The Holy Grail Of Innovation In Today’s Digital Era

Sabrina Hardt

In the fourth industrial revolution, we are facing several shifts, from technology to social changes, at a pace we have never seen before. Challenges are as endless as the opportunities.

Innovation is often seen as the key to maneuver this exciting road, but it can be costly, risky and still an unknown terrain for organizations. Although many innovative businesses seem to be effortlessly turning creativity into value, others lack a structured approach for innovation.

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Identifying the foundation for innovation is key

In the digital economy, where the only certainty is change, the only sources of lasting competitive advantage are knowledge and skills. While companies are looking to keep pace with their competition, 64% of respondents to a recent IDT survey said they do not have the resources with the skills necessary for digital transformation. Skills and lifelong learning are the key enablers for innovation adoption and form the foundation for effectively executing digital strategies.

By 2020, one in five core skills in the workplace will be different than they were in  2015, and complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity are viewed among the top five most-needed skills, according to the World Economic Forum. This is an important change in the nature of work and needs to be taken seriously by individuals and organizations alike.

Challenging innovation is not as difficult as most believe

What makes innovative businesses so successful are: integrating innovation methodologies into their strategies, building an environment for continuous disruption, and celebrating success or failure alike. These enable workforces to use innovation tools and skills and thereby continuously embrace change from within the organization.

When design principals are applied to strategy or innovation, the success rate of innovation dramatically improves. A recent study has shown that over the last decade, companies that embraced design thinking and similar methodologies (such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Procter and Gamble, and SAP) have outperformed the S&P 500 over 200%. Design thinking is a methodology for creative resolution of problems of all kinds. When product designers are creating a new product, they go through a number of iterations of discovery, brainstorming, prototyping, and testing. Why not apply this to more than just product management?

This remarkable success has not gone unnoticed, and it has put design thinking at the core of strategy development and organizational change management. Organizations across the world are empowering themselves with innovation labs and departments, and some even have chief innovation officers on the board.

Taking into consideration that many individuals and organizations still lack the necessary structured approach and the right tools to unleash their innovation potential and connecting to a long history of innovation leadership, Winnovate was initiated. For more information, visit

Sabrina Hardt

About Sabrina Hardt

Sabrina Hardt is Chief Operating Officer of the Training and Development Institute at SAP. In this role, she leads the strategy office as well as oversees all central functions at the Institute. In parallel, Sabrina has a vast experience in creating, customizing and leading Design Thinking workshops for diverse target groups. She is recognized for her methodological ability as coach and mentor in design thinking as well as business model innovation.