About this Author
Gwen Smith Ishmael, Sr. Vice President of Insights and Innovation at Decision Analyst in Arlington, TX, has led marketing and new product development activities in the CPG and technology industries since 1986. She also conceived and developed ground-breaking Web-based promotional vehicles, two of which are patent pending. Gwen holds an MBA in Marketing and is a featured speaker on insights and innovation around the world. Her writings have been featured in international text books, most recently in Managing 4 Ps of Marketing FMCG Sector, and Product Innovation: A Strategic Tool for Growth, by ICFAI Publications, 2006 and 2007, respectively.

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Renee Hopkins Callahan Renee Hopkins Callahan started IdeaFlow and serves as chief blog-wrangler. She is Director of Innovation Services at Decision Analyst in Arlington, Texas, is a former journalist who worked as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News and the Nashville Tennessean, and was managing editor of D, the Dallas city magazine. She has a master's degree in rhetoric and has also taught college-level English and informal logic.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline


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October 12, 2006

BIF-2 wrap-up: Passion and intent are essential ingredients for innovation

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Posted by Renee Hopkins Callahan

Passion was the focus of many BIF-2 storytellers. Mark Hellendrung of Narragansett Beer: “Innovate around something you are passionate about,” which he did by resurrecting the old Narragansett Beer brand.

Liz Lerman of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange: “Desperation is an innovation driver…” And of course, desperation is a form of passion.

Mary Pat Ryan of Sirius Radio: “What helps track into the passion for satellite radio is peoples’ passion for music.”

Robert Ballard of the Mystic Aquarium spoke of his passion for the bottom of the ocean. He also talked of the idea-intersection -- Creativity comes out of the difficulty of leaving your native area. You are a land creature trying to explore the sea. How to make that workable? Recreate it as an out-of-body experience by creating a way to explore it electronically.

Along the same lines of turning a problem about which you are passionate into an opportunity, Randy Antik of SWAT Team Partners spoke about aiming high and keeping your focus on your passions because “innovation is the offensive team” (which prompted the observation that perhaps the defensive team the lawyers! ). In focusing on your passions, Antik said you should “keep track of what the actual problems is, and change approaches if one doesn’t work. Use your skills and experience to bring your passions alive.”

Peter Durand of Alphachimp: “Most innovation happens when you’re really, really irritated, and you’re bitching and moaning to your friends.”

Larry Keeley of Doblin told a story of innovating with intent, perhaps even a point of view, which to me can be a focused passion. He talked of innovation in Helsinki around outdoor lighting, critical in a city that’s in the dark so much of the time. “Point of view connects things,” he said. What’s required is not just a general interest in innovation, but actual preferences and intent.

He also said, “We always overestimate the amount of change that will happen in the short run and underestimate the amount of change that will happen in the long run.” I have heard a similar saying before – “Nothing changes everything.” The relation of this quote to the notion of intent seems to be that intent and purpose carries us through the short run, when it doesn’t look like enough is changing, and keeps us focused in the long run, when things change more than we ever envisioned they could.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: BIF-2


1. Sanjay Dalal on October 18, 2006 1:35 PM writes...


Thank you for sharing with us these summaries from the BIF-2 conference. They reinforce the value of Innovation in Business. Are you all planning to host something similar on the West Coast?

I also read about Passion in a story on "Connecting the Dots between Innovation and Leadership" published by Knowledge@Wharton - you can browse to:

Patricia Danzon, Wharton professor of health care systems and a consummate researcher on pharmaceutical industry mergers, identified passion as critical to innovation. Although passion is difficult to quantify, Danzon elaborated that passion may be linked to workers who have a stake in the business, either financially or in small firms where there is clear authority and little bureaucracy. Danzon stated, "So much innovation in the pharmaceutical industry is coming from the small firms ... and it seems to come from the passion and the involvement of being master of your own destiny."


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