Archive for February, 2016

Intelligent Automation Is This Year’s Big Tech Trend

February 28, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation

Accenture, a global consulting firm, predicts that intelligent automation will be 2016’s biggest tech trend, perhaps even the biggest trend of the century. Although I think it’s a little early to forecast one trend for all of this century (it’s still pretty early yet!), I do think IA already has made a significant shift in the way corporations get their work done.  Innovation Enterprise has the story:

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.31.22 PM“…Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that 2045 will be the year that artificial intelligence finally surpasses that of humans, in an event he called the singularity. Kurzweil believes that the singularity will see a change to life as we know it far beyond what the human brain is currently capable of comprehending, an idea that almost everyone working in the artificial intelligence field agrees with. They differ only in what year the event will occur.

While the day that artificial intelligence outstrips that of humans isn’t here yet, businesses are already using it to replace tasks that were traditionally carried out by people.

According to to the Accenture Report, intelligent automation is the launching pad for new growth and innovation, but it won’t simply be about replacing people with technology. The report states that, ‘Powered by artificial intelligence, the next wave of solutions will gather unprecedented amounts of data from disparate systems and — by weaving systems, data, and people together — create solutions that fundamentally change the organization, as well as what it does and how it does it.’

Automation uses software code that runs according to a defined goal, and serves internal systems such as initiating, validating, monitoring and controls other software applications or processes when needed. It uses machine learning processes to learn for itself, constantly adapting using new data that feeds into the algorithms. There are a number of key technologies to the process, including natural-language processing, computer vision, knowledge representation, and reasoning and planning intelligence.

In a survey of Accenture’s clients, 70% of executives said they are significantly increasing investments in AI compared with two years ago. One enterprise is validating 300,000 business process steps per day using 100 virtual machines. This would be a task impossible to carry out manually. Siemens is another company that is using automation extensively. Their lights-out factory has automated some of its production lines to the extent that they can run without supervision for weeks at a time.

Lee Naik, MD of Accenture Digital SA, explains that: ‘I see organizations looking more and more towards intelligent automation to do two things: firstly, to improve the efficiencies of services that can run 24/7 and help them to become more effective in a digital world. Secondly, intelligent automation as a way to enable key knowledge workers to be more productive and efficient in driving the correct outcomes for their organization.’

The evidence agrees with him. A recent Cognizant study found that, when applied to automating core business processes, intelligent automation increases human being’s productivity, and improves their problem-solving capabilities. Cognizant’s research also revealed that humans work smarter with sophisticated software to automate business tasks, generating rich process data that can drive meaningful insights, value and outcomes for businesses.

The understandable fear that many have when it comes to automation is that jobs will be impacted. The Siemens’ factory is a good example of why this is likely to be wrong, with more than 1,150 employees supporting their systems. Rather than eliminating the need for people, many argue that it will cause them to move into better, more interesting and creative jobs. There are, of course, those who disagree, notably Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. Either way, it is likely that this year we will start to get a better idea of the impact that it will have.”   source

Early Bird Special for Innovation & Leadership Summit!

February 26, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 7.51.47 PMWe’re delighted to invite you to the Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit, on April 25-26, 2016 in Chicago.

This groundbreaking event builds on CoDev, to go beyond Open Innovation.  It’s about innovating BIG (starting small), narrowing in on high-growth opportunities, breaking silos, leveraging technology, keeping costs low, and moving fast.

Our speakers are not celebrities or theorists; they are accomplished industry leaders who know how to make a difference, from companies like BASF, WD40, Smucker’s, Clorox, Sun Products, GOJO Industries, Mondelez, Kimberly-Clark, Accenture, CIMdata, and more. Nor is the conference a string of slide-decks, it is a gathering of real people, from all industries, openly discussing challenges and solutions.

This summit is designed to maximize your time, providing actionable takeaways in two focused days.  The first day is dedicated to strategy, the second to implementation, with a ‘bridge’ keynote session and kickoff reception in between.  (See the agenda).  You may attend just one or both days, and we encourage you to bring your team

This first-of-its-kind Summit is practical and collegial with top level content, but even more personal with more Q&A, hands-on experience, and synthesis.  By participating, you will learn to:

  •     simplify complexity; increase agility and adaptability to ever-changing needs
  •     balance growth objectives with resource constraints -keep motivation high, especially after restructuring
  •     identify and weed out inefficiencies, redirect cost savings toward innovation and growth
  •     expand your ecosystem
  •     improve organizational effectiveness; connect the dots between strategy, processes, people, and tools

Overall, you will come away with valuable new business contacts, benchmarking insights, and the clarity and direction to get things done.

