29 Oct Economic uncertainty provides a license to innovate
Madison, Wis. – All over Wisconsin and America, business people are discussing ways to weather the current economic storm, but how many are going beyond cost cutting and delving into the practice and science of innovation?
More to the point, how many even have the skills and know-how to drive the kind of relentless innovation that pays dividends in good times and bad?
The answer, according to innovation expert Tom Koulopoulos, is not enough, and that’s why travels the country spreading the gospel of innovation.
Koulopoulos, president and founder of the Delphi Group, will be in Madison Nov. 11 to present an Innovation Master Class, a one-day workshop for Wisconsin business organizations that want to learn about the science of innovation. He also will speak on the subject of “How Do you Future Proof Yourself and Your Enterprise” during the Nov. 10 program of Accelerate Madison. Both programs will be held at the Fluno Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
WTN Media will present the Innovation Master Class in conjunction with Accelerate Madison.
Koulopoulos will bring a simple message to Madison: innovation can be taught, it goes beyond creativity and into process and focus, and it can become a core competency of any business organization. He said he knows this from his association with truly innovative companies.
“The more companies that I work with that I see as truly innovative, the more I see processes in place that can be taught to others,” he said. “Far too often, we see innovation as something that only a select few of us are able to do. It’s tasked to the R&D group or the engineers, but that’s not the case.
“Innovation is everyone’s job, especially in today’s world.”
Part of the reason that most companies do not innovate is that so few people have been trained in innovation, Koulopoulos said. During the Innovation Master Class, Koulopoulos said he will cut through the hype about innovation and concentrate on the mechanics. This will not be the kind of class where participants join hands and sing Kumbaya, he said, or wastes time on pie-in the-sky concepts that that a lot of innovation seminars talk about.
Instead, it will concentrate on real innovation success stories.
“This is the nuts and bolts of innovation,” he said. “It’s not about joining hands and singing Kumbaya. I love to have fun and we’ll have fun at the class, but I want to you to keep dancing long after the music has stopped. “
In boiling innovation down to its essence, the class also will not over emphasize the role of creativity in innovation. Koulopoulos said there has been much too much discussion lately about the lack of creativity as the sole problem with innovation. While he concedes that creativity is a big part of innovation, he said that everybody is creative, so that’s not really where the problem lies.
“You can be creative and still not be innovative,” he explained. “Innovation is a process. It’s a series of discreet, finite steps. It’s methods and it’s mechanisms, and I’ve seen companies translate these mechanisms into real value.”
Most of the time, he said innovation is a process of bringing together ideas that already exist within the organization – ideas that have no place to go.
“In today’s world of uncertainty,” Koulopoulos said, “nothing is more valuable than that core asset of being able to innovate and innovate confidently.”