Enlighten, inspire, and learn to build a culture of innovation that disrupts your industry.

#BostonInnovationFest Day 1: Afternoon Musings

Share this article

This is the second year I’ve been able to enjoy a Jason Hauer, (The Garage Group) panel discussion. Jason does a great job of facilitating a conversation with a highly intellectual set of panelists. There are few who can hold their own with this crowd and the group of panelists he is sitting beside, Jason does it in a t-shirt and an epic beard.

We’re getting treated to a couple of old food companies, one classic beverage and the lonely financial guy. David, formerly at Kraft Heinz, talking almost nostalgically about the old way of doing business, afore Amazon.

Here are the panelists pulled together by the esteemed Mr Hauer.

David VanHimbergen, Kraft Heinz

Derek Maruk, Anheuser-Busch InBev

Himanshu Sharma, Citi FinTech

Brigette Wolf, Mondelez Foods

Building a business with emotional trust, from the beer guys, Derek, is a great point — speaking to how we overcome fear and take on new risks. Though, the question does lead nicely back to The Garage Group’s phrase, “Courageous Minds Only.” You have to appreciate a great tie back.

Baseball and the stats of 3 in 10 for a hall of fame hitter are closer to an innovation metric for success, thank you beer man, again. Bridgette Wolf speaks to taking on the Game of Thrones opportunity with Mondelez and putting iconic brands with iconic opportunities — agreed. David is speaking to his Target, P&G (Tide Spin) service business and how he has taken on unusual ventures.

People hate doing laundry — the larger problem, far above the brighter whites and less fading colors — nice point Mr VanHimbergen. Bridgette talking about “good enough” cookies and how to get to a minimum viable product in their world. It doesn’t have to be gourmet in order to have a marketplace. Interesting.

Brigette Wolf just nailed it, “if last year was startup, and this year is agile, anyone tell me what next year is and we’ll start our next practice.” I expected her to get up, drop the mic and walk out of the room. Slightly disappointed that she didn’t — oh well.

David pipes up, giving an answer to the president to a division — by changing a no growth category into a new growth category. This is the Tide spin venture — laundry service for city center residents who hate to do laundry. Fascinating that it was under the Tide brand.

Brigette gives a big nod to Gatorade as “brilliant” as our morning example. Agreed, and presented as a simple human process — lacking any of the pomp and circumstance. Chris, from Gatorade is sitting behind me and I can feel his blushing ten feet away.

Himanshu is the most amusing panelist with a fintech background at an innovation conference, this has to put him in the 1% of the 1% at this conference. Who would expect the finance guy to be the funny one?

Brigette jumps in again with a point on divergent thinking and the fact that most of the big company people are trained in the much the same ways on the same ideas. She sees a need for artists, culinary magicians, and other odd characters who see the world in ways they do not. We need to go beyond diversity in sex, skin color and religious background to a reframing to include background and mindset.

Oh, Derek, selling ideas is a great way to finish this, ABSI (always be selling ideas) is the new mantra for the innovation crew. Never giving up because it is how things get done — by making ideas happen. Thank you again, beer guy.

Great panel, big companies using almost every method in the innovation toolbox — helping give some perspective on how hard innovation is.

About the Author: Aaron Keller (aaronkeller@capsule.us) is co-founder and managing principal of Capsule (capsule.us), a Minneapolis branding agency. He co-authored The Physics of Brand, physicsofbrand.com.

Share this article

Upcoming event

FEI USA: Front End of Innovation

28 - 29 Oct 2020
FEI Presents: Leading Innovation in a Digital World
Go to site