Friday, February 28, 2014

Official Call for Presenters: Front End of Innovation Canada

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking presenters for:

The Inaugural Front End of Innovation CANADA
September 29-October 1, 2014
Toronto, Canada

We are now accepting applications for the inaugural FEI: Front End of Innovation Canada. Brought to you by the producers of FEI, FEI Canada is positioned to be the premier meeting place for innovation, R&D, trends, insights, and product development executives looking to build and maintain an ecosystem that drives continuous value creation. With a 360-degree focus, the event spans the innovation lifecycle - from ideation through commercialization and innovation management, processes, and systems.

Due to the high volume of submissions, we suggest you submit your proposal early to Kelly Schram, Conference Director at no later than Wednesday, March 5th.

ONLY corporate/client-side speakers will be considered. If you are a consultant or a solution/technology provider, please see contact details below for sponsorship/exhibit opportunities. Speakers receive FREE admission to the conference.

We are looking for the following types of submissions...

Solo Presentations: Priority will be given to presentations that highlight NEW information on case studies that haven't already been shared at another event.

FEI Interactive Sessions: Collective intelligence is the key to innovation. We are looking for expert facilitators to conduct a collaborative activity or discussion.

...On the following Areas of Interest:
Business Model Innovation
Cultivating the Environment for Success
Disruptive Innovation
Portfolio Management
Future Trends & Technology
Innovation Tools
Creativity & Innovation
Industrial Design
Partnering & Co-Creation

Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities

If you are interested in sponsorship or exhibit opportunities please contact Liz Hinkis, Business Development Manager at 646.616.7627 or


Due to the high volume of submissions, only accepted proposals will be notified. For consideration, please email with the following information by March 5, 2013:

Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
The main theme you plan to address
Which format you'd like to present
Please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 deliverables)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does your organization choke on radically new ideas?

Several years ago, at an innovation conference where I was speaking, I found myself in the hotel bar at closing time talking to some of the big names and brains in the innovation consulting field (relax, I wasn’t drinking). I put a question on the table to my colleagues: “how many of your clients are looking for a big disruptive innovation.”

The predictable response was, “practically all of them.”  The next question I asked was, “how many of them could actually accommodate a disruptive innovation?” The response from my colleagues was, “none of them.”

This is the dirty little secret of innovation.  

There are bajillions of organizations (3.14 bajillion to be precise) helping established organizations create “the next big thing” that will unseat the leaders, rearrange the marketplace, and obsolete what is currently so.

And yet…And yet established organizations are loath to actually do what’s necessary to disrupt the industry because they have such a stake in ensuring that it continues.

To do something that leads to lowered sales of existing product is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.  Why would you do it?  Kodak is the poster child of an organization that didn’t see the digital photo revolution coming. And yet they invented digital photography!  For rational reason, they couldn’t stomach the notion of killing their dominant market share in photographic film and couldn’t get out of their own way to surf the wave that they created.

And that’s why so many disruptions come from start-up firms.

These firms have nothing to lose, so they have the freedom to imagine a world very different from the current reality.  Car company Tesla took a very different approach to electric vehicles.  Instead of making cars built on petroleum-engined cars, they started with a fresh approach in a fresh market. And their cars outsell similarly sized luxury vehicles from Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi.  Research has shown that organizations that really embrace creativity and innovation are those that are in “distress situations.”

In other words, they better get it to work, because nothing else is.

The harsh truth is that most organizations choke on radically novel ideas.  While they’d love the benefits of being a market leader in an industry that they created, it requires an organizational mindset (culture) that is very tough to create and maintain.  So the job of innovation leaders throughout the hierarchy is to instill a fear of the status quo, and a willingness to take well-placed bets in creating new markets or unsettling existing ones. The organization that is afraid of the new, or is comfortable with what is, will not innovate in significant ways.

This requires leaders to build the innovation capacity of their organization by focusing on -- yes, innovation tools and skills -- and also on driving an innovation mindset throughout the organization. Mindset matters. Mindset can be developed. And you, dear leader, are an important part of making that so.

What are you doing to create a culture in your organization that embraces disruption?


Jonathan Vehar is a Senior Faculty & Global Portfolio Manager at the Center for Creative Leadership.

