Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Street Gang Mentality Can Shape Innovation Methodology

What if your innovation team started thinking like a street gang?

FEI 2016 explores the new "Misfit & Gangster" perspective to help you overcome conventional business models that impede innovation. It's an interesting concept, right?

Antonio Fernandez- aka "King Tone"- former head of the Latin Kings (the largest Hispanic street gang in the US) will share firsthand experience of innovation on the fringe in the black market economy and help equip you - the insider misfit - to drive change in your organization. Alexa Clay, Founder, The Misfit Academy, Author, The Misfit Economy will join Antonio during the Art of Hustle: Prototyping Deviance workshop to reveal:

·         Rapid prototyping lessons from drug dealers and black market innovators that start-up entrepreneurs can leverage 
·         Commonalities between driving change within a Fortune 500 company and hacking the culture of criminal organizations
·         Leadership lessons from the underground that can be applied to formal institutions

Download the brochure for full session details:

FEI 2016 will help you overcome bureaucracies and entrenched power systems this May in Boston - we hope to see you there.

Use code FEI16BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy tickets here:

We hope to see you in Boston!

The FEI 2016 Team

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Future Hunters COO on Preparing for Disruption

The pressure to connect consumers and brands is more meaningful than ever before. Those who can make the connection are thriving and those who cannot are fading away.

That’s why we sat down with Erica Orange, who will be speaking at the upcoming FUSE 2016 conference in Miami this spring. Orange talked to us about the consumer trend of immediacy, what it takes to be a leader who inspires creativity, and how to prepare for disruption.

Here’s what Orange had to say:

IIR: We live in an always-on "now," where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything. What does this emphasis on immediacy mean to marketing and design?

Orange: In recent years, there has been considerable dialogue around attention. The ultimate “alternative currency,” attention is what everyone – marketers, teachers and parents, alike – is fighting for. Attention = greater chance for success. In business terms, attention = more money. Marketers, as sophisticated as they have become, are struggling with this because they simply cannot adapt quickly enough to keep pace with technology.

However, the focus is now shifting from attention to boredom. Boredom studies are a fast-growing, formal field of inquiry. Researchers suggest that boredom has serious consequences for health and productivity. Smartphones and other modern, digital technologies may also change the way consumers experience boredom. Mobile devices offer instant stimulation, but researchers speculate that may leave some even more bored when they are unplugged. As a result, “now” takes on an even greater importance. We will have to actively reimagine, reengineer and redesign both the learning and working environments of the future, as well as our marketing paradigms, to mitigate boredom.

IIR: What does it take to be a leader who inspires creativity and innovation?

Orange: I think it’s less about a leader who inspires creativity and innovation, and more about an environment that organically inspires a culture of innovation. If it’s a tone set from the top, many younger generations may view this as artificial. Rather, they will crave spaces that are designed to allow creativity and innovation to flourish. One way this can be accomplished is through spaces that encourage play. The need for play is a fundamental human instinct that never abandons us throughout our lifespans. New research indicates that whimsical play might be critical for healthy childhood development.

And, many neuroscientific studies have identified play as an adaptation that enabled early humans to become powerful learners and problem-solvers. One of the biggest marketing and design opportunities will be figuring out how to best harness concepts of experiential play. We will continue to see stores become more designed around playful experiences; we will continue to see brands engage young consumers with social media driven events that capitalize on this ethic of play; we will continue to see companies – particularly smaller, more entrepreneurial ones – more fundamentally embed elements of play in the workplace.

IIR: How do you prepare for disruption?

Orange: Change has always been a constant, but it is now happening faster than ever before. The pace of technological innovation around the world is increasing at an exponential rate. This is leading to a world of, what we in our shop call, templosion, in which very large things happen in increasingly compressed amounts of time. The impacts of this acceleration – and digital transformation – will be felt everywhere. Because of the rapid speed of change, preparing for disruption becomes ever more difficult.

Perhaps one of the first ways to prepare ourselves is by training our minds to see more clearly and more objectively. This is hard to do because we begin learning from the time we are born; and perhaps even before. And the older we get, the more knowledge we acquire, and the more mental baggage gets loaded into our consciousness. But all of this learning can make it hard to see objectively into the future, because we are so conditioned by what we already think we know. We call this educated incapacity: knowing so much about what we already know that we are the last to see the future for those fields in which we are the most knowledgeable.

