Innovation Capital: Nathan Furr at Oslo Business Forum

How do established companies innovate and change? How do we come up with new ideas? How do we build a culture of innovation? For Nathan Furr, an innovation expert, the answer lies in something he calls innovation capital.

A winning innovation is more than the idea and more than the process to implementation, explains Nathan Furr. True successful innovation gets resources and idea buy-in, which he calls innovation capital. On stage, at the Oslo Business Forum, Furr reveals how innovation capital is the key. Furr, an award-winning author with a PhD from Stanford University, is a professor of strategy and innovation at INSEAD. 


Furr wanted to dig deeper and understand more about how established companies innovate. He took to studying and researching how businesses approach (technological) change, where ideas come from and which ideas get backing. 

Innovation capital explained

Innovation capital can only happen when three factors come together:

  • Human Capital: Who are you? 
    This relates to personal innovation skills. For example, to be forward thinking is a skill that is needed during great change and innovation. A forward-thinking individual will project and think what customers want next and what emerging technologies are needed.
  • Social Capital: Who do you know?
    Furr connects this to social resources, or networks. This focuses on building ties; increase the breadth and depth of your social network to grow social capital.
  • Reputation Capital: What are you known for? 
    This is linked to building a reputation; creating trust, taking control of tasks and challenging situations .

Combine these parts to create the groundwork and innovative leaders will emerge, but as Furr highlights, the key is for others to be convinced so they will follow. 


Pump up the volume

There are ways to amplify the innovation capital, says Furr, which is done through impression amplifiers. He shares specific actions that will get people interested in an idea:

  • Storytelling: Tell a compelling narrative to win support; one that motivates, that has character, that talks about conflict and that resolves.
  • Broadcasting: Attract people’s attention with your idea.

Impression amplifiers are used to multiply attention. Having a big idea with the right resources needs smart communication and resourcefulness to convince stakeholders.

“Great ideas do not win. Great ideas plus innovation capital wins.” -Nathan Furr at Oslo Business Forum

Creating an environment that promotes and supports wanted behaviors is the main key when creating an innovative workforce and preparing for change. But how can this environment be created? And who is responsible for creating it? Find out in this blog post with London Business School Professor of Strategic Innovation, Costas Markides.