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20 Insightful TED Talks that Inspire Corporate Innovation

"Innovation" is one of the most frequent terms you will hear in a corporate environment. Nowadays, if a company wants to survive in the long run it is important to foster innovation. The host of new technologies are changing every industry driving us into a new era of business prosperity.

Consequently, implementing corporate innovation is crucial for every organization that wants to thrive in a competitive market.

Innovation is a journey. In order to implement innovation, it is important for a corporate to create the framework conditions for a creative and motivated performance of the business and its employees.

Explore the startup ecosystem →

If you want to better understand what corporate innovation is, there are many helpful business presentations online. Some of the best and most captivating free sources of educational presentations that you can learn from and even help improve your presentation skills are TED talks.

[Related Article - 76 Surprising Facts About Corporate Innovation]  

guy giving presentation on stage black and white


What are TED talks?

TED talks are a collection of short talks that last less than 18 minutes where an endless range of topics are discussed. The acronym TED translates to technology, education, and design. They are known to attract some of the most successful, charismatic and engaging speakers from all over the world who want to spread their innovative ideas. TED talks are there to inform, inspire and entertain.

Valuer.ai created a curated collection of 20 TED talks that are aimed to inspire and educate you about corporate innovation. The list is perfect for any growth-minded entrepreneur and intrapreneurial executive.


1. "Business model innovation – beating yourself at your own game"

Stefan Gross-Selbeck

Stefan Gross-Selbeck, Global Managing Partner at BCG Digital Ventures and business transformation expert discusses how startups are driving innovation, and what legacy companies can learn from their success.

Almost every industry has been shaken up by disruptive startups like Uber with taxis or Airbnb with hotels. Gross-Selbeck explains how companies can implement strategies to replicate this spirit of hyper-innovation and disruption following in the footsteps of companies like Netflix.

"If you are a manager in a big company I think you have a choice. You can either try to look and learn from startups and improve your ability to discover new business models or sit back and relax and watch as software eats the world until someone made your lun."

Stefan Gross-Selbeck


2. "Want to Innovate? Become a "now-ist"

—  Joi Ito

Joi Ito, a Japanese-American activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Director of Mit Media Lab shares a new bottom-up approach to creating. According to this bottom up approach, employees should be encouraged to create in the moment, without worrying whether their idea is wrong or right or to be expecting an approval from top management. Creating a company culture that fosters this approach is seen in the most exciting projects that are rising today and starts with being open and choosing "now" over "in the future".

"Don't be a futurist. Be a now-ist'"

Joe Lot


3. "Smart failure for a fast-changing world"

Eddie Obeng

Eddie explains how fast the world is evolving in the digital age and how the majority of us are not ready to handle the pace of change as we are following old rules: “Somebody or something has changed the rules about how the world works.”

He mentions three important changes that we should understand for better productivity. Also, he highlights the importance of innovation and encourages us to take the risk and try something new.

You're doing something new, no one's ever done before, you get it completely wrong. How should you be treated Well, free pizzas! You should be treated better than the people who succeed. It's called smart failure. Why? Because you can't put it on your C.V.

Eddie Obeng



4. "How to build a company where the best ideas win"

Ray Dalio

In order to succeed within your organization by using innovation, there is a need to prioritize the best ideas. In this TED talk, Dalio highlights the importance of radical transparency and algorithmic decision-making to create a world where people can express their opinions and say what they really have on their minds. Learn how these strategies helped Ray Dalio a global billionaire investor one of the world’s biggest hedge funds.

“Imagine if you knew what they were really thinking, and imagine if you knew what they were really like … and imagine if they knew what you were really thinking and what were really like. It would certainly clear things up a lot and make your operations together more effective.”  

Ray Dalio


5. "The surprising habits of original thinkers"

Adam Grant

Have you ever questioned how creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "original thinkers". Original thinkers are people who not only have unique ideas but also take action to bring them to life.

After declining to invest in one of the world's most innovative companies - Warby Parker - Adam Grant came up with three surprising habits of originals he detected- including embracing failure.


6. "The art of innovation"

Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist of Canva. Before his current position, Guy had a background of experience with Motorola, Google, and Apple. He has written 11 books, has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA. Without any exaggeration, Guy Kawasaki is more than qualified to discuss the art of innovation. In his speech at TEDxBerkeley, he gives 10 tips that managed service providers(MSPs) can use to improve their businesses and master "The Art of Innovation".

