Thursday, July 31, 2014

How GE Canada Transforms Ideas into Innovation through Open Collaboration

Speed to market, access to the best minds, and the agility to respond rapidly to ever-changing market dynamics are essential to executing innovation and this rarely occurs in isolation. Organizations that excel at transforming ideas into game-changing innovations do so through the power of partnerships.

GE is executing innovation across Canada, inventing, building and exporting ideas that work.

At FEI Toronto, taking place in Ontario, Canada, on September 29 - October 1, 2014, Simon Olivier, Vice President of Growth, Market Strategy and Business Development (M&A) at GE Canada, will explore the importance of forging open and outcome-driven collaborations with diverse stakeholders to bring new perspectives, approaches and capabilities to the innovation process.

GE works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works.

Innovation, ideation, and execution all require more than just sitting back and listening to other people talk about successes and failures. We welcome you to join GE Canada and the FEI movement in Toronto and experience transformation first-hand.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do You Create a Culture Where Innovation Thrives?

Making innovation successful starts and ends with people. Companies with a record of success encourage their employees to think and act differently, they've created an environment that embraces new ideas and nurtures innovation.

BEI: Back End of Innovation shares the insights and best practices you need to not only create, but sustain an innovative culture within your organization. Hear how Transamerica has created an environment where innovation thrives, how VF Corporation has motivated the corporate "elephant" to innovate, how Boeing has grown a culture of entrepreneurship and more.

Back End of Innovation
October 6-8, 2014
The Cosmopolitan
Las Vegas, NV

Download the brochure for the full agenda:

Need more proof that BEI is the event that will Immerse You in Innovation? Don't just take our word, see what the industry's had to say:

"BEI is a great way to see the diverse approaches to innovation management, across different industries and size companies. It also allows for valuable connections." Amelia Schaffner, Accenture

"I'm just so overwhelmed with so much wealth of knowledge..." George Arguelles, WD-40 Company

"@BEI_Innovation: This has been #awesome conference to connect with people who want to get stuff done #innovationexecution" @dawnmortimor

Mention code BEI14BL & Save 15% off the standard rate. Register today:

We hope to see you in Las Vegas this October!

All the best,
The BEI Team

Friday, July 25, 2014

That Time Buzzfeed Wrote About Innovation & Totally Nailed It

Okay, so the weekend is here and we're poking a bit of fun at our favorite listicle-laden, productivity and time suck that is Buzzfeed but in all honesty, here's a few of their links offering some fresh perspectives and inspiration for Innovators, Designers, R&D Executives, Product Developers, Customer Insights Leaders, and Trend Hunters on the 360-degree innovation spectrum to recharge:

  1. 10 Powerful Ideas That Will Shape The Future
  2. 11 Things Every Aspiring Inventor Should Know
  3. 10 Engineering Feats That Could Change Everything
  4. 10 Kids Changing The Tech World
  5. 10 Technologies We Won’t Be Able To Live Without In The Next Decade
  6. 10 Inventions That Were Ahead Of Their Time
  7. 10 Simple Ideas That Could Make An Incredible Impact
  8. From Riffs To Robots: 15 Facts That Will Make Your Mind Explode
  9. "The Future Is Ours" PSA For Innovation
  10. 12 Innovations From The 1950s That We Still Use Today
  11. 12 Disruptors Responsible For The Internet As We Know It
  12. 12 Advancements We LITERALLY Couldn’t Live Without
  13. The 17 Phases Of Every Creative Project
  14. 13 Instagram Artists All Creatives Should Follow
  15. 37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading
  16. Awesome Tricks To Boost Your Creativity
  17. 15 Companies Getting Back Into The Businesses They Killed
  18. 13 Things Humans Still Do Better Than Robots
  19. A Lot Of People Are Going To Live In Massive Cities In The Future
  20. 10 Tech Trends That Change Everything
  21. 11 Futuristic Inventions That We’re Still Waiting For
  22. 10 Signs The Future Is Already Here
  23. 10 Science Fiction Technologies That Are Now Real
  24. What The Future Was Supposed To Be Like
  25. 21 Exotic Locations Proving The Future Is Now
  26. 27 Genius New Products You Had No Idea Existed
  27. What It’s Like To Be A Corporate "Futurist"
Happy Friday!

Now go out there and change the world, you've got this!

  Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at or @Literanista.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gamification of Trendhunting: Scoring an Amazing Innovation Culture

In ramping up for our first Canadian Front End of Innovation event, FEI Toronto taking place on September 29 - October 1, 2014, in Ontario, I came across this phenomenal video on YouTube posted last summer by the folks at TrendHunter promoting their Editorial/Social Media internships or what they refer to as TrendHunter Academy.

