Speaker at Singularity U – MSP Chapter Launch Event

Image 7-16-19 at 4.11 PMI had the opportunity to speak on trends in regional development of innovation ecosystems at the kickoff the the Singularity U Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter event.   The event was widely attended and hosted in the main auditorium of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business.  I’m currently serving on the leadership team of the Singularity U local chapter.  This was the first public event of the chapter and featured multiple speakers on the topic of innovation.

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See more event photos in the gallery


Elements Group Speaking at MACC

IMG_5162.jpgI was a speaker at the 2017 Midwest Architecture Community Collaboration this November held at the Double Tree Hotel.  A large community of architects, technologists, and strategists convened for both presentations and workshops.  My presentation covered top challenges that business and technology leaders will face as the speed of business and technology increases.

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Key topic areas included:

  1. The Nature of Competition is changing:   In this section, I talked about how last century there were around eight clearly defined business strategies in markets and how since 2000+ over 30 strategies are now active and many are more complex requiring new internal capabilities, external partnership,s and new value systems.  Most companies today lack the business intelligence and strategic planning process required to map these new strategies and map their ecosystems effectively, including cross-sector threats.  Many companies ignore these options and keep on doing what they have always done giving time to the competition, but regardless of being proactive with offensive strategies, companies will be forced into developing defensive strategies as their competitor’s differentiators start to disrupt their business.
  2. Regional Competitive Advantage:   All around the world, leading cities are developing regional development plans with industry to create more competitive business environments.   This is creating entirely new playing fields where companies can’t afford to not be active in these regions given the advantages in industry clusters, investment, government policy, workforce development, education, and entrepreneurship are all integrated and operating a significantly higher level of acceleration.    Business need to explore the global landscape to see how these regions are developing and how they can get involved.   For cities and companies that don’t develop their own regions may find themselves at a great disadvantage in the coming years and workforce, investment and companies are forced to leave atrophying regions in search of more competitive advantages.  While foreign cities are leading the way, establishing best practice, several USA cities have taken very proactive steps and have easily a 6-8 year head start.  Many USA cities are pretty complacent,  but they fail to see that are in a declining state vying to be the next Detriot.
  3. New Role:  Lastly,  I spoke about new roles that are needed in corporate leadership and in regional leadership.   These represent huge career paths and opportunities for today’s business, technology and government leadership.

See more pictures of the event in the photo gallery

Ignite 2016 Innovation Conference

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I was a speaker at the Ignite 2016 Innovation event hosted at the Lafayette Country club on January 29th.  The half day event was well attended by a mix of corporate executives and leaders of SMB businesses.   Innovation was the central theme, but the diversity of speakers approached the subject from a broad spectrum and from different aspects of corporate, start-up, academic, and basic design thinking.  The event was conducted in a TEDx format with networking breaks and activities integrated to engage and connect the attendees.   The speakers primed the conversations of the day with rich topics and great ideas that attendees discussed.   Many of the event sponsors where innovative businesses or vendors that where working in different aspects of the innovation space.   Some of the speakers shared case studies of work they have been doing with corporations expanding their impact in the corporate social responsibility areas of innovative thinking and community impact.
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My talk focused on lessons learned from working with 1000s of corporations to start-ups in the innovation space.   I walk through examples of approaches and outcomes companies have taken including building internal practices,  integration to core teams or skunk works efforts,  engaging external agencies, etc.    I also talked about developing key capabilities to support innovation that included:  Business Architecture, Technology Architecture, Organizational Architecture and XRM ( Extended Relationship Management ).   I explored the integration of these four capabilities around a central innovation practice and what the key aspects of integration and exchange where between these groups.  I also should how these new capabilities tied to the strategic planning process.   This was a high level overview of the mPatherfinder(TM) methodology developed at Cheval Partners over the past two decades+ of engagements and experiences at CSC, Microsoft and UMN.
This methodology is directly focused on new innovation capabilities that organizations can develop and mature in an interactive process to help them compete in a dynamic & global business environment of today’s business landscape.
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Future posts on this  blog will go into the overall methodology more in depth over the coming year to show the depth and breadth of the mPatherfinder capabilities, so stay tuned.
Some on my Q&A:
· What great leadership or innovation means to you
One measure of a leader is to look at the impact they have made to their team that is following them.   Leadership is not simply pointing the way, but developing the team to meet the challenges that lay ahead.  Because in the end, its all about the people.
· Current or upcoming work/seminars/books you want attendees to know about you
Actively working with corporations on innovation practices and partnering with economic development companies working to create innovation centers in several US cities.
·  What does Innovation mean to business today.
Companies are learning what Innovation practices encompass and what it means to compete at the level required in today’s business.     As innovation simply becomes a standard practice of business, like IT or accounting,  it will be another set of corporate capabilities that will be considered a part of normal business.
·  An action attendees can take during or after listening to you
 Ask your teams what innovation means to them and what challenges they already see in the organization to become more agile.  Engage your people in building the organization of the future.
Ignite2016 Agenda
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Ignite 2016 Speaker
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For more images of the event and other speakers explore the gallery

