Category Archives: International

3M Innovation Center

CULTURE. At 3M, everyone I met shared in their own words the same sentiment…that 3M’s innovation is “fueled by a culture of freedom to take risks and learn from mistakes.” The right culture is essential for innovation. It facilitates the ideation-to-commercialization process as well as attracts and retains employees.

3M is a $31B Fortune 500 company headquartered in Maplewood, Minnesota. While well-known for the Post-it note, 3M has developed over 55,000 products. Their tagline is “Science. Applied to Life.”  To develop the next industry, healthcare or consumer goods product, they leverage a community of 8,500 scientists, tap 50 innovation centers and utilize 46 core technology platforms.

This corporate innovation center provides collaborative working spaces as well as being a showcase space for experiential learning and presentations for customers and the community. The PDMA-sponsored event I attended included a tour of the World of Innovation Center.  The interactive experience began with a warm welcome from our guide who hosts four groups like ours each day. We were entertained by the stories of the company history and the creativity, resourcefulness and determination of its employees to use science to improve everyday lives as well as solve world challenges. One highlighted product was the 3M™ Enhanced Specular Reflector (3M ESR), of which we were given a sample. It is the most reflective material in the world, reflecting more than 98% of light.  It is now being applied in numerous industries, such as technology, construction and automotive .

The presentation in the auditorium was led by Sheila Stewart. She shared how ideas get transformed into products. In her role as New Horizon Marketing Leader in the Industrial Adhesives & Tapes Division, she begins by researching three areas:  1) mega trends, 2) market-focused industries and 3) customer needs. Formal or informal teams can start the process by sharing and advancing ideas. Another key theme was the collaboration and team work that occurs within 3M. This was attributed to the fact that technology is not owned by any division.

Featured speakers from other areas of the company included:

  • Patrick Hiner, Filtrete™ Smart Air Filter
  • Nick Echeverri, Sr. Design Manager, Home Environment Markets
  • Kris Hansen, PhD, Lab Manager/Product Owner, 3M Connected Roads

Patrick and Nick shared their 18 month+ commercialization journey including best practices, key considerations, positive indications and lessons learned as they formulated, researched, designed, built and sold this smart air filter.

Kris described her area of focus as “lines and signs.” She works on developing and enhancing 3M’s Smart Code Signing System.  As vehicle technology advances, the road signs need to be visible to humans and machines. She shared that there needs to be a trustable system for metadata and verification. The methods they are using to develop this includes four key elements:  partial co-location of the team, partial dedicated team alignment, transparency with work and plans and clear, accessible means of elevating impediments. What surprised her about innovating? She said, “Never underestimate the power of historical experience even when solving next generation challenges.

Innovation centers of many different types are developing all over the world. The 3M center is a classic example of an company-driven center and provides significant branding and customer experience opportunities. To learn about 3M’s new innovation center in Washington D.C., click here. Other local company-specific innovation centers include the Optum Experience Center and Microsoft’s Technology Center.






Technovation [MN]

TECHNOVATION [MN] TAKES SERIOUSLY THE FACT THAT GIRLS ARE UNDERREPRESENTED IN STEM. Technovation [MN] makes it possible for Minnesota’s girls to compete in the world’s largest global technology entrepreneurship competition. They inspire and enable teen girls to dream up, design, code and pitch mobile phone apps that solve a real-world problem.  Working with mentors, all-girl teams develop a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Technovation [MN]’s CEO and Co-Founder, Shawn Stavseth.  Shawn has been instrumental in building this all-volunteer nonprofit organization over the past 6 years.  Having also attended a board meeting, I am impressed with her ability to embrace the organization’s successes and innovate for the future.

Technovation [MN] hosted Appapalooza on May 12th at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Applapalooza is the finale of the Technovation Challenge in Minnesota. More than 80 teams of high school and middle school girls spent three months imagining, designing and building mobile apps to solve community problems to compete in this international app building challenge.

The 2017/2018 Technovation[MN] season came to a close with a record number of girls participating in the program as well as mentors, volunteers, judges, sponsors and donors.  As a way to say thank you to everyone who supports the organization,  Technovation[MN] invited all former and current mentors, volunteers, judges, sponsors and donors to attend our Community Appreciation Event on May 30 at the Science Museum in St. Paul. They also invited anyone who was interested in learning more about Technovation[MN] and how to get involved with the organization.

