Creating a Culture of Innovation with Simone Bhan Ahuja


For any business, innovation is critical. For Fortune 500 companies, their ability to innovate will lead to their continued success and reinvention or their eventual demise. In a time when start-ups are disrupting industries and attracting some of the best talent, it is essential for large organizations to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and create innovative cultures. To do that, established organizations must create permissionless environments and model the importance of trying new things. 

In this interview, innovation expert Simone Bhan Ahuja defines the role and impact of an “intrapreneur" in large organizations, the importance of creating a permissionless and safe culture for innovation to occur, and how c-suite executives need to encourage innovation at all levels. Simone also shares tips for large organizations to attract innovative talent away from start-ups and ways to build structured innovation into your organization. 

For 15 years, Simone has studied emerging markets and how organizations can continue to innovate across all levels in resource-constrained environments. Simone is the author of Disrupt It Yourself and co-author of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth. Simone is also the Producer and Director of Indique | Big Ideas From Emerging India, a TV documentary on innovators in India.  

Topics Discussed in Part One: The importance of innovation in organizations, attraction of recent graduates based on innovative culture, barriers to innovation, psychological safety in the workplace, innovation therapy, senior leadership’s role in innovation, systematic approaches to innovation, creating Chief Innovation Officer positions, innovation theater, defining intraprenuer, how to signal psychological safety, learning from failure 

Topics Discussed in Part Two: How to retain innovative talent in your organization, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in driving innovation, benefits of keeping projects frugal, role of the C-suite executives, role of HR personnel in driving innovation, eliminating bureaucracy in order to fast-track new ideas, next steps for managers and leaders to encourage innovation

People, Organizations and Resources Mentioned: Sara Kenkare-MitraGenentech, Blood OrangeIntuit – Unit of One approach, L’OrealBalanda Atis 

Find out more about Simone and Blood Orange online at,  

Follow Simone on Twitter - @SimoneAhuja 

To learn more about the intrapreneur's mindset and a short assessment about intrapreneurship, TEXT “DIY” to 66866. 

You can buy her book, Disrupt It Yourself, at  


“If you have one end user, one customer, or someone who might be touched by this product or service or business model who you think is representative, go ahead and test it out with them. If that works well – if you delight that one user, try it with 10, try it with 100. If you hit 100 we know we’ve got something here we can put more time and more resources around whether financial, headcount or otherwise.” 

-Simone Bhan Ahuja describing a fast and frugal innovation strategy.