For details, please review the program description, call 920-967-0470 or email me at
Again, I sincerely hope you will join us! Click here to see more and register:

New York Fashion Week enters digital age

February 18, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Disruptive Innovation

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.39.02 PMNew York Fashion Week is happening, but it’s not a new up-and-coming designer that’s turning heads in the design industry. Eleven designers have decided to take a risk and use digital printing to show off its latest fashions on the runway.

This could revelutionalize the entire textile industry, as digital printing allows for an amazingly quick turnaround time, making design-on-demand easier than ever. And it’s also making a clear path forward for independent designers and smaller fashion companies who won’t need a huge budget to compete with the big dogs.

Check out this video:

Calling all “CoCos”: Drive your Business Performance

February 17, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 4.46.00 PMWhat are the most urgent needs facing today’s leaders? I think it’s the dual need for business and organizational transformation in order to address the future challenges coming our way.

I’m excited to be among a team of highly experienced coaches and leadership effectiveness experts leading a highly interactive leadership development experience this summer specifically for Chief Organizational Capability Officers (COCOs), who are tasked with driving business performance through organizational capability.

Who are the COCOs?

COCOs are responsible for making organizations more agile, innovative, resilient, and capable, by drawing from general management, change leadership, human capital, innovation, strategy, branding and marketing, and other areas of expertise.
Until now, COCOs have few places they can turn to share ideas, information, issues, and innovations with like-minded peers who often represent different functional disciplines and may hold a wide range of job titles.
Good news! Now there is a gathering of like-minded COCOs: Our conference is CLEAR™ VIEW: Driving Business Performance through Organizational Capability, June 21-24, 2016, Lansdowne Conference Center and Resort, Leesburg, Virginia.
I’ll be joining esteemed colleagues for this one-of-a-kind event, and speaking on: Creating an Innovation Culture to Refresh Organizational Capability.

CLEAR™ VIEW is co-founded by CLEAR™ Institute, a strategic partnership between EXec EXcel Group LLC and Metrus Group Inc., featuring world-class faculty and CLEAR™ Institute team members.


CLEAR™ VIEW is designed for senior HR and operating executives responsible for driving agility, change, culture, innovation, leadership, talent, and/or transformation in their organizations. Participants will typically be Chief HR Officers, Chief Talent Officers, Chief Learning Officers, Chief Transformation Officers, Chief Innovation Officers, Senior Vice Presidents/Vice Presidents, and high potential Directors in key HR, general management or functional roles that have 10-15+ years or more of experience in leading organizations and change. CLEAR VIEW™ will be ideal for individual participants, as well as for intact leadership teams of high potentials and key contributors to organizational capability.


The content of CLEAR™ VIEW is focused on building practical strategies to address the following challenges:

  • Future Business and Work Environment
  • Execution through People – the Optimization of Human Capital
  • Business, Leadership, and Talent Strategy Integration
  • Agility and Change
  • Innovation Culture
  • Networked Organizations and Global Communities


CLEAR™ VIEW brings together COCOs from across multiple companies, industries, functional disciplines, geographies, and organizational levels for a three day in-residence session, and is specifically designed to capitalize on diverse perspectives, challenges, and lessons learned that can only be addressed through cross-organizational peer discussions.
Pre-work includes a Personal Leadership Profile, an individual assessment to determine personal and organizational readiness for change, a case study, and select readings. Team coaching is embedded in the in-residence work to support team assignments and peer interactions, and post-program learning may be extended through an organizational assessment as well as team and individual coaching opportunities with CLEAR™ Institute coaches.

Click here for schedule, program outline, costs and registration.

Top 15 reasons you should attend Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit

February 15, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.19.38 PM

If you are considering joining us for the Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit April 25-26, 2016 in Chicago, you will bring back an incredible wealth of knowledge and connections. By participating, you will receive actionable insights from top experts to help you unify and lead your organization.

