In keeping with its theme, Accelerating What’s Next, YPO Innovation Week concluded in high spirits, high energy and high style, with presentations by industry experts, networking and social events around the world.
Expert insights on innovation
Mark Mader, YPO member and CEO of Smartsheet, discussed building a business architecture that fosters and generates innovation. He counsels focusing on five steps of bringing something new to life: observation, ideation, research, recommendation and execution. Observation is passive, an end in itself; ideation goes a step further by forming conclusions about what was observed. Still, there is no action. “You have to do your research,” Mader says. “Look online, talk to peers. The best ideas in my company don’t always win; the best-researched ideas that address our company goals do.”
Mader notes that collaboration tools are very helpful in the final phase — execution — but he cautions against over-reliance on automation. “Some things will never be replicated by machines. When we recognize employees publicly, the feeling it gives them can’t come from a machine. Capture that and unlock it in your teams — you can do that while the machines are running in the background.”
Mader joined 2017-2018 YPO Chairman Randy Waterfield, CEO of The Waterfield Group, to discuss YPO Innovation Week in a Facebook Live interview sponsored by Nasdaq. Waterfield called out the benefits of belonging to YPO for learning about and fostering innovation, a phenomenon he believes does not happen behind closed doors but rather when people exchange ideas. “YPO’s members run some of the fastest-growing and best-run businesses in the world,” he added. “It is a platform for learning and interacting with third-party resources, whether for raising capital or sharing lessons learned with peers. When I’m asked what business leaders should know about innovation, my answer is YPO.”
Bert Van Hoof, Partner and Group Program Manager of Azure IoT Suite at Microsoft, gave YPOers a glimpse into the workplace of the very near future. Using artificial intelligence to uncover how employees work, how they spend their time and with whom they collaborate, the organization can identify leaders, match up collaboration partners, and determine other indicators to improve employee health, productivity and communication. Van Hoof calls the use of analytics in the workplace and beyond an example of “stepping into a new era of transformational computing.”
Afternoon events featured a discussion of the future of bitcoin/blockchain and the internet of things by Jenny Fielding, Managing Director of Techstars, Jim Hornthal, Chairman of LaunchPad Central, and Todd McDonald, co-founder and COO of R3.
In addition to the YPO global offerings, chapters hosted a variety of innovation-sparked presentations and discussions, including events in Cairo, Egypt, and Accra, Ghana; an examination of corporate change and reinvention in Dublin, Ireland; a view of innovation “through the art of less” in Dallas, Texas, USA; and a startup event in Bangalore, India.
Two special highlights brought the week to an exhilarating close: One was the Nasdaq closing market bell ceremony attended by a group of YPOers and their spouses/partners, the other was the presentation of the YPO Global Innovation Week Awards. The awards, which recognize YPO members and their adult children who have initiated breakthrough innovations that inspire positive transformation and nurture continued growth and opportunity for leaders around the world, were presented as follows:
- Overall YPO/YPO Gold winner — Michael Golway, President and CEO of Advanced Solutions Inc.
- Asia Pacific category winner — Tadahiro Kawada, President of Kawada Industries
- YNG+ category winner — Nicholas Ackerman, son of YPO member Gareth Ackerman, for bCode
“YPO Innovation Week is so important because we learn, share and discuss innovation and disruption in every kind of business and organization,” says Keith Alper, CEO of The Nitrous Effect and Geniecast and 2017 Chair of YPO Innovation Week. “An event like this — which requires the efforts of more than 100 champions, plus our best-in-class sponsors — is something you just cannot get anywhere else. We often talk about Only-in-YPO events, and there are many, but YPO Innovation Week is certainly one of the biggest, globally impacting our 24,000 members and their companies.”