Smart Woman Online: Nancy Mills
Jane Talks Women-talk from the Forum

Jane Talks Products and Partnerships

Overview of Day 1 at Fortune's Innovation Forum: Energy was high. The buzz of hundreds of excited voices meeting, greeting, being introduced to one another, circulated through the conference like background noise at the airport. Jane took stock of the attendees, first glancing at the list provided by Fortune (impressive) and then by glancing around - noting the women in their high heels (we did not wear high heels this time), and the men in their business suits. We felt static in the air. It was the tingle of expectation, of enthsiasm, of opportunity.

Moving into the Rose Theater, where all presentations and panel discussions were held, we scurried to the front of the auditorium (the better to be noticed, you see) and settled in. Maryanne was at our side, but we encourage you to visit her blog for her observations.

As noted in an earlier post, Scott Cook of Intuit sat down next to us - an amazing and fortuitous event, since one of our sponsors had asked us to deliver a letter to Scott. Scott was friendly, approachable, and quite gracious, since Jane interrupted him as he was going over his notes for his presentation. He accepted our explanation, read the letter, and said he would pass it along to the right person. Then, he took Jane's business card with a smile. We could not have asked for more.

The very first speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, was by far the BEST speaker of the entire conference. He was amusing but informative, as well as well-spoken and comfortable on stage. The focus of his talk was on creativity and children. The recognition that children are born with innate curiosity and by nature, creativity (he talked of his daughter drawing a picture of God) is not new. Sir Ken remarked that the goal should be to foster and nurture this in adults. Best quote: “Creativity is as important to this century as literacy and numeracy were to earlier ones.” His prediciton: we are headed for a revolution- pushed by technology (the Internet) and the aging of Western Society.

Sir Ken was followed by the co-author of Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim, who thanked his co-author (Renee Mauborgne) for her work on the book, then moved into a talk on working outside of your usual boundaries. Don't compete - make your competition irrelevant. Pursue differentiation.

Jane noticed, throughout the forum, that the speakers - could use a few months at Toastmasters. That's all we will say about that.

Moving beyond HBO - where Chris Albrecht waxed eloquent on the popularity of the Sopranos and Sex and the City, two shows Jane has heard a lot about but NEVER seen (don't fret, we've never seen Saturday Night Live, either; we revel in our uniqueness)...noting that HBO tries to give people "what's good" as opposed to "what's popular." His best line: "Don't recreate the show - recreate the process." Be bold, as opposed to risky. All good advice, we supposed. But - so not new!

Let's move doubt you are waiting for the innovation to begin. Be patient. It does come along, slowly.

Scott Cook's presentation offered a glimpse into the forum's purpose. He presented innovative insight into developing products. His advice: get your engineers and product designers OUT of the office! Celebrate failure. (where have we heard that before? oh, in a dozen other least.)

Scott was so sincere, it was easy to forgive him for reiterating what Tom Peters and Seth Godin have been blogging about for months now. We enjoyed his innovative input into how one man changed the world of shipping via a new outlook on an old process. The take away was how ONE person, one man, changed a world of operations. And, how Scott supports the people at Intuit to look beyond the ordinary - don't focus on what people dislike about your product or service - find out what they like - and how they are morphing it to suit their own needs. Innovation from the customer. We'll here [oops] hear more of that later on.Yamashita_innovation_lab

Scott was followed by Ken Lombard of Starbucks...a story we will save for another day. Throughout his presentation, we were dying for a mocha latte! [see image of the Yamashita Innovation our disappointment, a place we did not get to spend much time]

Take Away of Day 1 at the Innovation Forum: an audience offering rapt attention; speakers with stories to tell, energy to share, and even cartoons. Sadly, during the networking breaks - the speakers were non-existent. All the talk of mingling with the workers, finding out what your employees think, turning your success over to the customer - appeared to be a lot of lip-service - something the speakers mentioned over and over, without realizing their own role in using lip-service to promote their agenda. <big sigh - IOHO (in our humble opinion)>

As we report on the other presentations, and our experience (yes, we met some exciting people), we will show how well this forum worked (on a scale of One to Ten, we give it an Eight), and what might be done better next year (can you say - bring in some growing, successful, woman-owned small business owners?).

At the end of the day on Wednesday, we were psyched. We felt invigorated. We were eager for more. Little did we know, the best was yet to come.

Hang in with MUST tune in for Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne, and for Eric von Hippel and Democratizing Innovation. And for Jane's wrap-up.

There is a whole lot to like about Fortune's Innovation Forum.


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I'm really happy that you've set up your own blog and have in fact publish your thoughts. I like your work and feel I can concern to what you've done. A lot of folks can't even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. :) Good luck to you in ALL your aspirations. :)

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