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Brilliance@Work: Emily Higgins and Amy Shea Create Brand Memories

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar marketing professionals and their best practices at work. In September and October, we’ll feature market research experts.

Emily HIggins

Emily Higgins

Memories are the key to who we are. Marketers, like Emily Higgins, VP Client Services and Amy Shea, Director of Brand Experience at Ameritest, use the latest research on the brain to help create experiences that evoke positive memories of their brands.

Amy Shea

Amy Shea

They are also presenters at The Market Research Event (TMRE) on October 16-18 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As a preview to their presentation, Emily and Amy shared insights on how memory and emotion create stronger brand connections.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What is the science behind the brain’s three major memory systems?

Emily Higgins and Amy Shea: As scientists focus on the study of memory in relation to work on devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s, we are learning more every day about the link between our memories and our self-identity, present-day choices and thus our future.

Scientists have known for some time that memory is three-dimensional. Academics call the three types of memory semantic, episodic and procedural memory; advertisers long ago have translated this into a communications philosophy, calling these three dimensions think, feel and do.

At Ameritest, as we collaborate with our clients on branded communications designed to solve business challenges, we use Head, Heart and Hand—a much better model to diagnose the visual and verbal narratives brands use to create branded memories. The most successful brands create memories across all three systems. And these memories drive choices at decision time.

PB: How does this relate to emotion?

EH and AS: Episodic memories, or what we call heart memories, are our social memories. They are the autobiographical memories that create your sense of self—including the brands your ‘self’ has chosen. A brand story that emotionally engages you forges a heart memory link.  This connection can be quite strong, as emotion drives behavior more powerfully than does logic. We will be talking about how emotion drives behavior specifically in the Casual Dining Category in our presentation, “Are Consumers Eating Their Feelings?”

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?

EH and AS: We will share a case study of our own research—so, no data is blinded or embargoed in any way—to demonstrate three core aspects of creating brand memories: how the head searches for and embraces attribute, benefit and value equations that deliver their ideal experience; how the heart seeks the emotional satisfactions of their brand choice; and how the hand part of memory wants to see that rehearsed in a visual storytelling that is powerful and category-relevant. This is the work we do on a daily basis, focusing on the importance of creating brand memories and the role of a visual language in creating those memories that drive choice.

Want to hear more from Emily and Amy? Join us at The Market Research Event (TMRE). Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in market research. Stay connected at #TMREVENT.


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Brilliance@Work: Lean Innovator Terrae Schroeder

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar marketing professionals and their best practices at work. In September and October, we’ll feature market research experts.

Terrae Schroeder

Terrae Schroeder

Terrae Schroeder is the Director of Insights & Innovation in the snacks division at Kellogg’s. She’s also a presenter at The Market Research Event (TMRE) on October 16-18 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As a preview to her presentation, “Harnessing the Power of Entrepreneurial Approaches to Innovate and Grow Faster at Kellogg’s,” Terrae shared insights on the business value of a Lean Innovation approach.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How can a Lean Innovation approach help shape an organization’s future success?

Terrae Schroeder: Whatever you put energy into, grows. The Lean Innovation approach allows the organization to focus and concentrate resources; people, processes, ideas on one challenge at hand. There is a lot to be gained by having this much organization focus on one tough challenge. It produces holistic thinking, brings in external and fresh ideas, and creates solutions that may not been uncovered without the intense focus.

PB: What elements of a Lean Innovation approach were leveraged to help transform the culture at Kellogg’s?

TS: We will talk about 3 key approaches we leveraged in the presentation; having a growth mindset, the need for hustle, and taking a 360-degree approach to innovation. While this was an exercise (the Boot Camp), we’ve adopted many of these approaches in our day-to-day, therefore shifting the culture a bit more entrepreneurial. A few changes we’ve implemented since the boot camp are: including packaging design much earlier in the process, building in retailer considerations, leveraging a consumer-centric lens for innovation and focusing more effort, time and resource on “big bets.”