ARCCoM Fall 2015 International Event – Part I

ARCCoMI was a speaker and panelist at the ARCCoM Fall 2015 International Innovation event.   This event hosted representatives from Russia, Europe, and North America to participate in a dialogue about B2B collaboration and building Innovation Corridors for start-ups to collaborate with markets internationally.  The event began on Oct 8th, hosted at the Carlson School of Management and included daytime sessions and evening social/culture events over several days.  Speakers at the event included Corporate, Academic,  State Government, Federal Government, Innovation Practitioners, Innovation Center Executives, and Start-up speakers.  Below is the event agenda, content and speakers.  I will expand on the learnings in a second blog post.

October 8, Thursday, CSOM, room 2-206 8:30 am – 9:00 am – Registration and light breakfast

9:00 am -10:20 am – Greetings and introductory remarks

  • Anatoli Korkin, Chairman of ARCCoM, St Paul, MN, Welcome and introduction
  • Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State (2007-2015) and President/CEO, Minnesota World’s Fair Bid Committee, St Paul, MN, Introductory remarks
  • Alexander Stadnik, Russian Trade Mission, Washington D.C., introductory remarks
  • Thomas Bruns, United States Commercial Service, Washington D.C., Introductory remarks
  • Steve Riedel, Minnesota Trade Office, St Paul, MN, Minnesota trade with Russia: Current status and opportunities
  • Jamshed Merchant, Consul General of Canada, Minneapolis, MN, Introductory remarks Vladimir von Tsurikov, Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, MN, Museum of Russian Art mission in international cultural exchange

10:20 am -10:40 am – Coffee break
10:40 am -12:00 pm – Business opportunities and technology innovations

  • John Pournoor, 3M Corporation, St Paul, MN, Solving National Needs and Creating Public Value
  • Robert Gaiiuliin, Tatarstan Trade Mission, Washington D.C., Business opportunities in Tatarstan
  • Vasily Kutsakov, Skolkovo Foundation, Moscow, Russia, Skolkovo Foundation: How experts and enterprises abroad can get involved
  • Todd Lefko, International Business Development Company, Minneapolis, MN, Possibilities in the Russian water sector

2:00 pm – 3:20 pm – Technology innovations and academic partnerships

  • David Williams, Cheval Partners, Minneapolis, MU,Building innovation ecosystems- durable business services to support and grow innovation
  • Kendrick White, Marchmont Capital, Nizniy Novgorod, Russia, Connecting Russian universities to global business – the new International Proof of Concept Association (IPOCA) as a mechanism to develop cross country collaboration
  • William Petuskey , Arizona State University, AZ, Opportunities for internationaleducation, research and technology innovations at Arizona State University
  • Liliya Kiryanova and Sergey Zamyatin, Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk, Russia, Partnership opportunities with Tomsk Polytechnic University
  • Yuri Kistenev and Aleksandr Zamyatin, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia, Partnership opportunities with Tomsk State University

3:20 pm – 3:40 pm – Coffee break

3:40 pm – 5:00 pm – US – Russia partnership proposals and opportunities

  • Leonid Grichiner, Russian Publishing House “Zerkalo”, Minneapolis, MN, Introduction to Russian-speaking business community in Minnesota
  • Alexandra Johnston, DFJ Aurora, San Francisco, CA, Russia-USA business
  • Partnership: A view from Silicon Valley
    Vlad Pavlov, RollApps, Palo Alto, CA, rollApp’s experience of offering application virtualization platform in the USA and Russia: similarities and differences between the two markets
  • Alexander Shalumov, Presidential Academy of national Economy and Public
  • Administration, Automated system ASONIKA for electronic device design and reliability:Expending international research and business opportunities
  • Tatiana Tatarchevskly, University without Borders, New York, On-line education and social entrepreneurship: Internet platforms for international collaboration
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Reception and concert @ St Petersburg restaurant, address: 3610 France Ave N, Robbinsdale, MN 55422

October 9, Friday 10:30 am – noon; CSOM, room 1-127

  • Thomas Bruns, United States Commercial Service, Washington D.C., Overview on Russia market and economy
  • David Edmiston, United State Commercial Service, Minneapolis MN, Overview on Commercial Services Organization and examples of facilitating international business
  • Round table discussions on Russia’s water and wastewater treatment Sector.
  • Moderators: Steve Riedel, Minnesota Trade Office, and Todd Lefko, International Business Development Council.