Exponential growth is expected in the 2018/2019 season. To learn more about how you and/or your organization can be mentors for the 12-week program beginning this winter, judges for the next Appapalooza in May 2019, or sponsors, here is a link to their website:


UST Risk Leadership Summit

RISK LEADERSHIP. It’s a new term for many but make no mistake, it is critical to the success of competitive companies and driving strategic initiatives.   The 100+ company executives, board members and students attending the University of St. Thomas’ Risk Leadership’s Spring Summit came to explore risk leadership and learn about the impact of risk leaders . The theme of the event was Risk and Strategy:  Maximizing the Value of Disruption.

The event was kicked off by keynote speaker, Adrienne Jordan, Director, Project and Risk Office, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

Speaking at this event, on strategy and risk, I emphasized the need for strong capabilities to identify risks, address those risks that organizations cannot address on their own, and employ new strategies.  The audience was left with the following five key tips:

  • INVEST in exploring in your ecosystem and building new capabilities to compete and reduce risk.
  • EMBRACE the changing paradigm of value systems and expectations.
  • EXCHANGE in new ways; design new organizations, build new partnerships.
  • ALIGN early, be transparent and consistent.
  • RECOGNIZE and ENGAGE risk leaders.

The panelists in this breakout session were directors of innovation and communications experts and we discussed the risk of not exploring and investing, the evolution of innovation practices and the power of culture and communication. Some of the questions included:

  • What is the risk of organizations not exploring and investing in focused areas?
  • How does your company stay on the pulse of what’s next?
  • What trends are you seeing in how companies compete?
  • What role does communication play in supporting these early stages of exploration?
  • To compete, organizations need to develop capabilities, what capabilities can drive strategic outcomes and mitigate risk?
  • How are companies using pilots and prototypes to manage risk?
  • How do global cultures impact risk and opportunity decision?

This event was the second in a series of risk leadership events supporting the growth of this movement and promoting the new graduate certificate program in this emerging area.


Risk Leadership Initiative

The Risk Leadership Initiative is excited to host our inaugural Spring Seminar event,  Risk and Strategy: Maximizing the Value of Disruption.”  at the University of St. Thomas on April 25, 2017, from 7:30 to 1:00 p.m. This half-day event features a keynote presentation on Risk Leadership experience from the Super Bowl event and four breakout sessions. Topics were selected based on suggestions we received from Risk Leaders like you.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 7:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

7:30-8:30 a.m.:

Registration & Breakfast

8:30-9:30 a.m.:


9:30-10:00 a.m.:

Networking Break

10:00-11:00 a.m.:

Breakout Session 1

Session 1-A: Risk Culture and Organizational Behavior

Session 1-B: COSO ERM Framework Update: An Overview for Risk Leaders

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.:

Breakout Session 2

Session 2-A: The Fair Approach: A New Way to Measure & Manage Information Risk

Session 2-B: Strategy and Risk: 5 Tips for Leaders 

12:00-1:00 p.m.:



Schulze Hall 
46 11th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55403


adrienne jordansuper bowl committee

Adrienne Jordan – Director, Project and Risk Management Office, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee
Adrienne Jordan is a recognized leader in the corporate, sports, education, foundation, non-profit and community relations arenas. In her current role, she is responsible for leading the Project and Risk Management Office, which coordinates and supports the project, operational and financial objectives of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. Jordan also leads and manages all aspects of special projects as assigned by the Chief Operating Officer. For full bio, click here



To be competitive, companies constantly need to develop new strategies and capabilities.  This panel discussion will provide insights on the key roles of risk leaders in setting company strategy, the risk of not responding, innovative strategies companies can employ, and the impact of effective risk leadership.  You will gain practical tips on applying strategic thinking based on insightful examples shared by our panelists.


Lana Weber, Chief Strategy Officer, Elements Group


  • Dominic Venturo, Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer, U.S. Bank
  • David Williams, Chief Innovation Officer, Elements Group
  • Leslie Kupchella, Founder & CEO, Leslie Kupchella & Partners


People leaders and those focused on organizational behavior don’t always think of themselves as risk leaders. This is particularly true in companies with a risk management function that tends to take formal responsibility for risk-related topics. Join our panel of organizational culture shapers for a discussion on how company culture prevents and mitigates risks and is critical to the success of many company initiatives, including takeaway tips you can incorporate into your role.


Dr. Christopher Michaelson, David A. & Barbara Koch Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics & Social Responsibility, University of St. Thomas


  • Lisa Sterling, Executive Vice President, Chief People & Culture Officer, Ceridian
  • Orlando Flores, Ethics & Compliance Officer, Americas Region, Medtronic
  • Dana Lindman-Gustner, Sr. Manager, Employee Relations, Caribou Coffee


In many cases, how organizations complete information risk analysis and how we communicate results to leaders is broken.  You will gain insights into why managing information risk is difficult and complex and gain insights into alternatives, including the “Factor Analysis of Information Risk” (FAIR) model.  The first 50 attendees will receive a copy of “Measuring and Managing Information Risk: A FAIR Approach” by Jack Jones and Jack Freund.


