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Last week the 2016 Ignite Summit took over San Francisco. And it was amazing.

From the inspiring sessions led by industry leaders to the thought-provoking discussions during breaks, you couldn’t help but feel the energy flowing throughout the conference venue.

The best part about Ignite? All the useful information and actionable advice that came out of each session.

Here are our top 6 key innovation takeaways.

The role of the Chief Innovation Officer is changing

As innovation becomes everyone’s responsibility, the role of the Chief Innovation Officer is changing. A greater importance and responsibility is put on asking questions. But not just any old questions, specific ones that result in better feedback.

Sticking with the Blockbuster example, a Chief Innovation Officer could ask employees questions like:

  • How can we use the Internet to expand movie and video game rentals?
  • Would renting movies using the Internet and then delivering them to customers by mail be valuable? What are the pros and cons?
  • If you were a competing company, how would you put Blockbuster out of business?

The Chief Innovation Officer has to become the Chief Innovation Asker.

An interesting statistic that was mentioned by Dev Patnaik, Founder and CEO of Jump Associates, was 17% of the U.S. population are early adopters, which means 83% are not. A Chief Innovation Officer shouldn’t be surprised if there’s pushback if he or she tries to implement something new. Of course, the amount of pushback will vary depending on the DNA of the company.

Ultimately, a Chief Innovation Officer has to be able to take a step back and assess how to be the most effective within their company’s culture.

Embrace paranoia

A healthy dose of paranoia, when it comes to innovation, is a good thing. It keeps you alert and on your toes. It doesn’t allow complacency to settle in, which is the last thing you want.

Companies that become complacent, are the ones that get disrupted. Blockbuster is a good example of being too comfortable with a business model and the status quo. As a result, it opened the door for companies who weren’t afraid to shake things up — hello Netflix and Gamefly.

You already know how that story ended.

The innovative companies you know and love today are the ones that embrace paranoia, even if they don’t call it that. They understand how fragile their place in the market is and use that as fuel to drive progress.

If you’re not paranoid, complacency is right around the corner.

Celebrating success is key to creating a culture of innovation

You’re celebrating success, right?

Creating a culture of innovation is something every company strives for. In fact, through our own research, we found that a high number of Spigit customers put it as a top priority. This is becoming the norm for many industries.

A key ingredient in creating a culture of innovation is celebrating success whether you’re featured on the front page of the New York Times or not.

Celebrating your company’s wins helps build momentum, positive energy, and breaks down barriers with those that are on fence by demonstrating value. This combination can be the difference between a culture moving in the same direction with confidence or one stuck in neutral.

Surround yourself with fanatics

Vivienne Ming, Founder and Executive Chairman of Socos, gave an inspiring talk about maximizing human potential and how that influences the creation of an innovative culture.

One of the key takeaways was this idea of embracing fanatics. In other words, people who have a genuine love for what they do and have a purpose for why they do what they do. If you can find people like this, and their purpose aligns with your company’s mission, you have a recipe for a workforce that will run through brick walls to make the company successful.

Leave room for small innovations

An innovation doesn’t always have to be so mind blowing that it changes an industry, country, or human race. In fact, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines innovation as simply:

“The act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.”

Whether it’s improving your internal processes or products, small innovations matter. These type of incremental and operational ideas typically show returns quicker and help justify future investment in innovation.

And when you do have those small wins, as mentioned above, celebrate them — build momentum.

Don’t copy innovations from other companies

Google did it, so why shouldn’t it work for us, right? Not so fast.

Every company is different. From their goals to their culture. While there are things to learn in every situation, what works for one company doesn’t mean it will work for others. And when it comes to innovation, you don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes. So, copying another company can often times be a waste of time, energy, and money.

Instead, focus on your company’s unique characteristics, goals, and strengths. Leverage those to create innovations that make the most sense for you.

Conclusion

The Ignite Summit was more than just a conference. It was an experience where the brightest minds in innovation gathered to share stories, connect, and learn.

A special thank you to everyone who attended and made the day one to remember. See you next year!

Spigit: 5 Ways to Create a Successful Innovation Program