Pedro Moneo (Madrid, 1977) comes from a family of researchers. He firmly believes that innovation happens when there is a lot of change. And he has lived it like this in the first person since he came to the US as a Nuclear Engineer shortly after the September 11 attack until he created Opinno on the same day as the Lehman Brothers crash. From her vantage point as the Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, we talked about leadership and innovation.
How do you understand innovation?
There are many ways to define innovation. Throughout my professional career I have identified with some and later with others. In my first steps as an entrepreneur, I have aligned myself a lot with the definition that is most heard at MIT, which says that innovation is invention plus commercialization. This vision reinforces that inventing is important, but an invention that is not sold and that does not reach the market does not help us to change things. Ten years after launching Opinno, I am now concerned about scalability. I am obsessed with how the technology we use around the world today is the result of the inventions of very few people, and how those inventions have managed to spread to become universal. Creating scalable innovation that changes things is another level of innovation. It is much more difficult, but much more exciting as an entrepreneurial project.
What is the role of the CEO in innovation?
I believe that the more intense the innovative effort of an organization, the role of the CEO is more similar to that of an entrepreneur, fundamentally in two aspects: 1. Highly innovative organizations are very sensitive to talent. For this reason, helping to define and defend the values of the organization is a fundamental task of the CEO. The values and culture of the organization are what will allow to attract, retain and make the best talent in the market productive. 2. Be a spokesperson for the mission: A highly innovative organization is going to be subjected to many stresses of change, which usually generates confusion and anxiety in work teams. It is important for the CEO to act as a guiding beacon, so that when team members become disoriented, they can remember the mission and direction in which they need to work. Defending the mission implies maintaining a long-term vision despite day-to-day setbacks.
What qualities make a good thought leader? What do you value most when hiring a close collaborator to transform?
At Opinno we have worked hard to identify what qualities or values are repeated in leaders and innovative teams. These values seem so important to us that they have become the main skeleton of our organization and articulate our strategic objectives, recruitment and evaluation processes, training plans and even our way of choosing whether or not we want to work with a client who offers us a challenge. Keeping complete consistency with values makes organizations strong. The values that we consider most important are five: 1. Leadership, vision, vocation to change things, think big. 2. Curiosity to learn, listening skills, creativity. 3. Seek excellence, be committed to your work. 4. Be empathetic, work well in a team.5. Be upright and honest, worry about the final impact of your work.
How has the digital transformation changed your sector and your company?
As a consequence of the digital transformation, today there is a need for professionals specialized in increasingly specific and sophisticated areas of knowledge, which are also frequently renewed and require constant education or retraining of experts. In Opinno we have discovered that the best talent in the world does not want to be on anyone’s payroll and that has led us to rethink what the consulting business will be like in the future, and the answer is that consulting should and will be interrupted by the collaborative models. Consultants will have smaller nuclei and large networks of experts orbiting around us and participating in projects aligned with their area of expertise.Today, Opinno actively uses a large network of experts in its consulting projects, but maintains your project managers as your own staff. We have opted for a hybrid model between traditional consulting and the collaborative economy, which allows us to maintain closeness with our clients and ensure the quality of our work, while being scalable and specialists in any technological field.
In your professional or life trajectory, what has been your most complex challenge related to innovation? What did you learn from that experience?
Without a doubt, my biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has been scaling my own company. We have achieved this by paying close attention to our culture and values, defining very well how we work (we have reflected our methodology in a book called “The Opinno Way”), the technological platform that enables collaboration between us and, finally, providing much attention to the community of consultants and experts who work with us.