I recently traveled to San Diego to attend the 7th Annual Global Innovations in New Product Development and Market Strategy MindXchange. This was my first time attending one of F&S’s events, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I discovered during the next two days was that I gained new insight into a variety of issues that we all wrestle with in our roles at our respective companies.
The first thing I discovered was that the event seemed to be just the “right size.” Though well-attended, the number of participants was small enough that I felt comfortable interacting with the other attendees in the initial social mixer without feeling like I was lost in a ballroom of bodies. In other words, it was big enough to reveal a wide variety of perspectives, but small enough to get to know most of them throughout the event.
I’m sure everyone went home with something different and actionable to them, depending on the topics that were on our minds coming into the event. Following are some of my take-aways:
The plenary sessions were all engaging and interesting. Because of my particular role at my company, the first keynote, “Creating Systemic Innovation” by James Stikeleather of Dell, resonated especially well. What I took away from that talk was the notion of “innovation in the large” vs. “innovation in the small,” and the relationship and symbiosis between the two. “Innovation in the large” takes the longer, strategic view of trends and business models, etc. into account to identify innovations at that level, while “innovation in the small” is invoked to make the practical breakthroughs on your way to achieving your strategic objectives. To concentrate on one at the expense of the other will probably produce less than optimal results in capitalizing on all the value that systemic innovation can yield.
Related to that topic was another plenary session from Frost & Sullivan that used a case study to illustrate how megatrends can be used to guide (at least in part) the creation of an innovative strategy. Because this research was based on a case study, the lessons conveyed were particularly useful.
The event also included, of course, multiple tracks and concurrent sessions that were more specific in nature. One such session was on the topic of “Setting Internal Product Development Expectations” facilitated by Timothy Grayson from Canada Post. In this session, the notion of setting and managing expectations within an organization – particularly for new, innovative initiatives – was explored.
The key take-away for me was the idea that internal expectations are different depending on the phase of the project. Typically there are inflated expectations early in the project, relatively lower expectations some time after that, until gradually more realistic expectations take hold as the project gets up and running. This pattern is relatively consistent from project to project and can be used to anticipate (and therefore manage) expectations throughout the project.
These are just a few of the many ideas came away with from the two-day event, in addition to meeting many new colleagues with whom I share both the experience as well as the common objective of establishing effective processes of innovation.
About the author:
Jim Block has been with Diebold since the beginning of his engineering career in 1973. Assuming his current role in 2003, Jim Block has been responsible for investigating technologies and applying them to concepts that are ahead of Diebold’s current development horizon in order to capitalize and gain insight into the key technologies that will be of importance to the company, its customers, and Diebold’s chosen markets within three to 10 years.
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