PB: How does this approach help tell a compelling marketing story?

TS: The maniacal consumer focus enables us to win big with consumers and the external/retailer focus allows us to execute with excellence and enables best in class partnership with our key retailers. Finding a “win/win/win” with consumers, shoppers and retailers results in big innovations. I think execution has to be 50-75% of an innovation’s success, and these are typically “end of the line” type of tasks in a traditional linear innovation model. Having more of a hub-and-spoke innovation model ensures greater executional excellence leading to greater innovation success.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?

TS: For companies looking for a different way to get to bigger and better innovation, this will lay out some key principles for success in implementing a new process and unlocking greater benefit from your organization’s resources. The market is moving very fast and we need to adjust to be quicker and more agile as well. You’ll learn how to leave your “we can’t” at the door!

Want to hear more from Terrae? Join us at The Market Research Event (TMRE). Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in market research. Stay connected at #TMREVENT.


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Brilliance@Work: Consumer Brand Marketing Expert Karen Hershenson

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Karen Hershenson

Karen Hershenson

FUSE 2017 presenter Karen Hershenson is the leader of the clay street project, one of Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) top innovation capabilities, which “strives to reveal the genius of P&G people to deliver more human-centric ideas and organizations.” Karen joined the clay street project in 2008 after a 15-year career in consumer brand marketing, building and managing some of the world’s most valuable brands including Coca-Cola, Barbie, and Disney.

As a preview to her presentation, Karen shares her insights on how creativity and innovation support sustainable business performance by building high-performing teams:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in consumer marketing shape your character and career?
Karen Hershenson:
Working on brands like Coca-Cola and Barbie early in my career gave me an appreciation for the sacred relationship that brands have with their consumers. I still get goose bumps when I remember how little girls’ eyes would light up at the sight of a new Barbie doll. When you realize the role your brand plays in another person’s life, you feel a sense of responsibility to make the best possible experience for them.

PB: What role does marketing play in the performance of a brand?
KH:
I see my role as a marketer to be both a steward and an integrator. As a steward, I guard the consumer-brand relationship, ensuring the brand stays true to its heritage, but evolves to meet the consumer’s own growing needs. As an integrator, I start with integrating human insight with business-building strategy. Then I continue by working with my cross-functional team to create and deliver a holistic experience that is consistent over time.

PB: What is an “innovation ecosystem” and how is it set up in an organization?
KH:
An innovation ecosystem is a way to look at your organization to identify the culture you need, to deliver the business results you want. For us, it means recognizing that work is a direct reflection of the teams that are doing that work, and the system in which they operate. So if you want to change your results, you must create the conditions for innovation in all three areas — the team, the system and the work.

Often, organizations have many separate efforts directed to change culture, work processes and team building, and the results become scattered. We have found that creating a series of experiences that are connected results in overall less effort and more synergistic results in the work and culture.

PB: What are some of your most notable projects?
KH:
In our early years, we touted new product launches like Ariel Gel or the creation of the consumer-facing P&G brand. But today, we assess our success on two things: 1) our ability to continually evolve and expand how we serve P&G businesses — moving from 3-month sessions at clay street to a series of short integrated experiences for an entire organization; 2) the speed of culture change we observe across the organizations where we work and the personal transformation we enable.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
KH:
A much-needed pause to help them connect their own creative dots! They will experience and learn about simple techniques they can weave into their busy days that can help make them more present and creative.

Want to hear more from Karen? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Brand Catalyst Brian Singer

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Brian Singer

Brian Singer

FUSE 2017 presenter Brian Singer is a San Francisco-based artist and designer who has received international attention for his provocative social projects such as TWIT Spotting (Texting while in Traffic) and The 1000 Journals Project. Previously, Brian was the Design Manager for Brand Creative at Pinterest and managed design teams at Facebook.

