Challenge Your Assumptions, Accelerate Your Innovations

TEDx speaker, global thought leader and author, Andy Cohen, brings an engaging and entertaining view on decision making and fresh thinking to the world of innovation. Based on his new book, Challenge Your Assumptions, Change Your World, he addresses the obstacles and provides the tools to successfully move out of your comfort zone by challenging key trust assumptions.

Andy Cohen

Andy is a popular and recognized TEDx speaker, author and international thought-leader. He has a degree in experimental psychology and a room full of prestigious advertising awards. Most importantly he has track record for helping individuals and organizations think differently.  Andy Cohen is the Chief Assumption Officer of Andy Cohen Worldwide, a global advisory firm helping multinational companies make faster, better business decisions. Clients served include American Express, Bombardier, Citi, HSBC, Nestle, Novartis, Pfizer, SAP, Infosys, and World Bank to name a few.

 Between engagements, Andy teaches at some of the world’s most respected universities including NYU, Cornell and Duke University, ISB (India), the Qatar Leadership Center and the CKGSB (China). Follow the Other Hand, Andy’s first book, was nominated by The New York Times. It has been translated into multiple languages. His new book, Challenge Your Assumptions, Change Your World, was just released and has already received great reviews.


 Justin Nifong, Ty Hagler, Digital Ideation

Digital Ideation and Provisional Patents:

Risks and Rewards of Accelerating the Fuzzy Front End 

Recent psychology research has shown that group brainstorming sessions actually inhibit idea generation.  We will explore a new approach to ideation that balances the need for individual reflection and gathering new creative stimuli from team members using digital collaboration tools - making creative teams more effective while reducing the cost and time needed to conduct ideation sessions.  

Successful ideation sessions need to consider intellectual property protections and threats both before and after the session.  Knowing the patent landscape in advance of the session will identify constraints and avoid infringement of third parties, subsequently identifying the "blue sky" market opportunities and field of use.  Organizing and validating ideas following the session will help to establish a first-to-file date with a foundation for unique utility patents 12 months later.

Ty Hagler, Trig Innovation

Ty Hagler is the Principal at Trig® an award-winning innovation, design, and marketing firm based in Chapel Hill, NC.  From his time as an Olympic hopeful in sprint kayaking, Ty has believed in building innovation processes built both for speed and long-term success. At Trig, Ty has embraced the virtual model to create sustainable work environments for his team and tools to optimize the client experience.

The company has emerged with an elite combination of classical and digital skill sets that fuel explorations and bridge gaps for inventors, executives, and product development teams, converging the realms of innovation process, industrial design, and marketing. In 2016, Trig became a force to be reckoned with in the design community, taking home a pair of IDEA awards for its work with cycling products manufacturer ALTR Ergo and medical device company 410 Medical. Trig’s work, while having a modern aesthetic that appeals to customers in multiple industries, hews closely to the ultimate mission of industrial designers—form and function that improve the human condition.  You can connect with Ty on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his blog. You can also follow Trig Innovation on Twitter.

Justin Nifong, NK Patent Law

Justin R. Nifong is a founder of NK Patent Law, based in Raleigh, NC. His practice focuses on patent prosecution before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in foreign countries. Mr. Nifong has represented many international companies, universities, and startups across the country. He has worked as outside counsel for a Fortune 10 company, with various venture funds on due diligence matters and intellectual property procurement, with university projects that have received private funding, and with established companies to add value to their intellectual property portfolio. 

He is a frequent speaker on intellectual property issues for entrepreneurial and business organizations and has been published in various publications. Mr. Nifong serves on the board of academic organizations and is involved in the local startup community as an active member and former ambassador with the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) and as a volunteer and sponsor at the technology incubator First Flight Venture Center. Additionally, he is a member and accredited investor with a North Carolina-based investment group. You can connect with NK Patent Law on Twitter or LinkedIn. 



Raising Capital From The Crowd:

Is Crowdfunding Right For Your Company?

Crowdfunding will soon surpass venture capital as the leading source of startup funding. Our agency has helped over 500 startups raise over $100 Million over the past 5 years using crowdfunding to launch their innovation into the market. 