We talk about the need to pretend we are children, or aliens from another planet, in order to see our world for the first time, objectively and with no educated incapacity. Only then can we get the future right. One aspect of educated incapacity is focusing on central/core/accepted assumptions and ignoring many relevant and true things that have been relegated to the background. We call this “figure/ground,” and we have seen remarkable truths and strategies emerge from switching out the two. So in a world where things move at an exponential pace, untrapping your mind can help you better prepare for constant disruption.

Want to hear more from Erica Orange? Join her at FUSE 2016 April 4-6 in Miami. She will be presenting a keynote session, “Are You Prepared for Disruption?” To learn more or to register for the event, click here:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Complacency Kills Innovation – FEI $900 Savings Extended to 1/29

Due to Overwhelming Demand the FEI $800 Early Bird Savings Have Been Extended - Register by Friday, 1/29 to Secure Your Spot! Plus, save an additional $100 with code FEI16LI.

Your peers have heard the message loud and clear - Complacency Kills Innovation. That's why we've already seen a record response to FEI: Front End of Innovation 2016 program- with 91 registrations last week alone. See why here:

Power-points with recycled content and speakers can be found anywhere. FEI 2016 delivers speakers and experiences to challenge your assumptions. From bring brand icons, to nimble disruptors, to innovators on the fringe, each has a lesson that will push you to look at your business in a new way.

Here's just a few highlights you won't find anywhere but FEI:

·         To Infinity & Beyond - Creativity, Courtesy of Buzz Lighyear
Greg Brandeau, former SVP of Technology, Pixar reveals the key to company-wide creativity is a special kind of leadership
·         Tell Compelling Stories... CIA Style
Leverage CIA-style body language secrets and templates used in Hollywood for million-dollar pitches as you learn to optimize storytelling delivery and impact
·         Not Thinking Like a Startup? Then You'll Soon Be Extinct
Hear venture perspectives on placing bets from the POV of innovation, design and value creation from diverse leaders in the venture world
·         Sometimes Innovation is Right in Front of You
The Boston Seaport Hotel executive chef, along with their bee keeper, give a dual demo on the Bee Hives located on the hotel rooftop that they use to harvest honey used in their kitchen. Sustainable innovation - even in your conference food
·         Misfits & Gangsters Can Help You Overcome Bureaucracies and Entrenched Power Systems
Antonio Fernandez (King Tone), former head of the Latin Kings (the largest Hispanic street gang in the US) gives firsthand experience of innovation on the fringe in the black marketing economy and helps equip "insider misfits" to drive change from within
·         Involve Design Early... Or Fail Later
Legendary designer Frank Stephenson (Chief Designer at McLaren, designer of the MINI) helps you find alternative avenues for innovation and design inspiration
·         Teamwork through the Lens of an Orchestra
Grammy winning conductor Christian Gansch explores how people can maintain their individuality and work together to create "one sound" and achieve the corporate goal.

Download the conference brochure for the full agenda:

Register by Friday, 1/29 and save $900. Use code FEI16LI to register:

We hope to see you in Boston!

The FEI 2016 Team

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FEI 2016 Keynotes: Stories from Pixar, P&G, Pinterest & more

Save $900 if you register by this Friday, 1/22!

The Surprising Connection Between Innovation & the Letter P

What do Pinterest, a social network that allows users to share photos and videos, P&G, a leading packaged good company, and Pixar, an animation film studio all share in common?

Innovation leaders who push the boundaries of what's expected. Pixar believes it's all in creative leadership. To P&G, it's thinking differently - about what you need to be, not what you are, and to Pinterest it's all in the design.

FEI: Front End of Innovation will push you to look at your business, and how you innovate, in new ways. With industry leaders sharing perspectives from across the entire innovation process - from ideation through to execution - you'll walk away with everything you need for success.

