How Do We Cultivate A Culture of Innovation?

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From Kaylee Kolditz
Innovation Culture Consultant

I really appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with you on the NYC Women in Product Meet Up. I’m excited to see where we can take this. I wanted to encapsulate what I said during our chat about innovation —
We need to be careful not to attach the term “innovation” to everything because honestly, it is currently a trend. However, we cannot in any way discount its importance to the viability and longevity of an organization.
Innovation cannot be something we do or a phase or a goal, it has to be a part of the company culture. Innovation is not just about ideas…it is about a way of thinking and being; it is a language and a process; it requires flexibility and follow-through, creativity and structure; and it is more complex than we realize.
To be innovative is to be thinking of the future while taking action today. We learn and move on — already knowing what we are moving onto.
Only a company that has this ingrained in its culture can do this.
So, how do we ingrain innovation in our culture without turning it into the latest trend, box to be checked or the CEO’s vision of the month?

Kaylee KolditzAbout the Author, Kaylee Kolditz

With 18 years of marketing and business development experience, I have worked with companies large and small across a variety of industries, but I get the most energy and joy from working with product development organizations. In my current role, I help product organizations identify and access the resources (trainings, publications, groups, events) to cultivate a culture of innovation. I also help folks network online and in person, and manage an online community and conference for innovation in product development.

Goals: I’d like to connect with companies in the NYC area interested in looking at the gaps in their innovation culture and putting a plan in place to cultivate a culture of innovation throughout their organization.

Why Collaborative In Person Learning Works

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Editor’s Note:  This is a guest post by Brittany Martin, a product marketing manager and recent transplant to the Bay Area from Pittsburgh, PA.  Prior to joining us in California, Brittany was a curator of StartupDigest, Pittsburgh.  She just began a new PM gig at ReadyForce, and is thrilled to be on their team and on ours.  Follow her @BrittJMartin and read her new blog, San Francisco via Pittsburgh.  Join us in welcoming Brittany to San Francisco and to Startup Product!

I wanted to learn about forums: how to create, moderate and monetize them. There are dozens of places on the internet that are eager to teach me but I chose to attend Forumcon 2013 in San Francisco instead. It proved to be a good decision. I was exposed to the thoughts and exercises from the people who are labeled experts on forums. After the intensive one day conference, I felt like I had compressed a crash course on forums in my head.

Why was it such a success? Was it the expert’s advice? The excellent planning and accompanying materials? The excellent venue (and fabulous coffee that went with it)?

While these certainly helped, the key for me was the conversations that I had in between sessions. The kind of conversations that lead to the killer question, “…and why are you attending this?” I was asked this so many times that I found myself revising my answer to an actual attainable goal. Then as I sat through sessions, I made meaningful connections to what I needed to learn to reach those goals.

The conference attendees shared the experience of ForumCon in a way that was important. Regardless of your knowledge on forums, all of the attendees were treated equally. This made a beginner feel at home but there was enough content for intermediate levels to feel challenged. The world is making strides towards collaborative learning online but to me, those side in-person conversations will be hard to replace.

This is another reason why I’m excited to be contributing towards the Startup Product Summit SF2 coming up on October 11th, 2013. Everyone will be encouraged to contribute their point of view, workshop their product dilemma, and share their lessons learned. The conversations between attendees will be just as meaningful as the ones between the attendees and speakers.

Let us know in the comments what conferences you have attended and how they benefited you. I hope to meet you in person in October.


Don’t forget to register for Startup Product Summit SF2!  You have time left to get in on the Super Early Bird price.

To Invent Like Edison, Learn to Collaborate/ Design News

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A new book by Thomas Edison’s great-grandniece takes on the notion that he was a lone-wolf inventor and replaces it with an image of a man who ascribed great value to the ideas of colleagues.

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Edison “viewed collaboration as the beating heart of his laboratories, a sustaining resource that fueled the knowledge assets of his sprawling innovation empire.”

Encourage diverse viewpoints

  • In a real collaboration, there should be a focus on learning from others and leveraging their strengths
  • it’s very important that they learn someone else’s language and see the problem from their perspective (cross-functional)

Consider at least three options

  • consider multiple options

Always consider the customer

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The Best Product Management Tools for Developers – ProfitBricks Blog

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StartUP Product‘s insight:

Article reviews results of Forrester 2012 Report on Application LifeCycle Management Tools

“nine of the most common software platforms for product development and application lifecycle management against 116 criteria”

However, the title says “Best Product Management Tools for Developers

Sorely missing from this list are tools built by developers and product managers specifically to solve their pains not being resolved elsewhere AND conducive to running lean: Don’t ask how projects are going. Watch how they’re going in real-time. Product Management Software for your Entire Team Group collaboration – manage communications, roadmap, easily view as mindmap, manage levels of interactions & views, automates email communications and team management (delivers on the promise of Google Wave for distributed team collaboration) – capture ideas, prioritize features, easily portray roadmap & view status to completion with dates/times – visual online task management software

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What do great team members do?

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“Don’t worry about, I’ll take care of it,” said my amazing team member on Friday night (props to @tcoffee). Just like that, a major roadblock to an upcoming project was gone and I didn’t have to do…

StartUP Product‘s insight:

by Greg Meyer

It starts with excellence.

“we often ignore the smaller, less quantifiable things that great team members do and that don’t always get noticed.”

Greg identifies 8 Things Great Team Members Do

constants here: service, excellence, ability to learn, and fun.

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Take the Survey of Product Team Performance!

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The purpose of this global study is to assess the dynamics of product team performance and closely examine the factors that improve or impede product team performance.

The list of partners supporting the study encompass product management, project and program management, user experience, business analysts, development managers and engineers.

You can take the survey today by clicking here. The survey is open through March 3rd.


The study findings will be made widely available through sponsors and promotional partners (including ProdMgmtTalk) and at Actuation Consulting’s website. You can download a free copy of last years findings by clicking here.

More info: