IdeaConnection: Your Innovation Accelerator
Which solution method fits your innovation model?Learn More
Conversations with Corporate Innovators
May-10-14. By Paul Arnold
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh as the “largest mass poisoning of a population in history”.
Dec-28-13. By Paul Arnold
IdeaConnection’s interdisciplinary teams of experts work collaboratively over short and intense periods to provide world class scientific and engineering solutions and insights. In 2013, project manager Ben Barrow approached us looking for an innovative water storage solution.
Mar-25-13. By Paul Arnold
Robert Gruetzmacher is a highly respected open innovation thought leader with more than 30 years of industrial experience working at DuPont. He was involved in open innovation long before Henry Chesbrough’s landmark book gave it a label.
Mar-18-13. By Paul Arnold
Owen Carryl is the President of Open Innovation Services, LLC. As a deeply respected R&D leader and open innovation expert he is in huge demand from companies wanting to implement OI practices. Owen was also one of the first adopters of open innovation, at Procter & Gamble and then at PepsiCo.
Mar-11-13. By Paul Arnold
Michael Docherty is an open innovation thought leader and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Venture 2 Inc., a consulting and new ventures firm that connects and commercializes new products and businesses.
Mar-01-13. By Paul Arnold
Reuben Oder is the founder / Principal at Reuben Oder Innovations, LLC, a consulting firm that guides companies as they discover how to customize and successfully deploy proven OI approaches. He is also a visionary who’s devised a novel approach to OI called Integrated Open Innovation and is advancing plans for an international open innovation consortium.
Nov-05-12. By Paul Arnold
Kurt Schneider is an open innovation thought leader who advises companies of all sizes on how to best engage with external sources of knowledge to find creative solutions.
May-15-12. By Vern Burkhardt
"Companies that have a deeply embedded 'not invented here' culture are less likely to be successful at innovation."
Apr-02-12. By Vern Burkhardt
"When you identify a possibility you challenge people. You challenge their imagination. You set a bar or a goal that is higher than what they currently see."
Mar-19-12. By Vern Burkhardt
"Many people have been burned by invention scam companies in the past and are leery (and rightfully so) of companies claiming to be able to turn your ideas into saleable products.
Mar-05-12. By Vern Burkhardt
"There are many dissimilar things which can generate associations and connections. For example, when I'm watching TV sometimes I see components of my products come to life in the commercials. It's almost like chemistry. If two or more things are meant to be together, they will let you know it." Yvette Kendall, Lead Excogitator at InventHer Solutions LLC
Jan-09-12. By Vern Burkhardt
"Transforming the firm's innovation approach in R&D from a closed to an open one promises huge benefits such as increased agility and effectiveness, lowered risk and revenue growth through new products." "How to make Open Innovation work for your R&D," page 4
Oct-16-11. By Vern Burkhardt
"Choosa is one of the biggest graphic design contest marketplaces. The idea is really simple; on our website a company can start a contest for any sort of graphic design he needs and our design community will start uploading designs. Crowdsourcing designs as we call it."
Oct-06-11. By Vern Burkhardt
"It is not uncommon that the most strategic inventions evolve based on the entrance of a new material or technology being available that, if combined with an existing product, improves the utility." Fred Thomas
Jan-21-11. By Vern Burkhardt
"We all know that statements of Corporate values and most CEO statements are… platitudes because the leadership teams don't try to live up to and honour the values, i.e. 'lead'…
Jul-16-10. By Alice Bumgarner
If you've bought flower seeds at Lowes, eaten a mini watermelon, or teed up on a weed-free golf course, you've probably benefited from Syngenta's work.
Jul-02-10. By Alice Bumgarner
Looking at it one way, Romi Haan simply invented a mop. If you look more deeply, though, you’ll see that Haan’s initial invention carved out a new product category in the marketplace, revolutionized the way South Korean women manage their homes, and helped break down gender bias in the South Korean business world.
The Silver Lining
Nov-01-09. By Graham Duncan
Times are tough. Innovation is a corporate necessity for survival. In The Silver Lining Scott Anthony makes the case that today's turbulent times make mastering innovation a competitive necessity.
Oct-25-09. By Vern Burkhardt
"Take one action now to improve your services."
Jun-28-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Say you want to reward customers who buy one of your products, by allowing them to download or stream a song through your web site.
Apr-15-09. By Graham Duncan
Why do so many companies misstep even when led by hard-working, smart and serious people who expend large amounts of time and effort trying to do the right thing? In What Were They Thinking? Jeffrey Pfeffer provides engaging answers for business leaders.
