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Innovation guru, Thomas Kuczmarski has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, boost their competitive edge and performance by building and sustaining innovative cultures. The nationally recognized expert and energizing speaker is the President and Founder of Kuczmarski Innovation and an internationally acclaimed professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

For more than three decades, Mr. Kuczmarksi’s executive education courses at the Kellogg School have attracted students from around the world. He is the author of six books and many publications on innovation and leadership, including Values-Based Leadership and Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership. He serves on the editorial review boards for The Journal of Product Innovation Management and The Journal of Consumer Marketing.

Mr. Kuczmarksi is one of the most prominent figures driving innovation and business in the heartland. In 2002, he co-founded the Chicago Innovation Awards, which annually celebrates, educates, and connects innovators in the Chicago region. In 2013, the Awards expanded to include a new venture, The Innovators Connection, designed to help expand the local economy by creating business connections among the region’s innovators, large and small.

Mr. Kuczmarski’s innovation principles and strategies come from his own wealth of business experience. Before founding Kuczmarski & Associates, he was a Principal at Booz · Allen & Hamilton. While there, Mr. Kuczmarski assisted more than 100 U.S. consumer and industrial goods companies in the areas of marketing, new product development, strategic business analysis and organizational planning. In addition, he led the firm′s in-depth research of the best practices employed by more than 700 U.S. firms in their new product management processes. His prior experience as a brand manager at Quaker Oats Company also provided a solid and broad-based foundation unique to his consulting specialty.

Full Profile

Thomas D. Kuczmarski, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski & Associates, is a nationally recognized expert in the innovation of new products and services. Over the course of his career he has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. The author of five books and many articles, Mr. Kuczmarski has also taught product and service innovation at Northwestern University′s Kellogg Graduate School of Management for 27 years. His executive education courses at the Kellogg School attract students from around the world.

Mr. Kuczmarski is founder, with Dan Miller, of the Chicago Innovation Awards, which recognize each year the most innovative new products and services developed in the upper Midwest. The awards, which are endorsed by every major business association in the Chicago region, showcase the creative spirit of America′s heartland.

Mr. Kuczmarski is the author of five books. Apples are Square: Thinking Differently about Leadership (Kaplan), co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski and published in 2007, explores the qualities of the ideal leader and how to build those qualities into one’s own career. Innovating the Corporation (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group) reveals the seven steps for achieving growth through innovation. Managing New Products (Book Ends Publishing), now in its third edition, is endorsed by the American Marketing Association and widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive treatises on the development of new products. Values-Based Leadership: Rebuilding Employee Commitment, Productivity and Performance (Prentice-Hall) was also co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski. His book Innovation was co-published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group and the American Marketing Association.

He is extensively published and cited in radio, television, and national periodicals including: The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, Business Week, The Today Show, Planning Review, Investor′s Business Daily, USA Today, Marketing News, Advertising Age, Crain′s Chicago Business, Business Marketing, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many more. He has a chapter published on new products and services in the Marketing Encyclopedia, a publication of the American Marketing Association. He serves on the editorial review boards for The Journal of Product Innovation Management and The Journal of Consumer Marketing. In addition, Mr. Kuczmarski is a highly regarded speaker on innovation management and leadership, and lectures nationally and internationally to a broad range of corporations and associations.

Before founding Kuczmarski & Associates, he was a Principal at Booz · Allen & Hamilton. While there, Mr. Kuczmarski assisted more than 100 U.S. consumer and industrial goods companies in the areas of marketing, new product development, strategic business analysis and organizational planning. In addition, he led the firm′s in-depth research of the best practices employed by more than 700 U.S. firms in their new product management processes. His prior experience as a brand manager at Quaker Oats Company also provided a solid and broad-based foundation unique to his consulting specialty.

He earned an M.B.A. from Columbia University′s Graduate School of Business, and holds a master′s degree in international affairs from Columbia University′s Graduate School of International Affairs, where he was named an International Fellow of the University. He received a B.A. in French from the College of the Holy Cross.


Thomas Kuczmarski Speaker Videos Back to top

Innovation Workshop Featuring Tom Kuczmarski


Thomas Kuczmarski explains that the number one force that drives innovation is a company’s culture. True, to be competitive today, organizations must have an innovational process, strategy, and an understanding of customers’ needs and problems - but none of that will come about on a macro-level unless leadership can inspire its people to contribute and take risks.

One of the many tactics he recommends to leaders is the celebration of failure: literally, he promotes throwing “failure parties” in the workplace. “I’m a strong believer in celebrating success,” he states, “but we’ve also got to encourage a learning environment where we can learn just as much from our mistakes and failures as we do from our successes.”

Keynote Speech


Authors@Google: Tom Kuczmarski



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Mr. Kuczmarski’s highly interactive programs show you specific tactics to make inclusivity and engagement core parts of your organization, helping you create an innovative culture that will drive measurable, tangible results. Additionally, he packs every program with customer-centric approaches that he has used to help companies of all sizes launch revenue-generating products and services that create and capture new customer value.