As a Senior Faculty member at CCL and subject-matter expert in innovation, Jonathan’s education and extensive experience in program design serves the Center in his design and delivery responsibilities for various Global Solutions clients, as well as his delivery responsibilities for various open enrollment programs. Jonathan is also an adjunct instructor at Northwestern University, the Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York, Ithaca College and the Creative Problem Solving Institute.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Call for Presenters Now Open - BEI: Back End of Innovation 2014

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking presenters for the fourth annual BEI: Back End of Innovation.

BusinessWeek said, "making innovation work is the single most important business challenge of our era." While there are no shortage of ideas on the front end of innovation, the new challenge becomes how to optimize the back end of the innovation process. Once ideas are generated, what happens next? How do we build a system to continually drive innovation?

Learn more about the event here:

How to Get Accepted
Priority will be given to presentations that highlight NEW case studies OR to presentations that are delivered as a hands-on activity for the group. ONLY corporate/client-side speakers will be considered. If you are a consultant, solution provider, technology provider or analyst, please see contact details below for sponsorship/exhibit opportunities.

Event Goal
The Back End of Innovation event ensures organizations have a systematic enterprise capability for pushing the best ideas forward through commercialization. Thematic areas covered include:
  • Return on Innovation
  • Go to Market Strategies
  • Managing the Idea Portfolio
  • Pricing
  • Leadership & Management Infrastructure
  • Process, Tools, Metrics
  • People & Skills (Getting Buy-In for Your Product/Service, Keeping Management Engaged)
  • Culture (Internal Entrepreneurship, How to Create a Culture Where You Can Capitalize on Innovation)
  • Organizational Values
  • Managing Change
  • Business Model Innovation
  • Funding & Partnership Models
  • Overcoming Failure
  • Knowing When to Pivot
  • Agile
  • Product Management (How to Do this Effectively, What Tools and Skills are Needed?)

Who Attends
The only 360° destination where R&D, product development, innovation, strategy, marketing, business development and entrepreneurs all come together to ensure the best ideas are continually driven from the ideation stage through to commercialization.

Speaker Benefits
Speaker receive FREE admission to the conference as well as any pre-conference activities such as workshops or symposium. 

How to Apply
For consideration, please email Romina Kunstadter, Conference Producer at with the following information by Wednesday, March 5, 2014:
  • Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
  • Contact information including address, telephone and e-mail
  • Title and objective of presentation
  • Please indicate which topic you plan to address and please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
  • Summary of the talk
  • What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 key "take-aways")
  • If your submission is selected, portions of your bio and summary will be used to promote your participation.

Sponsorship & Exhibit Opportunities
If you are a vendor, consultant, research firm or technology provider and would like to speak at BEI: Back End of Innovation or have a presence at the event, contact Elizabeth Hinkis, Business Development Manager at

Due to the high volume of response, we are unable to respond to each submission. All those selected to participate as speakers will be notified shortly after the deadline of March 5, 2014.

Thank you for your interest in BEI: Back End of Innovation!
The BEI Team
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Innovation Crush Podcast: Kyle Cease - Activate your Greatness Through Transformational Comedy

"Every once in a while something enormous shows itself: an opportunity, a chance to become even better." -Kyle Cease

Kyle Cease

After several years into Kyle Cease's stand up career, the then all star comic developed a severe stage fright. The anxiety and fear of fainting and thus failing on stage became paralyzing to the point of physical illness. While seeking answers to his anxiety, he began the early stages of what grew to become the principles of Evolving Out Loud.

Almost immediately his career skyrocketed. In addition to booking two films, he shot what was then, the highest rated special on Comedy Central, EVER. Then the next year, he topped it. Along the way, Kyle used his own story to help others, and has developed his own brand of self coined "transformational comedy," helping every day individuals and the world's most notable personalities and organizations, activate their greatness.

On Innovation Crush, hosted by Chris Denson, Kyle shares the ups and downs of his story walks us through Evolving Out Loud, and makes us laugh and learn simultaneously.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Join us for a Webinar on Disrupting Organizational Culture

Clayton Christensen’s epic theory of disruptive innovation in The Innovator’s Dilemma has shaped the face of innovation. In 2007, Craig Hatkoff and Rabbi Irwin Kula began an ongoing effort with Christensen, applying his theory to nontraditional and societally critical domains such as spirituality, religion, and ethical and moral development that led to the formation of the Disruptor Foundation - whose mission is to raise awareness of and encourage the advancement of disruptive innovation theory and its application, and serve as the “advanced research” function for disruptive innovation.

