Making Innovation More Than a Buzzword

by Greg Guse
January 26, 2016

It seems the new business buzzword for this decade is innovation.

How many articles by leading business magazines or websites include headlines with the word innovation? Too many to count. Do a search on the word and you get 397,000 results.

This reminds me of the business buzzword of the ‘90s—excellence—which generates 289,000 search results. It all started with the book In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters, and then it became a widely over-used business term for the next 20 years.

According to Wikipedia: “Innovation is a new idea, more effective device or process. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs.”

It’s one of those words, like excellence, that’s easy to talk about, but much, much harder to put into practice.

That’s why it’s so impressive how Paulsen is embracing and implementing innovation into the heart, mind and soul of our marketing communications agency.

For the past three months, our entire agency, led by President Sara Steever, has embarked on an Innovation Journey.  The purpose is twofold: first make sure that all roles in the agency understand equally how specific existing and emerging technologies are changing marketing and, second, create a process for an engine of change for the future.

All Paulsen staffers were assigned to cross-discipline Innovation Teams to research, discuss, draw conclusions and make recommendations as to how their topic is incorporated into the agency’s overall capabilities. In some cases, we are adopting new language for services we already offer. In others we are identifying how to vet technologies, like mobile, that are rapidly changing.

The results of this agency-wide effort were nothing short of fantastic. Each Innovation Team presented their findings to the Paulsen management team. The presentations generated lots of discussion and a great deal of enthusiasm for sharing new approaches to building brands, creating awareness and generating sales for our clients in more efficient, predictable and measurable ways.

For our next phase, all Paulsen staffers are re-assigned to one of three new Innovation Teams whose purpose is to create a collaborative internal process to support change into the future. In other words, more exciting discoveries to come!

Paulsen’s bold, new approach to innovation has been a tremendous learning experience for our entire agency. And, here’s an important take-way: Innovation (like excellence) is a journey, not a destination. It’s a mind-set that welcomes and embraces change, and proactively seeks new and better ways to achieve results for our clients. We’re a better agency for putting our collective minds to the task of making innovation more than a buzzword.

As I reach out to prospective new clients for our agency, I often hear, “Agencies all look and sound alike to me—what makes you guys any different than every other agency calling on me?”

To which I now respond, “That’s a great question, let me tell you about Paulsen’s Innovation Teams.”

Four Lessons in Leadership

Do We Need Some Tough Love for the Ag Illiterate?

Do We Need Some Tough Love for the Ag Illiterate?

Is This the Year?

Is This the Year?