Back End of Innovation Wrapup – Day Three

by Braden Kelley

Back End of Innovation Wrapup - Day ThreeThe third 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 Three, so I’ll recollect them here the best that I can.

The third day began with Lisa Marchese of The Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas. Here are some Lisa’s key quotes and insights:

  • When we created the Cosmopolitan brand we did so with the knowledge that most visitors came from LA, SF, NYC, etc.
  • “When we launched The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, room occupancy and room rates were low. This created a can’t lose environment.”
  • “We’ve out Belagio’d the Belagio. We’ve got the best view of the fountains.”
  • “We looked at ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ and we had a different insight – people want to take constraints of their normal life off”
  • “We arrived at the Curious Class ™ as a target – help curious, creative people leave with a story to tell.”
  • “We saw Vegas mystique slightly differently. People want to be constraint-free self and have memorable experience.”
  • “It is very difficult to keep a passionate, innovative culture where people feel that we are doing something different”
  • RT @virtualdavid – Innovators lose mojo over the years. It is hard to keep burning passion that we are doing something different going.
  • When innovation is in play, if people avoid conflict, the outcome is affected. It is not always a pleasant experience.
  • RT @RominaAK – Innovative Marketing – It’s emotive. It makes you want to learn more
  • “Look for friction, and push innovation focus all the way through to marketing. Even marketing people go back to what they know.”
  • We created something new with the Cosmopolitan, and then we had several other people competing in us in white space we created.
  • Lisa described how their team keeps creating innovation only to have other people knock us off, again and again, it’s exhausting
  • We innovate in creative and channel – We buy where they don’t buy – As soon as someone comes where we are, we leave
  • We don’t want to be seen as at parity with the competition
  • We know we are in a saturated market & we have less money to spend, so we try to own channels we use – figuratively or actually
  • Because we must maintain agility in our marketing and advertising & not appear in cluttered channels, we are running out of channels
  • Because we are running out of channels, now we have to start thinking about owning the channels
  • Flipping things on their head is how we stay fresh as a marketing-led organization
  • People who in the innovation industry are “openers” are not necessarily “operators” and a lot of the creators are leaving
  • It is a big challenge to keep things fresh, and we have had some cultural and service challenges, things haven’t been perfect
  • RT @virtualdavid – Mutation is progress. Correct is a mistake. Just right amount of wrong. From Cosmopolitan Hotel ad via Lisa Marchese
  • RT @thehealthmaven – Agility! When your competition zigs YOU zag.
  • When you get one win under your belt is helps you get future boundary pushing work approved.
  • We create a lot of content for our property and this all has to be curated in order to ensure the success of brand and hotel
  • “Trying to be like someone is not innovative, even if it’s Apple.”
  • If you want to create a great brand, you can’t live in the middle, you must firmly plant your feet on one side or the other.
  • It is okay to piss people off or not have them like you. A strong brand can’t be for everyone.
  • How do you keep people motivated in innovation? Have them look at more stuff. – Love it – Agrees with inspiration as center!

I then attended a session with Kenneth Klimpel of Colgate Palmolive. Here are the most interesting things I came away with from this session:

  • With the exception of pet nutrition, all our products are driven by four core technology innovation spaces
  • We can make exactly the same thing as anyone else for less because all of our plants are optimized for purpose
  • Amazing! A Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste plant can make 700 tubes of toothpaste – wait for it – PER MINUTE! That’s a lot of toothpaste
  • When we looked at electric toothbrushes we didn’t have the competencies to succeed there, but we wanted to do it, now what?
  • KK just showed an ad for the Colgate 1500 electric toothbrush via a partnership with Omrom – Looks like a smart toothbrush. Cool!
  • Colgate 1500 was outcome of Colgate looking at a mature market where they wanted to enter, but didn’t have competencies.

The third session I attended of the day, was with David Davidovic of PathForward (formerly Genentech) and Sara M. Roberts of Roberts Golden Consulting and here are some of the key insights and quotes from that session:

  • RT @Smartorginc – David Davidovic says you can’t understand a company’s innovative-ness by only looking at its products and services.
  • Volatility is the new normal – Must focus on the Volume, Velocity and Variety in your innovation efforts
  • RT @Smartorginc – Sara Roberts says we hire for diversity but incentivize conformity
  • Sara Roberts told story behind Blockbuster demise through the lens of a change in CEOs and switch from online to retail focus
  • My reaction – I would argue that Blockbuster was not innovative because their board was not innovative & ultimately they run show. With public companies, if a board lacks innovation vision, they can kill an otherwise innovative company. Be careful who you pick for your board!
  • Sara Roberts says we’ve been asking for ideas when we need to be asking for involvement – we must empower the crowd
  • Most nimble & innovative companies ask employees not just for ideas but also to drive business planning process with predictions

The fourth session I attended of the day was with Bill Demas of Turn. Here were some of the interesting bits from my tweet stream:

  • Bill Demas talked about their pivot from an ad network to a completely different business model
  • Talked about their employee recognition award of burning a plastic boat in their honor instead of an employee of the month
  • Bill Demas talking about their pivot from an ad network to a self-service platform and how they had to let people go and hire new ones
  • Bill Demas talked about how they really try to build in transparency into what they do in what was a very obfuscated market
  • Bill Demas talking about how the advertising market has become so much more fragmented across a plethora of channels and devices
  • @BillDemas talked about how their turn software creates a Bloomberg-like system for tracking advertising spend
  • He talked about how their new vision was moving forward and then suddenly Google bought their biggest competitor
  • “I kept reinforcing that smaller companies move slower than big companies, and so our advantage was speed.”
  • They started hiring software folks and teaching them digital advertising – We’re a SaaS company first
  • @BillDemas talked about their use of traditional forming, storming, norming, performing framework as they went through tech pivot
  • They have a one pager that they use to track their future strategy and the things that are important to management
  • Sorry, had to leave a bit earlier to set up for my speech…

The final session of the event was my talk on Building Effective Innovation Teams. I spoke about several different tools, techniques and understanding that are important when it comes to building better innovation teams. Some of this content can be found in FREE innovation eLearning available from Innovation Tutors, including in the two following BETA eLearning modules:

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

P.S. Don’t forget to register for the FREE Beta of the Global Innovation Certification and the FREE Innovation eLearning BETA for the Global Innovation Certification BETA for Innovation Catalysts.


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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.

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