5 Things #CES2017 can teach You about your Innovation Program


Innovation is all about taking risks, testing the results, learning and moving on, and that’s impossible if you don’t accept the chance of failure.              

Trae Tessmann|
January 4, 2017

Not a startup? Not a problem.

With the Consumer Electronics Show just around the corner, thousands are descending upon Vegas to check out the newest tech trends and products, and “gamble” on the success of their new ideas. As the place “Where Innovation does Business” and with a lineup of superstar speakers and product releases, it’s the go-to event for techies around the world.

If you’re attending (and if you’re not, or even in the tech space), you can learn a thing or two from this gathering of global innovators in the desert, and apply it directly towards your improvement initiatives. From collaboration to market validation, CES is a great example of innovation in action.

It’s not just about new gadgets.

While not every project gets the spotlight, CES is flush with hundreds of small, innovative products that improve your life and huge initiatives that could change the lives of millions. Everyone has an idea and a need that they’re trying to fill. Some needs are big and some are small, but that’s what makes it exciting.

The beauty is that not every one of those projects has to be a game-changer. It just needs to fill that need in the marketplace. The same can be said about changes and innovation inside a company. Effective innovation requires a balance of both large and small projects, all working towards a common goal.

Collaboration and networking is crucial.

From wacky entrepreneurs  and investors to calculated engineers and salespeople, a lot of different folks attend CES. While they come from different backgrounds, hold varying opinions, and carry different skill-sets and levels of experience, they converge to discuss common goals and problems, discover new idea management solutions, and ultimately learn from each other.

CES without the conversations would be a snooze-fest. The atmosphere and productivity thrive on collaboration and the same can be said inside a company, especially across teams and departments. Different perspectives, experiences, and ideas spark new solutions to old problems, and promote a stronger, innovative culture where communication is encouraged.

You learn from big and small companies, new and old.

CES always touts a diverse group of speakers and presenters from various industries, and even with sometimes drastically different sets of beliefs and strategies to lead their respective organizations, their opinions are respected and insights are appreciated by those in attendance.

Just like listening to a panel or keynote, companies need to listen and find inspiration from the big and small players (both inside and outside their market) and customers for the improvements they want to make. “Business as usual” works to a degree and you should never forget what makes your operation unique, but disregarding “uncomfortable” ideas can be lethal to operations.

Everyone is looking for feedback.

From setting up booths to show off what they’re working on to walking around and networking, everyone at CES is hungry for feedback (and reassurance) on their ideas. It could come from potential customers, curious investors, or just a passer-by, but actionable feedback is always appreciated.

New startups, products, and ideas shouldn’t be pursued blind, nor should corporate innovation. Gathering feedback and ideas, reviewing and validating the top choices, and testing them in a limited degree help to mitigate risk and ultimately improve the effectiveness of an innovation and improvement program.

It’s all about taking (calculated) chances (and hoping they pay off).

Everyone at CES is putting themselves out there, trying to better their lives with their projects or by gaining knowledge on a topic they’re interested in. Sure, their product might fail or the trip might not pan out as planned, but as long as they learned something along the way, they can leverage that knowledge to build again in the future.

Even with all the feedback in the world, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t put faith in something and take action. Innovation is all about taking risks, testing the results, learning and moving on, and that’s impossible if you don’t accept the chance of failure.

Emulate the hype of CES with the Innovation Roadmap

About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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