Limitless opportunities

We live in a world of naysayers. At every turn, people are quick to claim it can’t be done.

They temper your enthusiasm, offer warnings to keep your feet on the ground and, lacking concrete reasons, fight change as hard as they can no matter how meritorious the ideas.

But innovation, in its purest form, is bred from an environment in which no idea is a bad one, creative thinking is fostered and people are encouraged to consider what has never been tried or accomplished.

Albert Einstein once said, “Innovation is not the product of logical thought, even though the final product is tied to a logical structure.”

The essence of his statement is twofold. You can’t think logically and innovate — it requires a departure from what you’ve been taught, what you think you know and, more important, how it’s always been done. And in order to execute the innovative process, product, management style or procedure you’ve theoretically developed, you must also understand how to plug it into a logical structure, such as a business, to make it work in practice.

We honor innovation each year through the Innovation in Business Conference by looking at how companies develop ideas, implement them and take them to market. Award recipients defy the naysayers to create new companies, introduce new products or services and even change 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 for management to apply to their businesses. This year’s panel discussion features best practices on how to attract and retain the best and brightest employees.

Visionary awards are presented to well-established organizations and experienced business leaders that 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 bleeding or 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.

So as you read through the profiles of this year’s honorees, think about one question: How does your company innovate?