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How to boost game-changing innovation with executive workshops


On Bloomberg Businessweek, Jeneanne Rae offers advice on driving innovation through conducting executive workshops, which she insists are far more productive and effective than basic brainstorming.

The author says that speeding up the pace of game-changing innovation in the busy business environment requires new ways to drive executive engagement.

Although brainstorming can produce plenty of ideas, with executive workshops – where key people are set challenges that require innovative thinking – you can create "focused energy to explore new growth platforms from corporate leaders".

Rae observes: "In the scheme of things, cool ideas are a dime a dozen, but generating the confidence to brave new ground, especially in risk-adverse global corporations, is something far rarer."


You need to find a formula to attract someone who has to "prioritise every minute of every day, doesn't suffer fools, and whose bonus is likely to depend on quarterly results, yet who is also tasked with figuring out the future".

Rae offers five pointers towards producing an executive workshop structured to drive key commitments and decisions.

1) Use time wisely. Be realistic with your expectations for involvement. The author suggests that a half day or full day is all you are likely to get.

2) Make passion palpable. Rae says: "Get the right people in the room at the forefront of the challenge… a select number of credible key stakeholders, archetypical customers, subject-matter experts, and other provocateurs, not just company employees."

3) Efficiently convey new relevant information. Although executives often live in "bubbles", Rae insists they are aware that they lack perspective and are grateful to be enlightened about new factors that will inform their decision-making.

4) Facilitate integrative thinking. The exercises that you design for the workshop should be engaging and mimic everyday unresolved opportunities.

5) Contradict the dominant logic of your industry. "Innovation happens when companies do something the rest of the pack hasn't," says Rae. Ask how your company can break the mould.

Rae concludes: "There is still no hotter topic in business today than driving organic growth and innovation. More often than not, these matters require the attention of senior executives who encounter numerous impediments in finding, vetting, and committing to the big ideas of tomorrow.

She adds: "Your action-packed, hands-on event will not fail as a call to action for those tasked with leading your organisation into the future."

Mastering The Art Of Executive Engagement
Jeneanne Rae
Bloomberg Businessweek