"It starts with the desire to make meaning as opposed to make money. Making meaning means that you change the world. If you happen to change the world, you will make money. But If you start off with the sole desire to make money you probably won't make money, won't make meaning, you won't change the world and you will probably fail."  

Guy Kawasaki


7. "How diversity makes teams more innovative"

Rocio Lorenzo

Is diversity in a company related to innovation? After surveying 171 companies, Rocio Lorenzo and her team concluded that the answer was a clear yes. Rocio proceeds to discuss further the findings she found on the survey that only prove that diversity could be treated as a competitive advantage for a company to produce fresher, more creative ideas.

“They understand, they understand that diversity is making their organization more innovative, better. And by embracing diversity, by embracing diverse talent, we are providing true opportunity for everyone.”

Rocio Lorenzo


8. "How play leads to great inventions"

—  Steven Johnson

Necessity hasn't always been the reason behind great inventions. Steven Johnson popular science author and media theorist shows how many of the most life changing ideas and technologies, like the computer, emerged from the strange satisfaction of playing. During his talk, he will take you back in time to explore the history of invention.

“Necessity isn’t always the mother of invention. The playful state of mind is fundamentally exploratory, seeking out new possibilities in the world around us. “

Steven Johnson


9. "5 ways to lead in an era of constant change"

Jim Hemerling

Organizational change expert Jim Hemerling supports that adapting your business in today's constantly-evolving world could be empowering and energizing instead of exhausting. In the following Ted talk, he comes up with five imperatives that have one thing in common; putting people first.

“In the era of “always-on” transformation, organizations are always going to be transforming. But doing so does not have to be exhausting. We owe it to ourselves, to our organizations and to society more broadly to boldly transform our approach to transformation. To do that, we need to start putting people first.”

Jim Hemerling 


10. "Can you innovate within large organizations?"

Joshua Mitro Lavra

Joshua Lavra talks about the idea of intrapreneurship; the entrepreneurship within an organization. For a corporation to be sustainable today, it's important to use innovation and creativity.

He recommends some strategies that will help corporations innovate and grow by encouraging people to share their ideas and allow them to be cultural contributors rather than just being part of a cultural fit of an organization.

"Intrapreneurship is the idea of being an entrepreneur within an organization. The idea of intrapreneurship is really interesting because it encourages people to sort of innovateeven though they are part of something much larger than themselves."

Joshua Mitro Lavra


11. "How to manage for collective creativity"

Linda Hill

Linda Hill is a Management professor at the Harvard Business University and studies collective genius. She spent ten years observing up close exceptional leaders of innovation from different countries and industries to come up with a variety of tools and approaches to keep great ideas coming from every individual in the company.

In this video, she explains how innovation is a type of collaborative problem solving among people who have different skills and different viewpoints and gives her insight on how to manage collective creativity.

"Innovation is not about solo genius, it's about collective genius. "

Linda Hill


12. "Reigniting creativity in business"

—  Alan Iny

"The only thing that is absolutely required for practical creativity is to start with doubt"  says Alan Iny  - BCG's global specialist in creativity and scenario planning. Creativity has never been more essential to stay competitive in the business world.

However, the practical application of a creative approach is often lacking. Alan Iny finds the key to thinking outside the box is to apply doubt. He gives many examples of various companies that succeeded in an uncertain environment as well as great leaders who demonstrate "doubt".

"The only thing that is absolutely required for practical creativity is to start with doubt".

Alan Iny

13. "India's invisible innovation"

Nirmalya Kumar

Have you ever thought of India as a global hub for innovation? The truth is, India has already become a global hub and Nirmalya Kumar in the following Ted talk details the four types of "invisible" innovation coming out of India; product innovation, outsourcing innovation, process innovation, and management innovation.

He also explains why companies that used to outsource manufacturing jobs have started moving top management positions abroad as well.

"There are 433,000 people now at IBM, out of which 98,000 are remaining in the U.S., and 150,000 are in India. So you tell me, is IBM an American company, or an Indian company? "

Nirmalya Kumar


14. "The era of open innovation"

Charles Leadbeater

Charles Leadbeater says that innovation is democratizing and it is not a matter of professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs and buyers are contributing by developing products and paradigms that companies can't - something that crowdfunding platforms are proving. In the video, Leadbeter discusses how collaboration can help develop new ideas and create disruptive innovation.

