Signposts of Innovation:
What Impacts Your Company?

Attendees at the Signposts of Innovation event said a lack of time to innovate is the biggest barrier at their companies.


A lack of time for innovation projects is the main barrier for companies seeking to innovate in their industries, according to two-thirds of the attendees this week at the Signposts of Innovation event sponsored by the Dallas Regional Chamber.

That response came to a query by economist Bart van Ark, who asked the audience to use a mobile app to rank three items from a longer list of barriers to innovation.

A lack of financial resources was voted the second-biggest barrier to innovation with 37 percent of the vote, while a company culture that is averse to risk finished third with 26 percent. Other barriers included fear of disruption of business processes, and a lack of resources to inspire or reward innovation.

Van Ark is in charge of strategy development and new initiatives at The Conference Board and leads a team of more than 20 economists in New York, Brussels, and Beijing. He talked about digital transformation prior to leading the panel conversation in Dallas before jetting to the Unconference in Brussels, Belgium.

Dr. Paul Hain, market president of the North Texas region at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas; Lane Sorgen, general manager of Microsoft for the South Central U.S.; Cindy O’Shea, director of IBM Global Solutions Center; and Mark McSpadden, head of Sabre Labs, comprised the panel.

“One of the things we think is important about innovation is to think of it as a process,” van Ark told the Signposts audience. “What it really requires is the management of knowledge and ideas within an organization.”

“One of the things we think is important about innovation is to think of it as a process.”
Bart van Ark

That’s something that Sorgen addressed.

Sorgen told the audience how Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was faced with a company that had four independently run units run by four presidents when he took the helm in 2014. The units didn’t communicate with each other, Sorgen said.

“They actually, literally, never met,” Sorgen said.

“What Satya did was say ‘we’re not going to do things that way,” Sorgen said. “So, Satya initiated a weekly meeting between all the leaders of the company.”

The panel also touched on how startups can approach large companies such as theirs.

Hain emphasized that startups need to come with more than just an idea.

“The one piece of advice I would give is I see a whole lot of startups asking to talk with Blue Cross, 90 percent of them show up with an idea, not a product, not anything that you can quote a benefit,” Hain said.

The event was  hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber, and was followed by a Dallas Innovates reception. Dallas Innovates shared the top stories of the year with Signposts attendees.

The Conference Board (TCB) is a global, nonprofit business membership and research company. It aims to arm organizations with knowledge to deal with the critical issues of our time, improve performance, and better serve humanity. As a research and data provider, The Conference Board supports innovation strategy, from traditional R&D to new ways of using big data to an organization’s cultivation of creativity.


The Signposts of Innovation event at the Dallas Regional Chamber drew a good audience. [Photo by Kelly Jensen]


Signposts of Innovation attendees attend a reception after the event at the Dallas Regional Chamber. [Photo by Kelly Jensen]

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