Central Minnesota companies discuss innovation



As technology advances, age gaps widen, and circular management becomes more prevalent, businesses will have to adapt faster more frequently than ever before. Companies from across Minnesota gathered Thursday morning at the River’s Edge Convention Center for the Innovation Summit, a chance for businesses to share ideas on growth and give recognition to those that have shown modification and progress in their organizations.

“Innovation starts with hope, clear vision, and uncertainty,” says founder of Operation Baby New Year, Justin Michaels. Michaels won an award at the summit for his group’s work for parents of low-income families who cannot afford basic products such as diapers.

Along with trophies and recognition, companies from Central Minnesota were eager to demonstrate their growth and reach out to new clients and employees.

Andrew Leintz, head of Business Development at Dayta Marketing, says that being a part of the Innovation Summit is beneficial for his business because it allows them the opportunity to show off their advancements and connect with other groundbreaking organizations within the St. Cloud area. Dayta Marketing is in charge of providing software that helps companies manage their social media accounts. Some of their clients include those auto and tech industries, banks—even golf courses.

The company released a data dashboard to its partners in order for their clients to better manage the organization’s social media accounts and giving them an organizational calendar which gives the company the power to change the software if need be.

“We really want to be an irreplaceable partner now that we have developed a software that allows for two-way communication, as it relates to the marketing partnership,” Leintz said.

Another Central Minnesota organization looking to share its progress was Big Brothers, an organization that lets students and community members reach out to provide a mentor for kids between ages 5 and 16.

Rachel Johnson, the recruiter for Big Brothers, says that part of their growth and innovation began with two new initiatives this summer. One is with a partnership started by the late St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter called “Bigs on Campus,” where students and faculty members from SCSU were paired with a group of 13 kids that came to SCSU and were taught about college, opportunity, and mentoring. The other initiative is called “Bigs and Brown,” where the organization partnered with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office in order to create another outlet for kids in need.

“By putting kids in these organizations, we are hopefully building a relationship between them and the community,” Johnson said.

The Innovation Summit’s keynote speaker was Nancy Lyons, who has been named one of the top CEOs in both Minnesota and the country by the Minneapolis Business Journal.

Lyons runs a business called Clockwork Media, a software design company whose clients include Target, Best Buy, and General Mills. It has a reputation as one of the best places to work for its flexibility, teamwork, and commitment to serving its employees—they even have craft beer on tap in the office.

“Innovation is hard,” Lyons said. “When people think of innovation, they think of technology and gadgets, but it’s not just about that.”

Lyons said that the key to having a successful business is making sure you have a non-toxic work environment, meaning people look forward to coming to work every day.

“In order for people to be satisfied, they have to show up to work differently; people want to feel that they are valued, organizations need to encourage creativity. Work organizations are changing faster than ever before; there is no hierarchy in management anymore, it’s all circular, managers shouldn’t be giving information from the top down. It’s more about exchange ideas through all sections of the workspace,” Lyons said.

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