“Innovation is about getting your staff to act differently”
He was among the 100 Most Creative People in Business selected by Fast Company in 2009, has been CCO of Joost.com and he currently works as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures. Henrik Werdelin is passionate about innovation and has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.
- You have a degree in Journalism. What do you think about the current situation of the media industry? Are paywalls a solution?
Journalism is changing quite dramatically: from the democratisation of news sourcing via Twitter and YouTube, through the trend towards being quick rather than being right, to the sheer volume of content sources. However, I think the media industry’s properties are just being extended.
You have always had bad populist reporters – now you just have more of them; but you have also always had passionate analytical storytellers, and now you can find them more easily. When it comes to monetisation, I think the solutions are many and depend of the nature of the content: from classic advertising for content that is easy to get everywhere else, to getting personal social currency and making money via consultancy for blogs, to doing paywalls for great reporting or insight analysis.
- How do you generate innovation?
First of all, forget about quarterly off-site brainstorms. It’s not about thinking differently; it’s about getting your staff to act differently. You create innovation by thinking a bit like an architect, social-engineer the daily workplace, so your staff is rewarded for behaviour that is proven to provide more innovation. These are things like taking risks, sharing ideas, mingling with colleagues from different fields and so on. You then become what Miller and Wedell from IESE Business School call an ‘Innovation Architect’. So, in my view, you generate innovation by building it into the structure of the workplace.
Another alternative is to align your company strategy with structures that can support innovation. That can be via a good acquisition strategy, or you can work with innovation companies like Prehype.
- Do you think an event like HitBarcelona can help entrepreneurs to achieve their goals?
Entrepreneurs always benefit for learning from best practices and other founders’ experience. I find that many entrepreneurs have made mistakes that could easily have been avoided by reading some books, getting some advice from mentors or taking inspiration from successful companies. HitBarcelona has managed to attract a good number of high-end VCs, tech companies and founders – so I am sure that there will be plenty of tips of the trade that entrepreneurs can benefit from. Beside, one goal that entrepreneurs should have is to meet interesting people and enjoy being their own boss. So, with that goal in mind, I am sure a trip to Barcelona will be good for them.