Creating value

Cheryl Perkins says innovation vital to business success

Posted on Apr 29, 2019 :: Features
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Innovation has been a passion for Cheryl Perkins for as long as she can remember. The founder and president of Innovationedge loves the challenge of developing faster, better ways to make things happen.

“The goal is to create a total solution,” says Perkins, who is the keynote speaker at the THINC! Conference on May 9 at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha. “Companies must continually innovate to stay competitive and viable. Businesses must have a forward-looking strategy and the infrastructure to execute it.”

Perkins launched Innovationedge, a global strategic innovation consultancy, 12 years ago, with locations in Neenah and Naples, Fla. The former chief innovation officer for Kimberly-Clark Corp. travels the world speaking and consulting with organizations about growth strategies, disruptive business models and innovation.

What makes an organization innovative? “Innovation, at its simplest form, is the creation and introduction of something new that will deliver economic value,” Perkins says.

While Perkins stresses all businesses must innovate, she adds it doesn’t need to be a world-altering breakthrough. “It’s about not being satisfied with the status quo and taking action,” she says.

In her presentation at THINC!, which stands for Technology & Human Innovation and Networking Conference, Perkins plans to discuss how businesses need to achieve innovation at both the product and the organizational level in order to grow.

“Business organizations must renew themselves. The world is constantly changing,” she says. “What may have led to success in the past doesn’t always lead to success in the future.”

A vital part of a company staying relevant is developing a clear vision — knowing where the company and its customers are going, both in the short-term and long-term. That strategic vision helps shape new business models, alliances, processes, channels, products, systems and customer experiences.

“The other critical component for continued success is building organizational innovation capabilities,” Perkins says. “In our experience, innovation capabilities now need to progress beyond product to services enabled by digital innovation.”

Overall, Perkins says companies can achieve organizational capability by continually building on existing competencies, and the role of leadership in the process cannot be overemphasized.

“There must also be a culture of learning and experimentation, not fear,” she says. “‘Failures’ must not only be acceptable, they should be expected. Innovation is risky, but not innovating is far worse.”

Throughout the whole process, businesses can pull several innovation levers — from profit model and structure to brand and customer engagement. Perkins says the goal is to have a business pull as many levers as possible.

“Any type of business — not just manufacturing, but also service providers and nonprofits as well — needs to innovate,” she says. “It’s something that benefits everyone.”

In addition to Perkins’ keynote address, the THINC! event will include the presentation of the 2019 Insight Innovation Awards, followed by a networking reception.

The finalists for this year’s awards include:

Planet: Corrim Co., Oshkosh; Energy Bank Inc., Manitowoc; and Roving Blue Inc., Lena.

Process: Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah; Lakeland University, Plymouth; and RealtyHive LLC, Howard.

People: Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Appleton; Lakeshore FIRST Robotics, Manitowoc; and St. Paul Elder Services, Kaukauna.

Product: Encapsys, Appleton; Fabio Perini North America, Green Bay; and Fox World Travel, Oshkosh.

In addition, a special entrepreneurial grit award will be handed out.

To learn more or to register for THINC!, please visit