·         Leading Innovation: Greg Brandeau, former SVP of Technology, Pixar and EVP and CTO, The Walt Disney Studios, Co-Author, Collective Genius
·         Innovation from the Inside-Out: Karen Hershenson, Leader, clay street project, Procter & Gamble
·         How to Get Rich in Design: Brian Singer, Design Manager for Brand Creative, Pinterest
Plus, hear the inspiration you need for innovation execution from:
·         The Three-Box Solution Strategy for Leading & Executing Innovation
Vijay Govindarajan, Thinkers50 Winner, Best-Selling Author, Reverse Innovation, Coxe Distinguished Professor, Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business
·         The Misfit Economy: How Ingenuity on the Fringe Will Shake Up Mainstream Innovation
Alexa Clay, Culture Hacker & Innovation Strategist, Author, The Misfit Economy, Co-Founder, League of Intrapreneurs
·         Making Smarter Decisions
Dan Heath, Best-Selling Author, Made to Stick and Decisive

·         The Simple Rules of Innovation: How to Harness Constraint or Unleash Creativity
Don Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, Global Strategy Expert, Author, Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex Economy

·         The Anatomy of Legendary Design
Frank Stephenson, Chief Design Officer, McLaren Automotive
·         Building Iconic Brands through Storytelling & Design
Vince Voron, Vice President, Executive Creative Director, Global Brand Content Marketing, Dolby Labs

Download the conference brochure:

For 14 years, FEI: Front End of Innovation has been the conference your innovation community has relied upon to overcome pervasive barriers to scalable, repeatable innovation - join them this year in Boston.

Register by Friday, January 22nd & Save $800. Plus, use code FEI16BL for an additional $100 off. Register here:

The FEI 2016 Team

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Build a Culture of Innovation at Work

Innovation is a skill, not luck, or something just in Silicon Valley – it’s something you build on –whether it’s a product, or the economy.

So, what can we do today to become better innovators? The steps below transform the idea of innovation into something tangible. According to a recent article on, if repeated enough, the steps culminate in a habit of innovation.

Pick one innovation project. Experiments drive innovation. Experiments are tangible, small tweaks to concrete ideas, projects, or products. This first step will feel inconsequential. Eventually, though, the process of innovation becomes ingrained as a way of thinking, changing how we see everything in an organization. The second step below helps explain how that way of thinking becomes habitual.

Experiment. We can ensure fast learning by aiming for half-baked ideas — 50 percent solutions — as opposed to fully polished products. It means stopping halfway to get feedback, then starting again. A series of 50 percent solutions produces a better result in the long run. The quicker the loop the more innovative the process.

Rearrange the office. The rapid experimentation of the previous step, in practice, means regularly sharing ideas with each other. The physical layout of the office — the location of desks and common areas — should force run-ins throughout the work day; coffee break discussions should be more norm than exception. The same idea of ease of communication should apply electronically as well.

The bottom line is, innovation doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Innovation is a simple thing: the skill of rapid experimentation to solve a problem. And, we can get better at it. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

FEI 2016 Full Program Just Released

For 14 years, FEI: Front End of Innovation is the conference your innovation community has relied on to overcome pervasive barriers to scalable, repeatable innovation. Why? See for yourself...
Just Released - FEI 2016 program! Download the brochure: 

Groundbreaking thought-leadership from: Eli Lilly * Corning * 3M * Pfizer * Xerox * Fidelity Investments * HP * Procter & Gamble * General Mills * Pinterest * Boston Beer Company * Goodyear * Electrolux * VSP * Thomson Reuters * Optum Labs * and more!

FEI 2016
Inspiration Needs Execution
May 10-12, 2016
Boston, MA
Visit the website for more:

New for 2016: Recognizing there can be no impactful front end without a back-end, FEI 2016 features 6 concurrent break-out tracks ensuring both depth and breadth of content along the entire innovation spectrum.

Embark on Innovation Excursions: Explore how companies like Sam Adams Brewery, MassChallenge or Fidelity Labs innovate with behind the scenes access with their internal innovation teams

Meet the Innovators that Matter: 600+ Participants * 85% from the client side. Meet the decision makers at leading innovation organizations that will help move business forward.

You get an exclusive $100 off the current rate when you register using code FEI16LI. Register today:

We hope to see you in Boston this spring!