Check out the agenda! Your specific questions and challenges will drive the discussion; potential topics to be covered include:

  1. Leading organizational and cultural change to increase agility, speed and profit margins.  Empowering people to move forward with clear purpose and priorities.
  2. Balancing growth objectives with resource constraints – keeping motivation high, especially after restructuring.
  3. Putting the metrics (and rewards) focus on where change is needed most. Identifying inefficiencies and gaps, benchmarking and setting targets – and implementing at the staff level.
  4. Making sure the right people are in the right jobs, equipping them with the right capabilities for success.
  5. Collaboration between the ‘rungs on the ladder;’ decision-making at all levels. Providing context, guidance, clarity, and support.
  6. Strategic redirection of funds toward innovation and growth. Making sure R&D cuts are not too deep or irreplaceable.
  7. Making the cultural shift to zero-based budgeting, closed loop management and similar approaches.
  8. The importance of transparency – frequent and open two-way communication; how it is easier said than done.
  9. When going outside and/or partnering can boost ROI, when it may make things worse, and how to know the difference.
  10. Expanding your ecosystem, collaborating with non-traditional partners – bringing together service with manufacturing, digital with brick-and-mortar, tapping into the ‘sharing economy’ and global co-creation community for market-driven innovation.
  11. New supply chain and distribution channel innovations and economics. Enabling greater agility and end-customer satisfaction.
  12. Prototyping and 3D printing – using small-batch production to speed time-to-market without the cost and risk of traditional mass manufacturing.
  13. The latest thinking on product portfolio and idea management – deciding what to launch, what to kill in today’s ever-changing marketplace.
  14. What you need in your toolbox to make sense of big data, predictive analytics, and other sources of customer intelligence. How to sort the wheat from the chaff and uncover real market needs.
  15. Integration – bringing everything together, culture, processes, people, and tools.

The cost of love: Valentine’s spending

February 12, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized

These consumer behavior numbers might shock you, or they might inspire you to understand how you might study insights like these:

Percentage of Americans Celebrating Valentines Day | Fundivo

Valentines Day Total Spending by Category | Fundivo

Average Valentines Day Spending in The United States | Fundivo

Valentines Day Average Spending by Category | Fundivo

Leading Transformative Innovation – An interview with Jean E. Spence

February 10, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences


Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.25.50 PM

An exclusive interview with Jean E. Spence
Former Executive Vice President, Research Development & Quality, Mondelez International, Inc. (formerly Kraft Foods, Inc.)

Most firms today have had to change their game to compete. The economy, industry fragmentation, increasing cost of goods, consumer price-shopping, the Internet, globalization – the list of reasons goes on. While everyone talks about innovation, the reality is that pressure is even higher to improve profit margins and productivity. As a result, many organizations have been restructuring to boost ROI. Often this means cuts, which can actually inhibit the creativity required to fuel growth.

Under such circumstances, how do you lead people to do their best? Especially when you lead R&D – which is often viewed as a cost center, yet expected to innovate new products and technologies.

To find out, we talked with Jean Spence. Jean was a senior leader at Kraft Foods’ restructuring, three-year turnaround, and Organizing for Growth (OFG) initiative. She then went on to lead innovation and collaboration initiatives at Mondelez International, the remaining company after the Kraft Foods spinoff. Jean was a key member of the executive team that spearheaded both the people and product side of Kraft’s major transformation. If anybody could speak to the implementation challenges and success factors, it is Jean.  Here is what she shared:

What do you think, especially coming from the R&D perspective, is the key to future growth and success in today’s disruptive, digital, and fragmented marketplace?  What would you advise innovation leaders to focus on?

JES: In Food and Consumer Packaged Goods, there is tremendous pressure on margins now. While there have always been ebbs and flows, the focus on margins is all-consuming.  It’s a structural change. Under Heinz [post- acquisition of Kraft], growth has actually declined. There is no R&D leader, but there should be. There also has to be a rise above cost.

Mondelez now has a Chief Growth Officer who reports directly to the CEO and oversees strategy, R&D, CMO, and all global categories. He has helped R&D do more – and do it better. One of the things we learned is that decentralized organizations still need some centralization; the Chief Growth Officer changed this. R&D is back to central now. R&D also had to show the organization, including the CFO, its own inefficiencies which we did by benchmarking against our peer set.  This has been important in making fact-based decisions and being proactive.  To identify new breakthrough technologies, we collaborate with the business team – this is key to getting investment, showing it’s not just technology for technology’s sake.  Finally, we look at trends (consumer, economy, politics, science) and at what we can do.

