In a packed classroom at Ghent University, prof.dr. Stefan Stremersch was bestowed the prestigious International Francqui Chair award. Sometimes referred to as “Belgium’s Nobel Prize”, Francqui award winners have to give an inaugural lecture to receive the honor.
Our team at MTI² helped organize an unforgettable event on the occasion. We were very happy and grateful to welcome over 250 people – both academics, practitioners, family and friends - at this event. We were delighted to see some of our clients in the audience, such as Michelin, KLM-Air France, Alcatel Lucent, SKF, SABIC, Caesar Groep, and many others.
The inaugural address was followed by a panel discussion with distinguished guests such as Jacques van den Broek (CEO of Randstad), Kris Peeters (Deputy Prime Minister Belgian Government and Minister of Employment, Economy and Consumer Affairs, in charge of Foreign Trade), Peter Claes (Director Media and Production, VRT) and Marnix Botte (President Belgian Industrial Research and Development Association (BiR&D).
The title of Stefan's inaugural address was "Wiring Innovation in Firms' DNA." The talk combined insights from Stefan's consulting experience at MTI² with scientific knowledge on employee creativity, ability and motivation to explain how firms can design winning grassroots innovation processes. Grassroots innovation refers to any process or initiative where a large share of the “employee crowd” is asked to come up with innovative ideas to help create new business for the company. Our team at MTI2 has also been collaborating with Stefan in his multi-year research program on how firms can best design and implement grassroots innovation processes that are capable of successfully harnessing the wisdom of the employee crowd. In the talk, it became clear that innovation success comes from a delicate balance between three grassroots principles (autonomy, ability and attachment) and the type of control mechanisms a firm puts in place (e.g., an enabling vs. coercive leadership style).
In this research, we have now collected data from more than 2,000 firms on this topic and, so, soon we will be able to share more empirical results about this ongoing research. For now, we can already confidently say that rather than seeing innovation as the responsibility of a "lab elite", firms are better off if they adopt grassroots principles.
The video below shows some highlights of this event in a four-minute video: