Since 1983, Kuczmarski & Associates has been helping companies and organizations accelerate their growth through innovation. And, we continue to do so today.
On one hand, much has changed over the past 28 years. On the other hand, much has remained constant.
In the course of our consulting with firms all over the world, and in my teaching at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where I have taught innovation for the past 32 years, one fundamental question consistently emerges: How can the spirit of innovation transcend new product and service development and become a mindset that shapes, in a fundamental way, a company’s approach to its mission?
In other words – How can a company create a culture of innovation?
This is not a small question. Yet in an economy that is global, the competition fierce, and the need for practical, nimble solutions to business issues more pressing than ever, I believe it is time to focus on the answer to this question.
At the Kellogg School we have already launched an Executive Program called “Creating and Leading a Culture of Innovation.” But I can think of nobody more important to engage in this conversation than those I have worked with over the years. You are, after all, one who has listened most closely as my colleagues and I have explained how to unlock the power of innovation.
The word innovation has become such a buzzword. We need to redefine it. I think of innovation as value creation . How can we create new value for our customers and consumers that is differentiated and meaningful? It is not limited to the start-up and venture community. It exists in publicly-traded corporations, non-profits, and even government.
I want to be able to ask any person holding a leadership role in even the largest firm: What is your innovation? And get a prompt and clear answer. It may be innovation in process, products and services. It may be innovation in a new business model. It may be innovation in new ways of working with people-it is a mindset.
Make no mistake about it, this is a leadership issue. The challenge of building a culture of innovation is vital to organizations of all sizes and all types-public, private and nonprofit. Simply put, leaders shape the culture. There are practical approaches to doing it that can be taught and learned, and that is an important part of the mission of Kuczmarski & Associates.
I invite you to join in this conversation.
On a more personal note, I want to bring you up to date on work I have done with a friend and colleague Dan Miller over the course of the past eleven years to establish and grow the Chicago Innovation Awards. From a small beginning the awards have grown to be the foremost recognition of new product service, and business innovation in the Chicago region. We have done this purely as a civic gesture, and now I am pleased to say that we have set up a separate non-profit Chicago Innovation Foundation that will allow us to greatly expand the work we have done to bring innovation education, scholarship programs and more to the Chicago region.
These are exciting times. I look forward to hearing from you.
President, Kuczmarski & Associates