Innovative thinking

Full coverage of the Smart Business Innovation in Business Conference presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is available in our September 2005 Cleveland edition.

What is innovation?

The word can mean different things to different people. For a manufacturer, it may be the introduction of a new product. For an accounting firm or law practice, it might be the addition of a new service line. And for a maverick business leader, it could be his or her management style.

In a nutshell, innovation in its simplest form is the idea that savvy management stirs the pot occasionally, never sitting on its laurels and is constantly tinkering with a company and its offerings.

Just as important, innovative CEOs encourage their employees to consider what’s never been done or how something can be done better. And they develop corporate cultures that reward innovative thinking at its best.

Each year, we honor innovation through the Smart Business Innovation in Business Conference, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, by looking at how companies develop ideas, implement them and take them to market. We also look at how the region’s business leaders creatively run their organizations.

Award recipients have created new companies, introduced new products or services and even changed entire industries. There are four distinct groups of honorees — Master Innovators, Visionaries, Rising Stars and Innovators.

The Master Innovators are also conference panelists. For this region to continue to thrive and grow, there must be a healthy dialogue of ideas, insights and strategies to kickstart brainstorming and inspire new innovation. This year’s panel discussion features best practices on vision and keys to develop and implement strategic plans to take your business to the next level.

Visionary awards are presented to well-established organizations and experienced business leaders who demonstrate a long-lasting commitment to the development and implementation of smart ideas.

Rising Stars reflect up-and-coming business leaders and companies that are on the cutting edge of their industries, either with newly minted innovative products and services, or by employing unique management styles or strategies.

And finally, Innovators are those companies or individuals whose ideas cannot be overlooked and deserve to be shared with the region’s business leaders.
On behalf of Smart Business and our conference sponsors, I invite you to read through the profiles of this year’s honorees and think about one question: How does your company innovate?