As a preview to his presentation, Brian shares his insights on how design is about problem solving:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in design shape your character and career?
Brian Singer:
I think my character might have shaped my design career, actually. I think I pursued design out of a love and interest in art, which, if you boil it all down might have just been a way for me to get attention/positive reinforcement as a child. Design has taught me a lot about people and has led me on a long (sometimes frustrating) path towards finding meaning in my work and career. As for affecting my character, I’m still kind of a jerk, but the nicest jerk you’ll ever meet.

PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
BS:
Design has always, in my mind, been problem solving. How well the brand performs depends on how well the problem has been solved. This can be the functional side (does it work, is it simple) or on the emotional side (how does driving a VW Beetle feel compared to a Ford Focus). If you do both well, the brand should succeed. Of course, if you’re not solving a need, then all the design in the world won’t help.

PB: How can design thinking drive innovation?
BS:
Design thinking is really just a process for problem solving. Personally, I think ideas are easy. They’re a dime a dozen. The real work is in making the ideas a reality. That might require money, or courage, or influence inside a company. You might need consensus, the right talent, or the green light to even pursue it. It requires building a prototype, proving it works, testing it in market, and even then, the numbers all have to work out. That’s a lot. I’m still a fan of one good idea, well executed.

PB: What are some of your most notable design projects?
BS:
I’ve worked on projects for everyone from Apple to Facebook to Pinterest to Adidas to Microsoft to Levi’s.

The most notable thing I’ve done though has probably been on my own and an attempt at solving distracted driving. After noticing how often drivers in stop-and-go traffic on a freeway were using their phones, I began taking photos of them (always while I was a passenger, not while I was driving because that would be stupid). I then put the photos on billboards.

The project received a massive amount of attention in the press from television to radio to online. I’m willing to bet it was more effective than the $8 million the government spent on their distracted driving campaign that year. The point is, I think it’s notable because it had an outsized impact for the investment, and it was driven by a simple idea. It’s too bad I didn’t have that $8 million to work with.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
BS:
Why, they’ll know how to get rich, of course. They’ll also walk away with renewed purpose and outlook on their pursuits. I hate to say I’ll inspire people, but I might, even if I inspire them to quit their jobs.

Want to hear more from Brian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Interactive Creativity Expert Gillian Ferrabee

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

gillian-ferrabee

Gillian Ferrabee

During FUSE 2017, renowned performance artist Gillian Ferrabee will lead an experiential workshop that introduces creative interactivity and shows why understanding how people play is essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty.

For over 20 years, Gillian has been a performer, creative leader and coach for artists and entrepreneurs. Most recently, Gillian was the Director of the Creative Lab for Cirque du Soleil Media, where she created original content for the international film, TV and new media markets, in collaboration with various partners such as Netflix, Google Chrome, Fox Studios and Samsung.

As a preview to her presentation, Gillian shares her insights on the value of play:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in dance and acting shape your character and career?
Gillian Ferrabee: Through dance I learned how powerful body-to-body communication is. Over 70% of what we understand in communication is visual, and our bodies are a big part of that. Dance is also a career that requires a very high level of commitment initially, and of re-commitment over and over. I learned a lot about the power of commitment and built inner resilience. Through acting I learned about the subtle interplay between audience and performer, and the flow of attention that occurs during a live performance.

PB: What are the main thoughts around the science of creative interactivity?
GF:
Creative interactivity is about agency, play and rhythm. Agency is the amount of recognition and impact given to each party in an interaction. Play describes a state of being, rather than an activity. It is the most natural way to learn, to invent and to socialize. Rhythm refers to the movement of attention between the parties interacting – how fast is it? How even is it? Is anyone leading? Following? How much room is there for improvisation?