As you may recall, the CEO & Chief Trend Hunter at and Author of the book Exploiting Chaos, and the forthcoming one, Better & Faster, Jeremy Gutsche, will be addressing FEI Toronto, with a keynote on the six secrets patterns of opportunity that can enable your research team to more quickly out-innovate, out-adapt and outsmart their competitors, and then will personally take us inside the Trendhunter offices to share more on how they spot and track trends.

The Quest for Cool

What struck me about this video, is how very collaborative and cool their culture is expressed through this recruitment campaign.The video showcases their central hub, where writers and editors are scouring the internet daily for the odd, cool, the outliers, and extremely new and then checking in for editorial meetings about 3xs a day - yes, 3 times a day!

Trendhunter Projected Dashboard Gamifies Work
But the most interesting thing that stood out to me was their real time, projected dashboard, an employee leader-board that tracks their trend hunting times, writing times, articles per hour per day and rates them amongst the team so that they can track their progress and immediately see the impact and influence of their work. It is central to the culture at TrendHunter, and demonstrates the importance of critical analysis, connecting the dots, writing well and writing fast in internet culture.

At Trendhunter, the employees play as hard as they work as a team, partaking in weekly Friday lunches to discuss how the week went as well as monthly fun days, participating in activities such as citywide scavenger hunts, Sushi making classes, jetboating and brewery tours.

It is amazingly refreshing to see a company that keeps true to its mission of empowering their community, crowdsourcing ideas and harnessing trends, fueling their employee culture and kickstarting careers in such a fun way.

Things they look for in their interns and future employees? Open mindedness, creativity, enthusiasm, agile minds who can spot patterns in the real world and are super charged writers, fluent in social media and viralness.

You can take a look here or join us as we explore innovation in Canada:


Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at or @Literanista.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

IKEA and Four Seasons Shine in Social Media Innovation

Photo: Poland. Gmina Raszyn. Janki, IKEA by Albert Jankowski

Photo: Four Seasons Hotel Miami by Marc Averette

Looking for a resource to help take your organization to the next level of innovation? Immerse yourself in innovation at this year's Back End of Innovation (BEI) event in Las Vegas, Oct. 6-8.

John Kao, bestselling author of Innovation Nation, will present "Bringing Innovation to Innovation." During this session, John will present a revolutionary view on the how of innovation, where it is defined not only as a brainstorm-to-blueprint process, but by results based on discipline and practice.

To learn more about BEI and register, go to

Stay connected with BEI:
- #BEI14
- End of Innovation

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exceptional Execution: Iliya Rybchin

With BEI Back End of Innovation 2014 approaching, we wanted to get an expert’s point of view on innovation execution in today’s increasingly competitive business landscape. We were in luck. Iliya Rybchin, Director of Media & Entertainment, Highnote Foundry sat down with us to discuss innovation strategy and execution.  

Here is what he had to say:

IIR: What is a fundamental characteristic or skill to lead innovation?

Rybchin: Without a doubt it’s entrepreneurial operating experience.  Many innovation initiatives fail because the people who are driving it do not have the experience to get things done.  Ideas are important, good strategy is critical, access to capital is vital.  However, NONE of that matters if it’s placed in the hands of people who can’t execute.  You need people who have shipped products, who have run P&Ls, who have managed people, who have developed technology.  DOERS are more important than THINKERS.  

Many companies place their innovation activities in the hands of smart, vocal “up and comers” as a way to reward them.  Innovation is not a reward!  Innovation is a necessity.  Something this critical should not be used as a reward, it should be placed in the hands of a company’s most capable business leaders.

IIR: Why is the back end of innovation just as important if not more important the front end?

Rybchin: The back end is what delivers results.  The front end is often just smoke and mirrors.  Companies don’t get measured by ideas… they get measured by EPS, revenue growth, market share, etc.  Ideas without back end innovation do not deliver those metrics.  Innovation happens when customers touch products not when executives get a PowerPoint from a brainstorming workshop.

IIR: What best practices support successful innovation execution? What typically stands in its way?

Rybchin: Alignment and continuous close coordination with senior management.  Many innovation activities get off to a good start.  The executives are on board, they appoint a leader, a press release goes out, lots of great quotes, etc.  However, six months down the road, senior executives move on to other priorities and the luster of the innovation program has worn off.  This is precisely when innovation activities start to go downhill.  To be successful, senior management needs to be engaged and be ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS throughout the entire process.  Without the ongoing support, air cover, access to budgets, introductions, etc., innovation can whither on a vine.  Even the well-funded and well-staffed innovation team will struggle when the CEO is not on board.

IIR: What is a piece of advice you would give companies who are creating a corporate innovation strategy?

