How Boston Businesses Drive Global Innovation

Written by

Davin Wilfrid

Published on

October 8, 2019

Strategy without execution is just a fairy tale executives tell each other. The future belongs to organizations that can pursue strategy despite the obstacles in their way, and yet strategy execution is harder than ever. This is especially true for organizations that rely on innovation to drive new business, customer centricity, or efficiency. The second day of the Catalant Velocity Summit featured insights on driving innovation at scale to close the strategy-to-execution gap.

Scaling Startups To Success

Innovation is the lifeblood of startups, especially those that arise to fill customer experience gaps left behind by larger organizations. Day two of the Velocity Summit kicked off with a discussion on startup innovation featuring Mike Volpe, CEO of Lola, and Lucy McQuilken, CFO of Whoop

Both organizations faced challenges early on. Lola was pivoting from a consumer-focused travel website to corporate travel management software. Whoop was morphing from a high-end wearables maker to a subscription service for dedicated athletes. Both were able to maintain their ability to innovate through dramatic change management initiatives by focusing on a few key areas:

  • Radical transparency
    Volpe describes his leadership style as transparent to the point of vulnerability. Employees have access to the exact same data he has, from sales numbers to board presentations. This candor extends to strategy, so every employee can see how the work they do contributes to the successful execution of the company’s strategy. 
  • Communication and collaboration
    McQuilken singled out her organization’s use of Slack as a secret of rapid execution. For a team the size of Whoop’s, the ability to communicate and share more easily in a searchable, flexible tool like Slack keeps work flowing more easily. 
  • New solutions to old problems
    As Lola sought to expand its existing customer base, company leaders found themselves in need of market insights they lacked in-house. Partnering with Catalant, Volpe’s team was able to quickly find someone with 25 years of experience in the market to help shape the organization’s strategy. Breaking down the traditional barriers of a time-consuming full-time hire allowed Lola to get the right people on the right work faster. 
Strategy execution and innovation at Catalant Velocity Summit
Amy Villeneuve, Lucy McQuilken, and Mike Volpe at Catalant headquarters

The Hub of Innovation

Velocity Summit attendees concluded their time in Boston with an exclusive tour of some of the area’s most innovative companies. At the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology, we saw an innovation lab dedicated to providing new and innovative customer experiences and products. Fidelity already has more patents than all other financial services companies combined, and with 250 employees focused solely on innovation that advantage looks sure to continue. 

Innovation Fidelity at Catalant Velocity Summit
Touring the Fidelity Center for Applied Technologies
Scaling Innovation at Fidelity Labs
Fidelity has more patents than all other financial services organizations combined

In the Innovation and Design Building in South Boston, we saw how Autodesk is nurturing innovation by providing customers and non-customers the use of advanced robotics, materials, and computing power to create breakthroughs in architecture, engineering, and construction. We learned how Reebok is using cutting-edge technologies to develop new athletic gear for the next generation of elite athletes.

Innovation at Autodesk BUILD space Boston
The Autodesk BUILD space encourages residents to design groundbreaking materials and processes
Innovation at scale Reebok innovates athletic gear
Reebok is developing cutting-edge design and manufacturing techniques in its South Boston headquarters

Finally, the group enjoyed a guided tour of America’s Test Kitchen, where the seminal TV cooking show of the same name is filmed, and learned how the organization has branched from a print magazine to a television show to a fast-moving digital media company bringing the best in home cooking, kitchen gadgets, and more to its community.

Scaling innovation Americas Test Kitchen Velocity Summit
America's Test Kitchen learned to scale innovation across print, television, and digital as it grew

About Catalant

Catalant started as an expert marketplace to help businesses find expert freelancers to augment skills they didn’t have in-house. Since then we’ve partnered with organizations like Unilever, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Shell to provide a software platform for prioritizing and organizing important initiatives, quickly accessing the best people for the right work (regardless of their title, function, or even company), and making better business decisions.

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Author

Davin Wilfrid

Davin is the Director of Content Marketing for Catalant. In his spare time, he builds terrible-sounding instruments.