Apr-08-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Steve Owens and his team coach endurance athletes – cyclists, triathletes, and runners from all over the world. His innovative, state-of-the-art training equipment measures athletes' heart rate, power output, and energy expenditures, as well as a score of bike computations, such as speed and distance. His team then creates customized training programs.
Mar-27-09. By Alice Bumgarner
When Tim Westergren started the Music Genome Project in 2000, the goal was to analyze the musical details of thousands of songs by studying them one at a time. The result was Pandora, free Internet radio that plays music specifically suited to your taste, without commercial interruption. Start by picking a band or better yet, a particular song you adore, and it scans a massive trove of music to play other tunes you'll like. The company continues to grow like a weed, with practically every metric doubling year over year.
Mar-21-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Futurist Lisa Bodell believes anyone can innovate. Step one: Use the diagnostic tool on her firm's website to see how well you're doing in each of these four key capabilities: strategy, ideas, process, and climate. Step two: Tap into a slew of tools and practices from futurethink, designed to prop up your innovation efforts. Before you know it, you'll have more than a single innovative project in the works. You'll know how to sustain innovation within your organization.
Mar-09-09. By Alice Bumgarner
The health-care system – plagued by skyrocketing costs, lack of access, and disparity of quality care – is one industry that could benefit from a dose of innovation. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is among the more forward-thinking players in the field today. The health insurance company has already been honored by Harvard Medical School researchers for its efforts toward tackling the epidemic of obesity, and it continues to push for change through initiatives such as ePrescribe.
Mar-02-09. By Alice Bumgarner
During Brad Brinegar's tenure, McKinney has had one of the best new-business records in the advertising agency industry, attracting such marquee brands as Sony Electronics and Virgin Mobile USA. Advertising Age, citing the agency's forward-looking business model as a paradigm for the world ahead, recently ranked McKinney one of the nine best agencies in the country. Before coming to McKinney in 2002, Brinegar served as CEO of Leo Burnett USA, the world's second largest advertising agency office.
Feb-19-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Most of the things in your room right now will eventually become garbage. That simple concept drove Tom Szaky to launch Terracycle, a company that turns tossed-out Caprisun juice packets into backpacks and used newspaper into pencils.
Feb-13-09. By Alice Bumgarner
To stay competitive, Joe Colopy of Bronto Software, an e-mail marketing service provider, must keep innovating – or meet the same fate as his company's namesake.
Feb-08-09. By Alice Bumgarner
In addition to teaching innovation at Northwestern University, Andrew Razeghi works as an adviser to organizations on innovation and growth. In both roles, he helps tackle complex problems like, "How can a particular country reposition itself to appeal to changing tourism trends?" or "How can a global food manufacturer navigate the challenges and opportunities of obesity?" While the problems he sorts out may appear to be vastly different, he says, the principles that drive successful innovation are much the same.
Jan-27-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Even as Richard Fuller was running Great Forest Inc., one of the top sustainability consulting companies in the U.S., he wondered what sort of tangible environmental impact his work made: Was it reducing the amount of deforestation? Was it aiding biodiversity? Was it reducing the level of pollution that causes health problems?
Jan-16-09. By Jo Grogan
Guido Jouret believes that innovative ideas with the greatest chance of success show "evidence of tinkering," that is, "people are trying to use whatever means they have at hand, barbed wire, bubble gum, sticky tape," to make the idea work. Those are the ideas that are worth the investment of time and money necessary to bring it to market, and those are the ideas that get his attention.
Jan-11-09. By Alice Bumgarner
When he founded JM Zell Partners in 1989, Jeff Zell crafted an innovative, new business model for real estate consulting. Today his multi-disciplinary team of experts address clients' needs in a way that's different from nearly all his competitors. In-house land planners, legal counsel, space planners, marketers, and financial experts bring their own analysis and questions to each transaction to weave comprehensive solutions. His is a two-way innovation – both in the product itself and in the payment structure. JM Zell's list of clients includes the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Time Life, National Gallery of Art, and sanofi-aventis.
Jan-05-09. By Jo Grogan
The economic downturn is not negatively impacting the innovation climate at IBM. Long a proponent of innovation and a case study in successfully reinventing itself, IBM has turned in recent years to the use of "Jams" for everything from setting company values to identifying the next best thing. Mike Wing was there from the beginning with the Jams, and explains the philosophy and process behind them in this interview.
