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Innovation can take many forms and this event will explore innovation case studies and practical applications across product, brand, company, language, intelligence and workplace.

The common theme: people and empathy.

In addition, you'll be inspired by stories of innovation from misfits, learn from stories of what it's like to really fail, and where sometimes innovation isn't the answer.

The day will be full of ideas and stories to take back to your company to help drive change.



    What's it really like to fail?

Steven Overman - Author and global leadership advisor

Innovation requires risk and all of its consequences, including the very real possibility of failure.

“Fail fast” and “Failing up” are hot buzzwords, but how many of us have experienced catastrophic failure and the systemic, organisational dilemmas that emerge from it?

As innovators, how might we spot the signs of potential failure earlier, and how can we lead our organisations through disruption without failing further?

Using Kodak and Nokia as examples, we’ll discuss how and why real failure happens, while exploring how to recover from it.

Steven is the author of The Conscience Economy: How A Mass Movement for Good is Great for Business (Bibliomotion 2014).  His career has kept him at the forefront of global societal change, from the earliest days of Wired magazine, which introduced the world to the Digital Revolution and where he produced the world’s first video streaming news program, to working on the Academy Award-winning movie Philadelphia, which transformed the global conversation about HIV/ AIDS. At Nokia, he led the international launch of the world's first smartphone, and went on to create international marketing for affordable mobile technology. Recently, as Kodak's Global Chief Marketing Officer, and President of Kodak's Consumer and Film Division, Steven and his team led the business turnaround and renewal of one of the world's biggest brands.

  Innovation, Geo-politics and the 4th industrial revolution: What to pay attention to.

Rob Murray - Head of Innovation, NATO

Rob has to craft the policy that will keep the Alliance at the forward edge of technology in the ever-shifting world of geopolitics, whilst also helping to foster an eco-system where innovation actually happens at both speed and scale.

Rob will tell you about his experiences of what works and what doesn’t.

He will also explain why, in an era of data derived decisions and data sovereignty debates, it is our people who are our biggest assets.

Linguistic Innovation: making sense of generation poetry

Julie Jenson Bennett - The Generation Poetry Project

We believe kids today are speaking a new language. This is a big deal because linguistic innovation is the root of all innovation.

We also believe this new language is different from the usual waves of youth culture trends and teenage slang. The emerging era of Generation Poetry creates not only exciting possibilities but also risks immense breakdowns in communications, culture and relationships.

So how do we listen and learn? What are the kids telling us?

Julie is a writer, researcher and technologist with over 25 years expertise of understanding how people change alongside science and technology, in order to define future product pipelines. Her work started at Intel Corporation in the US, travelled through the product design industry in the UK, and has now led her to help co-found The Generation Poetry Project as a school for and about communication in our times.

    Agile Innovation: moving away from testing/validating towards learning & not being afraid to fail

Barbara Schandl - Insights Lead @ SnackFutures

Barbara is a highly experienced Consumer & Shopper Insights professional, aka  “Curiosity Champion”. She has >20 years of experience in Mondelez and formerly Kraft Foods, across a variety of global, regional and local Insight roles. From a geographic perspective, her deep expertise lies within Emerging Markets.

Her career has stretched across Consumer & Shopper Insights, Brand Marketing, Strategy and Innovation. She has worked closely with most types of business units around the world, and is currently based in Zurich. In her role @ SnackFutures, Barbara is excited about making a real impact on the future of Mondelez.


Steven Overman

Steven Overman
Author and global leadership advisor (ex-Kodak, ex-Nokia)


Rob Murray
Head of Innovation, NATO

Russell Davies

Russell Davies
Chief Marketing Officer,

Dom Dwight

Dom Dwight
Marketing Director, Taylors of Harrogate

Barbara Schandl

Barbara Schandl
Insights Lead SnackFutures, Mondelez

Paula Zuccotti

Paula Zuccotti
Designer, ethnographer, trend forecaster

nils leonard

Nils Leonard
CEO, Uncommon

Estrella Lopez-Brea Perez

Estrella Lopez-Brea Perez
Global Head of Insights at Cereal Partners Worldwide

Jim Cregan

Jim Cregan
Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

Brian Millar

Brian Millar
Director, Paddle Consulting

Christine Armstrong

Christine Armstrong
Author, The Mother of all Jobs

Alexa Clay

Alexa Clay
Co-author of the best selling book, The Misfit Economy

Julie Jenson Bennett

Julie Jenson Bennett
Co-Director, The Generation Poetry Project

Keep your chin up - How positivity to do better forces us to become more innovative.

Jim Cregan - Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

Once upon a time, a dude called Jim came across iced coffee cartons in Oz. He brought the idea home and now runs Jimmy’s Iced Coffee based on the south coast of England.

He started that business with his sister, and today they lead a team of over 20, with a range of 6 products (and counting).

The company donates 1% of all profits to charity through their Keep Your Chin Up programme, helping the younger generation become inspired to do awesome things.

Oh, and they do love a damn fine road trip.

Innovating Intelligence: how situations can be different to how we see them

Paula Zuccotti - Designer, ethnographer, trend forecaster

Paula Zuccotti is an innovation consultant developing future visions of products and services for the likes of Google, Starbucks, Nike, LG, Microsoft, and Ikea.

Her focus on ethnographic, user-centric research has been paramount to finding meaningful opportunities for innovation.

Untranslatable Words.
Innovation means something different in every country, and company

Nils Leonard - Uncommon

How to find it, how to build a culture around it, and why you should bother to try.