Join us for a provocative web chat on Disrupting Organizational Culture, hosted by the Front End of Innovation and Moderated by Julie Anixter, the Executive Editor of Innovation Excellence, in conversation with Craig Hatkoff, Rabbi Irwin Kula. This is the fourth in series of six web chats we will host in spring 2014. Sign up for the entire Webinar Series here.

Sign up to discuss Disrupting Organizational Culture: Creating an Environment Where Innovation Flourishes-- that Eases Anxiety and Maximizes Opportunities:

• Disruptive Innovation Inside of Organizations
• Making Disrupting Businesses Models Easier – The Lessons of the Fosbury Flop
• Using Stories as the Currency of Change


Date:Thu, Mar 13, 2014
Time:01:00 PM EDT
Duration:45 minutes
Host(s):Front End of Innovation
Register here:


Craig Hatkoff, is co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and creator and curator of Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in collaboration with Professor Clayton Christensen.

Rabbi Irwin Kula, is president of the CLAL the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and Co-founder and Editor In Chief of

Julie Anixter is Executive Editor of Innovation Excellence.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Innovation Vista: Lessons from Italian Accelerator H-FARM

Maurizio Rossi is an intelligent and warm person that loves to travel to Israel whenever he has the time, preferably when it’s sunny. I met Maurizio, one of the founders of H-Farm Ventures, about 3 years ago, at one of the many tech events we both attend. We become friends immediately.
H-Farm is one of a kind accelerator located in Italy, 15 minutes from beautiful Venice. It aims to change the state of its economy by encouraging young people to grow their ideas and disrupt the Italian market. And by “grow your idea,” I literally mean it. The whole space is immersed in green, and in the center, there is a huge greenhouse where Hackathons and other events take place. 
Of course, besides ambitious young people, there are also plants and trees inside this greenhouse. I can tell you from experience, your mind is definitely more open when all you see around you are fields of green and you are surrounded by an incredible landscape on all sides.
I had been invited to be mentor at a fashion and lifestyle Hackathon, and since Italy, fashion, and lifestyle seemed like a perfect pairing, I was more than happy to go.
I’ve been to many Hackathons, but this one had a paticularly interesting concept: H-farm collaborates with four major players in the fashion field: Bottega VenetaDieselLotto, and Mastrotto. Teams are asked to come up with real ideas to disrupt the fashion industry. Innovators had the chance to pitch directly to these companies, which is a huge deal. No wonder, over 400 people showed up! It was one of the intensive Hackathons I’ve ever seen. It  was very well organized and the amount of support from the H-Farm team was just mind blowing. The ‘H’ in H-Farm stands for “Human” and this spirit is very much reflected and celebrated here..
The ideas at the end were fairly good, and some were actually amazing. But what struck me the most was the degree of the finished product presented after only 24 hours. Most of the pitches were also very well designed, and some of the ideas have even already been developed! Observing this, I can only ask one question: How come we don’t hear about more applications originating from Italy? I might have the answer to that or at least a partial answer: I think Italians are more comfortable developing in their own market and not on a global scale.
Italians are way progressive when it comes to 3D printing. I viewed some great solutions made by the local startups. One of them, Desall, created FabMe, a Marketplace for 3D files where people can buy and use along with their own 3D printing machine. Clearly this idea is ahead of its time because most people don’t have a 3D printer at home (or even their office) yet, but the store has great potential to gain momentum, and get a great deal of content while awaiting the mainstream adoption of the devices.
H-Farm, led by Riccardo Donadon, and Maurizio Rossi, has invested in over 53 startups since 2005, had 7 successful exits, creating 350 new jobs. The aggregate turnover of H-Farm companies exceeds 30 million euro. An additional investment of €10 million has been planned for the period between 2013 and 2018.
But H-Farm is not just an accelerator. It is also a digital academy and a place for Italians to learn, and meet new people. If they see potential in you, you’ll get a desk, food, direction, and plenty of time to grow your ideas. It reminded me of the TLV Campus, where everyone who needs a place to build a startup is welcome. In doing this, H-Farm has become a hub for all startups in the area, and probably the entire nation. And, they are not stopping there. I heard plans for expanding the area, adding workshops and open spaces to enable more people to join the swell. I salute them for that.
*Republished by permission from the original at


Orli Yakuel is a Go2web20 Co-Founder; Tech-Blogger; and product development consultant specializing in UI/UX as well as social marketing strategy.