PB: How is gamification essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty?
GF:
Gamification is about play and fun – two things that most people value highly even if they aren’t completely aware of it. We are wired for play and fun, and come back to it over and over. We also identify with our ‘tribe’ through our play styles.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of gamification as it relates to brand strategy?
GF:
I am by no means a brand strategist; that being said, what I see is that when a brand can ‘let go of the reins’ and invite their customers/clients/target audience more room to play within the conversation, that is a winning relationship. Listen and toss back (reply), then listen and innovate and toss back (reply).

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference workshop?
GF:
People will learn about the science of play, creativity and our brains. They will learn the eight key play styles and how to engage people from each of them. And they will play themselves and together with others, which it turns out is the best way to learn.

Want to hear more from Gillian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Hallmark’s Pop Culturist Christine Taylor

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

What is a pop culturist? A life-long pop culture fan with 11 years of experience in licensing entertainment products.

Christine Taylor

Christine Taylor

Creative strategist, designer and fan franchise expert Christine Taylor is Licensing Creative Account Manager at Hallmark Cards, Inc. She works with iconic brands like Star Wars, Star Trek and DC Comics for product development, merchandising and promotion. Her licensing experience and “passion for geekdom” led her to create something unique for Hallmark, which she’ll share more about as a presenter at the FUSE 2017 Conference, April 4-6 in Miami, Florida.

As a preview to her presentation “Pop Goes the Brand,” Christine shares her insights on how Hallmark is connecting and marketing to a passionate group of fans through a new branded experience called PopMindedTM.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How has Hallmark evolved into the iconic brand it is today?
Christine Taylor:
Since we’ve been around for 107 years now, I would attribute our success to our founder J.C. Hall. He was a visionary of his time. He brought greeting cards to the U.S., invented modern gift wrap, created an omni-media presence with entertainment—before the word “omni-media” existed—and he and his son who followed him, actively looked for partnerships, like Disney, and acquisitions, like Crayola, that synergized with our company’s mission. J.C. also established relationships with public figures that had an eye for art, like Winston Churchill and Jackie Onassis, as well as with some of the biggest artists, celebrities and designers of the 20th century.

I think Hallmark really became a household name through broadcasts of Hallmark Hall of Fame and our legendary commercials that made people cry, thus coining the term, “Hallmark moment.”

Hallmark was, and still is, one of the largest employers of creative talent worldwide. J.C. was an entrepreneur who loved and had a passion for creativity and how creative products transcend into how we connect with those around us. His belief in quality and creativity are still the foundation of the company and what we continue to strive for in all we do today.

PB: What are the creative processes involved in collaborating with companies with which you have licensing agreements?
CT:
We have some long, established relationships with some of our licensors that date back over 20, 50 and even over 80 years. We are one of the very few licensees that are allowed to create original content and illustrations of licensed characters. We have illustrators that can perfectly replicate the characters to create new poses to match specific concepts, and we also have artists that interpret the characters to create unique looks for our products.

Another difference is we have creative managers who are experts of these licensing entertainment brands and are responsible for the creative relationship and brand integrity. We ensure the licensor’s franchise strategies and character attributes are translated across all our products from end-to-end of the design process, and in turn, those strategies align with each Hallmark product development team’s intent. We meet with our licensing partners regularly to stay up with the most current franchise information and often have collaborative brainstorms. Having these strong relationships allows for a smoother creative approval process, and that close collaboration makes for better end products.

We share a common goal – the consumer/fan is key – so finding a co-branded product approach that meets consumer needs and expectations is a big focus for us. It’s not always easy, but we often align people who have affinity for, or are fans of, certain brands and products, keeping the passion for getting it right for them, a high priority.

PB: How does Hallmark find new audiences for their products?
CT:
Much like any larger company would: Diversification of products, omni-media channels of branding and distribution and continually seeking out new partnerships, sponsorships and acquisition opportunities. We recognize it’s all about building up your digital content and engaging with consumers in social spaces, not just relying on traditional media and brick-and-mortar stores.