Roy Morejon, Enventys Partners

President of Enventys Partners, a vertically integrated product launch agency. He is an expert at digital strategy, analytics, search engine marketing and lead generation. As a trusted advisor to dozens of global startups, Roy is a key player in the local Charlotte marketing community, serving as co-founder of the Digital Marketing Association, regional chair for the Business Marketing Association and founder of North Carolina Businesses for Social Responsibility.



Accelerating innovation using the CFO's Problem Statement

Product developers instinctively understand the value of innovation and the value their projects create for the company.  It is also our job to communicate the value of innovation to a wide variety of stakeholders to secure funding, remove barriers and maintain alignment throughout the company.  This talk will focus on articulating the value of innovation and a portfolio of projects to finance and senior management professionals to keep projects on track and secure the right resources and priority of projects.  

Bill Watson, Duke Energy

A proven value creator and subject matter expert in high performance product development, Bill is the Director of Duke Energy’s Innovation Management team that includes Ideation, New Product Development and the Customer Prototype Lab.  His passion for product development stems from diversified experience at Caterpillar, IBM and business formation within the 3D Printing industry.



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Tangible Value Propositions

Communication of ideas is at the heart of developing products.  Articulating the value of an idea to various stakeholders is key to finding, focusing on, and gaining acceptance of the best ideas.  This generally cannot be done in a vacuum, but must be part of a larger conversation with people who speak one of the languages of engineering, business or design.  Prototypes, in various degrees of resolution, can help convey the value of an idea to and between these groups without the need to speak a specialized language.


Ms. Peavey is an expert in technology, innovation, and industrial design. She has extensive experience driving new product development through the discovery and communication of customer needs. She has a Master's in Industrial Design from NC State and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Clemson.



Accelerating Innovation from the Outside 

How to find and leverage external IP, technology, and partners to broaden and shorten your innovation pipeline

The world of technology innovation is growing exponentially and the ability to find and leverage new technology, intellectual property, and technology partners is a critical but challenging open innovation competency for corporations to develop.  This session will introduce a structured “intelligence gathering” process and set of tools developed to identify, understand, and select external sources of technology innovation (e.g. patents, technologies, partners) to help companies get smart for the “outside-in” to accelerate and improve innovation efforts. Best practices and real-world case studies will be presented to highlight how intelligence gathering can be used to support a variety of innovation strategies and to accelerate technology and product development efforts. Examples of technology intelligence gathering to access intellectual property, technologies, and targeted partners will be used to prompt an interactive discussion among participants.

Tom Culver, RTI

Mr. Culver is a senior member of the Innovation Advisors group at RTI International, a leading global non-profit research institute.  He has 18 years of innovation management and technology commercialization experience, combined with 12 years of industry experience in advanced technology development. He has delivered Open Innovation solutions for Fortune 500 companies (e.g. PPG Industries, General Mills, Medtronic, Becton Dickinson, Newell Rubbermaid, Kraft, PepsiCo) and large government clients (e.g. NASA, NIST) finding and evaluating technology and business opportunities. He has developed, organized, and taught nationwide workshops on technology scouting and market intelligence, in addition to writing about and serving as an invited speaker about Open Innovation topics.



UpSkill an Organization: Creating a Culture to Accelerate INNOVATION

The UpSkill Project is an initiative that engages customers in new ways by creating a meaningful, authentic community centered on DIY skill building. The project is creating dynamic, deeper and sustainable relationships with customers across all demographics while delivering on the company’s purpose to help people love where they live. The team will also discuss the power of customer experience design in a Fortune 50 company and how the team helps foster learning collaboratively across the organization to be more curious about our customers, adopt a design-oriented approach to innovation and accelerate speed to market. You can connect with Lowes on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.




Why OKRs Are Making Traditional Product Road-Maps and Formal Innovation Process a Thing of the Past

Most companies today are investing heavily in an attempt to increase innovation through improved process and tools, including a focus on advancing the discipline of well-crafted Product Road-Maps.  Despite this trend, a growing group of fast growing digital innovators are abandoning these tools in favor of OKR (Objectives and Key Results).

 While most are aware of OKRs as a powerful framework for aligning employees to team and company goals, what many don’t know are the ways the OKR framework is being re-invented to function as a company-wide Agile Management and Innovation system.

