The I-Word

Posted: November 27, 2011 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, Marketing, People, Startup, Technology

Everyone loves companies that innovate, right? If I asked you to name innovative companies, most folks would answer Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook and ShareThis (I hope so anyway!) Jeffrey Baumgartner in his blog, Innovation Tools, notes that you will not find the word Innovation or Innovative in their ‘About‘ or ‘Home‘ pages. He suggests the average innovative companies that must compete with the likes of these leading innovators use the I-word extensively on every page, piece of literature and marketing material.

Mr. Baumgartner believes great companies do not make the I-word their goal, rather they create great visions in which all the employees embrace it naturally. By pursuing a great vision, teams within these companies innovate in order to deliver more than expected, to have a breakthrough product, and to go way beyond the norm.  Guy Kawasaki defines these as  ‘curve-jumping’ products — those that go beyond the current environments. Quoting Guy: “Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. (In the 1980’s) the best daisy-wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts in more sizes. Apple introduced the next curve: laser printing.”

With that foundation, the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association and the EnquirerMedia’s EnterChange partnered to present a forum on Innovation in our region. At noon on Wednesday, November 30, the Emery Theatre (an innovative space itself!) will be the venue for a series of stories on the region’s innovators and why it is so critical to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The speakers reveal the visions behind these innovations. For example, the Brandery is a very innovative concept — but Brandery founders’ vision (Knox, Kropp, Radtke and McDonald) was a Consumer Packaged Goods focused technology accelerator that leverages the assets of the region and builds a community of exciting companies. The success of these companies would infect other startups to migrate towards this vibrant community. The manifestation of this vision is the Brandery and the community it has created with a network of new companies, supporters and mentors that believe in a greater entrepreneurial community in the region. The innovation followed the vision.

The GCVA/EnterChange event highlights innovation in health care, the arts, angel and venture investing, digital media, technology and informatics. While more stories exist, this event gives you a glimpse and the hope that we can break the “Prairie Home Companion” thought process of Midwest modesty. The common thread among all the innovators is the belief in their vision — the belief that the future requires sunglasses due to its’ intensity and brightness. Who would have thought two dancers from New York could inspire and invigorate the 100-year old Emery Theatre, when so many had tried before. There were no roadblocks in their plan – they moved mountains when they could and moved around them if they couldn’t. The Emery is representative of our community – a gem in the rough. It just needs a little work and a lot of energy and passion to move forward.

You are cordially invited to celebrate innovation (and lunch). GCVA members can register through their email, and guests can register at (only $10 for guests including lunch!) Registration opens at 11am and the program begins at noon. Links to the GCVA are on our website at or by our QR Code.

Bill Cunningham is the CEO of and shop foreman at the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association.

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