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 This exciting one-day event publicized that it was bringing together innovation leaders and practitioners from all backgrounds to converge and learn from a diverse group of experts. It certainly did that and more!  As an innovation consultant and creativity professional, I have presented at and attended lots of conferences focused on this topic.  What I liked best about this conference is that I heard from experts in large and small organizations in Indiana who were actually practicing the very concepts and principles that professionals in the field of creativity promote.  So I left feeling highly validated that the creative thinking that I teach is becoming more mainstream thinking.

I drew some great takeaways from Delta’s Charlie McTargett’s conversation with the audience “Innovation vs Commoditization…You Decide.”

He encouraged us to ‘Play to Win’ as opposed to ‘Playing Not to Lose’ This is at the heart of creative process and thinking. The CPS process invites us to keep our thinking fresh and up to date and not rest on our laurels…Paying attention to what is going on around us is necessary because our focus should not be on what someone else is doing better but instead on doing something different that is groundbreaking..To do that we must answer these questions: How are needs and demands changing? What is the latest in technology? How can we excel? How can we be better than the best? It then asks us to visualize the future we want and strategically look at how to get from where we are to where we want to be.

Charlie also promoted the importance of being customer driven.  If you focus on the needs of the client and let those be your map for innovation you will be amazed at your final destination. That was clearly demonstrated when the Swifter breakthrough on the average ‘mop’ was featured in the Delta presentation. When ingenuity kicks-in, it is amazing how many ideas can be generated and the variety of facets or faucets that emerge relating to the challenge.

Finally healthy, purposeful disruption caught my attention in Jeb Banner’s presentation on “Sustaining an Innovative Culture.”  He was quick to say that did not mean a new CEO coming in and “…thwarting the goals of an organization.”  Here is a strong leader not concerned about listing off some of the mistakes he made on his journey to becoming the inspiring leader for the teams he heads up today!  Dynamic, insightful, and a prescription for success, Jeb outlined these actions vital to sustaining culture.: Safe environment – OK to fail; community involvement; outside creative ventures; focus on team building and outcomes that get things done.  The end results are:  new skill sets and habits, story & brand, celebration,  marketing strategy and commitment.

I also was extremely impressed with the professional and elegant way that Centric planned and executed this entire event.  This all volunteer board should be highly regarded and congratulated for putting Indiana on the map as an innovation destination

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