Nils has spent over 18 years in the advertising industry. In his most recent post as Chief Creative Officer of Grey LDN, Nils oversaw the most profitable and awarded years in the agency’s 52 years history and became one of the youngest agency chairmen in the world.

Nils was voted into the Ad Age creativity 50 and named the most creative person in advertising globally by Business insider.

A creative champion, agitating for change and diversity in the industry, Nils is a regular speaker and judge at industry events, is on the board of trustees of D&AD and is listed as the Sunday Times 500 most influential people in the UK.

Entertainment thinking: why you should stop thinking like a brand and start thinking like a Kardashian

Brian Millar - Paddle Consulting

"When you create a TV show, you begin by understanding what your audience likes, breaking that up and mashing genres together.

Entertainers wonder if things are 'on audience,' not 'on brand'. They mash genres together: We pitched Eight out of Ten Cats as sweary family fortunes. My company has spent 3 years studying the kinds of content that audiences like: it turns out there are only 4 ways to engage them."

Brian Millar began life as a copywriter but no longer has the attention span to write 30 second TV spots. He's spent the last decade working with the design teams of Nike, Hewlett Packard, PepsiCo and many others, using data as a creative springboard for developing products. His business partner, Torie Chilcott, is an ex-TV producer whose work includes American Idol, The Farmer Wants a Wife and, yes, Eight out of Ten Cats.

If diversity drives innovation why do we find it so hard to make it happen?

Christine Armstrong - author of The Mother of all Jobs

"We’ve all been talking about diversity since I started work 20 years ago.

Even just 10 years ago someone told me that if they got invited to another panel talk about women on boards she would scream.

Yet the needle has barely moved.  What is going on here and how are we going to tackle it now?"

Christine is an author, researcher and speaker who co-created communications consultancy Jericho Chambers.

Last year she published The Mother of All Jobs: how to have children and a career and stay sane(ish). Based on 7 years of interviews, it was a finalist for business book of the year.

Christine also writes regularly for the Sunday Times, Telegraph, business magazines and is often asked to appear on the BBC and Sky.

  The Power of Misfits: ingenuity and innovation from the black market

Alexa Clay - Co-author of The Misfit Economy

Alexa Clay is a fresh voice with a thought-provoking message. Co-author of best selling book The Misfit Economy, it was named as the pre-eminent business book to read in 2015 by The World Economic Forum, Tech Republic, The Telegraph and Huffington Post.

In the book, Clay interviews Somali Pirates, LA drug dealers, young hackers and NY con artists, demonstrating that these misfits have more in common with entrepreneurs than you might think.

An engaging storyteller, she takes you inside the hearts and minds of the innovators working on the fringes of society.

Nominated for the Thinkers 50 award for Innovation, Clay is passionate about subcultures and inspires you to rethink your assumptions on ingenuity. She has uncovered that the underworld is filled with natural-born-innovators.

It's not complicated, it's just hard: on maintenance, kaisen and fixing the basics

Russell Davies - Bulb

There's a lot to be said for just doing obvious things well.

It might be less glamorous than innovation but it's probably more productive. It's also, frankly, harder.

Russell Davies is a writer and strategist. He thinks about what happens when organisations and services meet the internet and he builds things to find out more.

He's worked on communications and digital strategies for organisations such as Honda, Nike, Microsoft, Apple, the Government Digital Service and the Co-op.

He's currently Chief Marketing Officer at Bulb, a Contributing Editor at Wired and an advisor to Doteveryone.

When to listen, when to lead

Dom Dwight - Taylors of Harrogate

It’s hard to argue against the importance of understanding your consumer. But what happens if your consumers want something you’re not prepared to give?

And what if something that defines you as a business is something that your consumers just don’t seem to care about?

Balancing external insight with the internal convictions of a values-based business is certainly challenging but it can take you to some very interesting places…

Dom Dwight is a former journalist who joined Taylors of Harrogate as a copywriter back in 2008. His early experiments in social media transformed the company's approach to communications. It also played a key part in driving the success of Yorkshire Tea, to become the nation’s number one tea brand. Nowadays, his main challenge is future-proofing their coffee business.

Let’s save the world from Innovation failure

Estrella Lopez-Brea Perez, Global Head of Insights at Cereal Partners Worldwide.

Large multinationals are generally known for being big monsters with long processes, in which business needs are prioritized over the consumer. But the only way to develop relevant innovation for consumers that keeps us competitive in today’s changing environment is to be agile and consumer-centric. This means:

  • Understanding people deeply
  • Talking to our consumers directly and in their own environment

Estrella is a consumer insights leader with 20 years of experience turning insights into actions for multinational companies across different FMCG companies (Altadis, Coca-Cola, Nestlé). At Cereal Partners Worldwide (the Breakfast Cereals division at Nestlé), she’s responsible for keeping the consumer at the center of every decision related to brand strategy, communication development and innovation of current and new brands.

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About Watch Me Think

Watch Me Think is a global consumer empathy agency that specializes in

  • Grounding Qualitative Behavioural Research
  • Bringing Known Insights To Life
  • Integrating Consumer Closeness Programs

We can

  • Help you find insights based on truths
  • Empower your ability to sell insight at the most senior level
  • Put your company back in touch with the real lives of your customers

Get in touch:

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All profits from this event will be donated to Naomi House & Jacksplace - hospice care for children and young people.