Editor's Note:

Join us at FEI Venice, taking place 17-19 March, as Ruggero Frezza, President and CEO, M31 and Maurizio Rossi, Co-Founder, H-FARM Ventures present "Growing New Ventures in Italy."

Italy is famous for its creativity, style and flamboyant lifestyle. Can all this be funneled in methodical innovation? Witness the most notable experiences in funding and growing new innovative ventures in Italy. A vision of the venture capital scene, of the entrepreneurial activity sprouting from universities and of the impact of the public efforts in support of investments in start up companies will be given from the perspective of seed stage investors. Speakers will lure multinational companies presenting some of the companies currently held in the portfolio of Italian incubators/accelerators and VC's.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

One Does Not Simply "Fail Fast and Fail Often"

Fail fast, fail often is the cliché. You can find scores of columns about the value of failure, and about how innovation depends upon it. Companies need to be resilient, build carefully-balanced portfolios, "fail strategically," and so on. These articles speak of failure as a mere stepping stone to success, as if failure were of trivial cost and significance, especially in light of the big picture. People and companies are berated for their fear of failure, their risk-aversion, and their short-sightedness (notably this derision comes from people who will not have to bear the costs and consequences of others failing!).

But, if all of those articles are correct, then why are companies not listening?

Because failure is real.

Failure has real costs, real consequences, and real pains that are palpable to both the organization and the people within it. Failure hurts, and until we acknowledge that part, the advice and platitudes will fall on ears deafened by the hot sting of defeat.

In today's milieu, one of instant results, high competition, flooded markets, and uncertain times, people are all too aware that one misstep can mean disaster. CEO's fear that one mistake can cause their company to go down, and in a world where competitors are a dime a dozen, they may be correct. Employees fear that even an honest mistake can get them fired, and in a down economy with high unemployment, termination becomes a scary reality that can lead to economic ruin. Managers fear that being too honest will get them reported to HR, disciplined, and terminated, and they have the scars to prove it.

Worse yet, each of these missteps can place a warding mark on the foreheads of those who have failed. After all, would you hire someone who has been fired from another company? Would you care to look into why they were fired when you have a slew of candidates who have never been terminated? Even if you cared, would you have the time? Imagine hiring a manager to your department who was reprimanded by HR -- you wouldn't! Consider investing in a company who got its CEO from a firm that went down in flames...not with your money.

Here's the other side of it, though: we should not be so quick to destroy people and companies for failing. Instead, we need to support failure, even when it costs us to do so. For example, if a coffee shop messes up your order, you need to invest the additional time to wait for the correction, you need to swallow your frustration, and you need to accept the shop's attempt to compensate you for all of that.  At first blush, we may not want to incur those additional costs, but the alternative is not getting what we want, being even more angry, and spending even more time and energy getting revenge. In short, we need to bite the bullet that some entity has failed us, and be willing to accept reasonable restitution. It is hard for us to be reasonable when we have been wronged, and that is something we need to practice, as well.

The problem, of course, is when there is no ready and reasonable restitution for the mistakes made. If an employee errs and ruins a major project, that may not be repairable. It is very rare, however, for a mistake to be so powerful and devastating that there is no way to fix it. In many cases, it may seem this way at first, and the key in such situations is to acknowledge the problem first, and then investigate (that does not mean go hunting for a scapegoat -- focus on processes and facts, not people).  If necessary, bring in a neutral third party to investigate.

Either way, try to determine if the effects are truly catastrophic, irrevocable, irreparable, and final. When they are, it may be time to cut ties and exact pounds of flesh. Otherwise, both sides need to bite the bullet, roll up their sleeves, and engage in their respective parts of the repair process. Believe it or not, it is usually far less costly than cutting ties, getting revenge, and escalating matters. Moreover, the trust and goodwill built in the repair process will make for better strength throughout.

When we can do that successfully, we will be sufficiently capable of accepting failure well enough to be innovators.