1 pm – 2:30 pm; CSOM, room 1-135

  • Panel on E-Learning as a Vehicle for U.S.- Russian Collaborative Projects in Social Entrepreneurship, Education, and Science
  • Moderators: UMN, UMD, University without Boarders

2:30pm – 4:30 pm; CSOM, room 1-135

  • Panel on International Corridors and Innovation Centers
  • Moderators: David Williams, Cheval Partners;  Kendrick White, Marchmont Capital

See images from the event at:

Global Innovation Centers / Cisco Teleconference


I was a featured speaker at an international conference on innovation and international exchange that was hosted by Cisco Corporation at their teleconferencing office in Bloomington Minnesota.   The conference was joined by innovation representatives spanning US cities and other locations including Russia, China, Singapore, etc.    Different groups talked about the innovation initiatives they were leading in their countries and were looking for ways to integrate and collaborate around developing an international exchange of practices, innovations, and more collaborative integrations.
I was one of the speakers invited to share insights into the research and initiatives I was current leading in Minnesota.
My presentation covered the following areas of activities:
  1. Learning & practices my research was finding in the development of innovation economies around the world.
  2. How a variety of funding models needed to be integrated at different stages of the innovation lifecycle of centers to create a sustainable and more scaleable model
  3. Work I was exploring with economists around new areas of global exchange.   This is a large topic that is looking at new forms of international exchange beyond basic trade and transactions that is built to create sustainable innovation collaboration and all the talent, investment, and resources required.   It also embodies a new language around exchange to describe new business and revenue models around an innovation economy.
  4. Designing global platforms to facilitate collaboration and integration of innovation centers.  This was another broad topic spanning a range of platforms ( like digital ) to a host of others required to support the broad spectrum of exchange resources.
  5. A brief overview of international funding activities to support the build out of these shared services.
My Q&A session was very active as there was a great deal of interest and synergy points across the various attendees from other regions.  I found the event to be a fantastic opportunity for a global network that launched conversations that turned into rich an active ongoing relationships today.
See more images in the events gallery