Currently, we are looking at how we can target various consumer segments by tailoring product design, retail merchandising, online engagement, sponsorships and event opportunities in a very specific, niche way that speaks directly and more authentically to that consumer. This may be through identifying a cultural trend, or revisiting an existing brand, capability or product offering that we just have changed the conversation around to be more relevant to a specific sub-set of consumers.

Christine Taylor (next to Darth Vader) creates a fun PopMinded experience for Star Wars fans.

Christine Taylor (next to Darth Vader) creates a fun PopMinded experience for Star Wars fans.

PB: How did PopMindedTM get started?
CT:
We’ve been attending Comic & Fan Conventions for about a decade now. We had done some great co-branded booths with a Star Wars overlay featuring all original artwork by our in-house illustrators and designers, but what we came to realize is we did not have our own clear point of view for Hallmark to this consumer. We already had all the co-branded licensed product that we had curated for the shows, and exclusives we had created to sell, but no branded voice that was relevant to them to gravitate to beyond the conventions.

We took a step back last year and decided to approach these conventions more like a branded, perennial pop-up shop experience. I gathered a small band of “rebels” at Hallmark, which included cross-functional fans of geeky pop culture franchises. We ultimately came up with what now is a pop culture sub-brand intended to serve this very loyal segment of consumers. It has evolved into a full consumer acquisition and retention strategy, where we have the opportunity to connect with these fans of fandom in a very authentic way because the ones behind PopMindedTM and the products are pop culture fans themselves.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of the PopMindedTM experience?
CT:
We have already started some social media on Instagram and a weekly YouTube video series. This year, Hallmark Gold Crown stores plan to have a PopMindedTM section dedicated to the front of store in late summer with exclusives like we would sell at conventions. We want to bring a little bit of that excitement in-store for consumers already shopping Hallmark.

We are also scouting other conventions and events, as well as looking at potential partnerships and sponsorships that will help us grow and spread the word. We plan to launch an online community forum that fans can discuss, chat and link with us as well as buy, sell and trade past collectibles.

Dream Plans? We would love to partner on other store-within-a-store concepts with other pop culture purveyors that align with our sensibilities and have our own online shopping experience.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
CT:
In all honesty, I can’t say I will leave anyone with any profound wisdom, but what I hope people will take away is that innovation doesn’t always have to be about some novel product or what the next big thing is.

There are new opportunities and innovative ideas for us and/or our companies hiding right under our noses. Too often we can get so caught up in our day-to-day roles and responsibilities that those things become too hard to recognize. But we must stop for a second and remember the many insights, instincts, experiences already living inside us that we need to let out!

We must continually remind ourselves that we are consumers too—and most likely even fans (of something). We create content, use social media and are people seeking to connect with others. And these days, that empathic and authentic understanding can go a long way, but it may take stopping the presses for a moment to find it…and when you do, you must let it out.

Want to hear more from Christine? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Dr. Mark Freeman Shows How to Wake Your Sleeping Genius

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Dr. Mark Freeman

Dr. Mark Freeman

Dr. Mark Freeman, Doctor of Philosophy, Counseling & Organizational Behavior, is a senior organizational development and behavioral consultant, primarily working in the academic, hospitality and healthcare industries. Mark’s research interests are in the areas of organizational excellence, change management, personal and professional development for leaders, executive coaching and team building. He’s also a presenter at the FUSE 2017 Conference, April 4-6, in Miami, Florida.

As a preview to his presentation “Wake Your Sleeping Genius: Interpreting the Meaning and Power Behind Your Dreams,” Mark shares his insights on how dreams are windows into the mysteries of life that can help you find solutions to your personal and professional challenges.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What inspired you to pursue studies and work in counseling and organizational behavior?
Dr. Mark Freeman: Since early adulthood it has been my calling and passion to help people achieve their highest potential in work and life. I am a fortunate person to work in something I love with purpose.

