Produced by .orgCommunity, Solutions Day 2017 on Sept. 14 focused on a new mindset. Presenters and industry providers inspired association leaders to expand their views on managing organizations by being more proactive—by being “problem finders.” Participants were encouraged to ask questions and challenge assumptions, leading to the formation of new ideas and revealing new opportunities for innovation and growth.

We packed this one-day, one-of-a-kind event with inspirational education, product demonstrations from leading industry providers, and networking opportunities.

Here are some of my top takeaways from our two keynotes:

“Creating a Culture of Innovation,” Jamie Notter, Founding Partner, WorkXO

  • “The pace of innovation in the association community is too slow. Associations are too content. The board, resources…those are among the common excuses why [associations] are slow to change… I’ll bet the No. 1 reason why you can’t innovate is culture.”
  • “What is a culture of innovation? Innovation is not just making a change, but a change that unlocks value. It’s deep, fundamental change. Culture is the collection of words, actions, thoughts and ‘stuff’ that clarify and reinforce what is truly valued inside an organization.”
  • “[There are] eight culture markers: agility, collaboration, growth, inclusion, innovation, solutions, technologies and transparency.”
  • “We need to make the bigger case of ‘why’ we need to innovate, not just that we ‘need’ to innovate.”
  • “Give individuals additional roles and responsibilities for modeling and teaching the culture.”
  • “Hire for culture fit; include cultural principles in performance management systems.”
  • On measuring culture change: “How many new ideas were generated; how many new programs have you introduced in the last six months? Are you more risk-averse, or are you steady, cautious and safe?”

“Design Thinking,” Joey Knecht, CEO, Proteus Design

  • “Design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results.”
  • “Design Thinking Steps,” according to Stanford’s Design Thinking Process, includes empathy (seeking to understand, non-judgmental), defining the problem (decisions, challenges, pain points), ideating (sharing ideas, diverging, converging), prototyping (mockups, storyboards), and testing (understanding impediments and what works, role playing).
  • On brainstorming and idea generation: “[During brainstorming sessions], go for quantity. Aim for as many new ideas as possible. Try generating 100 ideas in 60 minutes. Then, select the best and most actionable ideas. Organize ideas into themes; organize ideas based on a client’s journey map; organize ideas through voting methods. But most of all ACT ON IT!”
  • “Encourage wild ideas. Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. Think about what you really want without the constraints of technology or materials.”
  • “Build on the ideas of others. Be positive—try to use ‘yes…and’ instead of ‘yes…but.’”
  •  “When you ideate, frame the problem. Ask, ‘What problem are we trying to solve? What is the impact we are trying to have?’ For ultimate impact, think broad but narrow.”

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