What, in your view, were the most effective and successful mechanisms to gain and maintain alignment during the major transformation you just went through? Can you talk about how these worked?

 JES:  Every function was expected to transform, and every function had a target.  The way it worked was: 

  • Everyone was benchmarking against best-in-class (within their industry sector). They benchmarked such things as headcount per dollar revenue; QA headcount per audit, results metrics, capabilities, costs, etc. Mondelez was already in top quartile but still expected to become the best they could.
  • We identified the right people for the right jobs, and created new career path opportunities.
  • Made sure specialists knew they were valued, not just management.  This meant changing salary grades, bonuses and long term incentives aligned to function.
  • Senior executives had more responsibility for corporate results; The percentage varies but the more corporate alignment, the more the executive team focuses on corporate results and not just their own business results.
  • Communication was key.
  • Perhaps the most important factor was changing where P&L decisions were placed, giving more influence to managers at the regional level.

How did metrics and performance indicators change during the restructuring? How were metrics calibrated to avoid conflicts between the functions and business units?

JES: The growth team has a set of pipeline metrics which the whole team is measured against.  Our metrics focus on where change is needed most, otherwise you can get swamped.  We did not drop metrics needed to maintain, but those were more automated.  For R&D specifically, we measure percent spend against long-term technology since we need to strengthen our performance there.  The goal is to go from 3% to 10%.  Finally, we took things to the staff level so targets would be specific. 

What were the biggest challenges for you, personally, as a senior leader in your role during the Kraft/Mondelez restructuring?

JES: For me, it was trying to be dispassionate.  By that I don’t mean without passion, I mean not emotionally attached — you have to be VERY fact-based in this role.  I had lots of long talks with people in HR to get counseled on this, I also participated in a ‘Leaders at Their Best’ program.

In a major transformation, everyone has to share the pain — and the cuts – equally, even at the top tier. As I said before, we found our own inefficiencies and the end-points to spend against for growth, R&D, and marketing.  While Kraft chose to ‘drain the swamp’ and then build back, at Mondelez we were careful not to cut too deep. I wanted to make sure and protect functions like QA and packaging with hard-to-get expertise that would be difficult to replace. It’s a balancing act.

What role does transparency play when people ask you questions, but you don’t have all the answers? 

JES: You have to be very honest and open, there’s no such thing as over-communication.  If you don’t know specific answers, give timelines.  Don’t overpromise, though. Say ‘in 30 days we will know more,’ or whatever the correct timeframe is. No matter what, we didn’t miss deadlines.  We balanced speed with doing things right, even though we prefer to do it right than fast.  We realized we are vulnerable, and if we don’t do it to ourselves, someone else will do it to us.


Jean Spence recently retired as Executive Vice President of Research, Development & Quality for Mondelez International, Inc., a position she held from January 2004 to April 2015. She was responsible for all product and packaging development, research, nutrition, quality, food safety and scientific affairs activities worldwide. She held the same position at Kraft Foods Inc., the $50B predecessor to Mondelez International, prior to the spin-off of the company’s North American grocery operations in October of 2012. In both roles, she reported to the CEO, sat on the Executive Team and was a frequent presenter to the board of directors. She was responsible for technology and innovation strategy for the company. The innovation performance went from bottom to Top Tier – resulting in top 4 customers naming Kraft ‘Innovator of the Year’.

Jean Spence will be the featured speaker at an exclusive strategy session Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit on Monday, April 25, 2016 in Chicago IL.  For more details or to reserve your place, call 800-338-2223 or 781-891-8080 or go online. 


The Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit is here!    

February 7, 2016 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Uncategorized


Our Innovationedge team is excited to invite you to our upcoming event:

The Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit: Collaborating for Transformative Growth – Inside, Outside and Across Organizations, April 25-26, 2016 in Chicago has been designed to focus specifically on the challenges of senior R&D leadership.

 This one-of-a-kind Summit will bring together executives from organizations such as BASF, Clorox, WD40, Kimberly-Clark, GOJO, Sun Products, Mondelez, International Flavors & Fragrances, JM Smucker, Midwest Specialty Products, and more for candid discussion on topics such as identifying high growth opportunities, directing scarce resources, collaboration beyond Open Innovation, and the latest – and best – tools to get things done.  Registration is now open, reserve your place!

See you in Chicago!