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May 2012

PIPELINE 2012: A Virtual Trip Around the Globe with Product Developers and Innovation Leaders


Reflecting on PIPELINE 2012 I am truly impressed by several things:

  • The amazing speakers
    The feedback we're receiving indicates that I am not alone appreciation of the quality of the innovators, scholars, authors, and product development practitioners who took the time to participate in PIPELINE 2012 -- sharing insights and research to benefit all of our attendees. If you missed them, be sure to check out the conference on demand …it is well worth your time!

  • The attendees
    At one point in the conference, I was chatting with someone from Egypt, someone from Malaysia, and folks in the U.S. And the email communications I received (pre- and post-show) from around the globe were so encouraging. I truly appreciated the feedback and the interest we got from folks in Australia, Brazil, the US, Croatia -- literally around the world! And I was so impressed by the representation of hundreds of companies from across numerous verticals -- many with names you'd easily recognize and others who are filling a niche market -- all with a desire to network with and learn from each other!

  • Our event sponsors
    This may seem like I'm kissing up to them, but truly they deserve our appreciation. Our sponsors partnered with us to communicate the significance of this event to their audience and brought additional value to the conference through the information and materials they provided. If you visited the Exhibit Hall and Innovation Library, you know what I'm talking about. And the knowledge they shared in the breakout sessions will continue to benefit those who visit time again and again.

  • The PIPELINE 2012 team
    I had the privilege to work with colleagues who rearranged their lives to travel across the US and overseas. Their efforts provided us all with access to relevant, compelling, and valuable material appropriate for a global audience of innovative product development folks in a variety of roles and from a myriad of companies. What's more, this team committed their time and expertise to ensure that we maximized the virtual platform so that we provided a dynamic, interactive experience that would deliver huge value to attendees.

It is the collaboration of all of these individuals and companies that made PIPELINE 2012 a success. More than 800 of you participated in the live event. And, we anticipate that many more of you will take advantage of the on-demand conference that is available through Aug. 10th. Visit today and often as possible to take advantage of the inspiring and informative general sessions as well as the helpful materials throughout the Innovation Library and Exhibition Hall.

Now onto planning PIPELINE 2013! I would love to hear from you. Do you have any speaker suggestions? Are you interested in sponsoring? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Integrated Innovation: 9 Rules for Balancing Structure and Creativity


The most innovative organizations -- noted for their creative designs, unorthodox service, or energizing workspace -- make innovation a part of their culture. It is integrated into all that they do, and not just limited to the CEO or an "innovation group." Here are 9 tips for achieving Integrated Innovation in your organization:

  1. Don't Underestimate the Value of Innovation
    Legendary management guru Peter Drucker said, "Only marketing and innovation produce revenue. All other business functions produce costs." While this may be an extreme view, there is no doubt innovation generates value.

  2. Never Assume Innovation is a Department
    Innovation is everyone's job. It should not be relegated to a single department or specific individuals. Your organizational structure, culture, and workspace should encourage innovation in all aspects of work.

  3. Give Equal Attention to the Image and Quality of Your Products and Services
    Together, image and quality form the "identity" of your brand. To think that innovation is all about appearance or design is to shortchange the importance of innovative processes, logistics, partnerships, customer service, or sales models. And quality can't be overlooked.

  4. Use Cross-functional Teams to Assure an Integrated Approach
    Using cross-functional teams to review product or service plans and designs will ensure that all perspectives are considered. It will avoid situations where an unorthodox design will price the product out of the desired market, or where manufacturing complexity will not accommodate aggressive release dates. Seeing the big picture allows tradeoffs to be made.

  5. Focus on Goals and Themes, Not Activities
    Empower and align your teams with prioritized goals and themes; let them take it from there. Innovation thrives on freedom and collective intelligence. Focus on outcomes, provide priorities and needs, and challenge those closest to the action to surprise you with their ingenuity. Dictating activities inhibits innovation.

  6. Recognize and Leverage Different Cultures
    Understand the cultural differences across business functions and geographies. People from engineering will often have different approaches and priorities than people in marketing. People in "rules-based" countries will bring something different to your team than people from "relationship-based" countries. There are always exceptions, but knowing what to look for, and then leveraging those differences can supercharge your teams.

  7. Watch Your Language
    Use questions to drive understanding and scrutinize ideas. Rather than silencing the objectors or squash someone's ideas, challenge them with questions: How would we address the xyz situation? Are there other ways of accomplishing this? How might we do it with less money? Then what would happen? And so on…

  8. Broaden Your Perspective
    Use systems thinking to validate the impacts of decisions on the organizational ecosystem. Nothing happens in isolation. Decisions will impact sales, marketing, customer services, engineering, manufacturing, and many other areas. Make a list of the variables that could be impacted, and document the cause-and-effect relationships across those variables.

  9. Innovation is Not Limited to the Ideation Phase
    Innovation should permeate the entire value chain; it's not limited to "ideation" or "R&D." Look at the entire delivery cycle -- from demand generation through strategic planning, execution, and customer touch points -- and ask the crucial business questions at each step. All of them are opportunities to innovate. Sometimes the smallest touches have huge impact.

Collectively, these 9 tips can help your organization build a culture of innovation from the inside out; engaging employees and customers alike. For more on this, join us at PIPELINE 2012 and view my Breakout Session: Integrated Innovation -- the Art of Balancing Structure and Creativity.

I'd love to hear from you. How integrated is your innovation process? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.