Design Insights from an Innovation Summit

by Peter Cook

Design Insights from an Innovation SummitWe’re off to New York in a few days time to deliver an innovation summit for a major pharmaceutical company. I’ve brought together an international team for this event and it’s going to be extremely hard work but a great deal of fun. I thought I’d share some of the design considerations that go into the execution of an event like this, to help others who are involved with design and implementation of innovation in their companies.

Lesson One – Find a focus

Our work in the build up to the event has involved extracting a number of topics that keep the company’s leaders awake at night, but which are amenable to radical or incremental creative thinking. Quite a bit of time has been spent identifying and refining the topics so that they are both important and open to ideas, whilst not being ‘digital’ in nature. Topics which can be expressed as ‘should we do A or B’ may well merit detailed exploration but may not demand a suite of innovative thinking strategies and techniques.

Lesson Two – Develop a conducive climate

We have been working on the development of a micro climate where creativity and innovation can flourish and convert that creativity into sustainable and profitable innovations to succeed prior to the event in a whole series of ways. To assist on the pure acquisition of knowledge, we produced a deck of cards to assist people in learning from the event AS WELL as reaching the deliverables. Here’s one of the card deck which summarises our thinking on the principles for innovative thinking, which are an essential part of a climate where new things happen:

Design Insights from an Innovation Summit

Human Dynamic’s principles for innovative thinking summarised
Lesson Three – Adopt a best-fit approach to creativity and innovation

The greatest variable in any event like this is the people. Just assuming you can plug in a proprietary creativity and innovation toolkit is doubtful as most techniques and tools have a limited range over which they work. We have studied the types of people attending and selected a menu of approaches to ‘best-fit’ their particular personality types, whilst still enabling them to escape tramline thinking. One of the key problems that creativity facilitators need to overcome is to ensure that any methodologies selected actually do the job required as seamlessly as possible.

Obviously the nature of our work there is company confidential so I can say no more on this. Other than to illustrate a couple of key principles of a successful innovation event via the medium of music:

I feel fine – To succeed at such an event requires the tolerance of the unknown. Much of our preparation will focus on building this ‘corporate muscle’:

Walk on the wild side – We will take a number of excursions into the world of radical and incremental creativity at the event using a set of strategies and a suite of tools taken from our repertoire of over 100 approaches to divergent and convergent thinking. This was one of the main reasons we won the business, based on a ‘best fit’ approach rather than a ‘plug and play’ approach. We have built an approach to innovation based on Andy Warhol’s approach to making new things happen at “The Factory” – his ‘innovation hothouse’, which fits in nicely with our location:

Sweat it out – Creativity may be about inspiration, but innovation is all about perspiration, so our event will emphasise execution and implementation over pure divergence. For a bit of cold sweat and fever, check Beyonce out:

Insert Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEFj2XH22qg

If you are in New York, do get in touch while we are there for a coffee and a walk on the wild side. There’s more about creativity and innovation in our latest book “The Music of Business”, acclaimed by Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

image credit: pinker.wjh.harvard.edu

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The Music of Business Peter Cook is a business academic, author, consultant and musician. He leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock, and provides Keynote speaking, Organisational Development and Business Coaching. You can follow him on twitter @Academyofrock. Peter is Rock ‘n’ Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence.

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