Strategic Innovation Summit 2016

September 19 – 20 in Chicago, IL

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  • What are the unwritten rules (the heuristics) our company follows that are barriers to innovation and how can we change those rules?
  • If we could solve one innovation problem, what would it be and how would we do it?
  • What will our company’s Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) be doing 10 years from now?
  • How should our innovation metrics, governance, portfolio and strategic intent evolve to make us better at innovation?

These are among the many questions put on the table for discussion, debate and creative problem solving. When this occurs among 20 practicing heads of innovation from a diverse set of industry leading companies, what you get is nothing short of eye-opening.

At the 6th annual Strategic Innovation Summit, 20 individuals got together in a room for a day and a half to collaborate on identifying and solving the most pressing innovation issues their companies face. Take a look at some of the summit highlights below.

If you are interested in getting information about next years summit, please put your name on the list.

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The Response

  • I have been to a lot of these types of events and think this is one of the best. I’d go again next year. The participants were spot-on with a healthy mix of B2B and B2C. Everyone shared enough to have a healthy discussion.

    Shirley Drazba – IDEX Corp.

  • This was one of the more interactive events I’ve been to. It was an impressive group and the event was very well organized. It was the right amount of time to get away from the office and have enough time to discuss. I got a lot of new insights.

    Ken Czech – Focal Point Lighting

  • I recognize the complexities that go into this type of event, so I was very impressed. The caliber of people was exceptional and I really liked the topics. I would absolutely come again and I believe it would be good for our General Managers to come to an event like this as well. I really enjoyed the summit.

    Kim Saville – Saint Gobain

  • The number one thing this summit delivers on are the people who attend. It is highly beneficial to be with people who are in the thick of it all and this summit has the right people. The cross section of industries is invaluable for making connections and learning from them. These connections last long after the summit is over.

    Steve Fahrenholtz – General Mills

Video Recap

Attendees at this year's summit.

Johns Manville – Vice President R&D
DuPont – Director, Science & Innovation
Ingersoll Rand – Innovation Excellence Leader
Microban – Vice President R&D
Lubrizol – Director, Corporate R&D
GuideWell Innovation – Head of Strategic Solutions
Dow Chemical – Senior Business Development Leader
Steelcase – New Business Innovation
Boston Scientific – Director, Corporate Research
Lubrizol – Technical Fellow, Corporate R&D

Goodyear – Head of Customer Centered Innovation
Allstate – Director of Strategic Innovation
AGCO – Global Lead Research and Advance Engineering
Tennant – SVP Global Marketing
AARP Services – Director, Innovation & Healthcare Transformation
Illinois Tool Works – Global Innovation Framework Facilitator
Koch Industries – Senior Director, Innovation
BASF – Global Innovation Manager
Stryker – V.P. Global R&D and Innovation

Companies represented at this years summit.

Featured Participant



A featured participants at this year’s event was Gina O’Connor, the Professor of Marketing & Innovation Management and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lally School of Management. She has published many articles on innovation and has co-authored two highly acclaimed books on innovation, Radical Innovation and Grabbing Lightning. She is currently working on her third book on innovation.

At the summit, Gina gave a talk and shared her knowledge about Institutionalizing a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation. She participated in all of the summit activities and contributed her knowledge and expertise as the group wrestled with the issues they faced.

Featured Participant

Julie Steele

Julie is a social entrepreneur, with a background in entertainment, science, and structured finance. Intel recently named her as one of America’s Greatest Makers in their new online series for her work as CEO and Founder of The 3D Printer Experience, working to realize the vision that digital manufacturing will change the world. She is also currently the Chair, Board of Directors and Interim Executive Director of the World Future Society, the world’s premier community of future-minded citizens.

At the Summit dinner on September 19th, Julie shared her thoughts on the future and how it is critical for innovation. She discussed the World Future Society are trying to bring the future into focus.

Summit Topics


What are the unwritten rules that inhibit innovation in your company? What are the ‘heuristics’ that everyone follows but that may be inhibiting innovation? Culture is dominated not by the written protocols for how you should behave but by the unwritten rules of how people actually do behave.

Some of these unwritten rules relate to the interaction between R&D and marketing, how resources are allocated and how success or failure is handled. We discussed the impact of unrevealed conflicts of interest, legacy mindsets and the issue of too much or too little transparency.

Structure & Process

In this session, participants were asked to choose a question from one of five categories to discuss and debate among the group.  Some of the interesting ideas to come out of this session were:

  • A ‘Small Bet’ team that has permission to go against the grain
  • An ‘Assumptionator’ tool to gauge the degree of uncertainty
  • Development of road-maps for markets as well as technologies
  • A ‘Mario Brothers’ approach that uses symbolic gold coins to recognize learning as success

Clearly, there is a lot of innovation going on in the practice of innovation!

Future of the Innovation Practice

What will a day in the life of your Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) be like in 2026? A few of the many interesting insights that came out of this were:

  • Role may evolve into a Chief Insights Officer or a Chief Compassion Officer.
  • Your CINO in 10 years may be more AI than human.
  • Walls of your office may ‘dissolve’ as you grow, manage and use your networks.
  • The nature of work may be radically different as companies become smaller and collaborative networks of individuals get together to implement everything from the small to the large.

In addition, a ‘day-in-the-life’ of Psy, a company’s possible future AI CINO, was shared with the group and it led to a mind-expanding conversation.

Metrics, Governance, Portfolio and Strategic Intent

A series of round-table discussions on these four topics let the participants self-select the topic that most interested them. Some key insights and issues included the following:

  • Metrics need to facilitate honest conversations about what you do and don’t know and about how you are going to evaluate opportunities that have a lot of uncertainty.
  • Short-term thinking in the C-Suite leads to an inability to focus on longer-term innovation. Your governance system needs to mitigate this tendency.
  • The best portfolio is not just the best set of individual opportunities. Options creation and learning efficiency can be improved through the right combination of opportunities.
  • Expression of strategic Intent requires a clear business strategy, a separate innovation strategy and a clear distinction of sustaining vs strategic innovation.

2016 Program Guide and Participant Memento

Program Guide CoverWant more information? Download our 2016 Strategic Innovation Summit program guide.

Download Here

mementoEach participant received a 3D printed memento created by artist Henry Segerman. The memento was constructed so that when lit from above, the 2016 Summit logo appears projected on the surface the memento is sitting on.

When & Where


Location and Dates

The 2016 Summit was held September 19 – 20 at Workspring in Chicago.