How Can We Stay Focused and Energetic to Drive Innovation?

How Can We Stay Focused and Energetic to Drive Innovation?

January seems like a perfect month to reflect on the past year and map out plans for the year ahead. This is counterintuitive thinking in business. We are all off to the races with aggressive business goals and personal aspirations to become better humans and drive innovation. I considered several topics for this blog before catching myself to focus on one of the highlights of my business travel from 2022. I am lucky to be able to attend industry events every year. Liberated by our team and supported by our project work with great Clients, I methodically research each show to optimize my time and identify new projects for our team and key suppliers. This is tricky to do since there is an opportunity for advanced concept development in all industries. The emergence of “new mobility” concepts, alternative energy or EV technologies, and autonomous driving are just a few of the emerging and evolving industries we work in to make a positive difference. It’s exhausting and invigorating to research, plan and travel to shows with an eye on new opportunities and working on personal development. I have been blessed with these challenges!

IAAPA Insights

In November of every year, I travel to Orlando to attend IAAPA for a few days. The pandemic, of course, impacted the themed attraction industry in extreme and challenging ways. Ticket sales went immediately to zero and guests were not in the mood or position to buy tee shirts or princess dresses. It was a uniquely different period in our history. As a nation, world and individuals, we all found ourselves in a time of challenge. The lucky businesses survived or, in some cases, thrived depending on the industry, product or service offered. These dark times are behind us and there are now significant opportunities for business growth and personal development. I attended the kickoff event of IAAPA and the Orange County Convention Center. The lineup seemed intriguing and I am always amazed by the production values on display and the keynote speakers. The speaker this year was Abigail Posner from Creative Effectiveness Teams at Google. Ms. Posner offered up a premise that “creativity and innovation drive business growth.” This is an easily embraced concept. Execution towards this goal is challenging for most leaders and many teams. Groupthink settles into most organizations and a fresh look at ourselves, cultures and teams helps us pivot and find new ways of working. The 30-minute presentation resonated on many levels. The five key takeaways offered for our consideration and application in our work and life were as follows;

1. Tap into your unique gifts

I continue to wrestle with the reality that my gifts are limited to a few key attributes. “Let the birds fly and the fish swim” sums it up neatly. Hire great people, give them the tools required to succeed, and stay out of the way. 

2. Just say yes.

So often in life, we look for a way out of opportunities that are a stretch for our talents. Look for ways to embrace opportunity and jump into the deep end. 

3. Look for the links

Cultivate your network and identify connections and contacts to build on collaboration. 

4. Teamwork it

Innovation is a team sport. Look for opportunities to work with cross-functional teams in all areas of life. Remember you are very rarely, if ever, the smartest person in the room. 

5. Share with others

Give back to others in all areas of your life and pay it forward.

Share for the act of sharing with no expectations for a return.  The timing for this message was perfect. I left the event with renewed energy and focus to drive innovation. This learning moment has very little to do with meeting new contacts or exploring emerging technologies. It was one of those experiences that come along when we put ourselves out in the world, navigate airports, and simply show up when we have the opportunity.  My plans for this year include attendance at a minimum of four industry events, team development and growth, working on my lifelong learning goals, reading one book a month, working with charitable organizations, and teaching at Northwestern University.  Please share your thoughts and plans for increased effectiveness and innovation for the new year.

Best wishes for future success! 


Featured image illustration by Sol Cotti

AI: Effect on the Future of Automotive Design and Development

AI: Effect on the Future of Automotive Design and Development

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in recent years and has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry in a few ways. From self-driving cars to advanced manufacturing processes, the integration of AI in the design and engineering fields is likely to impact the automotive industry significantly.

Artificial Intelligence in Autonomous Vehicles

One area where Artificial Intelligence has the potential to make a significant impact is the development of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles rely on various sensors and algorithms to navigate roads and make decisions in real time. These systems must be able to accurately perceive and interpret their surroundings, as well as predict the behavior of other vehicles and pedestrians.

One key advancement in AI that has enabled the development of autonomous vehicles is machine learning. Machine learning algorithms allow autonomous vehicles to “learn” from data, improving their performance over time. For example, an autonomous vehicle might be trained to recognize pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles using a large dataset of labeled images. Once trained, the vehicle can then use this knowledge to make decisions safely navigating roads and avoiding collisions.

Artificial Intelligence in Design and Manufacturing Processes

In addition to enabling the development of autonomous vehicles, AI can also be used to improve the efficiency and accuracy of manufacturing processes in the automotive industry. For example, AI-powered robots can be used to assemble vehicles with greater precision and at a faster pace than humans. These robots can be trained to perform tasks such as welding, painting, and assembly using machine learning algorithms, allowing them to adapt to changes in the manufacturing process and learn from their mistakes.

AI in Manufacturing

AI can also be used to optimize the design and engineering of vehicles. For example, machine learning algorithms analyze data from vehicle simulations and testing to identify areas for improvement. This can lead to the development of more efficient and reliable creations of new design possibilities that may not have been previously considered.

Another potential application of AI in the automotive industry is in the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These systems use sensors and algorithms to assist drivers with lane keeping, collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control. By continuously collecting data from sensors and learning from the behavior of other vehicles and pedestrians, ADAS systems can improve their performance over time and make driving safer for everyone.

Benefits and Concerns of Artificial Intelligence

There are also a few potential benefits to AI in the automotive industry beyond just the development of new technologies. For example, the integration of AI in manufacturing processes could lead to cost savings and improved efficiency. Similarly, the use of AI in the design and engineering of vehicles could lead to the development of more energy-efficient and sustainable transportation options.

However, the integration of AI in the automotive industry is not without its challenges. One major concern is the potential for job displacement as AI-powered technologies become more prevalent. While it is likely that some jobs will be replaced by AI, it is also possible that the integration of AI could create new job opportunities in fields such as data science and machine learning.

Another concern is the potential for AI systems to make mistakes or operate in unintended ways. As with any complex system, there is the potential for errors or unintended consequences when using AI. It is important for companies developing and using AI systems to have robust testing and validation processes in place to ensure the safety and reliability of their products.

In Conclusion

Despite these challenges, the integration of AI in the automotive industry is likely to bring significant benefits and opportunities. From the development of autonomous vehicles to the optimization of manufacturing processes, AI has the potential to transform the way we design, engineer, and manufacture vehicles. As technology continues to advance, it will be important for companies and individuals in the automotive industry to stay up to date on the latest developments and consider how they can be leveraged to drive innovation.

If you have any questions about the rate at which AI is advancing, know that this blog post was written by chat GPT. The prompt: write a blog post on advances in AI and how they could affect the design and engineering fields as they relate to the automotive industry. GPT is a machine learning model that generates natural language text based on a given prompt. It has been trained on a large dataset of text and can be used for tasks like translation, summarization, and text generation. It uses a neural network architecture called a “transformer” to process language data.