"So this is about companies built on communities, that provide communities with tools, resources, platforms in which they can share.”

Charles Leadebeater


15. "The new rules of innovation"

Carl Bass

Carl Bass is president and chief executive officer of Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. In the following video, he covers the new rules of innovation.

According to Carl Bass, innovation is happening continuously and will continue to accelerate because of the five trends he mentions in the video; the age of access and experience, business un-usual, digital fabrication, the rise of information and infinite computing. Watch the video to better understand the new rules of innovation as presented by Carl Bass himself in a very captivating speech.

"Individuals who break the rules who make those new innovations. And those who are really successful are breaking the rules. In fact, what they are really doing is creating the "new rules". And in a never-ending cycle those new rules will have to broken as well."

Carl Bass



16. "4 ways to build a human company in the age of machines"

Tim Leberecht

In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is important to maintain our humanity. This means it is important to design organizations and workplaces that celebrate the authenticity instead of efficiency. In the video, Leberecht proposes four admittedly subjective principles for building "beautiful organizations".

“In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need a new radical humanism. We must acquire and promote a new aesthetic and sentimental education. Because if we don’t, we might end up feeling like aliens in organizations and societies that are full of smart machines that have no appreciation whatsoever for the unnecessary, the intimate, the incomplete and definitely not for the ugly.”

Tim Leberecht


17. "The puzzle of motivation"

Dan Pink

Career analyst Dan Pink delves into the traditional reward system, especially when it comes to the workplace. Often, traditional rewards aren't as effective as we think and are draining our creativity. He highlights the importance of finding passion in the things we do because otherwise, it's really hard to stay motivated.

“The science confirms what we know in our hearts. So, if we repair this mismatch between science and business, if we bring our motivation, notions of motivation into the 21st century, if we get past this lazy, dangerous, ideology of carrots and sticks, we can strengthen our businesses, we can solve a lot of those candle problems, and maybe, maybe — we can change the world.”

Dan Pink


18. "How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done"

Yves Morieux

Business consultant Yves Morieux has discovered in his research that productivity has been decreasing dramatically since the 1950's. The excessive rules that each business adopts leads to a waste of time on things that don't matter. The solution to this problem as he mentions in his talk is cooperation.

“We need to create organizations in which it becomes individually useful for people to cooperate. Remove the interfaces, the middle offices — all these complicated coordination structures. Don’t look for clarity; go for fuzziness.”

Yves Morieux


19. "Two reasons how companies fail  - and how to avoid them"

Knut Haanaes

Business strategist Knut Haanaes starts his talk by mentioning the two reasons why companies fail; they only do more of the same or only do what's new. The key for a successful organization is to find a way to balance between perfecting what we already know and exploring a new scope of ideas. In his talk, Haanaes shares his insight on how to do it and also how to avoid falling into these two common traps.

“So let me leave you with this. Whether you’re an explorer by nature or whether you tend to exploit what you already know, don’t forget: the beauty is in the balance.”

Knut Haanaes


20. "The surprising ingredient that makes businesses work better"

Marco Alverà

Unfairness often triggers us so strongly that we can't think straight and when it comes to the workplace, unfairness makes people defensive and disengaged - says Marco Alverà. Alverà, CEO of Snam, shares his insight into how his company works to create a culture of fairness where people are able to do what they feel is right instead of what's selfish. The results from a company whose culture is sharing this secret ingredient is surprising.

“So removing unfairness and promoting fairness should be our priority. But what does it mean in practice? Is it about more rules? Is it about systems? Is it about equality? Well, partly, but fairness is more interesting than rules and equality. Fairness works in surprising ways.”

Marco Alverà 


In Conclusion

There's a lot to learn about corporate innovation, and TedTalks are a good way to start. Technology is constantly evolving and there's a saying among the technology companies that it's not the big that eat the small but rather the fast that eats the slow.

Explore the startup ecosystem

There is no doubt that innovation is important for every industry, therefore, traditional corporations should change their way of thinking and keep an open mind to new challenges. The rules are changing and the pace is quickening. In order to innovate, a business should re-think its business model and encourage creativity with employees.

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