As top industry voices gather in Salt Lake City next  month for PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference (NALC), conversations will inevitably touch on the topic that the promo community often find itself reckoning with: innovation.

Promotional products have been around for more than a century, and the industry is doing better than ever.  Despite this success, a real danger to the status quo is the temptation to become static or gravitate toward an “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach.

But any business leader knows that innovation is at the heart of sustained growth, including Jeff Dyer, who will speak at NALC.

  • Dyer is the author of The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.
  • He is the Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy at Brigham Young University.

“[I] define innovation as the implementation of novel and valuable ideas,” Dyer says.

  • NALC will be held May 5-7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. To register, click here.

The Innovator’s DNA

When Dyer and his co-authors Hal Gregersen, a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Clayton Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, were brainstorming the idea for their book that would become The Innovator’s DNA, they kept coming back to the same urge: Let’s study business innovators and see what triggers new ideas.

That would lead them to interviewing the entrepreneurs who came up with businesses such as Amazon, Salesforce and Rent the Runway. Their research would prove that modern innovation rarely comes as the result of a singular genius – rather, it’s a product of connectivity.

“Innovation is much less an individual ‘aha,’ and it’s much more collaborative and much more global these days,” Dyer says.

  • That collaboration requires curiosity sparked by one and investigated by many.
  • “Our children are learning how to give great answers, but they’re not learning how to ask good questions,” Dyer says.

It all comes back to those novel and valuable ideas that make up his definition of innovation.

“Creativity involves coming up with novel and valuable ideas, but for it to become an innovation it needs to be implemented and create value for someone,” Dyer says. “That’s what makes innovation a team sport. Some are better at coming up with novel ideas, and others are better at figuring out how to implement them effectively to create value.”

Innovation In Promo

Promotional products might be an industry established long ago, but the most successful promo companies know that it’s ripe with innovative opportunities.

  • Dyer’s presentation will focus on how companies can attract innovative people and how leaders can increase their own capacity for innovation.
  • Attendees will be asked to examine whether they are an innovator or an executor or both.

Innovation means seeking out change, so Dyer is constantly tweaking his presentation for audiences, typically inspired by studying new people, but he also claims, “new ideas are typically triggered by core behaviors.”

Dyer’s presentation will be on Monday, May 6.