN) hosted our first in-person roundtable of the year at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, once a site of abandoned prison buildings and mental institutions, has been transformed into a hub of innovation.

Opened in 2017, the Cornell Tech campus and its Tata Innovation Center are strikingly futuristic. Verizon completed construction on its executive education center on the campus last year. As we walked up to the conference center, the metamorphosis was clear—young professionals lounged on grassy hilltops and students buzzed in lively conversation beneath a glimmering skyline backdrop.

Floor-to-ceiling windows around campus revealed thinkers and executives deep in discussion inside modern conference spaces and open floor plans. At the campus’ Graduate Hotel, the OSN event attendees – 24 chief strategy officers and heads of strategy for leading companies – gathered to share the trends and challenges at the top of their agendas. In such an environment, naturally, topics related to innovation came up for everyone in attendance.

These were some of the questions and challenges we heard from chief strategy officers that day:

How do you balance innovation investment with maintaining a healthy bottom line?  

What initiatives have you successfully attempted to establish a culture of innovation and experimentation?  

How do you innovate in a conservative corporate culture where innovation projects will not move the needle against the core business until 2-3 years down the line? 

Hacking the short-term/long-term dilemma

The priority struggle between “core” and “explore” has been a question in strategy for decades, but with today’s climate of ongoing uncertainty and new emergent technologies that promise future disruption, a company’s focus on innovation is becoming even more essential.

Strategy leaders face the challenge of diverting executive leadership teams’ attention to look further into the mid-term (2- to 3-year) and long-term (5-year) horizons. And when it comes to building a culture of innovation throughout the organization, strategists are finding that your innovation messaging matters.


Key points include:

  • Hacking the short-term/long-term dilemma
  • Driving major acceleration
  • The influence game


Read the full article, Language that Unleashes Innovation, on