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Espresso of Innovation: Putting innovation through its paces

By Chris Miller, chief digital officer, Draftfcb
Hello and welcome to this week's Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration.
As a fitness buff, any conference that starts with (an optional) boot camp is all right in my book!  And so started the first Digiday Agency Summit of 2013.  All the boot camp exercises were a nice set up to the two-day conference.  Early on, what coalesced for me was that we’ve all got the same challenges and problems — just in different degrees.
Digiday’s conference was a mix of small panels moderated by Brian Morrissey, editor-in-chief at Digiday,  and Jack Marshall, staff writer at Digiday, plus some single-person presentations.
Amongst the highlights of the conference was a greatDigiday survey on employment. The good news is that most digital media professionals are “mostly” happy.  Happy or not, almost two thirds of respondents said they plan to leave their current roles in the next two years, and over 90 percent in the next five —  something for the industry to address.
One of my favorite presentations was fromTom Richardson, head of digital product innovation at Digitaria. He spoke about the “Power of No,” a word that we definitely use too rarely in our industry.  Sometimes it’s even considered a four letter word. Some of Tom’s points on how to get to ‘no’ included:
Value contrarian thinking. Not the ego driving kind, but thoughtful thinking and ideas.
Start from the beginning with the company you want to be: I loved this idea  as it speaks to our own view on creating a trajectory.
Fellow cyclist, as I discovered later,John Winsor, chief innovation officer at Havas and CEO at Victors & Spoils, shared a presentation on “Building an Open Agency Business Model." He grounded the changes in the agency business in much the same transformations that print and newsrooms have gone through. From typesetters to open floor plan offices where writers, editors, and publishers all sit at one table.  In his ideas, from flattening the organizational structure to building culture, John offered up some great thoughts that I know I’ll be borrowing.
I’ll put in a plug formy presentation here. I closed off the Summit with Responsive Design and rethinking how we approach our work. Built from the great work of fellow workers, its focus was not only a mobile first approach, but engaging UX, creative, and development early on in the process.
When we think about innovation, we've got to change the inside, not just the outside. We also need to build a culture where employees from all levels are vested in and value 'no' as much as 'yes'. In other words it's not enough to just have cool shiny objects. True innovative companies have or create this from their very core. It's ok if you're not there yet; think about the Apple team flying the pirate flag and what that turned into.  And just remember that sometimes the smallest steps can turn into big ones!