Conversations with Corporate Innovators

Syngenta Mathematical Crop Challenge

Interview with Joseph Byrum
By Paul Wagorn
We spoke with Joseph Byrum of Syngenta to talk about the Syngenta Crop Challenge.

IdeaConnection Solvers Provide Solutions to Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater

“Ideas that could potentially be groundbreaking.” Steve Chambreau, Co-founder of Chemists Without Borders
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”.

I Like the Diversity of Skillsets Working on My Problem

Case Study of IdeaConnection client Ben Barrow.
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.

External Collaborations Can Be Key to Growth

IdeaConnection interview with Robert Gruetzmacher, TechIAConnect
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.

The Key to Better, Faster and Cheaper Innovation

Interview with Owen Carryl, President, Open Innovation Services
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.

On the Cusp of a New Era of Open Innovation

IdeaConnection interview with Michael Docherty, founder, Venture 2
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.

Visionary Approach to Open Innovation

Interview with Reuben Oder, founder, Reuben Oder Innovations
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.

Open Innovation Wins through Evolution not Revolution

Interview with Kurt Schneider, VP, Product & Process Innovation Center at Quality Ingredients Corporation (QIC)
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.

Syngenta Thoughtseeders™

Interview with Joseph Byrum, Global Head of Soybean Seeds and Traits Research and Development, Syngenta, about their Thoughtseeders portal
By Vern Burkhardt
"Companies that have a deeply embedded 'not invented here' culture are less likely to be successful at innovation."

Innovation is a Process

IdeaConnection Interview with Mike Colucci, Owner of The SDG Group
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."

"Cool" Products

IdeaConnection Interview with Derrick James, Design Engineer and Inventor
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.

The Excogitator

Interview with Yvette Kendall, Lead Excogitator at InventHer Solutions
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.

Generation 3 Innovation: The Open Collaborative Network

Interview with Frank Mattes, Founder and CEO of innovation-3
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."

Choose A Design

Crowdsourcing Introduced in South America - the Story of
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."

The Hunt – An Innovator’s Perspective

IdeaConnection Interview with Fred Thomas, Engineer and Inventor
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

An Open Source Business Model

IdeaConnection Interview with Psion Teklogix Inc.: John Conoley, CEO; Mike Doyle, Chief Technology Officer; and Todd Boone, Director of Market Development
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'…

Spend a Little, Learn a Lot, Change Direction

IdeaConnection interview with Bill Knowles, Training and Organizational Development Manager for Syngenta
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.

Daring to Disrupt Centuries-Old Tradition

Interview with Romi Haan, founder, Haan Corporation
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 Great Disruption

Interview with Scott Anthony, Author of The Silver Lining
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.

Co-design of Products and Services

Interview with Deborah Szebeko, Founding Director of thinkpublic
By Vern Burkhardt
"Take one action now to improve your services."

Justin Jarvinen Lets the Music Play

A conversation with Justin Jarvinen, founder and CEO of VerveLife.
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.

Unconventional Wisdom

Interview with Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of "What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management"
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?

Push Beyond Barriers Like an Endurance Athlete

A conversation with Steve Owens, CEO of Colorado Premier Training
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...

Let the Music Play

A conversation with Tim Westergren, founder and CSO of Pandora.
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.

For Innovation to Stick, It's Got to Come From the Top

A conversation with Lisa Bodell, CEO of futurethink.
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.

A Prescription for Health-Care Industry: Value Innovation

A conversation with John Fong, Vice President and Senior Medical Director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
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.

A Disruptive Player Who’s Changing the Ad Game

A conversation with Brad Brinegar, chairman and CEO of McKinney
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.

Tom Szaky Believes It’s All Garbage

A conversation with Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Terracycle
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.

Innovative Hits, Not Home Runs

A conversation with Joe Colopy, founder and CEO of Bronto Software
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.

Solving 'The Riddle' of Innovation

A conversation with Andrew Razeghi, professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
By Alice Bumgarner
In addition to teaching innovation at Northwestern University, Andrew Razeghi works as an adviser to organizations on innovation and growth.

