Innovation Management Blog

Observations from Synthesize, Eric Ries and thinking bigger

Innovate More Effectively

We returned from Synthesize, the 2nd annual Brightidea user conference last week and during the three day event, we made notes, lots of notes. Today we’re sharing our top two observations and an invitation.

A little background first.

We’ve been a partner of Brightidea for five years and we’ve seen the company develop from what we considered the market leader in 2011, into what is undoubtedly the most robust, feature rich and mature innovation management platform on the market today, by a country mile.

The key word in that previous paragraph was feature - because as a user, you determine if the features are turned on or not in each innovation challenge. Rarely, if ever you’ll see them all and that is also where the robustness comes in - it’s not just about collecting ideas.

It’s about developing opportunities, tracking innovation impact and driving value.


So, the event was an awesome three days. We got to meet others that have been using the platform for as long and longer than us as well as those excited about just getting started. It was also an intense three days, but warmer outside in October than it has been all year in Sweden.

In short, great to connect, learn a little more about what is coming in the product roadmap and the people were awesome. We’re definitely going back next year.

But before our observations, one that has taken the last two or three years to develop. And it’s that while Brightidea develop the software, when you stand back and look at the product as a whole, they are also providing a roadmap for how innovation activities should be managed.

I suppose that comes from working with some of the most innovative companies on the planet and doing so for fifteen years.

And there is a post coming up about the new tools and features, but if you wanted to learn more straight away, click here for a blog post from the team at Brightidea and more information on the now fifteen innovation apps.

So, our top two observations

First, the creation of formal innovation programs with dedicated teams is taking off and the teams that are successful are growing quickly.

This was demonstrated by GE generating $5bn worth of cost saving opportunities (post on this tomorrow) as well as the team at US Bank increasing to 38 employees.

This was also backed up by Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and his new book The Startup Way, when he was sharing his thinking on stage and said “everyone is responsible for it means nobody is in charge of it. Someone needs to be in charge of innovation.”

We love this. And even though it’s not to say that innovation isn’t everyone’s business, but there has to be someone that takes overall responsibility, if even eventually and there has to be a place for employees to learn more, to get inspired and to ask for help.

The second observation was that the word empathy was used a lot in talks and discussions. We like the word as it’s more than about understanding or creating a checklist of needs.

It’s also or should also be about insights, about sharing and even compassion - do you think that strange to write about a business operation? We don't.

Innovation and all the activities that are associated with it is very much a two way street. It’s continuous learning and striving to be better every single day. It’s about thinking bigger.

Want to join a new team?

Our bonus observation is that Brightidea have a Burning Man team. We’ve wanted to attend Burning Man for a long time and our team is currently one strong, maybe two. Want to join us - get in contact!

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We help organisations work smarter and more efficiently with innovation. We do this as a partner to Brightidea, the global leader in innovation management software.