Society of Continuous Process Design (SCPD) at 3M

3M 2014 SCPD Event

This week I was a speaker at the Society of Continuous Process Development (SCPD) chapter in Minneapolis hosted at the 3M event center.
Many speakers shared internal experiences trying to launch a innovation team.   The event was well tended and I was able to sponsor 4 graduate students from the UMN.  SCPD was started by the government for defense contracts but Steve Jobs brought it to apple and now the community is spreading.
My topic was focused on real world case studies of corporate organizations that had built internal innovation units and the learning from each attempt:
Story Telling
Case Study 1:  Corporate Venture
This was a detailed study of a fortune 100 that started a new venture group as a skunk works team reporting directly to the board.   Given board alignment,  they pursued several new pilots that were building new markets.   With luck and good timing, the first three attempts produced great results.   The problem the organization ran into was that the success created both political and operational problems overall.   Politically, senior LOB leaders resented the innovations and became obstacles in supporting them as those business grew and needed to rely on the enterprise operations.   Attempts where made to try and integrate more people into the innovation process, but that stalled the progress due to the culture clash of people reporting to more than one boss via dotted line relationships.   Finally,  the forth pilot stalled,  it produced fantastic market insights and needed to pivot,  but with no past experience in pivoting it was viewed as a failure and everyone was fired because the innovation team couldn’t guarantee success.    While originally a poster case of innovation,  it demonstrated the dangers of not really changing the overall corporate culture while shifting strategic direction into new markets.
Case Study 2:  Start-up Venture
This study looked at a start-up that build a business platform between adjacent industries which became a massive catalyst for business change and growth across those industries.    It was a success story of both inter sector integration and eventual big data capabilities across the industry.   Initially the start up was viewed as a neutral party that was acting on everyone’s behalf.  In the true spirit of co-opitiion they formed many strategic partnerships and joint investments that propelled the start-ups growth.   As it became clear that this truly was a major innovation in the market, one of the largest partners acquired the start-up.   This proved to be disastrous for everyone.   The start-up team was assimilated into the large corporate structure and the beurocracy stalled the productivity.   The network of partnerships collapsed because neutrality had been lost.   A critical lesson for big companies to learn as their markets are disrupted and evolve.  Market growth is sometimes best shared vs. controlled and limited.
Case Study 3: Independent Venture
This was a case study in an individual with a new consumer electronics product.   They had spent years trying to get investors to off set the cost of partnering with US manufactures.   The proposed costs where in the millions to design and manufacture, plus most of the IP would have to be given to the companies partnering with.   Pivoting on partner strategy vs. product, he began to explore global internet based business bidding sites.  Within a few weeks he had the circuit boards designed in Australia,  manufacturing occurring in China,  brand and marketing out of Argentina, assembly and shipping in the USA and retailing on online commerce sites.   The cost was around $10K in comparison and the timeframe was months vs. years to be in market.   The business is happily growing.   Another good lesson for major corporations to see the power of the global service economy and ease of networking now possible.
I also looked at the Innovation Landscape as a series of 6 major factors that should be considered while designing the business model canvas for a new initiative:
Innovation Landscape
Take aways that resonated across the speakers:
– Need to engage the board to support the innovation initiative.   Bring them into the process and leverage their experiences.
– The Innovation team needs to support the LOB teams.  Make the LOBs successful and be seen as a resource to them.
– Internally, the innovation team needs to run skunk works projects to prototype ideas to have more insights to bring to the business,  there is a great art to running stealth during proof of concepts phases before making thing visible for scrutiny.
– The innovation team needs to staffed appropriately with diverse roles.  Everyone needs time to learn and stay plugged into trends.
– Have virtual team members from the LOBs rotate in and out to become more apart of the culture and build advocates that know the process.
– Create home teams and away teams.   Away teams are out interning customers and in direct contact with the home team that is rapidly incorporating feedback into the ongoing pitch.   Rotate so people meet the customers and work internally.
– Some companies are using 3D printing in product design,  they are making prototypes rapidly and testing with consumers every day.   They make consumer products and take them directly into the home to pilot them for real world feedback.
– Failure is a critical component of exploration.   Success should be measured by the number of pivots and the insights learned about the market, not by artificial metrics.
– Collaboration tools are key,  they must be used across the organization
– Most companies have an innovation portfolio that is more enhancements than disruptive, much less the few who are actually creating new markets.   Need to have good portfolio management that is governed by the board and c-suite to have the backing and mandate to take risk.
See more event images in the gallery

KPMG Minneapolis Innovation Council

KPMG logoI was a speaker / members at the KPMG Innovation Council meeting in Minneapolis today.   I’ve attended several of these meetings in the past and it is a large group of Innovation and Technology directors from the twin cities.   My talk was focused on Innovation trends and the impact and key capabilities needed to be developed by corporations.   This was a great topic to involve this audience in as the Q&A really got the audience participating and sharing what their orgs are doing or how they are approaching key challenges.

Some insight that where shared by the group:

  • Most of the organizations realized that innovation was becoming a key competency to remain relevant and competitive.
  • Most organization where underway,  but struggling to find the right organizational model.
  • Many only had a small skunk works team.
  • Almost all lacked the major capabilities of a mature innovation competency.
  • Many struggled with funding and ROI metrics.
  • Many acknowledged they did not have a culture that understood risk/reward,  exploration, iteration/pivot, or failure/learning in general.  This greatly complicated how people in the innovation areas where treated and the reward/punishment dynamics.
  • Most looked at innovation as an internal function and there was a lot of questions about my examples of corporate collaboration & co-opition.   Though several did say they were starting to put a focus on looking for start-ups.
  • Most didn’t have formalized venture funding models.

One of the other speakers showcased the partnership between Optum, Mayo, and UMN around data sharing and analytics in health care.   As I was working at the UMN,  I had some insights into this collaboration.   This was a great supporting example of how multiple entities could combine assets in a co-opition model where all would benefit and drive their respective business together.   The analytics demo they showed was an amazing example of data visualization of healthcare information.   They where able to visual show patterns and track cause and effect of various conditions and procedural outcomes.    Given they are so far ahead in this area it suggests that some significant disruptions could be coming to the health care industry sooner than later.   Especially when you could see correlation to what insurance pays for and what actually works and the impact or lack there of around pharmaceuticals.

We also had a presentation from the State of MN CIO and Director of Innovation covering their initiatives around public data.   Their goal is to create improved access, integration, and APIs to the public data sources of the state and support the eventual crowdsourcing uses of this data through promotions and contests.   At Microsoft I had worked with a number of companies that where following this model of making some of there data public.   The results I saw where very impressive in terms of the partnerships it attracted and the fantastic solutions that the contests produced that became new solutions for the company.

This group tends to meet quarterly and I’m looking forward to continued participation in the group!