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Jenny Wilde – Embrace Complexity in Innovation
6th October 2021 • My Worst Investment Ever Podcast • Andrew Stotz
00:00:00 00:30:35

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BIO: Jenny Wilde has over 15 years of hands-on experience as a senior manager in humanitarian response and an innovation expert.

STORY: Jenny saw the need to set up an Innovation Fund to support innovative ideas to make their emergency response easier and more effective. Unfortunately, company politics took over, and the fund was scrapped off.

LEARNING: Embrace complexity when dealing with innovation.


“Different problems in different innovations require different tools and methodologies.”
Jenny Wilde


Guest profile

Jenny Wilde has over 15 years of hands-on experience as a senior manager in humanitarian response and an innovation expert. She has supported innovative organizations and initiatives in countries as diverse as the USA, South Sudan, and Nepal. She has pioneered initiatives that break from conventional innovation models and enable global scale.

Worst investment ever

Jenny was the operational director of emergency response in the Philippines, responding to a large typhoon, Typhoon Haiyan, that had ripped through the country’s center. Everyone was trying to make decisions and get stuff out of the door without a lot of deeper thinking. Jenny thought that her organization needed an innovation fund that would help bring to light any innovative ideas that would make their work easier. So they got the money and a team together and set up the fund.

Within no time, the fund got political, with everyone wanting to take credit for the idea while, in reality, doing nothing. It was stressful for Jenny because she was heavily invested in the idea. Essentially the Innovation Fund got scrapped because of politics.

Lessons learned

  • You’ve got to simplify the problem. Make it as simple as possible, and then work with it.
  • When you’re innovating around complex problems, you need to step back and take in all that complexity to do transformational shifts.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Embrace complexity because there will be problems that you need to solve that are very complex.
  • Think about the balance between the long term versus the short term. Which one works best for your current environment?
  • Your idea should fit the company’s culture; otherwise, people will only shoot it down.

Actionable advice

If you want to go big and create something that’s really transformational, you should be using systems innovation and the tools associated with that. Don’t harm yourself with small ideas and small innovation traps.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Jenny’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to help people create big shifts in their industries.

Parting words


“Thanks, and good luck on the next investment.”
Jenny Wilde




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