Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Wish for FEI 2010

Looking at next week's FEI agenda, I got to thinking how far innovation has come as a trend. Back when I was covering the topic at Forrester -- just two years ago, keep in mind -- I was exposed to a constant stream of briefings, speeches, and corporate presentations on innovation. And I'm convinced, that the type of presentation I saw regularly just two years ago -- would never fly today.

Back then, everybody took a lot of time -- sometimes 5, 6, even 7 slides -- just to explain what they really meant by "innovation". People would go to great lengths just to explain, for instance, why innovation was so important and why executive support was so crucial. Each of which, of course, although perfectly valid reasoning, was a dead giveaway that in fact innovation was not yet considered important, and that C-level support was not yet forthcoming...

Today, gearing up for FEI 2010, I’m struck by the degree to which this mindset has changed. It’s as if the need to answer “why” has vanished – replaced by a sense of urgency to press forward. Now, most everyone assumes you know why innovation is important. And most everyone assumes you can get top-level support. That’s quite a sea change from just a few years ago – when innovation as a topic was more evangelical than it was pragmatic.

To which I say, let’s make FEI 2010 a conference to stimulate *action.* Already I’ve noticed quite a healthy twitter buildup to the conference – not to mention the blogosphere and conversations between colleagues. There is momentum, there is buzz…there is an excitement which is thrilling for those of us who care so deeply about Innovation Management, and Open Innovation, and the Front End of Innovation.

My wish, then: That each of us leaves this year’s conference with real, tangible action items. If in the past, you've left feeling inspired, then this year, I hope you leave feeling empowered…eager to march back to the office, roll up your sleeves, and start building (or expanding) your company's culture of innovation, brick by brick.

There is a feeling in the air – I can sense it – that Innovation’s time has come. I hope you feel it too. If so…let’s not let it pass us by.

Chris Townsend is VP Marketing at Inova Software, a leading Idea Management software and services provider. Before that, he covered the Innovation Management topic at industry-analyst firm Forrester Research.

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