What does innovation mean to you?
That’s the question keynote speaker and STUCK Co-Founder Jerry Jendusa asked attendees when he started his presentation at the 2018 Technology and Human Innovation Conference (THINC!).
Attendees answered the question via an online poll as well as in person. 117 people responded to the multiple choice question, with a majority selecting “Being creative and growth oriented”.
The creative mindset, combined with the desire to achieve growth, is how Jerry Jendusa grew his previous business, EMTEQ, from a start-up to an international 100M business.
As he relates to this answer the most, it is not a trick question and there is not a right or wrong answer. If you would ask him what innovation is, he would answer, “it means different things to different people”.
Kicking off the Insight Awards Ceremony
THINC!, hosted and ran by Insight Publications, connects businesses, ideas, and people with the insight and resources they need to grow in our economy. They recognize local businesses during the event that started and grew based of the merits of innovation. The goal for the event is to inspire all attendees with ideas about how to advance the regional economy.
Jendusa started the event with a presentation about how important innovation is for businesses. He explained how he learned from his own mistakes to implement a culture of innovation into EMTEQ, which was a major factor to its growth. Areas like empowerment, being customer focused, and having an open, honest culture were all discussed.
“Being customer focused is not a flavor of the day, it’s something that should always happen. Make customers the path for your continuous improvement efforts.” he stated.[bctt tweet=”“Being customer focused is not a flavor of the day, it’s something that should always happen. Make customers the path for your continuous improvement efforts.”” username=”STUCKCoaching”]
The audience remained engaged during the presentation as they included their own stories about workplace cultures, innovation and what both mean to them. Local business owners told stories about their gain sharing programs and how employee engagement leads to growth.
Jendusa concluded the presentation with ways to sustain an innovative culture. He explained the importance of empowering employees, “If your employees leave their mind at the door, they will never be able to make decisions on behalf of the customer. Instead, they will be stuck in their role, and stuck doing the same thing.”
He proceeded to explain how job titles can be a powerful descriptor for an employee, but a limiting factor for a business, “when given, those job titles create a box around an employee, a box that makes them think about what they should, or should not do. Make sure you allow employees to think outside of the box”. Jendusa reinforced the point that employees should always think of the customer before any decision is made, and if an employee is only set in their role, that will not happen.
The presentation was concluded with a powerful statement about innovation, “Innovation is about creating something for someone, or some company, that creates jobs, wealth, and business growth”. He stressed again how innovation can mean something different for everyone, but at the end, it’s always about growing the economy, employees, and your business.[bctt tweet=”“Innovation is about creating something for someone, or some company, that creates jobs, wealth, and business growth”” username=”STUCKCoaching”]
Rewarding Innovative Companies
The Insight Innovation Awards were handed out following his presentation. These awards are meant to encourage innovation among businesses in Northeast Wisconsin that lead to breakthrough technologies, processes, and/or company cultures. It is also meant to support the positive impact that businesses make with employees, customers, vendors, industries, communities and/or the environment.
Awards were given out in 5 categories including Process, People, Planet, Product, and Entrepreneurial Grit.
- The Process award was given to J.J Keller & Associates for their quick response and action to regulation changes in the transportation industry. They changed their products and processes to meet these new regulations and provided an easy way for clients to meet those requirements.
- Congratulations to Faith Technologies for their recognition in the People category. Faith Technologies has a nationally accredited apprenticeship program, a training center, and hires 350 workers annually.
- Due to their efforts with reducing food waste, Fork Farms, was awarded in the Planet category. They grow and provide food where their customers live and harvest year-round at their indoor facilities. In addition, they have facilities in schools to assist with lesson plans and provide them with healthy food options.
- The Product award went to Wooda. With a focus on quality and uniqueness, they take pride on providing modern furniture that is limited in quantity, numbered in sequence, branded and signed by the designer.
- After the food flavoring company they worked for was sold, the founders of R2H Flavor Technology decided to part ways and launch their own business. They started their own smoke manufacturing company that provides safer, more efficient systems that maintains a smaller carbon footprint.
Congratulations all winners nominees for your accomplishments. Insight Publications has more details about the winners.
THINC! 2018 concluded with a networking session. Attendees had the chance to meet and discuss innovation with Jerry while getting an autographed copy of his book, Get Unstuck.
Now, it’s your turn
What’s your definition of innovation? Are you incorporating it into your business?