By the way, whom would you rather hire -- someone with a perfect record, or someone who has bounced back from failure?

Orin's Asides
Huzzah to anyone who caught the very-intentional LOTR reference.

Orin C. Davis is a positive psychology researcher and organizational consultant who focuses on enabling people to do and be their best.  His consulting work focuses on maximizing human capital and making workplaces great places to work, and his research focuses on self-actualization, flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. Dr. Davis is the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and the Chief Science Officer of Self Spark. (@DrOrinDavis)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Your stance on innovation depends upon where you sit

Do leaders in different levels of the organization have to lead differently? Of course they do.  A line supervisor has very different leadership challenges than the CEO.  That’s where CCL’s leadership roadmap is useful in helping leaders figure out how they can grow and develop as their careers advance.

Similarly, leaders who are looking to drive innovation have different challenges.  Innovation leadership is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  Our colleague Dan Buchner, Director of CCL’s Innovation Labs, led some important work to help distinguish the differences among the leader levels.  Knowing this is useful in helping leaders focus.  Given that schedules are too full already, it’s useful to know what to do, and this helps shape what not to do as well.

Here then is a run-down of the roles and responsibilities by leader level specific to innovation:

Leading self -- CREATING: at the level where one doesn’t have direct reports, but serves as a role-model or perhaps leader of project teams, the responsibilities around innovation fall mainly into the realm of knowing how to generate creative solutions and a keen ability to participate on an innovation team made up of diverse participants.

Core to this is the ability to find sources of inspiration for new approaches, whether that means looking at other industries, engaging customers and stakeholders, or exploring patent databases for similar challenges that have been solved by others.

Leading others – FACILITATING: team leaders or line supervisors need to have other skills as well.  They must know how to lead the group innovation process (i.e. Design Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, TRIZ, etc.), which requires special facilitation skills in addition to those necessary for being an effective team leader/project manager.  And for innovation to take root and spread through the organization, it requires an ability to obtain resources from outside their unit.

Leading managers – ADVOCATING/BRIDGING: When one leads people who are leading others, one key value they bring to the challenge of innovation is supporting and protecting the innovation team from superiors/other parts of the organization.

Great leaders create a protective umbrella over their people to ensure that the discomfort, risk, and potential disruption of the business don’t cause others to try to shut down the innovation efforts.  Also required is to ensure that there is due diligence in building a case for grass-roots innovations and bridging groups that are working on similar challenges to ensure constructive cooperation

Leading functions – DIRECTING/PROTECTING: Leaders of a function or significant silo (or what one participant recently called a “cylinder of excellence”) need to provide clear direction for the scope of the innovation efforts and also need to manage conflicting demands for resources.

They also need to initiate strategic and structural changes to accommodate promising innovations and establish an innovation strategy that bridges the silos.  As if that’s not enough, they are critical to modeling behavior and driving communication that sets the tone in the organization that determines the support of innovation.

They’re also critical in the management of innovation pipeline and balancing the portfolio “bets” that help determine the future direction of the organization’s innovation.

Leading the organization – MANDATING/FOSTERING: Finally, we have the top of the organization.  These are the people who have the critical job of setting an innovation strategy for the organization to ensure that the organization has clear direction on where the organization is to go.

More than that, they are the keystone for fostering a culture of innovation, a big part of which is modeling behaviors to ensure that the walk matches the talk, which sometimes means showing support for different/new/disruptive ideas.

 Like other top leadership responsibilities, it’s imperative that they communicate the vision of innovation over and over and over and over and over and over again.  Perhaps the hardest job is finding ways to hear/see “unfiltered” concepts since the further one goes up the hierarchy, the less connected to “what’s really true” the leader becomes.

So, where are you in the leadership pipeline? And what do you need to do to keep the innovation pipeline full?  We’re also interested in what other key tasks you see in the levels of leadership.  Let us know!


Jonathan Vehar is a Senior Faculty & Global Portfolio Manager at the Center for Creative Leadership. 

As a Senior Faculty member at CCL and subject-matter expert in innovation, Jonathan’s education and extensive experience in program design serves the Center in his design and delivery responsibilities for various Global Solutions clients, as well as his delivery responsibilities for various open enrollment programs. Jonathan is also an adjunct instructor at Northwestern University, the Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York, Ithaca College and the Creative Problem Solving Institute.

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