The FEI Team

Thursday, December 17, 2015

6 Key Things that Foster Team Innovation

Innovation involves two stages—the generation of new ideas and the implementation of the ideas. Meanwhile, creativity is considered to be the first stage of innovation. While we know a lot about both, there’s still not a lot of research to guide leaders. The routes to team innovation are still being developed. So, to help maximize creativity on your own team, understand that the road to innovation isn’t always as straightforward as we may have once thought.

According to Harvard Business Review, here are some of the key things that we do know contribute to innovation, based on a comprehensive meta-analysis:

A vision. Teams are more innovative when members have a common understanding of team objectives and are committed to them. Clear and valued objectives can create meaning and motivation for team members.

Goal interdependence. Goal interdependence is the extent to which team members can meet their goals only by having the other team members achieve their goals. You create goal interdependence by setting objectives that must be achieved collectively and by addressing issues, including feedback, as a team.

Support. Teams are more innovative when managers expect and approve of innovation, support members when their attempts to innovate are not successful, and recognize and reward new ideas and their implementation.

A task orientation. This is a shared concern for excellence that stems from the compelling vision. Teams with a task orientation set high performance standards, monitor their performance and provide feedback.

A cohesive team. Cohesion represents commitment to the team and a desire to be part of the team. Researchers see cohesion as creating a psychologically safe environment that enables members to challenge each other.

Communication. Strong internal communication allows for sharing knowledge and ideas, and creates a safe environment for providing feedback. And, external communication fosters innovation by learning from others and bringing new information into the team.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 12/07/15 - 12/11/15

We talk a lot about design in the product space but there’s also a lot being done in the internal company space with office design. Arguably one of the most interesting articles this week, Fast Company wrote apiece on a jazzy new tech office design in Montreal. Essentially, a software company by the name of “Lightspeed” is turning an abandoned train station in Montreal into a revamped office building. “Constructed in 1898, the train station was done up like a French chateau. But time wasn't kind to the building and over the decades, it fell into disrepair (thanks, Great Depression). Today it's the site of a $250-million mixed-use redevelopment project that seeks to revive the abandoned structure.” According to the article, the redesign of this location retained “vestiges of the past” while also incorporating rigorous renovations including scraping off layers of tar that coated the bricks. The images of past and present are incredibly stark in contrast and really showcase the unique design of this new office. Check out the article here

When the Highline in NYC became a major attraction, everyone talked about how innovative it was and how unique this was for New York City. Well, that same innovative spirit is now being harnessed to design a “Lowline” in NYC. You heard correctly. According to a Fast Company article, the same concept used for the Highline will be applied for an underground attraction that turns an old trolley stop into an underground wonderland. In order to set up a tester, there will be a pre-opening called the “Lowline Lab” to provide a simple taste of what the Lowline could look and feel like. “The Lab, which is about 5% of the size of actual space, features hundreds of plants and the same innovative system that will be used to bring natural light underground from the street above. That includes three solar collectors on ground level, each programmed by computer to track the Sun's rays. The light is collected into tubes, fed underground, and then dispersed by an elegant roofing panel designed by the Raad Studio, Arup, an engineering firm, and Lorne Whitehead, a physics professor at the University of British Columbia.” According to the article however, the catch with this plan is a lack of funding and permission from the space’s owners. Thinking positively one of the lead architects believes that, if all goes well, this project could be finalized in 2020. I don’t know about you, but as a NYC resident I would love to see this innovative project come to fruition!

After the horrific shootings in San Bernardino California this last week, there was massive news coverage on the issue of gun violence in America. However, many don’t know that the backlash on gun violence does not stem from mass killings like the one in San Bernardino. According to a Fast Company article, the outrage is over the daily shootings that are unlikely to make news. “While the massacres at Charleston, Chattanooga, and San Bernardino grab most of the headlines, the real outrage of gun violence in America isn't the mass killings. It's the daily shootings that may or may not make the local news. Columbine-type events accounted for just 2% of the 33,000 gun-related deaths in 2013.” In collaboration with Slate, “The Trace” (a new site about gun violence in America) mapped out these less-covered events and the results are shocking. This purpose of this map is to show individuals how many incidents involving guns happen around them. I think this was a pretty cool and innovative and interactive way to reach the public on a personal level. Check out the map here and see how close you may have been to numerous incidents.

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at 

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