Innovation Master Class / 3M & Conference Board

3M innovation center

This week I was a speaker and panelist at the Innovation Master Class hosted at the 3M Innovation center in partnership with Conference Board.   The multi-day event featured top speakers from around the country spanning corporate verticals and institutions.  Topics spanned internal innovation practices,  culture,  cases studies, international, and markets.   Well attended,  the event was very active in networking and had breakouts and tours of the 3M facilities.
My presentation focused on developing Innovation Ecosystems.   I showcased patterns of how corporations, start-ups, universities, institutions, gov agencies and venture groups could co-create in new forms of collaboration and co-opitition.   I looked at the rise of next generation innovation centers and research/industry parks around the globe and broke down core services and platforms needed to make these ecosystems thrive and provide sustainable operations for an innovation culture.
There where many learning and inspirational speakers,  two that really stood out where:
  • Douglas Terrier, Chief Technology Officer NASA:  spoke on the global innovation culture NASA supports and in core to its mission.   NASA is truly in the business of innovation literally going where no-one has gone before.  NASA engages industry and academics around the globe and brings them together in new ways to solve exceptional challenges.   These examples illustrated a path that corporations, universities, and governments need to develop to maintain sustainable relationships for mutual & shared value.   The challenges that NASA is taking on make the current world’s grand challenges seem solvable with mutual benefit and collaboration.
  • Sharon Wong,  Cisco:  Launched the British Innovation Gateway  creating some of the first accelerators in the UK.  They are running large competitions engaging broad groups of start-ups and corporate partners.   The are incorporating recognition, Promote and Reward aspects into their own culture to promote innovation.
Overall Themes that resonated across experts:
  • Innovation requires cultural change
  • Collaboration within and outside of the organization is essential
  • Failure and pivoting is the most valuable part of exploration
  • Disruptive innovation is not the same as creating new markets
  • Innovation is opportunity centric not goal centric
  • The best ideas and opportunities can come from anywhere around the globe
Take away:   The tone of innovation conferences is slowly changing.   Innovation is moving from the “new” to the “now” and becoming business as usual for leading companies.   Competitive advantage of the future may rest with the companies that have built the internal capabilities and business units that can provide the exploration, discovery and integration of the new ideas.    We are a century past the industrial revolution that centered on building cultures of operations and efficiency.   Now we are in a century that has to build new management paradigms around agility and exploration.   Companies have to face the challenge of integrating incentive systems across those two paradigms.   Companies, and countries for that matter, are waking up to the fact that innovation happens around the globe and you won’t remain competitive if you think your future only resides within your corporate walls.   New assets have to be built in terms of global networks, partnerships, and general understanding of the new innovation cultures.
See more images and content from the event in the gallery

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