The Power of Innovation and Best Practices (Half Day)—For Senior Management
An interactive and collaborative two or four hour session focused on:

    • Innovation Best Practices from related industries
    • Innovation strategies for value creation
    • Creating a Culture of Innovation

Key take aways:

    • A consistent vocabulary and understanding with which to address innovation
    • Defined Innovation Vision, Strategic Roles, Innovation Playing Field, Financial Growth Goals, and Screening Criteria
    • Strategies for enhancing the Innovation Process and supporting an Innovation Culture

Igniting Innovation and Creating An Innovation Mindset (One Day)—For Cross-Functional Leaders
An interactive daylong seminar focused on:

    • Activating the market-centric Seven-Step Innovation Process
    • Organizing the managing teams for innovation success
    • Defining innovation opportunities
    • Leading for successful innovation

Key take aways:

    • An actionable roadmap to begin the Innovation Process
    • Defined leadership roles and duties to ensure innovation success

Innovation Immersion (Two Days)—For Innovation Project Teams
A two-day hands-on workshop focused on:

Executing the Seven-Step Innovation Process, including:

    • Defining Innovation Vision and Strategy
    • Identifying market needs and opportunities
    • Using market insights to develop innovative solutions
    • Optimizing innovation concepts through qualitative researchM
    • Shaping prototypes and finalizing business casesM
    • Entering into test markets
    • Launching innovations

The 90-Day Work Plan for Innovation Success that provides:

    • Techniques for securing adequate resources and generating senior management support
    • "How-To’s" for jumpstarting the innovation process and mapping out an effective innovation plan
    • Methods for leveraging cross-functional inputs throughout the process

Key Take Aways:

    • Practical skills, templates, and next steps for executing the Innovation Process
    • Guidelines for developing a timeline, workplan, and budget for Innovation Initiatives




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership
Featuring a foreword by Deepak Chopra and interviews with dozens of leadership pioneers, this book provides a seven-step prescription for creating a compassionately competitive work culture. This groundbreaking strategy shows how collaborators, not controllers, dare to create success by reshaping the workplace in unexpected ways, with a focus on topics such as humility, compassion, inclusiveness, and values-based decisiveness. The interviewees include Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist; Mary Ellen Weber, former NASA astronaut; and Chris Zorich, former NFL star.


Innovating the Corporation

Innovating the Corporation: Creating Value for Customers and Shareholders
Numerous barriers, problems, and unresolved issues often prevent innovation from taking hold within an organization. Companies haven't discovered how to measure innovation, make it repeatable, or systematize it. Until now. The program outlined in Innovating the Corporation guarantees accelerated innovation within any corporation, within any industry. Intended as a dynamic, hands-on guide, this book offers a comprehensive look at strategic planning, understanding and cultivating an innovation vision, and building an innovation team. Includes detailed, step-by-step information on how to measure the success of an innovation plan.


The Power of Innovation and Best Practices (Half Day)—For Senior Management
An interactive and collaborative two or four hour session focused on:

    • Innovation Best Practices from related industries
    • Innovation strategies for value creation
    • Creating a Culture of Innovation

Key take aways:

    • A consistent vocabulary and understanding with which to address innovation
    • Defined Innovation Vision, Strategic Roles, Innovation Playing Field, Financial Growth Goals, and Screening Criteria
    • Strategies for enhancing the Innovation Process and supporting an Innovation Culture

Igniting Innovation and Creating An Innovation Mindset (One Day)—For Cross-Functional Leaders
An interactive daylong seminar focused on:

    • Activating the market-centric Seven-Step Innovation Process
    • Organizing the managing teams for innovation success
    • Defining innovation opportunities
    • Leading for successful innovation

Key take aways:

    • An actionable roadmap to begin the Innovation Process
    • Defined leadership roles and duties to ensure innovation success

Innovation Immersion (Two Days)—For Innovation Project Teams
A two-day hands-on workshop focused on:

Executing the Seven-Step Innovation Process, including:

    • Defining Innovation Vision and Strategy
    • Identifying market needs and opportunities
    • Using market insights to develop innovative solutions
    • Optimizing innovation concepts through qualitative researchM
    • Shaping prototypes and finalizing business casesM
    • Entering into test markets
    • Launching innovations

The 90-Day Work Plan for Innovation Success that provides:

    • Techniques for securing adequate resources and generating senior management support
    • "How-To’s" for jumpstarting the innovation process and mapping out an effective innovation plan
    • Methods for leveraging cross-functional inputs throughout the process

Key Take Aways:

    • Practical skills, templates, and next steps for executing the Innovation Process
    • Guidelines for developing a timeline, workplan, and budget for Innovation Initiatives


Innovation Workshop Featuring Tom Kuczmarski


Thomas Kuczmarski explains that the number one force that drives innovation is a company’s culture. True, to be competitive today, organizations must have an innovational process, strategy, and an understanding of customers’ needs and problems - but none of that will come about on a macro-level unless leadership can inspire its people to contribute and take risks.

One of the many tactics he recommends to leaders is the celebration of failure: literally, he promotes throwing “failure parties” in the workplace. “I’m a strong believer in celebrating success,” he states, “but we’ve also got to encourage a learning environment where we can learn just as much from our mistakes and failures as we do from our successes.”

Keynote Speech


Authors@Google: Tom Kuczmarski