TED is a nonprofit organization started in 1984, which first set out to focus on technology, entertainment, and design. It has since expanded to other areas including art, science, education, and business.
TED’s tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Through several global conferences and other various programs, TED seeks to bring together some of the world’s leading innovators to share ideas and stimulate new thinking. Its annual gathering in Long Beach, CA – the TED Conference– boasts over 1000 attendees, who hear from 50 speakers in 18-minute blocks of time over a four-day period.
Its sister international conference, TEDGlobal, also now occurs annually, and just wrapped up in Oxford UK. One of the speakers at TEDGlobal 2009 included British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Other speakers included leading artists, designers, technologists, scientists, inventors and economists. The theme for TEDGlobal 2009 was “The Substance of Things Not Seen,” which focused on “the hidden forces shaping our future.”
TED provides $100,000 prizes each year to three finalists whose work truly exemplifies innovation and far-reaching impact in its areas of focus. This year, TED also started a Fellows program which picks 50 Fellows from a wide array of disciplines who attend either the TED conference or the TEDGlobal conference. The goal of the Fellows program is to “bring together world-changers and trailblazers, who have shown unusual accomplishment.”
The 2010 TED conferences are already sold out. So your chances of ever attending one of their conferences are slim at best. But that’s not the point. The point is that you can and should create your own innovation program within your organization. You should seek to expose your employees to leading innovators and thinkers. You should encourage and celebrate idea generation and exchange. You should motivate creativity and inventiveness through rewards and incentive-based programs.
Most important, you should find ways to identify and cultivate the talent that exists within your employees, and single out those who clearly show promise. Otherwise, this talent and all its potential will go untapped, and your company and its bottom line will miss an opportunity to benefit. Worse yet, if you don’t give this potential talent the appropriate attention, you risk losing it to competitors.
New Lantern can help your company establish its own innovation program – one that will make you and your shareholders proud. Now that’s an idea worth spreading.