Back End of Innovation Wrapup – Day Two

by Braden Kelley

Back End of Innovation Wrapup - Day TwoThe second day of the Back End of Innovation (BEI) Conference in Silicon Valley had a great roster of thought leader and innovation practitioner speakers. If you don’t follow me on twitter where I tweet as @innovate then you will have missed my thoughts on what some of the key innovation quotes and observations were from Day Two, so I’ll recollect them here the best that I can.

The second day began with Vijay Govindarajan. Here are some Vijay’s key quotes and insights:

  • “Strategy = Innovation”
  • “If you want to lead in the future, you must do innovation”
  • “Strategy is not about competition for the present, it’s about competition for the future”
  • “Common sense is not necessarily common practice.”
  • “We say there is no innovation in education but none of the Top 10 universities in the world are in Top 10 today.”
  • Vijay talked about his box 1,2,3 thinking model. Personally, I think the error is tasking one person with success in all three boxes.
  • “Companies over-emphasize idea generation and under-emphasize idea execution when it comes to innovation.”
  • My reaction – People hype business model innovation WAY too much. Most Business Model Innovation examples started with the innovation, not other way around.
  • My reaction – The business model canvas is a useful tool for innovation, but it is not by itself the source of it.
  • My reaction – Ugh. I am so tired of hearing about fail fast, success comes not from failing fast, it is about LEARNING fast.
  • “You can ask your performance engine to do MORE work, but not DIFFERENT work.”
  • “For Box 3 experiments you must create a dedicated team with permission to create its own culture”
  • “CEO must recognize that there will be tensions between performance engine & Box 3 experiments that they must manage”

I then attended a panel with Rachel Birney of Exxon Mobil, Jon Fredrickson of Innocentive, and Julie DiSandro and Kurt Scherer of Booz Allen Hamilton. Here are the most interesting things I came away with from this session:

  • “Innovation = change with impact” Simple. Powerful. Elegantly stated. – K Scherer
  • “Don’t communicate something about your innovation program until you have a real story to tell.” – J DiSandro
  • “When it comes to managing an innovation community, you must stimulate people with a variety of things to react to.” – J Fredrickson
  • “Recognize and fight the two antibodies that will kill innovation: corporate antibodies and personal antibodies” – Unknown

The third session I attended of the day, was with Maria B Thompson of Motorola Solutions and here are some of the key insights and quotes from that session:

  • People tend to come back from ride alongs not with problems, but solutions.
  • When people come back from ride alongs with solutions, you end up with incremental innovation instead of breakthroughs you seek
  • To get to innovation you need to get people to park in the problem space and refrain from jumping to solutions
  • When you are observing customers, look for the BUTs and the unexpected workarounds
  • Look for the important contradictions that customers seem to want “I want long battery life but low weight”
  • “Park in the problem space and force yourself to stay there and reframe it in multiple ways.” Yes!
  • “Engineers love questions”
  • Problemstorming or Provocation Sessions should have at least 8+ people, but she prefers 20+ people to get more dots to connect
  • Interesting that Maria B Thompson mentioned that she switched from going to FEI to BEI. I wonder if that might be a trend?
  • “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” – Albert Einstein
  • Interesting idea that for innovation, instead of brainstorming ideas, you should focus on assumptionstorming and problemstorming”
  • Directed Innovation model being discussed is a good example of peer-to-peer collaboration – Motorola Solutions & Medtronic
  • Maria gave a shoutout to Conceptual Blockbusting
  • You might be on to something if your engineers tell you you’re asking them to violate the laws of physics.
  • Rule #1 to ideation sessions, don’t give the lawyer the pen for the whiteboard!
  • Contribution from audience – for remote people trying to participate in assumption, problem, or idea storming – partner them up
  • Demise of Motorola Mobility? The success of the RAZR – People reassigned from smartphone work to RAZR work because of its success.
  • “Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

The fourth session I attended of the day was with Michele R Westlander, Chief Technology Officer (Public Sector) and Innovation Evangelist from Google. The presentation was heavily skewed towards evangelism, but here were some of the interesting bits from my tweet stream:

