Founder & CEO. Mark Sebell has been a successful business innovationist since 1982. Prior to that he spent 12 years in advertising, packaged goods brand management and corporate new ventures.
With a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan he joined Colgate-Palmolive in 1974, where he was selected to join the company’s first-ever Corporate New Ventures Group, reporting directly to the chairman of the corporation. “We were his ‘frustration group.’ New ideas were passing through so many layers of decision-making that they were getting stripped of their newness. Our charter was to ‘make new things happen.’ It was an unbelievable learning lab for a 28-year-old. It was also where I first developed my passion for innovation process.”
In 1982 Mark and his family returned home to Boston, where he joined Synecti
Mark co-founded Creative Realities in 1988, because he wanted to be in the innovation business, not the creativity business. “Innovation is a function of strategy, creativity, and implementation, not just creativity. And, it’s about much more than new products and new services. It’s about finding new ways of doing anything that creates value for an enterprise and its customers.”cs, the company that had trained him as a brainstorming facilitator while he was at Colgate-Palmolive. In 1986 he became a managing partner. This multi-dimensional experience in brandmanagement, new product development, advertising services and process facilitation helped him think about innovation from many different perspectives.
But big, game-changing innovation requires one more ingredient; executive sponsorship. “Breakthrough innovation requires active sponsorship from the top, dedicated resources and a different decision-making model from the one used for incremental innovation. We’ve cracked the code on aligning the “C”, the operating, and the project levels of any organization behind one strategic innovation agenda. We help everyone engage in the process at the right times and in the right ways, to help insure that big ideas won’t unintentionally get squashed as they almost always do in traditional innovation models.”
Mark’s two passions in life are his grandsons, Jack & Max; and his sailboat. He is the author of a book on innovation called Ban the Humorous Bazooka. “Bazookas are what we do to new ideas. We don’t just shoot them down; we bazooka them. And, the humorous bazooka is the most punishing kind, because you can’t defend yourself, especially if the humorous bazooka comes from the boss.” In his Forward to the book, the late C.K. Prahalad described it as “...a practitioner’s guide for leaders & managers.”
Mark is a frequent guest at Harvard Business School, Babson College’s graduate program in entrepreneurship, Yale School of Management, and Tufts University, among others. He speaks often on the subject of innovation and has been the keynote presenter at several domestic and international innovation symposia, the last two being in Norway and Austria.