Jeff Norem, VP of Security, Augeo Marketing


With the release of the new COSO ERM Framework in late 2017, this session is intended to provide attendees with greater insight into the research and findings that drove the a significant framework update.  Ten key changes will be reviewed along with potential implications for your organization. You will learn how these changes were intended to elevate the relevance of ERM, meet management’s and the board’s increasing expectations of ERM, and gain practical examples of the application of the new COSO ERM Framework.


Stephen Zawoyski, Partner, Risk Management and Compliance Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers

China Innovation Efforts

CHINA INNOVATION EFFORTS.  As I continue to document global strategy and innovation, I was thrilled to connect with a leading innovation organization in Shanghai to discuss the latest challenges and trends. Discussions included insights into how corporations are investing in innovation, how there are large numbers of new startups each day, how students are learning, how the levels of risk tolerance and creativity impact innovation decisions, and what the IP landscape looks like in China. This conversation has paved the pathway for upcoming introductions to industry startup leaders and the director of innovation at a large semiconductor manufacturing company.

Here are a few key learnings:

  • Corporate innovation typically begins in small pilots.  One large multi-national company developed its emerging market innovation center a few years back. They are running idea competitions about once each year. Ideas are driven from the open innovation center. Challenges continue to be risk adversity, resources and funding.   Another organization typically runs 4-6 teams of startups through its 14-week program twice per year. As one of its products has successfully launched, it will be funded for years to come.  Corporate innovation challenges are many and include how to enable intrapreneurs to feel safe to innovate as many still prefer the security of a consistent paycheck.
  • The startup community is growing. It has been estimated that there are about 1,200 new business registrations per day, many of them startups.  The startup support network is growing as well.  Incubators such as Startup Grind provide an online and offline network to “help fuel innovation, economic growth and prosperity at the local level.”  Discussions also centered around the concepts of structure, program and people.  Specifically, they are focused on the importance of getting the right, committed people on the team and as mentors.  Innovation centers in China are evolving. Initially they were run by civil servants and sponsored by the government.  Some multi-nationals have recently secured space and/or they have become co-working spaces.
  • Asian markets are growing large but there is a very different innovation culture than in the US. There is no lack of creativity but students moving into the workforce often find it difficult to apply concepts as education is focused on technical aspects and exercise repetition. In addition, reward systems are often based on individual depth of knowledge and not based on initiative.
  • Companies are beginning to look outward and while typically very risk adverse, they are realizing that doing nothing is risky, too.  If the last century was defined by vertical industries, the next century will likely be defined by the horizontal conglomerates such as Alibaba and new capabilities will be needed to compete. Specifically, companies that make widgets are needing to make the shift to become lean companies that can constantly adapt and create new markets.  One large home appliance company prefers not to develop its technology in-house and instead become an aggregator, creating a niche in its specific area.
  • The IP landscape was described as almost non-existent. It was not identified as a barrier to entry as in some other countries.  It was noted that it was as if there is some acceptance that someone could create a knock off and that companies need to seek rapid innovation and create evolved business models to compete.


Celebrating International Women’s Day

BRAVE, NOT PERFECT.   If I could only choose one thing to take away from this women’s leadership conference, it would be Kristi Hemmer’s message of empowerment to be “brave, not perfect.”  This really resonated with me.  I appreciated her description of the many times she chose the option that looked perfect on paper and then later realized she was miserable.  Once she started choosing the “brave” option, the one that was right for her, she had a good life.  She describes herself as “unapologetically me” and left us with the question…”What is “perfect” stopping you from doing today?”

This all-day leadership conference was held at the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis and sponsored by ACG Minnesota, MNCREW and Corvus North.  It was targeted toward women leaders and aspiring leaders in commercial real estate, mergers & acquisitions, law, corporate finance, and nonprofit leadership. This first annual event was sold out.

The event began with inspiring talks by these women, each leaving the audience with thought-provoking questions:

  • Kristin Hemmer, Founder/President of AWEinc
    • What is perfect stopping you from doing today?
  • Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, Founder/CEO of Amalia LLC &
    • What are you doing to fulfill your dream?
  • Jennifer Smith, CEO and President of Innovative Solutions
    • Are you evaluating your decisions through your core value lens?
  • Sue Hawks, Best Selling Author
    • Are you using both your intellect and intuition to make decisions?