Rybchin: Don’t create an innovation strategy.  Any company that creates a SEPARATE innovation strategy is doomed to fail.  A company should have a single corporate strategy… of which innovation should be a key component.  Innovation strategy should be intertwined with the corporate goals, mission, and tactics.  The second innovation becomes its own strategy – it becomes a lower priority.  Innovation should become part of the air all employees breath it should be introduced into a company’s DNA… it should not be a prosthetic that gets added after some catastrophe takes away a limb.

Rybchin will be speaking at the upcoming BEI 2014 conference in Las Vegas, NV. The Back End of Innovation is responsible for taking an idea and transforming it into an ultimate product success. Generating the idea is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in taking that innovation, executing it effectively and commercializing it, resulting in driving the bottom line profitability. BEI is an event for those in charge of bringing innovations to life, from using metrics to identify the highest yielding ideas, to creating cultures that drive innovation, to carrying it through to market.

To learn more about the event or to register, click here:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Go On a Field Trip to Zappos, The Cosmopolitan, and Switch SUPERNAP at BEI

Have you ever wondered "how do they do that"? Now's the time to stop wondering and uncover the answers you're looking for.

BEI: Back End of Innovation has created an environment where innovation thrives. Hundreds of innovation professionals will gather for best practices and lessons learned from cross-industry leaders. But that's not all, BEI 2014 encourages you to get outside the conference walls to truly immerse yourself in innovation at some of Las Vegas' most innovative organizations.

Back End of Innovation
October 6-8, 2014
The Cosmopolitan
Las Vegas, NV

Download the brochure for full field trip descriptions:

The Zappos Tour Experience & A Visit to the Downtown Project: Join us for a tour at Zappos' new corporate headquarters in Downtown Las Vegas for a glimpse into the Zappos culture and a walk in a Zapponians shoes. You'll also have access to The Downtown Project, inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions and create a vibrant, connected urban core in Las Vegas. *Limited to 20 people.

Explore Switch SUPERNAP & The InNEVation Center: See how Nevada's most successful technology start up entrepreneur redefined the data enter and technology ecosystem industry. Inventions and collaborative solutions established by Rob Roy, CEO & Founder of Switch SUPERNAP will be showcased. Plus, attendees will also get an inside look at how Roy is giving back to Nevada through the Innevation Center, a philanthropic, economic diversification engine. *Limited to 30 people.

Behind the Scenes Look at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: Changing the Game in Las Vegas: From talent selection to casino operations, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is changing the game on the famous Las Vegas Strip. You'll get a behind the scenes look at The Cosmopolitan as well as a Q&A session with some of their most innovative leaders.  *Limited to 20 people.

Note: You may only register for one field trip. Placement is not guaranteed until payment has been received.

Mention code BEI14LI & Save 15% off the standard rate. Register today:

We hope to see you in Las Vegas this October!


The BEI Team

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3 Practices to Forge an Authoritative and Global Brand

All startups have the desire to impact the world in obvious or even subtle ways. However, that doesn’t happen just overnight. Building an influential and authoritative brand takes hard work, perseverance, and a tireless and deft personal touch that will eventually propel your brand to global ubiquity. Sometimes, the practices that you have to employ will even be somewhat counter-intuitive. Here are some things - small and big - that you can do to ensure your brand becomes the authority in whatever industry you work in.

1) It Takes a Village - Collaborate.
Your first instinct as a small business or startup is to make sure you get a leg-up on the competition. However, that’s the very same practice that pushed the American economy into a downward spiral back in 2008. However, what most people don’t immediately recognize is that although ideas between “competitors” may be the same - the execution is different. You don’t own the idea, you own the execution. A lot of seeding and networking is required before your brand can grow so don’t be afraid to plant those seeds! Promote the good news of your so-called “competitors” and turn them into your partners. The more partners you gather, the more of a force you’ll become. With the help of your partners, you’ll be able to define the progress of your community and more.

2) Forge a Diverse and Broad Community - The Innovation Potluck
Just because your brand might occupy a high tech or biotech niche doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking to someone who exists in the space of fashion or design. Bump and connect to as many people as you can for everyone is limited and they have only so much ability and talent. The more people around you with different things to bring to the table. The more diversity in thought, background, and talent that you can acquire makes you all the more likely to succeed in making massive impact. The most enduring brands in the world are created thanks to cross-collaboration across vast swathes of industries, backgrounds, personality-types, and mindsets. Almost all of your problems can be solved by other people. You have to share what your problems are and people will help you. Remember, you own the execution, not the idea.

3) Be Failure Tolerant and Never Assume Success
Sometimes even an idea with the best of intentions can crack under the pressure of circumstance. Never be afraid to let a project fail. Positions of discomfort always leads to the most compelling takeaways that will enable you to find success on a different iteration of your venture. One method to minimize this potential failure is to never assume success. Operate under the assumption that the only value you will derive from your project is the actual act of doing it. Therefore, find something that you’re deeply passionate about because if you’re working on something that you don’t care about it’s going to be easy to become complacent and actually let it fail without thinking of some method to save it.