I think the most important aspect of being human is finding out who you are; where you are going; and who shall accompany you on your journey (It is important to answer these questions in the right order). These life goals drive my work as an organizational behavior professional and a counselor. It is very gratifying to see people find their way in life and work.

PB: How did that lead to studying dreams and their meaning?
MF:
Dreams have always been a fascination of mine. As a young professional I participated in several dream sharing groups and have studied the most on that subject. Dreams are a window into the mysteries of human life, clarifying confusion, enhancing creativity and finding meaningful direction. Working with the dreams of others has been very rewarding. Nothing is more fulfilling than witnessing someone find truth, innovation and direction through understanding their dreams.

PB: How can people make connections with what they dream and what they do in their daily lives?
MF:
It is extraordinary to see the awareness people gain from reflecting on their daily lives from a day or so before a dream appears to them, then making meaningful connections with often very clear next steps for growth and solutions to life’s challenges. Learning how to interpret dreams is the key skill I teach participants in my workshops.

PB: What role do dreams play in the creative process?
MF:
Wow, so much! I teach participants how to incubate solutions for design, branding and business problems by developing partnerships with their dreams at night. You see, we have this sleeping, creative, genius inside that works at night in Technicolor to create stories and images for remarkable solutions unbeknownst to our poor, distracted and muddled brains which cannot possibly experience creativity well in the overstimulated daytime.

Dream incubation is asking that critical open-ended question you desire the answer to for clarity when you are stuck, then asking the dream to answer it for you the next day. For instance, “Where is this relationship going?” or “How can I achieve the greatest leverage with this new brand idea?” Your dream self often provides literal answers to your business and life questions in a creative way.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
MF:
If people come prepared with a well-formed, open-ended question to a design, branding or business challenge, they will get the most from the workshop. In addition, participants ought to begin to record their dreams and notes of events from the previous day before each dream is recorded for a week before the presentation.

Recording dreams is easy. Keep a pencil and paper by your bed and tell yourself to remember your dream before you go to sleep. When you wake up, immediately ask yourself, “What did I dream last night?” and write down your answer before you get out of bed.

Want to hear more from Mark? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Bonfyre Inspires Collaboration@Work

Fireworks over city skylinePhoto: Bossfight.co

When’s the last time you experienced great collaboration at work?

When I heard about Bonfyre’s Lunch and Learn program, I just had to find out more about this fabulous example of collaboration so I could share it and inspire others to be more collaborative at work.

Chris Dornfeld is President and Co-founder of Bonfyre, a mobile, social engagement platform used by people, brands and companies around the globe. When I met Chris during the ALI’s Strategic Internal Branding Conference, he had exciting news to share about Bonfyre’s new website.

This month, Chris shared with me how Bonfyre’s Lunch and Learn program increases collaboration among his employees so they learn from each other, learn about each other, and continue to be inspired to help their clients create increased collaboration in their organizations.

Bonfyre employees collaborate on white-boarding and visual communication during their monthly Lunch and Learn program

Bonfyre employees collaborate on white-boarding and visual communication during their monthly Lunch and Learn program

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How does your Lunch and Learn series support your business goals?
Chris Dornfeld: The Bonfyre Lunch and Learn program accomplishes three objectives for our team:
(1) Exposing people to new ideas and knowledge.
(2) Getting to know one another. Employees present on a broad range of topics. Most are in some way interactive.
(3) Reinforce our culture of collaboration and learning.

These outcomes help us build a more engaged, innovative and collaborative team of people.

PB: How does your Lunch and Learn series promote collaboration and a positive company culture?
CD:  Occasionally, we bring in an outside expert, but most of our Lunch and Learns are organized and presented by employees. Some of the topics are directly related to our business and some are just things people find interesting and they want to share. People take them pretty seriously and do an excellent job making them interesting and engaging.

Recently, one of our graphic designers did a Lunch and Learn on white-boarding and good visual communication in meetings. After the first 20 minutes, we divided into pairs and created visual stories for one another. Not only did we learn about visual communication, but we learned a great deal about people in other parts of the company.

