Beyond The Brainstorm

Jennifer Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief

I recently attended the Paperboard Packaging Council’s Fall Meeting, which was dedicated to innovation. Lisa Bodell, CEO of the NYC-based consultancy Futurethink (, delivered the keynote on what it means to be an innovative organization.
Like many of you, I have participated in discussions about innovation that, though inspirational, left me with a feeling that can only be accurately expressed by quoting a favorite Burger King commercial from the 1980s: “Where’s the beef?” Sure, we bounced some great ideas around but, once everyone packs up their notebooks and returns to their desks, we are often left wondering how on earth to execute them? We are all time-starved and over-committed—and let’s not even talk about the budget.
What struck me about Lisa’s approach, though, was that her very definition of the term “innovation” recognizes these issues. She defines creativity as the process of thinking up new things and innovation as the means by which we implement these great new ideas.
Innovation, she explained, should be accessible to everyone, not just those in traditionally “creative” positions like designers or at “innovative” companies with seemingly unlimited budgets. Innovation is about bringing something new and useful to the marketplace; it’s about creating value for your business.
As I read reports this week about Google’s acquisition of for $1.65 billion, Lisa’s comments struck even closer to home. At its core, the idea of building a community based on user-generated content is nothing new. But until the concept was brought from the drawing board to the marketplace by two friends who wanted to share videos and photos with their friends, it was nothing more than a “creative idea”.
Look to initiatives like Procter & Gamble’s “Connect and Develop” effort (, where P&G has opened its doors to innovators outside the company to “find the next game-changing products, packaging, technologies, processes and commercial connections that can improve the lives of the world’s consumers.” P&G’s logic for the initiative, which has spawned recent successful product launches like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, is that the company can better leverage existing technologies and eliminate the danger of wasting time and resources by reinventing the wheel.
We need more than just good ideas to make innovation happen; we must look beyond the brainstorm and equip our organizations with the right tools and processes to implement these new ideas and make them a reality.