BIO

Jeff DeGraff is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, a top innovation speaker, a business professor at the Ross School of Business, and a bestselling author.

He founded the Innovatrium, an innovation consulting firm focusing on creating innovation culture, capability, and community. He earned his nickname, the “Dean of Innovation,” while working as an executive for Domino’s Pizza in his youth, where he accelerated Domino’s growth from a regional success story to an international franchise phenomenon. He is also the author on several books on how teams innovate, his most recent being The Innovation Code: The Creative Power of Constructive Conflict.

Keynote Speeches & Programs

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This is Jeff’s speech at the Air Force Symposium.

SPEECH TOPICS

01

Leading Innovation: How to Jumpstart Your Organization's Growth Engine

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Leading Innovation: How to Jumpstart Your Organization's Growth Engine

“The amount of innovation a company produces is inversely related to the number of PowerPoint slides or elaborate process diagrams it makes about innovation.” The DeGraff Hypothesis

Productivity is no longer enough. Leaders are finding that the drive for growth is pushing strategic innovation initiatives down into operating units where the management and staff have few of the tools and little preparation to really make it happen. Leading organizations are pursuing innovative strategies and processes only to find that they lack the culture, competencies, and leadership practices required to execute and sustain innovation. The theme of this session is simple: Sustainable innovation is produced by developing leaders who can systematically add innovation to existing business practices.

This highly engaging and interactive session is organized around the Innovation Genome, a simple framework that allows leaders at all levels and locations to understand how their leadership directly affects the creation of specific types of culture and competencies in their organizations, and how these abilities make innovation happen across the enterprise with everyone, everyday, everywhere. This session will presents a simple approach for leaders to recognize, develop, and launch creative ideas into winning solutions that create value.

02

Business Design in the New Tech Centric World

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Business Design in the New Tech Centric World

You’ve heard all the buzz and blather about the new world of work: Millennials, digital everything, AI and AR, 3D printing, blockchain, and hundreds of other vague descriptions of emerging technology and trends that could mean just about anything. Innovation happens. Sure, the speed and magnitude increase with every new year, or maybe even each new day. But, the dynamics of how innovation really works, or doesn’t, have remained relatively constant…until now. The biggest innovation these days is how we work to make innovation happen.

Modern corporations have a fundamental dilemma. They use standardized techniques and technologies to synchronize all aspects of their operation so that they produce predictable results at scale. They are vertically aligned. Think McDonalds. Conversely, a new type of company has emerged with the digital age that achieves rapid growth by deviating from these standards. The networked upstart. These organizations are horizontally connected to a federation of other participants. Think biotech startup.

Corporations have become captives to their business models. Competition didn’t stop Sears from becoming Amazon, Microsoft from Google, or GM from Tesla. What stopped them was their own inability to quickly transit from their dominant culture and competencies, and the innovation leadership practices that maintain them. They tried to create the next big solution with the old rules and tools.

This lively and challenging session will contrast the old world of work with the new, and how to integrate the two. We will explore how changes in the workforce, fluid organizational structures, network dynamics, ubiquitous connectivity, and the economics of fast growth are changing what leaders must do to succeed. We will focus on how to synchronize an increasingly complex and diverse enterprise to make innovation happen.

03

The Power of Diversity and Teams

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The Power of Diversity and Teams

“One size never fits all, so throw out your checklist.” Jeff DeGraff

Innovation is a form of positive deviance. It’s the opposite of standard operating procedures. Most processes are designed to align your organization. Especially, your hiring and staffing practices. That’s great if you want efficiency and quality, but if you want innovation you have to introduce the variety necessary to produce valuable growth. Why? Because innovation is generated through the creative power of constructive conflict. When people have diverse views, skills, and experiences, they take different approaches to creating value. These points of departure, when properly and respectfully engaged, challenge the status quo by producing new and hybrid ideas that lead to breakthrough products and services.

Diversity is more than just your ethnic heritage or cultural background. It’s also your mindset and worldview. It includes the skills you bring to work. Getting these diverse abilities to interact successfully is the key to creating high performing teams. This session will introduce a new way of thinking about diversity: how to identify the strategic situation, appropriate culture and competencies, and specific leadership practices necessary to produce growth. It will provide sound evidence that diversity pays.

This energetic and compelling session will demonstrate how to make diversity work where you work.

