Does your organization need more innovation and entrepreneurial activity?

For nearly 50 years Innovation Associates has helped Fortune 500 companies get at the source of achieving extraordinary results and innovating beyond the bounds of their traditional businesses. We pioneered the field of organizational learning and we apply that expertise to help our clients:

  • Become more entrepreneurial and innovative

  • Successfully navigate uncertainty

  • Develop exemplary leaders for turbulent times

  • Develop teams capable of achieving breakthrough results

Our clients have ambitious goals yet are faced with these all-too-familiar problems:

  • Early stage projects get stifled or mired in bureaucracy

  • Rigid financial or market requirements scuttle otherwise promising new products or services

  • Ideas with great potential seem to get shot down too early

  • Innovative actions get bogged down in labored and lengthy decision-making

  • Improvements in system performance require collaborations across organizational boundaries

These problems can be a consequence of treating an uncertain, unpredictable world as if it were predictable. When faced with highly unpredictable situations, you need a different approach, one that enables rapid and effective action.

Expertise & Impact

Growth, innovation, flexibility and agility require a different approach. When driving people to change their strategies and behaviors no longer works, substantial improvement will occur only when people change the thinking that informs their strategies and actions.

Innovation Associates' methods foster the mindsets and skills that lead to extraordinary results. We are experts in how organizations embrace new modes of thinking and put that thinking into action. These methods result in spirited, swift, entrepreneurial action across your entire organization, particularly in the face of uncertainty and volatility. Learning occurs at a deep, permanent level.


Through IA's consulting services and leadership development programs:

  • Our clients achieved aspirational goals and built lasting capabilities to continually evolve and change.

  • Their people advanced new ideas, took initiative, became smarter and more creative, and effectively navigated the complexity of thier organization and its business environment.

  • Their teams aligned around a shared vision and inspired and evoked support from those around them. They operated efficiently with well-honed meeting and decision making skills.

  • Leaders elicited entrepreneurial activity and created cultures conducive to innovation.


Contact Us

You may also reach former Innovation Associates staff members directly through their LinkedIn accounts:

Charles Kiefer: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charliekiefer/

Joel Yanowitz: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joel-yanowitz-b4711/

Sherry Immediato: https://www.linkedin.com/in/c-sherry-immediato-141993/

Mike Goodman: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-goodman-5a38a13

David Peter Stroh: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-peter-stroh-9bb872b/


Or on the Innovation Associates company page at Linked In.

History of Innovation Associates

IA was founded by Charles Kiefer in 1975 to help large, technology-based companies improve their innovation processes. The firm’s initial clients were Exxon, Digital Equipment and a number of Massachusetts high-technology firms. The company’s work led to dramatic improvements in both the level of innovation and in reducing innovation cycle times.

Visionary Planning

In 1978, the company determined that the key factor in innovation success is the development of high-performing teams. Over the next two years Kiefer was joined by David Stroh, Michael Goodman, Joel Yanowitz, Sherry Immediato and others. They developed Visionary Planning, a three-day educational program that enabled teams to achieve high performing states and it was in this course that the concept of Shared Vision was first introduced. In 1979 Kiefer and Peter Senge received the George and Cynthia Mitchell Prize for a paper that included the first report of the use of shared vision in business organizations.

Leadership & Mastery

Visionary Planning was a great success but the company discovered that high performance could be amplified and sustained through great leadership. As a result, in 1979 Kiefer conceived of a new approach to leadership training. He collaborated with Senge and Robert Fritz to develop Leadership and Mastery (L&M), a three-day, experiential course that grounded leadership as a state of being based on personal vision and understanding systemic structure. L&M met with great market acceptance and over the next 20 years, by word of mouth alone, “graduated” over 8000 alumni from publicly offered versions plus thousands from in-house versions that were offered by companies such as Procter & Gamble, British Petroleum, Coca Cola, Kraft/General Foods, Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo), WW Grainger, and many others.

Organizational Learning

Throughout the 1980s, the firm pioneered the body of concepts and methods which Kiefer and Senge initially termed Metanoic Organizations in their Mitchell Prize winning paper. These methods enable large organizations, across all industries, to innovate and change from being driven by circumstance and managed through compliance, to being characterized by aspiration and deep commitment.

