I have the privilege and pleasure of speaking at the annual MarTech San Francisco conference about Scaling Innovation; I detail our work at SHIFT Communications to foster innovation.

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Innovation is an aspirational word, an idea we see in the news describing advances in marketing, robotics, virtual reality. It’s a word we associate with cliches like “game changing.” Innovation is something we all want, something we all claim to have, and yet we don’t understand its meaning. Why? It’s an ideal — something to strive for, but so far off in the distance we can’t visualize what it is.

To bridge the gap between the ideal and the everyday, I created the LEAD Framework. The LEAD Framework is a four-step process for building innovation practices in your organization:

  • Learn.
  • Experiment.
  • Adjust.
  • Distribute.

Innovation is a practice. It’s not a gift, not a binary state. We aren’t born with it. I liken innovation to playing the violin. Every one of us can play the violin. We can take lessons, we can practice, and we can become minimally competent with it, enough to saw out Happy Birthday at our kid’s birthday party or Jingle Bells at the office holiday party. Will we ever be Joshua Bell or Andre Rieu? Probably not. But we don’t have to be.

Innovation is the same. Will we ever be Steve Jobs or Jony Ive? No. Do we need to be? No. We just need to become competent in innovation practices.

Can’t be at MarTech? Not a problem! I’ve made my entire talk available for download. Get not only the slides, but all the words here:


Whether you’re at MarTech or not, take the LEAD Framework and scale innovation in your organization!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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