 In this talk, Brad will share how the re-invention of OKRs is helping executive and product leadership clarify and define innovation and business outcomes in ways that can be objectively measured and that make traditional Product Road-Maps a thing of the past.  He will also share how this new system displaces command-and-control culture with a new systemic culture of innovation, achievement and cross-organizational (vertical and horizontal) execution.

Brad Murphy, Gear Stream

Brad Murphy is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years pioneering new Enterprise innovations in product, service, and software development. Since 2000, Brad has helped over 50 Global 2000 companies successfully transition to modern business planning and digital execution models proven to radically improve business impact, time-to-market, and top line revenue growth.

Brad’s company, Gear Stream is a business agility and digital transformation organization helping enterprise and fast-growing entrepreneurial organizations overcome the challenge of dysfunctional departmental silo’s that plague business and IT groups and in their place transition to high collaboration and high-speed business and IT product and service development operating models.

Brad’s has helped transform more than 600 product innovation teams, including teams at global innovators including Comcast, Standard & Poor’s, NBC Universal, UBS, Bank of America, and Alcatel Lucent.


Accelerating High Value Ideas to Commercialization

Business agility and speed are no longer just differentiating drivers of innovation performance; they have become table stakes for successfully executing corporate strategy.  In this presentation, you will learn how to increase the probability of developing high value ideas that close identified strategic gaps, how to accelerate the most commercially viable ideas into your development process, and how to move them to commercialization with speed and accuracy. 

The session includes techniques for properly engaging your corporate community as well as methods for making better, faster and more collaborative decisions.  Additionally, learn how to enable your development organization to be flexible, focused and efficient.  You should expect to walk away from this session with a greater understanding of how to create more successful offerings, faster.

Alan Keuneke, Sopheon

Alan has over 20 years of successfully providing technical leadership, solutions and services to both Fortune 500 and small companies including Strategy Execution, Innovation and Business Planning, Competitive Intelligence, New Product Development and Commercialization.



Speed Planning! Taking B2B Products & Services from Idea to Execution


Many describe product and service ideation as creative and energetic, but view planning and execution as cumbersome and slow. In this session, we’ll show how user-centered design, prototyping and storyboarding — techniques typically reserved for the ideation phase of product and service development — can be mashed together with lean mapping and agile planning tactics to significantly accelerate, and enhance, planning and execution. Best practices, examples, and some hands-on practice from two recent B2B projects will be used to give attendees practical insight in how to apply these concepts in a real-world setting. Attendees will leave the session with new approaches for going from idea to execution and a tactical understanding of how to combine user-centered design concepts with planning and execution frameworks. Outcomes include an ability to rapidly and effectively co-create artifacts such as mission statements, scope documents, investment plans, project charters, and project plans. 

Patrick McGowan, The Service Design Group

Patrick is a pioneer of customer experience and service design, innovation and management, with particular focus on large enterprises and B2B organizations. His firm, The Service Design Group, is a best-in-class customer experience and service design consultancy specializing in service innovation, management and process engineering. Most recently, they have assisted organizations including USDA, Johnson Controls, Etix, and Taco Bell. Patrick has a blended background in UI/UX and strategic management and holds design and MBA degrees. He has developed innovative customer experiences across multiple industries and his innovation is recognized with over 20 patents related to software, user interface, and user experience design. Patrick is regularly featured as a speaker in the US and Europe on customer experience and service design topics. In addition to his professional work, Patrick regularly teaches and lectures on service and customer experience design.



Innovation Delivery through Empowering Diversity of Thought

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It’s just not enough. A better tool. A better sorting process. A better review process. A better culture. And still no results? Find out how to get the results – it was right beside you all the time. No purchase required. Just results that matter.

Mike Duke, Wells Fargo

A Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Architect, Mike shares dozens of patents with Wells Fargo and is responsible for the continued growth of both Wells Fargo’s innovative culture and educational programs focused on “Diversity of Thought” delivery.  Honored as one of “American Banker’s Top 25 Innovators of the Year, 2009,” Mike advises teams on the alignment of results-driven innovative styles.  With an MBA from Wingate University and a B.S. in Computer Science, Mike brings a unique, humanistic perspective to innovation delivery.