In 1990 Senge published his landmark management best seller The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization based, in part, on the work of IA staff, and on which, IA’s consulting and training work continued through the 1990s. Over this period Senge and others published a number of successful sequels to The Fifth Discipline and, in addition to Senge, Fritz and Kiefer, the firm attracted many other thought leaders in organization development, most notably Richard Beckhard, Dave Berlew, Roger Harrison and David Kantor. The IA staff made significant contributions to the post-Fifth Discipline organizational learning literature including the pioneering of systems archetypes and educational programs in systems thinking.

Going Global

By 1995, IA had a staff of 60 people and offices in the United States and Canada. It was then acquired by the worldwide consulting firm, Arthur D. Little, Inc. and after a couple very successful years operating as a relatively independent subsidiary, it was folded in to ADL’s Global Management Consulting activities. In 2002 Kiefer retrieved the Innovation Associates name from ADL's bankruptcy in 2002.

Today

IA’s classic Learning Organization work continues under the leadership of Michael Goodman & David Peter Stroh and the Society for Organizational Learning founded by Senge. Other IA staff continue consulting and training services in organizational learning while branching out into other areas:

Joel Yanowitz is an executive coach and advisor known for his ability to help leaders accelerate progress on critical business challenges through leveraging the human side of their organizations. His focus is on building cultures where executives and their teams can thrive, enabling them to both “solve” complex problems and to use those problems as opportunities for generating growth and change. Visit Joel’s website for additional information: (https://www.JoelYanowitz.com)

David Peter Stroh co-founded Bridgeway Partners, a management consulting firm that partners with mission-centered organizational leaders committed to advancing societal and environmental transformation. He is the author of the best-selling book Systems Thinking for Social Change (Chelsea Green, 2015). Together with Michael Goodman, he also co-directs Applied Systems Thinking.

Charles Kiefer continues coaching and consulting senior executives and organization change professionals on innovation, organizational change, entrepreneurship and insight thinking. In 2008 he and Len Schlesinger, then president of Babson College, developed courses and a books on Entrepreneurial Thought and Action. He and Robin Charbit developed a set of tools and methods that enables executives to increase the frequency of insight and deepen the presence of wisdom and judgment in their organizations.

Sherry Immediato focuses on supporting non-profit and multi-sector initiatives addressing complex social issues. Assignments often include systems analysis, strategic planning and case- making to articulate the value proposition of improving health and well-being. Her priority is building local capacity to continue this work. She served as the managing director of the Society for Organizational Learning for 2001-2010.

Michael Goodman focuses on transferring the learning disciplines into organizations to sustain their capacity for learning and change. He also helped create many of the innovations in the field of Systems Thinking that has made it more accessible to organizational leaders. He has published widely, authoring one of the first textbooks in the field, Study Notes in Systems Dynamics, and served as the primary contributor to the Systems Thinking chapter in the acclaimed Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. He is co-director of Applied Systems Thinking with David Stroh.

Publications

Over the years our work with clients has led to several highly regarded books as well as numerous published articles.

In the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. IA co- founder Peter Senge’s bestselling book describes how companies can rid themselves of key learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations. These strategies lead to organizations in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire.

A step-by-step guide to implementing the ideas in The Fifth Discipline, this book includes case studies, exercises and practical tips for building a Learning Organization.

In a world where you can no longer plan or predict your way to success, how can you achieve your most important goals? It’s a daunting question. But in today’s environment, where change is the only constant, it’s a question everyone must answer. This is true whether you are an innovator or an entrepreneur, a manager or a newly minted graduate. Just Start combines fascinating research with proven practices to deliver a reliable method for helping you advance toward your goals—despite the uncertainty that is all too common today.

We have all experienced it: the jolt of an insight arriving like a thunderclap, the metaphorical light bulb over your head as you drive to work, take a shower, or unload the dishwasher. These all-too-elusive “aha moments” come sporadically and without warning. But what if insights could be accessed more reliably in everyday life? In the Art of Insight, Charles Kiefer and Malcolm Constable provide the tools to make this possibility a reality.