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Unpacking Innovation: Peter Scott

The goal of our Unpacking Innovation interview series is to demystify the very concept of "innovation." In a previous insight, we covered why sports organizations need to commit resources to innovation, and in our first interview, we talked with Scott Kirsner.

For this interview we talked with Pete Scott, Vice President of Emerging Media and Innovation for Turner Studios. In his role, Pete advises internal brands on the effectiveness of emerging media, innovation and audience intelligence across the entire Turner portfolio.

Peter Scott

Sports Innovation Lab: What does Innovation mean to you?

Pete Scott: To me, innovation is about being unencumbered when looking for ways to understand and solve complex problems. It’s not just about leveraging technology, although sometimes that works, it’s mostly about moving throughout an organization to make connections that will ultimately tie back to the problem you are trying to solve. Working in innovation is a bit like being a pinball, bouncing off the bumpers and constantly recharging.

Sports Innovation Lab: Why do you feel it is important for companies to focus energy, and personnel, on innovation?

Pete Scott: To be relevant in this age of digital disruption you need a dedicated team to see trends, learn about new technology, and most importantly, identify how to operationalize those to make them applicable to your organization. This last part is important—innovation needs to be supported, and supportive, it needs internal champions but it also needs to impact the operations of a business to be meaningful. At Turner, we work a lot on education and making connections with Lunch & Learns, at which the entire company is welcome to come together, eat some food, and learn about some new innovative technologies. We’ve had as many as 150 people show up, and they do a great job connecting people and inspiring them.

Sports Innovation Lab: What is the most common way you see companies fail when it comes to innovation?

Pete Scott: One of the greatest challenges for people working in innovation is getting adequately embedded in an organization. Thinking about innovation isolated on an island is not helpful. This is why it’s important that an innovation team be thinking about how to bring people together and how to share learnings.

Sports Innovation Lab: What is the most important quality or characteristic that an Innovation Officer should have?

Pete Scott: The single greatest quality for an innovation professional to have is intellectual curiosity. You need to be passionate about learning, and discovery. You also need to be a comfortable communicator and an educator. Innovation, newness, can be intimidating to people, many of whom have gotten comfortable with the way they work, and so it is important for the innovation leader to have the emotional patience, sensitivity, and understanding to help.

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