  • Google doesn’t call it HR, they call it People Ops. “It’s all about the people, and the corporate culture.”
  • Google Corporate Philosophy – “If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.”
  • People ask us about expense of Google cafeterias, but think about expense of lost time & collaboration of people going off-campus.
  • Google’s offices have a Tech Stop for hands on computer issue repair. Time is money.
  • My question – Some people would say that Google is great at invention (Microsoft too), but not so good at innovation. What do you think?
  • My reaction – Google’s new collaboration model they are touting isn’t new though, this was whole Lotus Notes model available twenty years ago. Just saying.
  • “At Google, failure is expected, if you’re not failing you’re pushing hard enough or reaching far enough.”
  • Love that – “Don’t take ‘No’ from someone who can’t give you a ‘Yes’ in the first place.”
  • My reaction – Happy to see Google is the first one to talk about learning fast being more important than failing fast – my mantra
  • Three biggest barriers to innovation – culture (people) aka resistance to change, policy (business processes), and technology

The fifth session I attended of the day was with Steve Garguilo and Matt Kane of Johnson & Johnson. They spoke about their efforts to bring the TEDX model into the Salon events that they were helping to organize within J&J:

  • They wanted the Salon events to be very local and how they spread to Brazil and China and other J&J places
  • Their Salon format was based on TEDX format and had a goal for 75% internal and 25% external speakers
  • They told a story about how an employee created art out of styrofoam waste & how that evolved into an effort to reimagine waste at J&J
  • They talked about how powerful it can be to change people’s experience – used accordion & post-its under people’s chairs to make point
  • They focus not just on compelling content on main stage, but chances to connect & explore, and to experience something new
  • My reaction – I like what they are doing with their Salon experiences, ties in nicely with the first of the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation
  • My reaction – It’s becoming more common to have a Chief Innovation Officer, but do you have a Chief Inspiration Officer? Inspiration drives innovation…
  • They told a powerful story about how someone installed a “Before I die, I want to…” picture on the wall and how people engaged with it, and how it evolved into a “Before the end of 2013…” campaign within the company
  • They talked about how the TED library is being translated into other languages and how this can be leveraged for global event rollout
  • They started their events informally because they were passionate about it, and it has grown into a corporate funded event series.
  • We are not only ones doing TEDX kinds of events, Google, Disney, Intuit and others are doing too & can be learned from
  • They used a nomination process, required rehearsals, and had people who could help shape presentations & evaluate whether people were ready
  • Part of how we convinced people to conform to the TEDX style was to reinforce how they were going to help people look good
  • My reaction – Interesting to see how the TEDX format has spread from expanding to additional cities, and now expanding into inspiring employees
  • My reaction – Must say that by making employee inspiration investment in right way, you will not only increase innovation but employee engagement too
  • It is worthwhile work to contribute towards getting people to bring their authentic selves to work…
  • Their efforts were off the side of the desk of their full time jobs until it grew to a keep doing or stop doing moment…

The final session I attended was with Ken Perlman of Kotter International. Here are some of the key insights and quotes from that session:

  • “Too often we deprive people of something to take home to show that they matter.”
  • “We don’t have the time to work on the stuff that is truly important because we’re working on the things we have to do.”
  • “Leaders should lead with a question. Leaders should be asking WHO and WHY to drive innovation.” – Are you?
  • “Most people are good at self managing. Most people are focused on the WHEN, WHERE, and HOW. Leverage this!”
  • “Leaders ask people to take ownership.” – If nobody responds, then it is on you & your framing.
  • Our hierarchical approach to management is really all about risk management – Not built for speed.
  • “Employers are competing for employees’ time.”
  • “Simple is not equal to easy. Clarity creates speed.”
  • “It is human nature that when pushed, we push back.”
  • “Hierarchy needs the network to innovate.”
  • “Organizations become more hierarchical as they grow and networked organization shrinks.”
  • “We argue about the what when we should be focused on agreeing on the why.”

If you were at the conference, what did you take away from Day Two?

Coming up next, highlights from Day 3 of BEI…

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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He has recently begun distributing Innovation eLearning and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.