Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, put on an amazingly insightful conference on innovation last week. Some 200 people, nearly all from business with a smattering of design people, turned out to hear the "7 gurus" from the Get Creative cover that I did back in August. The audience was jazzed and the speakers were terrific. Next time Martin throws a conference, go. I learned so much. It was all recorded and as soon as I get the disk, I'll put it up on the Innovation & Design channel.

Larry Keeley, co-founder and president of the Doblin Group in Chicago, gave a great speech. He said "innovation is beginning to give up its secrets." He said that today, companies can increase their innovation effectiveness by 35% to 70% or 9 to 17 times the norm. The norm, of course is the incredibly low 4.5% "hit" rate of successful innovation that companies generally have. Keeley said that "if you just use anthropologists, you can triple your innovation effectiveness by three times." Think of that for a moment. That's probably why corporations are hiring so many cultural anthropologists.

Keeley argues that companies can maximize their ROI on innovation by orchestrating four or five kinds of innovation at the same time. "Michael Dell uses 8 types of innovation," Keeley said at the conference. "Google uses 8 separate types of innovation," he said. Keeley said that Google has gone from no place to first place in four years to become the "most valuable media company." More on this design and innovation conference later.

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