Blog Post

3 Lessons in Innovation from the 2016 Innovation by Design Summit

October 31, 2016

Corporate innovation does not have to be an oxymoron, a sentiment shared by Innovation Leader’s Scott Kirsner at the Innovation by Design Summit hosted by Maritz last month in St. Louis.

As a long-time leader in our industry, Maritz is no stranger to innovation, having reinvented ourselves time and again over the course of our 122-year history. With IXDS, we opened the event to other businesses, startups and professionals in our region, aspiring to deliver a transformative experience that fuels business innovation.

Inspiring keynotes paired with hands-on workshops made for a successful two days. If you weren’t among the 600 attendees, or just need a refresher, we’ve identified three key event learnings on driving innovation in business and life.

1. Don’t be Afraid to Take Risks

“A little bit of misbehavior, going beyond the boundaries is critical to creative thinking.” Event headliner and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, shared this philosophy, emphasizing how innovation starts with an idea and those ideas are sparked by creativity and thinking outside the box. He had the crowd clinging to every word as he talked about the pranks he played on people and how they helped him be more successful.

Kendra Masters, Maritz creative resources manager and conference attendee, related to this, saying “Like Woz, I play pranks on people, so he made his session very relatable. That kind of mischievousness make me think outside the box.”

How often have we been in the day-to-day grind and felt a little uninspired? In taking a play from Woz’s playbook for success, we shouldn’t be afraid to think differently, take a risk and see what ideas can come from it. Talk with friends. Learn a new skill. Don’t be afraid to stop doing what you aren’t passionate about, and try something new.

Read more about Woz’s views on technology, innovation, and even his thoughts on St. Louis as a hub for tech start-ups.

2. Irrational Thinking Leads to Improved User Experience

Ever wonder why we do what we do, even when it seems like the least rationale decision? Humans aren’t rational creatures. Science has shown us this. We may wonder how we’re ever supposed to relate to and provide experiences for our employees and customers.

Fear not! There is a way. Keynote speaker Wendy De La Rosa described how her organization – Irrational Labs – applies behavioral economics to design better user and employee experiences. They use data and research to formulate a strategy for success. We can start by looking at our users’ journey with our company or brand, and experimenting with small changes, or fewer choices along that journey. Essentially, by better understanding that as humans we aren’t always the most rationale creatures we can account for and think through how best to meet their needs.

3. Anyone and Everyone Can Bring Value

Too often, in business, we can forget that our customers are people, our employees are people. We want experiences that are designed with us in mind. Designing for the human experience is key to success.

But, in business, how can we help our users have better, happier experiences? So many of us try and answer that question each day, whether it be targeted at our employee user experience, customer experiences, or our own experiences with another brand.

In short, we need to have empathy. Elizabeth Holz, design director for the IBM Security Division, talked about empathy mapping, which centers around putting yourself in the user’s shoes and developing solutions based on their preferences, not your own. This concept stems from IBM Design Thinking, which is all about “smarter teams, better ideas, and happier users.”

By taking a specific situation, whether it’s attending an event or building a website, and thinking through each step of the process in regards to how your users want to experience it, you begin to build a solution, product or service with empathy and designed with them, not your business, in mind. It’s not always an easy task, but experiencing the process several times during the Summit, helped open our eyes to its potential.

Overall, the Innovation by Design Summit immersed attendees in conversations, presentations and hack-a-thons that gave them the necessary tools to take what they learned and implement those ideas in their organizations. We’re excited to see how we can apply these learnings to our everyday roles here at Maritz, fostering an innovative culture that leads to new ideas, transformational solutions and happier, more engaged employees and customers.

But don't take just our word for it. Read what 11 thought leaders who contributed to IXDS recommended for how best to innovate within an organization in Forbes. 

How do you see innovation occurring in your business?