Top Innovation Speaker, Business Professor, Author, and “Dean of Innovation”


Keynote Speaker Category: Business, Creativity, Innovation,




“One size never fits all, so throw out your checklist.”— Jeff DeGraff

Innovation is a form of positive deviance. It’s the opposite of standard operating procedures, which align your organization, creating efficiency and quality. But if you want something new, you need to tap the creative power of constructive conflict. You need to have people in your organization with diverse views, skills, and experiences, who can take different approaches to creating value. This session will introduce you to a new way of thinking about diversity and how to make it work for you: how to identify the strategic situation, its appropriate culture and competencies, and specific leadership practices necessary to produce growth.


“Innovation seldom fails in a function or region. It fails in the handoffs between them.”— Jeff DeGraff

Innovation used to be confined to the realm of tech. Now vertical approaches to innovation—such as tech centers, stage-gate systems, and product portfolios—are expected to operate in sync with horizontal federations like idea markets, creativity clusters, and collaborative open-innovation networks. The key to successfully leading innovation is to develop a new mindset and shared language to connect the dots. This way marketing knows what manufacturing is doing, and Dallas knows what Shanghai is doing, all without the extensive data inputs and outputs. In this dynamic and compelling session, Jeff will show how to sync up your innovation strategies and practices to achieve your goals and create value.


“The most creative work your people do is in the coffee shop across the street.” — Jeff DeGraff

Are your people doing their most creative work at work? While the motion picture industry was developing ever more sophisticated innovation methods, Pixar was meeting in a local cafe. If you’re focusing on complex development processes, micromanaging new product portfolios or tormenting designers with a dizzying array of metrics, your most creative people walk out of your door every day—unnoticed, uninspired, and untapped. So how can an organization make innovation happen? In this lively and compelling session, Jeff focuses on the creative development of the person: how they feel, how they think and how you should act to encourage individuals to design and follow their own creative path.


“The greatest innovation you create is yourself.” Jeff DeGraff

One day it hits you: the game has changed. You no longer feel like you are growing. What if you were a product or a service? How do you make yourself better or new? You would do an inventory of what gives you energy and what takes it. You would assess your real strengths and weaknesses. You would, in short, innovate. In this lively and inspirational session, Jeff shows the best practices from the most innovative organizations in the world. Their strategies and tactics will be explained, and more importantly, how they can be applied to make yourself new and improved, and help others do the same.

Jeff Degraff Unbranded


Jeff DeGraff is a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and the founder of the Innovatrium. Jeff is a well-known speaker with a mission to bring innovation to everyone everywhere. He has consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, such as General Electric, Coca-Cola, Google, and Mercedes-Benz, about building innovation strategy and competency. An author of many books and articles published in Inc. and LinkedIn, his opinions appear in Business Week, US News and World Report, and the Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. His Public TV program “Innovation You,” his book with the same title, and his segment in Michigan Radio called “The Next Idea” encourage and empower individuals to innovate in their every-day life. His latest book is “The Innovation Code,” co-authored with his wife, Staney DeGraff. They are collaborating on “The Creative Mindset” to be released in September 2020. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.”

Jeff DeGraff is the Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He teaches MBA, EMBA, BBA, and Executive Education courses on leading creativity, innovation and change. Jeff’s research and writing focuses on innovation strategy, change and innovation competency development, creativity and innovation practices and methods, creativity communities and innovation networks, and leadership development.

He is an author and co-author of the books Innovation YouCreativity at Work: Developing the Right Practices to Make Innovation Happen, Leading Innovation: How to Jumpstart Your Company’s Growth Engine and Competing Values Leadership: Creating Value in Organizations. His book, Making Stone Soup, was a finalist for several book awards. In his newest book Innovation Code: The Creative Power of Constructive Conflict, he argues that diversity of thought is essential to innovation. He urges everyone to practice constructive dialogue and work in diverse teams to find hybrid solutions and develop unique approaches to solve difficult problems.

Jeff’s mission is “the democratization of innovation.” He brings innovation to everyone, every day and everywhere through his books, his public television program (Innovation You), columns (Inc.) and radio program (The Next Idea). His articles and thought leadership on contemporary business matters have been covered by Business WeekUS News and World Report and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

His client list reads as a ‘who’s who’ within the world of innovators, including, among many others, General Electric, Coca-Cola, American College of Surgeons, and Google. In working with these prominent firms, he has developed a broad array of widely used change and innovation methodologies and tools. Jeff was a member of the executive team at Domino’s Pizza when it was one of the fastest growing businesses in the world in the 1980’s. Jeff’s creative and direct take on making innovation happen have made him a world renowned thought leader and have prompted his clients and colleagues to dub him as “The Dean of Innovation.”

Jeff is a Managing Partner of Innovatrium, an innovation center and consulting practice that specializes in teaching companies how to grow and become more innovative. He serves as an advisor to think tanks and governments. Jeff has worked all over the world, with significant experience in Europe and Asia, and in most industry and market segments.

Jeff’s presentation was far and away one of the best that I saw last week. Our team debriefed for quite some time on it and are reviewing how we can implement some of the suggestions.


Innovation is a skill, not a gift. It can be routinized like any other business imperative such as productivity, leadership, or quality. DeGraff shows you the way.

DREW BOYDDirector, Johnson & Johnson

I could not be any more pleased with how well it went over and I know my team feels the same way. It truly was a very valuable experience for everyone.

ROBERT D. BARBERChief Executive Officer, Environmental Data Resources, Inc.

Simply put, Jeff DeGraff’s methods work! In working with Jeff and his framework to transform various aspects of our business model, it became increasingly clear that he was also subtly transforming me and my team. It’s clear that the step by step process he’s used to transform business, can likewise, be unleashed to re-shape and transform the individual.


Jeff was a HUGE success at our meeting! He definitely hit a home run with our attendees and many of his talking points (including the ‘4 colors’) were referenced throughout the entire weekend. Jeff certainly set the stage for our most successful Matrix Leadership Meeting to date.

SUZANNE ZIEMNIKM.ED. VP, Education and Assessment, American Society for Clinical Pathology

We received very positive feedback…folks wanted more. I think that Jeff has put us on the right track. Looking forward to seeing these proof of concepts come to life.

WENDY RACEGeneral Electric Company, GE Infra, Energy

We got TONS of great feedback on Jeff, his presentation and his work. The presentation was high energy and simple, yet insightful. The model presented was very helpful in providing a common language to help categorize, discuss, and — most importantly — create choiceful decisions as to where and how to innovate.


Jeff DeGraff has a unique ability to combine entertaining and thought provoking material into a truly enjoyable evening of learning and growth! We can’t wait to use him again in one of our corporate programs.

DAVID DAUGHERTYVP of Talent Management, Plastipak Packaging

Jeff has provided marketing professionals across GE with a collaborative, measurable process that leverages existing creativity.


Jeff is not only the best in the field of unleashing innovation, he also has a heart of helpfulness. He just brought the house down at the Air Force Association’s Innovation Symposium, and now he is offering his amazing skills by helping the USAF set up its Innovation Education effort. Jeff, Staney, you guys are the best, and a grateful Air Force thanks you!

COL. JOHNNY BARNESAir Education and Training Command and Air University Liaison to the National Capital Region

Jeff is the best in the field of unleashing innovation and he has a heart of helpfulness. He ‘brought the house down’ at the Air Force Association’s Innovation Symposium. Jeff, you are the best, and a grateful Air Force thanks you!



Monika Bielskyte

Monika Bielskyte

Daniel Lamarre

Daniel LaMarre

Matthew Luhn


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