Monday, May 2, 2011

3 Ways to Maximize your 2011 Front End of Innovation Conference Experience

1) Bring a bunch of business cards – Seriously, don’t forget.

I have been amazed during the past conferences when I have run into someone who said that they forgot their cards or had already run out (it wasn’t just an excuse… was it?). There are more than 700 people there who care about innovation as much or more than you do – it would be a shame to miss out on sharing and building your ideas because it was taking too much time to write your email on napkins with a sharpie. And yes, technology is making it easier and easier to instantly share your contact information, but there is a neurological benefit in connecting a verbal conversation to the physical touch and visual elements of a business card. When I look at a business card I was given even 5 years ago, it still triggers the memory of the conversation I had with that person.

2) Forget about checking your email during the day.

The internet connection historically sucks at the convention center and you will just be setting yourself up for disappointment if you are planning to check emails in-between talks. Also, the time in between is the BEST part of the conference. That is your chance to grab some free pens, eat some chocolates, and register for multiple iPad 2 giveaways (and you could make a few connections with peers who probably share more in common with than your own family). Seriously, take the time to mingle and talk with people while you are there – your email will be waiting for you when you get to your hotel.

3) Plan to “Collect and Connect”

Bring a few challenges you don’t know how to solve with you (write them down in a simple 1 sentence structure). New concepts will be turned into applicable knowledge through the action of applying the new concept to something personal and tangible. Try to view the entire conference as a stimulus collection opportunity. Use the networking breaks to share your challenge with a peer and see if you can connect the dots and stimulate some new thinking about your challenge.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turn your insights into actionable ideas at FEI2011 in Boston

In a recent Seek Note article “How To Make Your Job Matter: An Open Letter To The Market Researcher” Seek made the bold statement that consumer-driven ideas are your currency and that research should not be submitted as facts only. As I was thinking about how to connect the research step to actionable ideas, I thought back to my past years at FEI, Front End of Innovation conference.

Each year in May, around 700 of the world’s best front-end-of-innovation thinkers get together in Boston to share their newest concepts and build ideas together at FEI. While the first years of FEI attracted mainly “innovation” professionals (defined by me as anyone with innovation in their title), I have witnessed a significant number of market researchers and consumer insight professionals attending the last few years. A number of Seek's projects this past year came directly from conversations during FEI 2010 (including one project that recently yielded A ratings/ top 20% in BASES for all concepts tested). What made the projects successful… the direct connection of consumer insights to the idea generation process. Most market researchers understand the process needed to generate great consumer insights. Attending FEI will help you make the leap to determine how to take the insights a step further and create consumer-driven ideas.

Also this year, yours truly will be moderating the various “FireStarter” sessions to ensure things move along and remain high energy. For those new to the conference, the FireStarter sessions combine 3 energetic, corporate innovation professionals to present 10 minute stories based on one central topic. There is also a bit of time set aside for engaging Q/A.

I hope to see you there. If you are interested in registering, go to the FEI website and enter in the code FEI2011SEEK for a 20% savings (I don't make a dime if you decide to register through the link, I just want to meet you in person).