04

Connecting the Dots of Innovation: Making Collaborative Innovation Work Where You Work

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Connecting the Dots of Innovation: Making Collaborative Innovation Work Where You Work

“Innovation seldom fails in a function or region. It fails in the handoffs between them.” Jeff DeGraff

Innovation used to be confined to the realm of the tech center. Then the global economy emerged and there were dozens of these innovation centers to coordinate across a wide array of boundaries and barriers. Now the world is flat and innovation happens across a diverse ecosystem of loosely affiliated entities with a wide array of strategies, cultures, and competencies. Vertical approaches to innovation such as tech centers, stage-gate systems, and product portfolios are now expected to operate in sync with horizontal federations like idea markets, creativity clusters, and collaborative open innovation networks.

There is far too much complexity in the modern organization to develop another layer of processes to try to make innovation happen. The key to successfully leading innovation is to develop a new mindset and shared language to connect the dots. This way marketing knows what manufacturing is doing without all of the extensive data inputs and outputs. The same goes for Dallas and Shanghai. Innovation is situationally specific. The way you design an aircraft engine and the way you develop a fine dining restaurant have very little in common. You need to know be able to identify what are the appropriate practices for each situation. 

This dynamic and compelling session will show how to sync up your innovation strategies and practices to achieve your goals and create value.

05

Doing the Creative Work the Company Can’t

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Doing the Creative Work the Company Can’t

“The most creative work your people do is in the coffee shop across the street.” Jeff DeGraff

Are your people doing their most creative work at work?

While the motion picture industry was developing ever more sophisticated innovation methods, a small group of relatively inexperienced exiles from the big studios met a local café and created a plan to produce a series of ingenious movies. They called their start-up Pixar.

Take a close look at your favorite company or organization. You will find lots of diversity, intelligence and generative energy – in the coffee shop right across the street. While focusing on complex development processes, micromanaging new product portfolios or tormenting designers with a dizzying array of metrics, your most creative people walk out of your door every day unnoticed, uninspired and untapped.

In the new world of work, where breakthrough products, services, and solutions can happen anywhere, anytime with anyone, the processes that you create to accelerate innovation in your company inevitably drives it out. More cheerleading or another tool for the toolbox will only get you so far.

So how is an organization supposed to make innovation happen?

By encouraging and developing people to do the creative work the company can’t.

This lively and compelling session focuses on the creative development of the person: how they feel, how they think and how they act. It encourages individuals to design and follow their own creative path. When people are revitalized, they tend to put their creativity to work where they work.

06

Innovation You: Four Steps to Becoming New and Improved

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Innovation You: Four Steps to Becoming New and Improved

“The greatest innovation you create is yourself.” Jeff DeGraff

One day it hits you: the game has changed. You no longer feel like you are growing. The job has become tedious or unrewarding. Fear and greed are no longer pushing you forward. The spark is gone.

What if you were a product or a service? How you make yourself better or new? You would innovate you. But how?

You would do an inventory of what gives you energy and what takes it. You would assess your real strengths and weaknesses. You would tell your story in new ways. You would find the edges of what is possible. You would make intelligent decisions and rebalance the portfolio of your life. You would develop some simple guiding principles to move forward. You would run some small experiments to see what really works and what doesn’t. You would innovation you.

In this lively and inspirational session, the best practices from the most innovative organizations in the world will be explored. Their strategies and tactics will be explained, and more importantly, how they can be applied to your own life. It will provide pointers on how to aim for high quality targets, enlist deep and diverse domain expertise, take multiple shots on goal, and learn from experience and experiments. It will demonstrate how to make yourself new and improved, and how to help others do the same.

TESTIMONIALS

Jeff is not only the best in the field of unleashing innovation, he also has a heart of helpfulness. He just brought the house down at the Air Force Association’s Innovation Symposium, and now he is offering his amazing skills by helping the USAF set up its Innovation Education effort. Jeff, Staney, you guys are the best, and a grateful Air Force thanks you!”

Col. Johnny Barnes

Air Education and Training Command and Air University Liaison to the National Capital Region

Jeff has provided marketing professionals across GE with a collaborative, measurable process that leverages existing creativity.”

Beth Comstock

SVP & CMO, General Electric

Jeff DeGraff has a unique ability to combine entertaining and thought-provoking material into a truly enjoyable evening of learning and growth! We can’t wait to use him again in one of our corporate programs.”

David Daugherty

VP of Talent Management, Plastipak Packaging

We got TONS of great feedback on Jeff, his presentation and his work.  The presentation was high energy and simple, yet insightful.  The model presented was very helpful in providing a common language to help categorize, discuss, and — most importantly — create choiceful decisions as to where and how to innovate.”

Ashland, Inc.

We received very positive feedback…folks wanted more. I think that Jeff has put us on the right track. Looking forward to seeing these proof of concepts come to life.”