Keynote speakers included Diana Pierce and Crystal Washington.  Roundtable breakout sessions focused on negotiating for what you want, women in the boardroom and unlearning to learn.  On an individual level, be prepared and know your value were key themes.  Boards have precious few seats; therefore, they need to make sure that there is both a cultural and content fit.  For companies, boards are making strategic decisions and need board members that have advanced thinking, can work well with others, and can advance initiatives.

The day provided engaging and thought-provoking speakers, interactive workshops, and networking opportunities.  Special thanks to Pam Moret, Director/Chair of the Bush Foundation and Jeanne Crain, President and CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation for the opportunity to meet and connect further on a number of strategic topics including boards and innovation.

For more photos from this event, please see the Gallery.

International Water Technology Summit

The 4th Annual Water Technology Summit was held on at the Metropolitan Club in Target Field Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. A cool glass of water. It’s what some take for granted and others die for.  While dramatic, unfortunately true.  When those in the water industry get together, the opportunities for impact are many. Below are some of the key issues related to water resources and drivers of the agenda for this year’s summit:
  • Declining availability
  • Increasing demand
  • Declining water quality
  • Inadequate infrastructure
The water technology topics discussed ranged from water reuse, global water opportunities, and smart water technology. This agenda was developed by leaders in the industry including:  Ecolab, Dow Water and Process Solutions, Pentair, Tonak Water, Aeration Industries, Wenck, Faegre Baker Daniels, University of Minnesota, Greater MSP, The MN Trade Office, the U.S. Commercial Service, The Metropolitan Council, U.S. Water, Summit Envirosolutions, Cartwright Consulting and Lenz Consulting.
Keynote presentations were delivered by:
  • Ken Thompson, Global Practice Lead Smart Cities/Smart Sensors and President SWAN Council
  • John Stauch, CFO, Pentair
Specific panel topics included:
  • Water Reuse Panels:  Taking reuse mainstream:  state and industry perspectives
  • U.S Commercial Service:  Global opportunities in water
  • Smart Water Panel:  Intelligent business methodologies to modernize innovation in water
  • University of Minnesota student lightning rounds
Networking was also an important part of the event. I engaged in a variety of interesting conversations with attendees including several of the international presenters, the President of the Finnish American Chamber, a representative the UK Consul, and the President of Uponor North America. This growing network is focused on continuous learning and is driving to create solutions in this critical area.


8:30 am – 9:00 am: Registration & Networking
9:00 am – 10:30 am: Water Reuse Panels: Taking reuse mainstream: state and industry perspectives 
Everyone likes reuse, so how do we get more of it here? Our multi-agency panel shares the results of their 2+ year effort to find opportunities and barriers in Minnesota law and their next steps. Industry representatives have a great deal of experience in areas further along the learning curve and can help us understand the business case challenges their customers to consider and the solutions they’ve implemented to meet these challenges.
  • Steve Woods,Executive Director, Freshwater Society
  • Rebecca J. Flood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Paul Allwood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health
  • Kelly Lange-Haider, Dow Water and Process Solutions
  • Blake Schomas,Director of Marketing – Total Plant Assessments
  • Nalco Water, an Ecolab company
11:00 am – 11:45 am: U.S. Commercial Service:  Global Opportunities in Water
  • Monica McFarlane Scott, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service Minnesota
Presentations by:
  • China: Aimee Jia,Commercial Assistant U.S. Consulate Guangzhou
  • China: Shiqiao (Sophia) Chen,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Shanghai
  • Philippines: Bebe Montesines,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Embassy Philippines
  • Singapore: Chan Yiu Kei,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Embassy Singapore
  • India: Arup Mitra,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Kolkata
  • New Zealand: Dhiraj Mani,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Auckland
  • Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Shajaddin,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Dhahran
  • South Africa: Mohammed Essay,Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Johannesburg
  • Brazil: Teresa Wagner,Senior Commercial Specialist, U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm: Lunch Keynote
  • Ken Thompson, Global Practice Lead Smart Cities/Smart Sensors and President SWAN Council
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Smart Water Panel: Intelligent business methodologies to modernize innovation in water
As technology development in the water industry continues to advance at an ever faster pace, business innovation is often left behind, struggling to keep up, creating an innovation gap. Companies are feeling the disruptive pressure to adapt to this change in pace and are exploring new ways to develop business agility through creative investing, strategic partnerships and ecosystem alignment. In this panel session, 3M, Uponor, and Toro will share how they are bridging the innovation gap between technology and business through differentiated business models and methodologies.
  • Jen Nowlin, Principal, Accredent


