Posts Tagged ‘champions’

Small group: What is innovation?

November 25, 2008

The group discussion at the table with Brad Chase (GCBL), Linda Robson (Case Sustainability Director), Mike Dungan (E4S board member) and Mike Hammer (a local farmer).

Name an innovation from Northeast Ohio in the last ten years.

Novelis a company doing a mini Material Resource Facility a zero waste facility. They’ve bought into the idea. ‘A mini MRF’ is an idea that has arisen.

E-Z Brite manufacturer in Westlake of cleaning products and process generates no waste. Twelve employees. Environmentally benign products.

Lube Stop – locally owned. Not always ‘green’. Tom, the new president initiated the Eco-Guard process. Trying to reduce footprint. Green oil replacement.

How innovative is that?

Very, because at the daily level. Innovating their industry.

It’s nesting sustainability within affordability and everyday what people have to do.

Prius — what’s the difference between a niche and something that grew out of market conditions? When you see things coming.

What will Cleveland need ten years from now?

Mike H: Our biggest deficiency — we’re like Chicago which embraced idea that we’re not going to keep people in the city center so they have spokes of people who move out of the area. Cleveland is about blocking progress.

Brad: What’s different in this region is the central city is not leading the change. More of innovation is happening on the fringe where more wealth is located. Cleveland is slow to adopt.

Our region isn’t known for risk. What you describe is a barrier that needs to be brought down.

Linda: Can that be learned? If change is the answer, then you need a champion.

Mike H: Disagree that you need one champion. You just need to do that.

Mike D: What is a champion? Someone who tries something out and sees the results.

Linda: Or are most champions interested in doing something new?

Local farmer Mike Hammer uses example of black walnut trees which he saw growing on his property and didn’t know what to do so he started asking what to do with them. He kept looking for solutions and finally find someone who will haul 1,000 pounds an hour. Led to a new industry. Could scale up to $200K business. I’m not doing it because I’m a champion but because I want to make money.

Linda: Curiosity — is that something that we can teach or is it out of necessity?

Does Cleveland lack an innovation gene?

Mike D: Entrepreneurial thinker sees a market failure and comes up with a solution. Risk is just part of the game.

Entrepreneur has a vision opportunity recognition and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Do we need to import innovation or build it in the next generation from the ground up?

People are very proud of being from here and not moving away.

What are the ways to leverage this ‘don’t hassle me I’m local’ attitude?

Linda: Is it a rediscovery? A way to leverage the Midwestern values. The story becomes about a sense of place.

Comfortable, are we too comfortable and worried about the economy? Do we have enough opportunity?

Risk averse hypnotic to live here – the same soundtrack keeps playing.

What’s the drive here in Northeast Ohio?

Should leadership get out of the way?

What’s missing – the idea of storytelling is lacking. How do we take those skills?

Mike Dungan found his grandfather had a patent for an electric starter unfortunately Packard beat him out (both were from Warren, OH). That lit a flame in me. Father had an art degree but also a technician. Wants to pass on the story to his kid and figure out why the stories aren’t being passed on. How do we share the stories, and the simple act of storytelling to help this generation of entrepreneurs. This is a very gentrified generation. Entrepreneurs are tinkerers. But is storytelling another side of that coin? How do we unlock that storytelling?

Who do you target the stories to?

Mike D – I think you need to work like a honeybee versus an influence peddler. The bee operates on the simple parameters that you spread your ideas around and see who’s interested.

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