Breakthrough Solutions for One of Earth's Biggest Challenges

A conversation with Richard Fuller, president of Great Forest Inc. and the Blacksmith Institute.
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.

The Best New Ideas show "Evidence of Tinkering"

A conversation with Guido Jouret, CTO of Emerging Markets Technology Group (EMTG), Cisco Systems, Inc.
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.

Changing Real Estate Consulting From the Inside Out

A conversation with Jeff Zell, president and chairman of real estate consultants JM Zell Partners.
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.

It's a Good Time to Be an Innovator

A conversation with Mike Wing, Vice President, Strategic and Executive Communications, IBM
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.

Innovating Our Way to a Greener World

A conversation with Alfred Hambsch, CEO of Barrie Metals / GEEP (Global Electric Electronics Processing)
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.

Philosophy and Innovation make good Bedfellows

A conversation with John Del Monaco, Manager, Emerging Technology and Transfer, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc.
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.

Saying 'Yes' to Open Networks

A conversation with Arv Malhotra, professor at Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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.

Trailblazing Innovation for Fuel Diversification

A conversation with Andrew Littlefair, President and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels, a T. Boone Pickens company
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.

Innovation in Plastics

An Interview with Borealis VP Alfred Stern
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.


Sustainability and Innovation go Hand in Hand

A conversation with Faith Taylor, Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation, Wyndham Worldwide, Inc.
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.

Employees are the Difference

A conversation with Lloyd Yates, President and CEO, Progress Energy Carolinas
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.

Connect + Develop with Procter & Gamble

An Interview with Jeff Weedman, Vice President, External Business Development
By Sandy Staggs
In the United States, 99 percent of all households purchase and use at least one Procter & Gamble product.

Embed Innovation in Corporate Culture for Best Results

A conversation with Charlie Prather, initial Director of the DuPont Center for Innovation and President, Bottom Line Innovation Associates, Inc.
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.

Royal Bank's Innovation Challenge

An Interview with Avi Pollock, Head of Applied Innovation at the Royal Bank of Canada
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.

Don't Say No Until I Finish Talking

A conversation with Michael Rogers, Futurist-in-Residence, The New York Times Company
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.

Innovation Consulting at Strategy&

An Interview with Alexander Kandybin
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 Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company).

Success Drives Adoption of Changes

A conversation with Esther Baldwin, Research Proliferation Manager, Intel
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.

Design for Delight

A conversation with Roy Rosin, Vice President, Product Management & Innovation at Intuit, Inc.
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.

Fostering Innovation at Kraft Foods

An Interview with VP Steven Goers
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.

Innovation requires enormous Energy, Excitement, and Commitment

A conversation with Mitchell Baker, Chairman and Chief Lizard Wrangler, Mozilla
By Jo Grogan
Mitchell Baker is passionate about open sourcing, about the mission of Mozilla, and about the value of the freedom to innovate.

Innovation and Tobacco at R.J. Reynolds

An Interview with Dennis L. Potter, VP of Innovation in the Growth and Innovation Group at Reynolds American Inc.
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.

Collaboration and Co-creation – The Key to Unlocking Value

A conversation with Mehmood Khan, Global Leader of Innovation, Unilever
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

Monterey Gourmet Foods VP discusses Innovation

An Interview with Erika Cottrell, Vice President of Innovation, Monterey Gourmet Foods
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.

Xerox VP discusses Innovation and Problem Solving

An interview with Hadi Mahabadi, Vice President and Director of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC)
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.

Business Model Focuses on Collaboration, Innovation

An Interview with IdeaConnection Founder and CEO, Scott Wurtele
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.

Exceptional Leadership, Part II

An Interview with Peter McCoppin, internationally renowned orchestral conductor
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.

Exceptional Leadership

An Interview with Peter McCoppin, internationally renowned orchestral conductor
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.

Not Leaving Good Ideas on the Shelf

An Interview with Andre Laurin, co-founder and CEO of BrainBank
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.