  • Bill Gray, CEO, Uponor North America
  • Sunidh Jani, Manager, 3M Ventures
  • Dana Lonn, Managing Director, Center for Technology, The Toro Company
2:00 pm – 2:15 pm: University of Minnesota Student Lightning Rounds
  • Paige Novak: Joseph T. and Rose S. Ling Chair in Environmental Engineering, Co-Director, MnDRIVE: Environment
Student Speakers:
  • Xue Zhen
  • Michael Schwab
  • Jovan Popovic
  • David Goldfeld
  • Hanna Miller
2:30 pm – 3:15 pm: Afternoon Keynote
  • John Stauch, CFO, Pentair
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Networking Reception

Destination Medical Center – Rochester Real Estate Development & Investment Summit

Zumbro River in Rochester, MN

DESTINATION MEDICAL CENTER.  The sun was shining as we strolled along the Zumbro River in Rochester, MN on this beautiful day in May. I was part of a small group on walking tour hosted by the Rochester Destination Medical Center (DMC). Over 200 real estate and economic development professionals would come together within the next hour for the Real Estate Development & Investment Summit; however, I had the opportunity to start my day exploring the four DMC districts and learning about the businesses that were contributing to the growth of this vibrant city.

Each district (Downtown Waterfront, Discovery Square, Heart of the City and St. Mary’s Place) had its own unique characteristics with a common theme of community.  We learned of the new buildings that will be built and the historic ones that were being preserved and repurposed. 

Rochester continues to find ways to welcome its numerous visitors and entertain its residents.  Outdoor concerts are prevalent all year round and this evening would be no exception.  The festivities celebrating the opening of the newly renovated Mayo Civic Center would include live music and fireworks.

By their own definition, “DMC is a unique 20-year economic development initiative.  The $5.6 billion plan is the largest in Minnesota history.”  Innovation is one of the nine key attributes of the city and Discovery Square is the “first-of-its-kind urban research campus, fostering innovation in the life science industry.”

Rochester’s focus on innovation is creating competitive advantages for the city, region and state.   The Summit highlighted DMC’s role in driving the economic growth through 18+ identified development projects and the impact on industries such as construction and finance as well as on entrepreneurs.  Rochester has many assets and their ability to focus is cultivating opportunities for residents, industry, and entrepreneurs.



The Summit began with a warm welcome from Mayor Brede and the agenda included:

12:05 PM State and Regional Market Forces and the Impact on the Rochester Real Estate Community
Doug Holtan, Chair, Department of Facilities and Support Services, Mayo Clinic
• Why Mayo Clinic will continue to grow as a World Health care destination and what will the future real estate needs be to support this
• Mayo Clinic’s Major Infrastructure Updates recently completed and what other updates need to happen to help continue the growth in Rochester
• How Mayo Clinic has become a regional power for business and commerce
• How the increased number of Mayo Clinic visitors has impacted the real estate market in Rochester

12:45 PM Rochester Attributes: Understanding the Rochester environment
Brad Jones, Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau
• Community Characteristics
• Community Profile
• Economic Profile
• Education/Transportation Profile

1:45 PM Destination Medical Center Plan: Game changer for Rochester
Lisa Clarke, Destination Medical Center, Economic Development Agency
• Why the emphasis on Destination Medical Center
• How did the market research inform the plan
• Land use plan and effects on downtown real estate market
• Financing tools for promoting growth
• Current State of the Market – Commercial & Residential Real Estate
• How will Discovery Square impact growth in Rochester

2:30 PM Destination Medical Center Progress and growing momentum
Jon Buggy, RSP Architects
Richard Freese, City of Rochester
Jeremy Jacobs, Mortenson
Patrick Seeb, Destination Medical Center, Economic Development Agency
• Case Study 1: How the plan is being used in private development and investment
• Case Study 2: How the plan is being used to redevelop key public spaces in the city
• Case Study 3: How the plan is being used to shape short- and long-term transit and transportation decisions

3:15 PM Rochester’s New Developments & Opportunities and the Impact to the community
• Developer Spotlights
• Construction Spotlights
• Organizational Partner Spotlights
• Entrepreneur Spotlights
• Capital/Finance Spotlights

4:00 PM Adjourn

4:00 – 5:30 PM Reception

5:30 PM Mayo Civic Center Ribbon Cutting

“The landscape of real estate and development in Rochester is changing,” says Patrick Seeb, DMC’s director of economic development and placemaking. “People from around the world are now seeing the city as a viable place to start, grow, and expand a business.”