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Unconventional thinking was encouraged by the Midwest chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (MWSCC) at its 2010 Technical Symposium, which took place on Oct. 26, 2010, at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca, Illinois USA. The theme for the event, “Innovation: Seeking Inspiration from New Sources,” was not only represented by the podium presentations, but also practiced by attendees throughout the day in various group exercises.
In the name of innovation, the symposium featured a table of innovative technology posters. The posters featured included such topics as robotics, space exploration and popular culture and quantum mechanics.
Perry Romanowski served as host for the Technical Symposium and started the day’s session off with one such exercise to allow attendees to network as well as break the ice. “You probably already know the people sitting at your table,” he said, “so turn and face another table across the room and introduce yourself to someone new.”
After attendees became better acquainted, Cheryl Perkins, founder and president of the Innovationedge and keynote speaker of the event, began with a presentation on open innovation. She asked attendees, "What stifles innovation?" To which several individuals replied: “Results are too slow,” “Marketing is expensive,” “It is difficult to to transfer technologies,” and “Companies are afraid of the risk.” Perkins added that economic downturns often stifle innovation as well, and that companies often lack strategy when innovating. She noted that companies should never halt innovation but rather innovate differently, involving partners. She noted that only 5% of consumer products are still on the shelf after three years, indicating many of them are not driven by demand.
Perkins offered 10 ways to innovate, which she organized under the subheads: finance, process, offering and delivery. Open innovation, according to Perkins, involves multiple points of entry and exit for ideas. To innovate, she suggested companies “leverage the capabilities and expertise of others.” She encouraged companies to look within their own resources and leverage and refocus those resources to improve the payback. She concluded by offering a few words of advice for attendees concerning innovation. “When you innovate with someone else, you should innovate as partners,” she emphasized, adding that companies must have a strategy and look at the competition. “The question isn’t should we innovate, the question is how do we innovate.”