July 19, 2018

Inaugural Innovation Day 2017 – Bend, Oregon

Libby Unger | CEO & CO-Founder, GreenFig
Written by:

Libby Unger | CEO & CO-Founder, GreenFig

Wow. I love my job. I am fortunate to meet incredible people every day, to learn from them, and to be inspired by them. This week is no different. On Tuesday, a diverse group of senior leaders from Bend, Oregon committed a full day – yes, a full day, a WORK day –  to sharing ideas and innovative ways to solve common problems at Bend’s first formal Innovation Day. The goal of the day was to showcase innovation happening in Central Oregon as well as to inspire attendees, including featured companies like GreenFig, to think creatively about their work, company, organization, and community. The fast-paced break-out sessions kept the energy moving, dynamic and interactive.  Yes, we were all inspired! And, even more importantly, I am certain that our purpose with GreenFig is not only life changing but critical for long-term business vitality and economic growth.

Themes We Consistently Heard - The Talent Gap

The challenge to attract, retain, and develop talent persists in good times and in bad. In good times, you are competing against companies that pay more, offer more perks, or give individuals more of what they are looking for with respect to culture, making an impact, feeling valued and continuously learning. In bad times, you may have employees who are staying because they do not have other options, are over-burdened due to limited resources and cutbacks or are doing ‘just enough’ to not get fired – this has a real impact on the team, morale and the overall ability of a company to compete.  At the end of the day, regardless of whether times are good or bad, we all want to be excited about what we do, who we work with and continue to make an impact. Successful companies and leaders know this and enable it because it is also good business – it is what is required to attract, retain and develop high performing, engaged and committed talent.

Finding talent with technical skills is hard. Finding talent with both technical and ‘soft skills’ is harder and exponentially more valuable. Definitions of ‘soft skills’ vary by individual and leader, yet it is without a doubt deemed invaluable to most. In many camps, ‘soft skills’ are defined as the skills required to effectively communicate and collaborate with others across boundaries – up, down and across organizations – to get things done and deliver competitive results.

For many others, ‘soft skills’ are defined more broadly to include critical thinking, problem-solving, and understanding the broader context of individual work and translating that to work within a cross-functional team environment. Company culture dictates what is hired for. Some companies will hire for culture and train on technical skills and others will do the opposite. The one thing everyone agreed with is that finding skilled talent is hard and there is no single solution for bridging the gap efficiently and effectively (until, of course, GreenFig came along!).

Finally, everybody agreed how skill-based training and continuous learning are essential to everyone’s success. We heard some innovative ways one company enables continuous learning – new employees bring best practices from prior roles, recommend changes, and own getting buy-in and the implementation. From day one, an employee feels valued and heard and is making an impact. Wow! Talk about a company empowering individuals and continuously challenging the company to grow and evolve. Another company scans the globe for practices that fuel an employee’s full potential including mandatory sabbaticals every two years – NOT optional – recognizing that we need to step out of what we know to be able to see new ways of doing things.

Innovation Day 2017 Underscored Our Value and Purpose  Individuals and companies alike yearn for training that teaches the business strategy, tactics and technology underpinning business functions like product, marketing, sales, service, support, and operations. They need a solution which accelerates an individual’s time to impact and increases the likelihood that new practices and ways of doing things will get adopted and integrated into business practices to help them be competitive and economically viable. The GreenFig hybrid learning model does just that – applied learning in action – live classroom, online and offline team-based learning including a mini-internship (aka project) that tests and reinforces lessons along the way.

As you know by now, our Digital Marketing Science course launches September 13th – be a part of our next cohort, send your team or an employee, and recommend a friend.   Your time is now!!! I look forward to meeting you, learning from you, and sharing in your commitment to lifelong learning and personal empowerment.

Libby Unger, 

CEO GreenFig Micro Education, Inc.

Innovation Day is a collaborative effort, sponsored by US Bank, OSU-Cascades, Technology Association of Central Oregon, Bend Tech, and Oregrown, organized by Bend Chamber staff and Opportunity Knocks board members. 

Click here to learn more about Innovation Day 2017.

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