Beth Comstock, Creating a Culture of Innovation

Published on04 DEC 2018

GE’s former vice chair Beth Comstock shares insights on how people and organizations can confront challenges, embrace new ideas and lead with imagination to become “change makers.”

On the opportunity for larger companies to integrate with start-ups: “We just could not keep up with the pace of change just by doing it all ourselves. We needed to open ourselves up in many different ways and one of them was to more partnerships. And as you do that, you just start to realize start-ups are really good at seeing disruption early, greeting change, and that we could learn a lot by working together. We had to create kind of a special lane and…their job was to unlock the entrepreneurs within GE and to connect with the entrepreneurs outside. And there was a real connection. I mean entrepreneurism is in all of us. We may not all want to embrace it....But I think more and more you look at the ecosystem model of how business happens, big and small companies have to work together."

On the need for more diversity in business: “As somebody who has worked in business for several decades, I guess I expected we'd be in a different place in terms of more women leaders in our organizations, in politics. So that's disappointing to me. But I think #MeToo and some of the other efforts have raised our awareness.…I've often felt at the heart of it, I've largely worked with good people who want to do the right thing, but they get confused, because most people want to hire people like themselves. And so often, it's too easy to go and just hire people who you went to school with, who look like you, who have a common way of thinking. And that excludes a lot of diverse backgrounds, gender, and racial profiles. So I think we just can't do that anymore.”

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