PB: Tell us more about your Lunch and Learn series program.
CD: We try to conduct a program once a month. The topics vary widely from how stock options work, to travel slide shows of exotic places, from client events, to hacking Bonfyre design ideas. We have also hosted authors, motivational speakers and experts in their fields.

PB: What is some of the feedback you’ve received so far on this series?
CD: Incredibly positive! It’s always nice to get a free lunch with your co-workers, but learning more about things you are interested in is even better. The topics are pretty diverse, and attendance is voluntary. Everyone participating is engaged.

PB: What are some other collaboration activities or initiatives you’ve launched?
CD: We build technology to help employees around the globe love their job, so we are constantly thinking and testing new technologies, ideas and programs to improve the work experience.

Bonfyre employees team-build during a human foosball game.

Bonfyre employees team-build during a human foosball game.

We have company team building events like human foosball and escape rooms. We encourage cross-department brainstorming/hackathons to help solve problems. We have project tables for Lego and “maker” builds. And of course, we have Bonfyre communities for everything from project teams to “foodies,” so we can stay connecting and collaborating, no matter our location.

Bonfyre’s collaboration techniques inspired me to create a new series called Collaboration@Work, where I’ll share more examples of fabulous collaboration at work. Stay tuned!

What are some examples of fabulous collaboration you’ve experienced at your organization?


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What Determines the Success or Failure of an Idea?

Photo: Energy arc, central electrode of a plasma lamp by Blaise Frazier aka PiccoloNamek

It starts with the process and metrics, moves to the culture and structure of your organization and finally ends with the commercialization and product/service launch and integration, according to Back End of Innovation (BEI) Conference Producer Romina Kunstadter.

At BEI, Oct. 6-8 in Las Vegas, Nevada, you’ll hear from industry experts as they share their stories of success and struggle. In the meantime, read on as Romina explains how BEI can help your organization transform its innovation mindset and drive profitable growth.

Peggy Bieniek, ABC: What would you say makes this event unique?
Romina Kunstadter: BEI is solely focused on the execution of innovation. It goes beyond the ideation and shows you how to profit from innovation.

PB: Who should attend BEI?
RK: The event is for anyone charged with executing innovation, whether in terms of process, culture or the commercialization of a new idea/service/product. It’s for people in Innovation, Strategy, Business Development, R&D and Marketing.

PB: What is the purpose of BEI?
RK: BEI illustrates how companies are successfully executing innovation, but it also provides insight into the challenges faced along the way. You’ll get an inside look at the tools and processes used by other companies that have led to innovation success. BEI also takes you outside of the conference walls to explore companies like Zappos & SuperNap that are changing the way business is done.

PB: What inspired BEI to be created?
RK: The identification of a problem. There are a multitude of great ideas, but an idea without profit is just an idea. The challenge isn’t coming up with a new idea, but actually bringing it to life.

PB: How did you come up with the event name?
RK:
 The execution is truly on the back end – it’s what happens behind the curtain that defines the success or failure of a project.

PB: What is most important for people to know about BEI?
RK: The three-day BEI experience will provide you with a new set of process, tools, skills and connections to help you drive your organization’s bottom line.

PB: How can BEI help organizations to innovate?
RK: BEI will help you ensure that your innovations are carried through to their final stage. It will show you how to mitigate risk and push your ideas through the pipeline.

PB: What are the main concepts you want attendees to take away from BEI?
RK: Everyone is struggling with the commercialization of innovation – to push new ideas through the pipeline and ensure they get to market. At BEI you’ll hear from people who are experiencing challenges similar to yours. BEI will give you a new perspective on how to avoid certain pitfalls and to make sure your new innovation has all the right processes in place for a successful launch.

Immerse yourself in innovation at BEI! To learn more and register, visit www.BackEndofInnovation.com

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