5 Key Lessons from Photizo’s Navigator Event

In a city known as “The Big Easy,” a little more than 70 executives gathered to discuss a topic that was anything but easy—disruption and innovation. Over the course of two days, industry insiders and outsiders poked at, prodded, and flat out instigated what came to be known as “lateral thinking”—approaching issues from different directions to achieve new perspectives on potential outcomes. Executives came from all walks of life, and actively engaged in the conversations—hungry and thirsty for more than the wonderful cuisine of New Orleans. At the end of it, we each walked away with actionable steps we want to put to work in our own businesses. I thought I’d share five key lessons I walked away with.

1. Size Matters.

While most events apparently focus on counting the number of heads in attendance, our focus was counting engaged minds. One of the key strategies Photizo played this year was to limit the number of attendees to drive up the opportunity for engagement. Combined with the type of folks we invited to the event (high quality, thought leaders), the engagement level was off the chart.

2. Innovative thinking is a place to live, not visit.

Most of us think that we can take a 15-minute break or get away for a retreat and innovation is then possible. Over and over again, big thinkers debunked the myth that innovative and disruptive thinking is a vacation spot we visit. Rather, it is a lifestyle, purposefully bred into a culture, and a way of life. In short, it’s a place we frequently live, not infrequently visit.

3. We live in an “acceleration economy.”

I hear a lot of people talk about the accelerating pace of change. But what does that mean? Very few people take the time to quantify what is actually happening. With data points touching on business, technology, transportation, hospitality, imaging, and human behavior, I spent time staging our audience about how real the acceleration of the pace of change is and how to look for signs that another shift is about to happen. Attendees explored best practices to survive and thrive in this new economy we find ourselves in.

4. Think small and think exponentially.

Speaking about innovators, our keynote speaker, Shane Snow, dropped some insights on us that challenge the traditional thinking. In fact, he introduced two concepts that are diametrically opposed to one another—making the point that innovators have to be comfortable living in two mindsets in many cases.

At first, Snow discussed the importance of achieving small wins. Small wins are important to build momentum, and provide tangible steps to level up. Meanwhile, innovators have to be equally comfortable making the big bets. He called it “10X thinking,” or the ability to exponentially change the game—rather than merely increment by 10 percent. It takes both ways of thinking to succeed today, and thinking singularly is a sure way to miss opportunities to innovate.

5. Innovative thinkers invert the typical response system.

Bob Eckert, CEO of New & Improved, really drove some challenging thinking in his workshop on day two. Our typical response system, centered in our brain stem, is centrally focused on survival. If we are fed, clothed, and safe, don’t change anything.

In contrast, innovative thinkers outsmart the “gator brain” (as Bob calls it), and invert how problems are processed. Using the acronym “POINt” Bob instructed us to first find the positive opportunities, then move on to the obstacles—inverting our typical response to challenges we face each day in our professional and personal lives. This often leads us to new thinking we can use to overcome negative thinking and achieve real breakthroughs.

Final thought.

There were many other lessons to be had, but these seemed to resonate throughout various sessions—almost as if presenters had coalesced around a set of themes rather unintentionally. This event wasn’t for the faint of heart, and isn’t for everyone. But if you want to generate some interesting conversations and have your ideas challenged in a constructive and meaningful way, Navigator really is an event you should consider.


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