Wendy Race

General Electric Company, GE Infra, Energy

Jeff was a HUGE success at our meeting! He definitely hit a home run with our attendees and many of his talking points (including the ‘4 colors’) were referenced throughout the entire weekend.  Jeff certainly set the stage for our most successful Matrix Leadership Meeting to date.”

Suzanne Ziemnik, M.ED.

VP, Education and Assessment, American Society for Clinical Pathology

Simply put, Jeff DeGraff’s methods work!  In working with Jeff and his framework to transform various aspects of our business model, it became increasingly clear that he was also subtly transforming me and my team. It’s clear that the step by step process he’s used to transform business, can likewise, be unleashed to re-shape and transform the individual.”

Pfizer, Inc.

I could not be any more pleased with how well it went over and I know my team feels the same way.  It truly was a very valuable experience for everyone.”

Robert D. Barber

Chief Executive Officer, Environmental Data Resources, Inc.

Innovation is a skill, not a gift.  It can be routinized like any other business imperative such as productivity, leadership, or quality.  DeGraff shows you the way.”

Drew Boyd

Director, Johnson & Johnson

“Jeff’s presentation was far and away one of the best that I saw last week. Our team debriefed for quite some time on it and are reviewing how we can implement some of the suggestions.”

Valassis

There’s no room for complacency in today’s business environment. Jeff’s approach to innovation instills the habits required for today’s leaders to succeed.

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Chris Kearney

Chairman, President & Chief Executive, SPX

There’s no room for complacency in today’s business environment. Jeff’s approach to innovation instills the habits required for today’s leaders to succeed. There’s no room for complacency in today’s business environment. Jeff’s approach to innovation instills the habits required for today’s leaders to succeed. There’s no room for complacency in today’s business environment. Jeff’s approach to innovation instills the habits required for today’s leaders to succeed.

Chris Kearney

Chairman, President & Chief Executive, SPX

For information on having Jeff at your next event

Beyond the Keynote

01

Innovation You Workshop

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Innovation You Workshop

Jeff will show you how to reinvent yourself to be better and new. Start by taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses and assess the story that is your life. Taking best practices from his work with organizations, Jeff helps you to take charge of your personal development by rebalancing your portfolio of life, run some experiments, and develop guiding principles to move forward.

A specialized workshop with Jeff means not only a new mindset towards change but also the practical tools to make that mindset a reality.

02

Jumpstarting Innovation Workshop

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Jumpstarting Innovation Workshop

Now that Jeff has begun to change your mindset toward growth, it is time to put this new way of thinking to work. With Jeff’s customized one- and two-day workshops, you will develop an action plan that makes these concepts come to life in the everyday reality of your organization.

Jeff will help you assess the inner and outer realities of your organization: both the current practices and leadership behavior that shape the culture and the the larger trends shaping your world. You will then move through a proven process of iterative process of ideation and experimentations. You will leave with a clear goal and action plans that you can execute tomorrow.

03

Innovation Coaching and Executive Retreats

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Innovation Coaching and Executive Retreats

In order to achieve change, we need to surround ourselves with the people and resources that will help us grow. Think of innovation as a playbook and Jeff DeGraff as the coach who will move you forward to sustainable growth. As an innovation coach, Jeff will partner with you as you navigate your way to change. Jeff will not only help you tackle your current challenges—he will also reinvent the way you think about innovation more broadly.

A seasoned consultant to multinational Fortune 500 companies, Jeff has studied and practiced innovation at both the group and individual levels. With this diverse expertise, Jeff offers three kinds of coaching services: executive coaching, innovation project coaching, and personal development coaching.

04

Certified Professional Innovator

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Certified Professional Innovator

Certified by the University of Michigan, this program is designed to rapidly develop innovation competency in high potential leaders through action learning. It will provide the necessary tools and techniques to stimulate and manage innovation. Leaders will be given frameworks and methods for strategizing, developing, and implementing innovative solutions. The aim of the program is to provide leaders with the perspective and skill base necessary to manage breakthrough innovation-focused projects, people, and ventures.

This unique program consists of an online component, a 2-day on-site boot camp, and a 90-day project practicum. Throughout the program, you will develop, refine, and implement a customized plan to bring about a significant innovation initiative at your organization. Participants will spend an average of three hours per week on program activities when not on site.

Each segment of the program is designed to engage leaders in action-based learning experiences and develop real expertise in innovation. In this rigorous, multi-media program, you will explore and master research-proven and real world-tested methods in a minimal amount of time.

Learn more by visiting the program’s website

For information on having Jeff at your next event