September 13, 2023

What's all the buzz?

There’s been a lot of “buzz” lately—AI, crypto, Elon & X, Taylor Swift Summer...

One bit of buzz that continues to surface is innovation. It’s a word fraught with varying interpretations, eccentric characters, and big claims. And yet every time you pick up your iPhone, call an Uber, or “Google” something, you’re reminded that innovation is a key part of how society makes progress.

A Recent Challenge

Last year, one of Experience Institute’s partners, Baker Tilly, was interested in bringing innovation mindsets and experiences to a specific audience — their newest hires. The Managing Director of Baker Tilly’s Innovation Lab, Kristen Russell, set a goal of not just sharing content but to actively engage new employees in the practice of innovation.

Experience Institute partnered with Kristen’s team to try something new—an experiential program specifically designed for early-career professionals called, Innovation Ignite.

A Closer Look

The Baker Tilly team worked closely with Ei to tailor the educational framework that included workshops, interviews, research in the field, feedback sessions, and share-outs. Instead of, “in one ear and out the other,” it was a feast for the senses that began with an in-person kickoff in Madison, scoping specific challenge areas, building an “Innovation Board” of executive sponsors, and gametime presentations to leadership.

Over several weeks, participants worked in teams on company challenges that required innovative solutions and cross-department collaboration. Under the guidance of both Ei and BT coaches, these teams worked across a breadth of business functions—from improving customer experiences to developing new service offerings.

The Impact

It was amazing to see the response across Linkedin posts and even in Baker Tilly’s public wrap-up of the project. With a quick look at the program feedback, and you can see just how helpful it was:

  • Personal Investment: 92% of participants felt the firm has invested in their growth and development
  • Skill Building: 91% of participants believe the program improved their core innovation skills
  • Peer Motivation: 92% of participants encourage their peers to seek opportunities to engage in firm innovation efforts
  • Digital Footprint: 87K social impressions from just 33 voices.
  • Ideas: 9 projects are moving forward
  • Company Love: Participants responses were 2x higher than firm average when asked to rate the firm as a great place to work

The Impact

For Baker Tilly, Ignite is more than just a one-off training exercise. It is a strategic investment in the company’s future. By instilling a mindset of innovation early on, the firm prepares its newest team members to be leaders who can navigate an ever-changing business landscape.

Ok, so what?

In a world where "innovation" can seem like a hollow buzzword, this type of work shows that, when done with intention, it's anything but. The program is a reminder that the essence of innovation lies in its application—how it helps companies like Baker Tilly adapt, grow, and continue to provide value to their clients and stakeholders.

So yeah, your toaster probably doesn’t need AI, but maybe you and your team see a gap that needs to be filled. And instead of waiting for someone else to build something, you want to learn how to make something today.

That’s innovation. That’s for anyone. That’s for you.

Special thanks to people who brought this program to life at Baker Tilly: Kristen, Ethan, Tina, Ryan, Sally, and the amazing participants. And the Ei leads: Aaron, Kaz, Amelia & yours truly

Full story here:

Featured Image by Baker Tilly Marketing Team

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