Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Career Advice from the 2010 World Innovation Forum

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On June 8th and 9th some of the world’s leading experts on innovation gathered at the Nokia Theater in New York City for the 2010 World Innovation Forum (Twitter hashtag #WIF10).

The list of speakers was impressive, and WIF10 blogger Stu Miniman wrote an excellent post summarizing the speakers and their backgrounds.

I also attended the conference (as a blogger) and wrote about my motivations for attending in an introductory blog post. My hope was to hear some of the latest trends and techniques for innovation at large corporations.

For those of you interested in pursuing a career in innovation, I’ve created the following list of advice, with links to the speakers included. Keep in mind that my definition of innovation is “innovation = idea + implementation”, with a strong emphasis on the implementation piece (how to build and deliver new ideas).

Here is a summary of the career advice presented at the conference:

  • Innovation is not limited to engineers. Bringing great ideas to market can best happen when every person in the process becomes a designer. Whether your job is engineering, customer support, testing, or marketing, every stage of the process requires people using strong design skills. This advice was given by one of the top technology designers in the world: Robert Brunner.
  • When it comes to finding innovative jobs, the place to go looking is for corporations that are producing green (or sustainable) products and services. Corporations are looking for individuals that can generate (and deliver) energy-saving and environmentally-friendly ideas. Joel Makower highlighted several such corporations in his talk, including Coke, Waste Management, and UPS.
  • Ursula Burns of Xerox related that employees who know how to “dream with customers” are highly valued. The best source of ideas is often birthed through conversations with customers about their needs.
  • The most valued employees of the current decade will be artisans, and the most successful companies of the current decade will be the businesses that allow their employees the freedom to innovate. Seth Godin encouraged employees to take risks in their job by morphing their work habits to be more artistic: give gifts, do work that matters, and make a difference.
  • One of the more critical innovation skills for an employee is the ability to be a change agent. Chip Heath described the psychology of change and presented some steps for introducing change into an organization.
  • One of the final pieces of advice for an employee was given by Andreas Weigend. Andreas claimed that the most successful businesses will be those companies that know how to leverage communities of people (and the data that they create). It is critical for employees to involve themselves in social media and social media data mining.

Health care and education were also discussed as critical areas needing continued innovation focus (excellent career opportunities). For more information on these areas, refer to Michael Howe’s discussion of the rise of MinuteClinic, and Wendy Kopp’s presentation on Teach for America.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur

Read more tech career advice from Steve his Vault blog: Innovate with Influence

Extra Insight: Check out Vault’s coverage from the World Innovation Forum

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