Last week, Steve Todd and I heard Gary Hamel challenge modern companies:
- How do you build an organization where innovation is everybody’s job?
- How do you build an organization that INSPIRES extraordinary contributions?
This week, EMC held its third annual global Innovation Conference. For some background on the event and the contest, check out my previous posts. It has been amazing to watch the growth and reach of the conference. The first year was a single site, the second year was a single site with some remote participation, and the third year was over a dozen “globally local” conferences: two one-hour segments broadcast from India and the rest of the day was different at each site. Not only are dozens of hours of material be posted internally (EMCers can find the Innovation Café here), but some information is being shared externally through blogs, photos, videos and soon on the ECN site.
One of the primary components of the conference is to celebrate the teams of innovators and their submissions, and to choose the winners. As a conclusion to the selection process, all three top winners this year were ideas that the selection committee, rather than the community, moved into the semi-finals. The second place winner was a combination of two similar ideas (one of which was popular in the community voting). The “People’s Choice” award was a tie between an idea from India and an idea from Cork, Ireland; not surprisingly, both of these ideas reached the semifinals through community voting. Beyond the winners, I know that many people were inspired either by having feedback on their ideas, or even by being able to review ideas from others. The community involvement in voting greatly broadened the visibility of the contest and conference around the globe.
Day of Innovation
We had a stacked day which, thanks to much help from many people, went very well. The innovation contests have helped to move towards Hamel’s goal of engaging everyone in innovation. This can’t be done without strong support from senior management. Here is a short video from some of our executives discussing innovation and the innovation conference (we were especially pleased to get a few words from new EMCers Pat Gelsinger and Frank Slootman):
The day was anchored solidly at the beginning (Vice Chairman Bill Teuber) and end (EMC RSA Division’s president Art Coviello) with live EMC executive presentations. Polly Pearson spoke about how innovation is a brand value and key piece of EMC’s culture. Our keynote speaker was Dave Ritter of InnoCentive whose presentation on open innovation resonated strongly with us. Completing the rest of the day was not one, not two, but three panels (as my esteemed colleague and this year’s third place winner, Dr. Dave Reiner would say: two’s company, three’s a cloud). The first panel was on how we are innovating locally (which includes how we connect globally); see panelist Jamie Pappas’ blog for more on this. The other two panels were on cloud computing from the business and technical points-of-view. Judith Hurwitz (consultant, analyst and author) and Wayne Pauley (EMC) did a great job of moderating panels which covered a lot of ground and went beyond some of the hype and blue-sky thinking of cloud. Even though this was an internal event, we invited Judith Hurwitz and Christofer Hoff (Cisco) to give additional perspectives and to help keep us from talking in an echo chamber.
After the conference, about eighty of us got together to discuss the ideas of the day. Gina Minks took some video for me, capturing some of the discussion. For me, the highlight of the conference was that there was so much passionate support to put on this event. “Innovation” related activities can brings out the creativity, passion and initiative of people for more than a day.
As a final note – a special thanks to Mary Henderson who took my offer to help out with this year’s conference and turned that into an amazing (if exhausting) journey of putting together the local event (with lots of help from her and some of our events experts) and help out the global team. I know that I learned a lot and made new—and strengthened old—connections.
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