Around this time last year I was honored to attend the annual EY-Syntec Top 250 Awards gala in Paris and accept, on behalf of the Cosmo Tech team, the 2016 Innovation Prize. As you might deduce, this prize recognizes the French software company that is the most innovative of the year and has the deepest commitment to fundamental R&D. I couldn’t wait to get back to the team and share this award with the amazing team of people who make Cosmo Tech a reality.
Later, though, on the TGV and heading back to Cosmo Tech’s headquarters in Lyon, I remember I got to thinking about what made Cosmo Tech really innovative.
The obvious answer might seem to be our technology which I know is truly transformational for our clients. Our applications power 10x returns for our clients and help them find the optimal way through and extract value out of their complex industrial systems.
But let’s be honest: hasn’t every technology company got a great product these days? And isn’t every technology promising 10x returns on investment?
While Cosmo Tech’s applications might be innovative compared to the competition, I don’t think it is really enough to claim a mantle as an innovative company.
The real innovation at Cosmo Tech is located elsewhere. It is what drives the creation of our technology, not what is coded into a machine or packaged neatly into a final product.
It’s our people, both who they are and how they think.
Cosmo Tech is made up of a very diverse group of men and women committed to helping transform every business they touch.
And when I say diverse, I mean it: Cosmonauts, as we call ourselves, come from 13 different countries, speak 11 different languages, and have experience working in every continent save Antarctica. From the youngest Cosmonaut who is just 23 years old through to our oldest, a still sprightly 59 years old, the team is the very definition of diverse.
This diversity means that when the Cosmo Tech team sets out to meet a challenge or solve a problem they bring an extraordinary range of perspectives to the table. They assess a challenge from different angles, question the unstated assumptions, find the ways into and through problems that a group of people from the same background and with the same experiences would never find, and create something truly innovative as a result. By acknowledging their differences and creating bridges between their diverse approaches they can create extraordinary value.
This diversity guarantees that we approach the challenges of our clients in ways that other firms won’t. In an environment where the buzzwords “big data” and “data driven analytics” will get you in the door of any big business looking to manage change, it is truly innovative to arrive at the table with a worldview that announces proudly that it is rejecting the big data approach, rejecting the search for correlations, and rejecting the notion that by learning how things worked in the past is the best way to understand how things will work in the future.
We’re not the only ones who have noticed this link between diversity and innovation. No less a journal than the Harvard Business Review has reported that “diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth”. A Forbes Insights report went further, concluding that diversity is not only a key driver of innovation but that it is a critical component for any business that wants to be successful on a global scale.
Scientific American explains that it “obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, non-routine problems”. Why? It’s because simply interacting with individuals who are different people to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
Here at Cosmo Tech we’ve gathered together a group of exceptional people from around the world, told them to extract value out of complexity, and set them loose on some of the most complex challenges in industry. I’m can’t say I am surprised by the innovation that this diverse team has created, but I am proud to be a part of France’s most innovative and transformational technology teams bringing clarity to some of the the world’s most complex industrial problems.