Ken Tencer — innovation speaker, branding expert, and author of Cause A Disturbance — recently joined Shawn Ellis, founder of The Speakers Group, for a conversation about how he helps companies drive business growth with his insightful keynotes and workshops.
If you’re looking for a speaker who can spark “intrapreneurship” and innovation among your people, creating an engaged and motivated workforce organization-wide, check out these excerpts* from the interview to see if Ken is the right speaker for you — or click here for the full interview transcript (PDF) and audio (MP3).
SE: What is the right audience for an innovation speaker?
KT: I think it’s anybody who wants to drive growth in their business. I’ve spoken to CEOs, I’ve spoken to business leaders of Fortune 500 companies and small entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial audiences, and the common denominator is people who need to generate ideas, people who need to know those ideas are right for their business, and ultimately ideas that will generate sales and drive growth.
SE: You say everyone in the organization can play a role in innovation or should play a role, right?
KT: Absolutely, because innovation is about product, service and process — how you bring things to market. Everybody in every organization, whether it is traditional marketing, sales, C-suite, right through to administration and finance [plays a role].
SE: So you can speak to all employees, but you also specialize in helping corporate leaders who want to spark entrepreneurship, helping them engage and motivate their people organization wide to become innovators — which is something you’ve spoken about at the World Innovation Convention in France. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
KT: Sure. The whole notion of intrapreneurship has become so important as it should be. We are not alone at the top of an organization. We can have 50 employees; we can have 50,000 employees. The truth is they all have great ideas. It’s up to us to tell them about the vision and the mission and purpose of our company and to let them share in the conversation. Let them come up with ideas. Let them have a platform to share them because ultimately that’s going to do two things:
- It’s going to create a much bigger pipeline of ideas from the people within our organizations that are dealing with the customers, and
- It’s going to help us bring in and retain, engage some of the best employees because they’re going to be motivated to work for you. They’re going to be motivated to think for you because you in return are saying you’re doing a great job and you’re part of the conversation.
SE: You told me at one point a leader of a company said he wanted to bring you in to serve as a “spark plug” for his people. Is that a good way to think about the role you can play if you’re speaking to a broader audience of employees?
KT: Well, absolutely. I think “spark plug” is probably is the best way to think about it because I take away some of the mystery of innovation, the monolithic part of innovation. I break down the barriers very quickly by going through different exercises or examples about how simple it can be, and I have people in the audience come up with some of their very simple, their most favorite innovations. As soon as we start doing that, they start thinking, “Hey, you know what, this isn’t just about those big breakthrough products, it’s about processes, it’s about services.” Things that we can change and work with very quickly, and you know change the whole experience that our customers have, and change the culture within a company as well.
SE: Back to innovation — the broader topic of innovation and processes — what are some of the key takeaways from your presentation, say, if you’re speaking to a group of leaders or talking about your new book, Cause a Disturbance?
KT: First, it starts with how easy and powerful innovation can be. I think that leads into the fact that it’s easy and powerful and inclusive as we talked about with intrapreneurship. We talked to the fact that innovation isn’t just about product.
It’s about process and service, and that when you’re dealing with process innovation, not only does it bring more delight to your customers, it can actually save your company money in doing so.
We then look at a mind shift from thinking about your company as a commodity provider — like, I make chairs or make a cup of coffee — to thinking about yourself as being a platform or having a purpose. You really get down to that, the value that your company is actually offering to its customers.
From there, we come up to the six steps of instilling continuous innovation in your firm so that you actually have a process, and within the workshops, I have people walk out with actionable opportunities. I guess to me, business is about having an idea, bringing it to market, and getting it done so that you can start generating sales and growth that much more quickly.
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Like what you’ve read so far?
Click here for the full interview transcript (PDF) and audio (MP3) and learn more about how Ken Tencer can contribute to your next event as he shares:
- How to know if you need a marketing speaker, a sales speaker, or an innovation speaker to achieve your business objectives
- How he personalizes — rather than customizes — each presentation to focus on the key issues that are keeping a company’s leaders up at night
- How his international perspective — being based in Canada, studying in Belgium, speaking at the World Innovation Convention in France (three times), and working with multinational corporate clients — allows him to bring out best practices
You can also visit Ken’s innovation and branding speaker profile page to learn more about his background and available presentations.
*the interview excerpt above has been edited for readability and flow