Jan-02-09. By Alice Bumgarner
Last year, Americans threw over 2.2 million tons of electronic waste into landfills. Alfred Hambsch believes we need to find a more responsible way to dispose of all that e-waste. Hambsch is CEO of Barrie Metals, one of Canada's largest recycling companies, and he's arguably the best man for a task that requires sustained innovation. The company has been described as a "factory in reverse,” dismantling components instead of assembling them, then finding new uses for the remaining plastic, aluminum, copper and precious metals.
Dec-29-08. By Jo Grogan
John Del Monaco is a practical innovator. His work at Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc. (PSEG) is to transfer technology to use within company operations and as part of the services offered to customers to improve costs, services, or both. Before he implements an idea, he wants scientific proof and an ability to make a common-sense application. In this interview, he describes a collaborative innovation model from an industry-wide perspective, and discusses how he keeps his mind open to new ideas through the writings of great philosophers and thought-leaders.
Dec-22-08. By Alice Bumgarner
With a background in engineering, information technology and business, Arv Malhotra began working with Boeing in the 1990s, which was facing down one of its biggest challenges yet: In light of reduced support from the government and increasing competition, how would it go forward to create new products? Boeing's solution was to form virtual teams across the organization, pairing people of diverse backgrounds together. In the '90s, this kind of cross-collaboration was radical.
Dec-14-08. By Jo Grogan
Andrew Littlefair founded Clean Energy Fuels with T. Boone Pickens eleven years ago. Since then, the company has been at the forefront of innovation in bringing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to large truck fleets. This has required close coordination and cooperation with trucking companies, industry associations, government agencies, truck manufacturers, and vendors. What comes across in a conversation with Littlefair is that this is a company dedicated to forward thinking and innovation. In this interview, Littlefair sheds light on the innovations that led to Clean Energy Fuels, Inc.'s success so far, and those that will be necessary for continued future success.
Dec-10-08. By Sandy Staggs
In the 1967 film "The Graduate," Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is offered one word of advice, “plastics.” Some 40 years later, “plastics” has become synonymous with another word, Borealis.
Dec-07-08. By Jo Grogan
If you want a good case study of how to use innovation and sustainability to cut costs and improve customer service, talk to Faith Taylor. As Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at Wyndham Worldwide, Taylor is responsible for Wyndham's green and sustainable initiatives for environmental, social, and economic programs. Her responsibilities span the breadth of Wyndham's substantial company, including twelve hotel brands, Worldmark Timeshares and RCI Vacation Exchange Group. Among the innovative technologies she is working to bring to Wyndham locations are solar panels, ozone, clear air allergy-free rooms, and uniforms made of 100% recycled materials.
Nov-23-08. By Jo Grogan
Progress Energy Carolinas is at the forefront of innovation. Its recent installation of state-of-the-art LED Street Lights in Raleigh, North Carolina is one example. The installation is a part of a test to determine whether the LED lights are more cost and energy efficient for cities. If the test is successful, it could result in potential cost savings of 50 percent over traditional street lights for municipalities throughout the Carolinas and Florida.
Nov-20-08. By Sandy Staggs
In the United States, 99 percent of all households purchase and use at least one Procter & Gamble product. P&G owns some of the world’s most recognizable brands including American favorites Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Pampers, Ivory, CoverGirl, Tampax, Old Spice, Tide and Crest and has significant stakes in a swath of other markets from Pringles chips to Duracell batteries.
Nov-16-08. By Jo Grogan
Charlie Prather has been in the innovation arena for a quarter century, having shaped the DuPont Center for Innovation from its inception, and working with Fortune 100 companies to help them develop innovation as a core competency. His view is that innovation is even more important today for companies to survive in the current economic environment.
Nov-13-08. By Sandy Staggs
As Head, Applied Innovation at Royal Bank of Canada Financial Group—the country's largest financial institution and the fifth largest bank in North America—Avi Pollock leads a team with an enterprise-wide mandate to stimulate innovative activity. With a view to "what's next," "what's new" and "what's different," Applied Innovation identifies and validates emerging technologies and opportunities that have the potential to drive client value and differentiate RBC from its competitors.
Nov-07-08. By Jo Grogan
Michael Rogers is an innovator's innovator. As Vice President of The Washington Post's New Media Division, he ushered The Washington Post and Newsweek into the age of multimedia. Rogers is an expert on the impact of technology in the marketplace and on day-to-day life. He is well known as MSNBC's "The Practical Futurist," and for making technical concepts easily understood. In addition to his work with The New York Times Company and MSNBC, Rogers is a dynamic speaker, consultant and facilitator.
Nov-05-08. By Sandy Staggs
"At its simplest level, innovation is embodied by a product or service offering that contains a significant element of newness," according to Alexander Kandybin, a Partner and Vice President at global management consulting firm Booz & Company. However, he points out, "new" does not have to mean entirely new to the world line. "Line extensions of existing brands—i.e. Colgate Whitening toothpaste or White Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups—are a frequently profitable form of innovation. True innovation can take the form of a new product, technology, process, content, or even the presentation and marketing of an existing product or service."
Nov-03-08. By Jo Grogan
Esther Baldwin is truly a global innovator. As Intel’s chief of Research Proliferation, she has led innovation efforts in the United States and in China. She established a culture of innovation while starting the Intel Innovation Center in Shanghai, working closely with the Chinese to embrace the “innovation mentality”. She considers the Chinese to be very innovative and adaptable and has found her work in China to be among the most rewarding of her career.
Oct-29-08. By Jo Grogan
Roy Rosin believes in taking the long view when it comes to company innovation at Intuit. Somehow he has managed to make that long view work in an industry in which new and rapid advances in product creation are necessary for survival. As the Vice President of Product Management and Innovation at Intuit, Inc., a leading software company known for products such as Quicken, QuickBooks, and TurboTax, Roy manages Intuit’s R&D Labs and advises and guides investments in new products and services across the company.
Oct-27-08. By Sandy Staggs
Innovation does not always lead to solving the world's most complex dilemmas such as reducing CO2 emissions through hydrogen technology or ending world hunger through hardier, genetically-engineered crops. Innovation more often occurs right under our very noses, whether we are aware of it or not, and in the most unlikely of places such as your local supermarket.
Oct-22-08. By Jo Grogan
Mitchell Baker is passionate about open sourcing, about the mission of Mozilla, and about the value of the freedom to innovate. Baker, as the Chairman and Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla, organizes and motivates a huge collaborative group of employees and volunteers throughout the world who are working together to breathe new life into the Internet through the development and improvement of the Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client.
Oct-22-08. By Sandy Staggs
While Research & Development has always played a pivotal role in the success and longevity of tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, parent company Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), has recently synergized all of its units with the creation of the Growth and Innovation Group, anointed with the objective of expanding RAI’s tobacco business model into a more diverse and competitive portfolio for consumers. R.J. Reynolds is America’s second-largest tobacco company and currently claims approximately 28 percent of all U.S. cigarette sales, including six of the top 10 brands: Camel, Pall Mall, Kool, Winston, Salem and Doral.
Oct-13-08. By Jo Grogan
"In today's global economic environment, innovation is more important than ever. The dynamics are changing rapidly, and we must innovate and adjust our offerings based on those changes, while still providing products that are more functional and affordable." Mehmood Khan
Oct-08-08. By Sandy Staggs
Erika Cottrell was named Vice President of Innovation in June 2008 at Monterey Gourmet Foods, a manufacturer and marketer of fresh gourmet refrigerated food products with corporate headquarters, distribution, and manufacturing facilities in Salinas (Monterey County), CA; Seattle, WA; and Eugene, OR.
Sep-30-08. By Sandy Staggs
Hadi Mahabadi is vice president and center manager of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC). He was named to this position in September 2004. XRCC is part of the research and technology organization of the Xerox Innovation Group.
Aug-17-08. By Vern Burkhardt
It is increasingly necessary for small and medium sized companies to rely on open collaboration models to maintain their competitive edge. Even large companies are innovating outside their traditional R&D departments by seeking new ways to connect with world-class experts and leaders in creativity and innovation.
Jun-23-08. By Vern Burkhardt
We exist as a totality—a physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual being. All those aspects need to be nurtured. This is balance. And we need to take this balance into everything we do—including, and especially our work. If we are leaders it is even more important.
Jun-16-08. By Vern Burkhardt
Everyone wants to be respected, appreciated, purposeful, significant, understood and intentioned. Trust is what holds all relationships together, including the relationship between the leader and the led. And trust is based on integrity.
Feb-18-08. By Vern Burkhardt
BrainBank Inc. is located in Montreal, Canada. It provides systems, implementation consultants and technologists that enable organizations to implement idea and innovation management processes that deliver measurable and sustainable improvements in financial results; and positive cultural change. I recently had an opportunity to interview Andre Laurin, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of BrainBank.
What We Do