I recently attended Forefront’s Social Innovation Roundtable which brought a group of business and nonprofit leaders together to share their innovative approaches to developing partnerships, engaging employees and impacting communities. The panel consisted of leaders who have received Chicago Innovation Awards for their outstanding work, including: Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director of Ingenuity; Maria Kim, President and CEO of Cara; Phyllis Lockett, President and CEO of LEAP Innovations; and Abby Neary, National Sales Leader of Aon Active Health Exchange. The event was moderated by Tom Kuczmarski, Founder and Co-Chair of Chicago Innovation Awards.

There were some fantastic insights shared in the discussion. Below are three takeaways from the panel:

Innovation is not about creating something new. It’s creating new value for the constituents you serve (be they customers, clients, or employees). As a founder of a new business this rang true as I thought about Packed with Purpose. There are hundreds of gifting companies.  We’re certainly not inventing the concept of gifting, but we are rethinking what constitutes a great gift by creating a gift that also does good.  Our clients, their customers and their employees have confirmed what we believe is true: there’s a desire to give a gift that goes beyond thoughtful. Our innovation is in mashing up philanthropy and business by creating gifts that inherently have a positive impact on our communities.

Choose your co-creators wisely. When you’re creating something new the knee-jerk response is “It can’t be done” or “That’s impossible, no one has done that before.” The key to successful innovation, especially in a company or field where change is often greeted with resistance, is to surround oneself with others who are prepared to imagine and work towards the ‘impossible’. Surround yourself with people who don’t let ‘No’ be the final response.

Failure is part of the process.  If you’re going to innovate you must be prepared to fail.  In order to encourage a team or company’s success you should celebrate failures, knowing that they are stepping stones to your desired goal. Teams should throw Failure Parties to celebrate the ideas that came and went, and to recognize that failures are what actually enable you to achieve your greatest success. Below is a preview of the panel discussion.  To learn more about Forefront please visit their website.

Attendees will hear about an innovative public/private partnership between Ingenuity, the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools focused on putting the arts back into every Chicago public school. Understand the dynamics of a workforce and leadership development boot camp serving motivated adults affected by poverty in Chicago. Learn about a Chicago-based innovation hub that works directly with educators and innovators to discover, pilot and scale technologies and innovative teaching and learning practices that will drive us toward the future of education: personalized learning. Be exposed to an organization that educates, connects and celebrates innovators in order to create a thriving innovation ecosystem in the Chicago region and about leveraging a multi-carrier marketplace model that leads to better health care decisions.