In the latest installment of the Innovation Storytellers Show, I had the pleasure of engaging in a profound conversation with Paul Reeder, the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation Strategies at Ohio State University. Our discussion explored what innovation truly means for businesses today, far beyond the superficial trappings that often masquerade as progress.

Paul Reeder is a name that resonates with authority in the realm of innovation. His mission at the Center for Innovation Strategies is not just about fostering new ideas; it’s about orchestrating a symphony of collaboration that resonates with value creation for a diverse range of stakeholders.

From the hallowed halls of Ohio State to the corporate boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, Paul’s influence on innovation is profound. His expertise has been sought after by industry titans such as Procter and Gamble, Honda, and Nationwide Insurance, all seeking to infuse genuine innovation into their DNA.

Our conversation was a clarion call against the backdrop of what Paul aptly terms ‘Innovation Theater’—a facade of innovation that is all too common in today’s corporate world. It’s a world where the appearance of innovation is often mistaken for its substance. Paul’s insights revealed a troubling trend where companies are quick to set up flashy innovation studios, complete with trendy furniture and attire, mistaking these superficial elements for the heart of innovation.

However, Paul argues that true innovation is not about the optics; it’s about the impact. It’s about understanding and serving customer needs in ways previously unimagined, identifying new customer segments, and creating a ‘blip in our business’ that signifies real growth and evolution. This kind of innovation doesn’t just happen; it requires a cultural shift and a commitment from every level of the organization, especially the C-suite.

Throughout our discussion, Paul emphasized the need for a new paradigm to measure innovation—one that accounts for cultural change, customer engagement, and the ability to break new ground. We discuss how traditional metrics like cash ROI fall short in capturing the essence of innovation, which is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that Paul’s vision for innovation is both a challenge and an invitation. It’s a challenge to businesses to look beyond their walls and engage with external innovation groups, creating partnerships that fuel creativity and drive growth. It’s an invitation to step out of the conventional box and embrace a broader vision of what innovation can be—a strategic pillar essential to the future of any organization.

Name: Paul Reeder
Title: Executive Director
Company: Center for Innovation Strategies

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Paul Reeder is the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation Strategies at Ohio State University. Paul’s mission is to partner with key university stakeholders to establish a unified, overarching innovation collaboration strategy that maximizes value creation. His commercialization experience and industry relationships have uniquely prepared him to lead CIS. The center facilitates innovation-based learning and experiences that will impact the global economy by assisting in new company formation and the development of new products and services within existing enterprises.