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Exploring 10x ideas and uncomfortable situations at mcb tech .22

By nature, we prefer to ask easy questions and follow the path of least resistance. mcb tech .22 taught us that innovation demands that we ask uncomfortable questions and embrace inconvenient situations, because only then can we break out of old habits, stumble upon new ideas, and find better ways to deliver value to customers.

Photo: Gunnbjörg Gunnarsdottir

mcb tech is about inspiring people to take a leap into the future, into the unknown, and to give them a glimpse into the crystal ball of future trends and opportunities. This has been our mantra since we first launched the conference in 2018, but not even we could foresee the global pandemic ushering in a wave of radical innovation, new business models, and new ways of thinking.

While the global pandemic was, no doubt, a tough and strenuous time, it also represented a global spark of innovation and a rapid, unprecedented force of change. A key takeaway from this year's mcb tech conference is that crises, calamities, or even just small inconveniences can sometimes be just what we need to push ourselves to new heights, explore bold ideas and break out of old patterns.

The lineup boasted both Norwegian and international speakers of world-class caliber with different perspectives on how to capitalize on the future trends on the tech scene, and how to identify innovative ideas worth investing in. Together we explored The metaverse, responsible AI, Green Computing, Cyber Security, EU regulations, Corporate innovation Strategies, and the power of friction to force innovation and change.

Below are some of our learnings and key takeaways from this year's conference:

From the left: Sofie Hvitved, Benedict Evans, Tendayi Viki, Agnes Stenbom and Tim Harford. Photo: Gunnbjörg Gunnarsdottir

Distinguishing great ideas from bad ones is nearly impossible. People often talk about finding the "10X ideas", meaning ideas that are 10 times better than what your main competitors are doing. To those people, corporate innovation expert Tendayi Viki's message was clear: you wouldn't recognize a 10X idea if it was staring you in the face.

But innovation isn't only about having ideas. Anyone can have ideas, and there is no shortage of them. According to Viki, it's about turning those ideas into profitable products and creating a market fit between what your customer wants and what your innovation brings to the table. If you cannot find this product/market fit you cannot truly call yourself an innovator, and your idea is headed for certain death.

The only sure-fire way of discovering great ideas is to have many of them, make lots of small bets and not be afraid to "kill your babies". Companies should also continuously evaluate their ideas based on market research and actual feedback from customers. However, you shouldn't blindly believe what your customers tell you either, because people tend to lie to avoid uncomfortable situations - like telling you your idea is actually not that great.

Tim Harford and Siri Lill Mannes. Photo: Gunnbjörg Gunnarsdottir

Economist, Journalist, and Expert Storyteller Tim Harford's keynote accentuated this fact through his stories about how innovation often happens at random and is powered by friction and inconvenient situations. He referenced Psychologist Daniel Kahneman's research that people tend to substitute hard, but necessary questions with easy, but wrong ones. For instance, if you had a great time at your team workshop, and finished it in a good mood, you're likely to confuse that feeling of having a good time with having produced a good result - which isn't necessarily true. In fact, research shows that by introducing some inconvenience or awkwardness, like inviting a total stranger to attending your workshop, the end result is likely to be better.

In other words, one way to prepare for the future is to get used to asking uncomfortable questions and embrace difficult situations, because they force us to break out of old habits and find new ideas.

We hope mcb tech .22 also inspired some new ideas, and that you, like us, are already looking forward to mcb tech .23!