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Publisher’s Blog: The Spirit Of Innovation Award

                 Here is a statistic that knocked me off balance a little. If you went to Amazon.com to buy a book on innovation, how many do you think you would find?  A couple hundred?  Maybe more than that?

 

 

                  How about 64,107.

                  And do you want to hear something funny?  I don’t think innovation comes from a book.

                  I listened to Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity.com and Chairman of the Board for Kayak.com, at the NAED Western Regional Conference.  He said something that sticks in your head and you just can’t forget.  “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” Jones told the packed ballroom during his Opening Session speech.  So yes, you can read a book about innovation, and you can employ all of those strategies.  But the fact is if your distributorship or manufacturing plant doesn’t have the right culture, it’s not going to work.

                  The case I can point out to prove that is Blinds.com.  This is a company that started in a small store, selling window covering in 1986.  Just this week, it was  acquired by Home Depot, the number 34 business in the Fortune 500.  Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld told the Houston Business Journal the merger didn’t happen because Home Depot wanted the Blinds.com products. It already sold those. Home Depot wanted the Blinds.com culture. It wants to discover innovation through culture.  One person who feels comfortable enough to talk about his idea passes it along, and the next thing you know, you are innovating.

                  Just this year, companies that had to file reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission used the word “innovation” 33,528 times.  Many Fortune 500 companies have created a new position, Innovation Officer, and added it to their senior management staffs.

                  It really doesn’t have to be that complicated. I opened a can of Campbell’s Soup over the weekend.  Just lifted off the lid.  Gone are the days of having to get a can opener for your soup.  That innovation made a product that I already like easier to use.  And remember when Pop-Tarts came in two flavors?  You got Strawberry or Brown Sugar Cinnamon.  Now there are dozens, since Kellogg’s decided to take something already in demand, and create more options. In fact, Kellogg’s just started selling the “2014 Team USA Strawberry” Pop-Tart.  The filling is red. The frosting is blue with white stars.  Coincidentally, the Olympics start in 10 days.  That’s innovation.  It’s an opportunity to take advantage of an event that will captivate the country.  Most other breakfast food manufacturers didn’t do the same thing.

                  NAED, tED magazine, and UnLeashWD have teamed up to honor you for your innovations.  It can be about your culture or how you are getting your brand out there in a new and creative way.  For the first time, we are handing out the Innivation Spirit Awards at this year’s NAED National Meeting in San Francisco in April.  We were even pretty innovative ourselves by making the entry form really easy to fill out.  All you have to do is go to  http://www.unleashwdinnovationaward.com.  There is a $150 entry fee to cover the program costs.  The deadline is this Saturday, so you need to act right away.

                  Innovation is going to be a key to your success in the future.  If you don’t believe me, ask the 33,528 companies who told the federal government it is a part of their culture.

Scott Costa is the Publisher at tED magazine and can be reached at scosta@naed.org

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