Curiosity is at the heart of innovation and in our two-year quest to explore the human side of innovation, this was another recurring theme. Todd Buzzard, CPA, CLFP, VP of the CLFP Board of Directors, and SVP of Finance at First American Equipment Finance, put it best when he said. “We cannot underestimate the significance of curiosity in driving learning and development. Individuals should maintain a curious mindset. It leads you to seek out information and explore various subjects. Remaining curious about life, work, and beyond is the first step. It opens new possibilities that you didn’t know existed.”

Sobat Khawaja, change management expert and partner at Provectus Consulting, also highlighted the importance of curiosity and agility when she said, “Learning agility is crucial in today’s fast-paced world. Organizations aiming for competitiveness and success must embed learning agility in their culture; this means fostering a desire for intellectual curiosity, rapid upskilling, and adaptability among employees. Change management has traditionally been all about adoption. But now, it’s adoption plus the ability to adapt. Inculcating digital readiness and learning agility is essential to thrive in today’s economy.”

While curiosity fuels innovation, another key aspect of continuous learning is mindset and preparation. Buzzard noted the importance of this when he said, “An investment mindset is important. Companies need to view training and development as an investment, providing opportunities for exploration and acknowledging that it may lead to unexpected outcomes. It is crucial to foster open discussions about the advantages of curiosity and share stories that demonstrate its impact on personal and professional growth. Curiosity plays a vital role in fostering innovation and growth at an individual and organizational level. By embracing curiosity and creating a supportive environment, individuals and companies can unlock new opportunities and drive continuous learning and improvement.”

Brooke Foster, also a change management expert and partner at Provectus Consulting, focuses on the importance of an investment mindset with her clients. She did not pull any punches when she stated, “My philosophy, shaped by working with clients, is clear: it’s either invest in change management upfront or pay for crisis management later. Neglecting the people side leads to rework, talent loss, and chaos. It’s a choice between proactively managing change or dealing with the costly aftermath. Change manager or crisis manager, it’s your choice.” Foster is right. When companies forget about humans and view innovation as tech only, that skewed mindset causes short-term thinking. When technology initiatives are rushed without proper planning and first considering the humans, it causes disastrous results.

Another key mindset shift is how we think about innovation itself. Tirza Hollenhorst, founder and CEO of LUMAN, and expert in strategy, culture design, and innovation said, “We often think of ‘big I’ innovation, whole new technologies, paradigms, and business models… But ‘Little i’ innovations are micro-changes required to function at the edge of change.” Jonathan Brill, innovation leader and global leader, took this concept even further when he said, “The key to strategy and thriving in the 21st century isn’t just growth; it’s linking resiliency and growth. That’s how we’re going to survive. That’s how we’re going to thrive. That’s how we’re going to win when the world changes.” Small scale innovation initiatives that protect the resiliency of a company are vitally important and can pay huge dividends.

Last, but certainly not least, as we explore and experiment with innovation initiatives in our organizations, getting educated on data privacy and responsibility is crucial. Anirban Basak, Founder and CEO of FortifID and a Fellow at MIT Connection Science, is passionate about this and envisions a privacy-first approach to innovation as we shape the future. He stated, “With the accelerating pace of innovation and the multitude of possibilities for digital interactions, the one topic that should never be an afterthought is data privacy and data responsibility. As an analogy, it took a while for the world to realize mental health matters. People started speaking; organizations took notice. Now corporations are ensuring people’s mental health matters. I envision an ecosystem where data providers, data consumers, and individuals care about personal data. Individuals know their rights under data protection regulations (GDPR, CCPA, CPRA, etc.) and make their voices heard that this issue matters. Data providers and consumers start to join this revolution; it can’t be just us; we have to do this together, so the ecosystem becomes better.” Prioritizing privacy around PPI is another way we can put humans first in our innovation initiatives.

We are so grateful for the insights and experiences shared by these generous and visionary leaders. It’s crystal clear that the heart of true innovation beats not in the latest gadgetry, but in the pulse of human ingenuity and curiosity. At TomorrowZone, we’re not just observers of this dynamic; we’re active participants, facilitators, and catalysts, igniting the spark of change in the Equipment Finance industry and beyond. Reach out to TomorrowZone today, and let’s turn your vision into a vibrant reality. The future is bright, and it starts with a conversation. Let’s talk.