These three key practices lead to collaborative thinking. A kind of thinking that scales up the growth of your brand exponentially. Although initial growth may be slow and steady, it is only by forging an innovative community that you can embed your brand in a deeper and more meaningful narrative that can deliver huge impact.

Like this topic? Attend BEI Back End of Innovation 2014 in Las Vegas, NV in October! Learn more about the event here:

About the Author: Jibran Malek is a Marketing Manager at MassChallenge Inc., the world’s largest startup accelerator and the first to support high­impact, early­stage 
entrepreneurs with no strings attached.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Innovation in Canada: Our Visit to the MaRS Discovery District & the HQs

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

On September 29 - October 1, 2014, we will be in Canada for our latest Front End of Innovation Series event, FEI Toronto. We have two distinct opportunities to explore innovation within the Canadian trenches, which  promote adventure learning, designed to literally get you beyond your office, and outside the conference walls, and reset your perspectives and mind-frame as you visit the HQ's of some of Toronto's most innovation organizations with us.

Venture Inside the Headquarters

Jeremy Gutsche, CEO & Chief Trend Hunter at, Author of Exploiting Chaos, and the forthcoming Better & Faster will deliver a keynote address sharing Six Secret Steps to Outsmart, Out-Innovate, and Out-Adapt your Competitors:

After researching 250,000 innovations with an audience that is like a 100,000,000 person focus group, Jeremy Gutsche and Trend Hunter have uncovered six patterns of opportunity that can enable your research team to more quickly out-innovate, out-adapt and outsmart your competitors.

Jeremy Gutsche
Gutsche dives into the psychological traps that block innovators (and researchers) from realizing their full potential, and how to unlock your hunter instincts to find better ideas faster. The framework has also been battle tested with several hundred brands, billionaires and CEOs who rely on Gutsche, ranging from Victoria's Secret and Coca-Cola to IBM and Hughes Aerospace.

"Trend Hunter is located in a former horse-carriage factory near Queen and SoHo and according to the Wall Street Journal the office is as hip as its occupants. Which really shouldn't be a surprise considering it's their job to spots trends on the bleeding edge. Trend Hunter's office culture has been profiled on CNN, and in the National Post, the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star. And previously, Trend Hunter was named one of Canada's Most Innovative Companies at the Canadian Innovation Exchange." via Techvibes

Following his talk, Jeremy will take us inside the Trendhunter offices in Toronto, where all the trend magic and predications happen.

Explore the MaRS Discovery District

MaRS Discovery District is dedicated to driving economic and social prosperity by harnessing the full potential of innovation. They have built on a rich legacy to create one of world’s largest innovation hubs, a 1.5-million-square-foot complex located in the heart of Canada’s largest research cluster in downtown Toronto.

MaRS is at the intersection of the corporate, small business, government, academic and research sectors. As such, they are able to convene partners from each of these sectors, and foster the collaboration and convergence of ideas that truly drive innovation. MaRS works with an extensive network of private and public sector partners to help entrepreneurs launch and grow the innovative companies that are building our future — startup ventures with broad economic and societal impact.

Earl Miller
Earl Miller is the Director, Partnerships – Government and International Relations. He leads MaRS’ Regional Innovation Centre and is responsible for provincial commercialization relationships,  government stakeholders in the Toronto Region and business development with Canadian trade and economic development officials, foreign governments and international partners.

You are invited to join Earl for an overview of MaRS history and evolution as an innovation hub, a discussion of MaRS venture services - entrepreneurship education, market intelligence, advisory services and capital programs, and an explanation of the Discovery District ecosystem and MaRS' role as a commercialization hub connecting communities of innovators.

You'll get a first-hand look at different business acceleration models - MaRS incubator and MaRS JOLT accelerator as well as a summary of how programs and facility work as an integrated platform to help technology ventures grow and scale.

Space for both field trips is limited and reserved on a first come, first serve basis. In addition to over 50 sessions crafted around your evolving needs - as an innovation, R&D, product development and insights leader - to accelerate systematic innovation growth, from ideation to execution, we've added some can't-miss elements to truly drive innovation implementation at FEI Toronto, like two full-day workshops and five learning labs designed to require you to put innovation to work in real-time through collaborative learning sessions and hands-on activities. Download the brochure to view the complete agenda, speaker and session information. We're saving a you a seat!

Oh, and also with your FEI Toronto pass, you will have access to the co-located North American Consumer Insights Event. Double the content, double the sessions, double the speakers, double the insights, double the value - Don't miss out, register today!

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