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September 13th, 2013

Charles Lee on sparking innovation

By KIND Editor

KIND partnered with the Plywood Presents conference in Atlanta, Georgia in mid-August to gather a group of pioneers in business and social entrepreneurship. Presenters were chosen to “instigate dialogue as doers of unthinkable action.” Here, we share a few of their powerful messages. This presentation was reported and written by Deborah Lubbe of Plywood.

In a world of constant marketing noise it’s challenging to define your brand apart from the crowd. Charles Lee, CEO and Chief Idea-Maker at the consultancy, Ideation, helped unpack this challenge during his talk at Plywood Presents. Charles helps businesses and organizations craft and facilitate amazing ideas via creative business design, branding and innovative problem-solving.

Charles Lee is one of those people that packs a piece of knowledge into every sentence. You know those people,the ones you wish you followed around with a notepad so you could quickly scribble shorthand versions of their incredible words of inspiration. He focused on the importance of creating a charismatic brand, through a culture of innovation. He said, “A charismatic brand is a product, service or organization for which people believe there is no substitute.”

Companies that are willing to make an impact today must be committed to innovation. Innovation has two main components: 1) The ability to clarify a problem. 2) And then designing a solution that can be implemented.

Charles outlined five key ways companies can work to become a charismatic brand.

1) Innovation Starts With Vision

Innovation has to take place at the top of an organization. This is crucial because it not only sets the goals for the organization it also reinforces the commitment by leaders to continually innovate toward solutions.

2) Welcome A New Kind of Thinking

New thinking creates space, time or budget to allow people to spend time diverging into potential options to solve problems. A quintessential example of this was the decline of Borders and the rise of Amazon. Amazon disrupted the system by charging customers upfront for the product rather than stock thousands of copies of a product in the hope that someone would purchase it.

3) Create Culture

Companies often struggle because they spend the bulk of their energy focused on growth more products, more services and more features in hopes that it will increase value for the customer. Creating a culture of innovation takes time. It reframes the way a culture works within the life of a company. This opens up endless problem-solving opportunities.

4) Keep Moving Your Ideas Forward

It’s the idea of continually reiterating whatever you are working on. Build it. Measure it. Learn from it. Repeat! For example, always edit your business plan, making it better. Thinking of your business plan as a living document allows you to contribute and assess more often.

5) Innovation Needs Space for WE and Space for ME

Companies fail to offer a space for collaborative contribution, which allows the time for staff to process the big ideas and create action steps to accomplish larger goals. Some of the best thinking happens when you are left alone to digest a goa. Keep this in mind when working with teams. Define the next step and keep the innovation process fun!

Learn more about how to create charismatic brands follow Charles on Twitter @CharlesLee. Or pick up a copy of his latest book Good Idea, Now What: How to Move Ideas to Execution.

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