It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond


3 great places to host an ideation session in Charlotte by Nheeda Enriquez

Innovation experts stress the value of conducting ideation sessions offsite, where participants focus on the task at hand and are removed from their day-to-day distractions.  Brainstorming in a unfamiliar, yet relaxed environment really gets those alpha brain waves moving.

The economy undoubtedly presents a cost challenge, and it may seem like a luxury to whisk away your most productive employees for a day.  However, I’ve seen dramatic differences in idea quality when teams downgrade to ideating in an internal conference room.  In light of that, I suggest a few affordable creative spaces in Charlotte, all of which cost far less than a boring hotel ballroom and worth the investment for results.

photo via Magellan/IMR

The Best Buy:  Magellan Idea Center
Located just outside Uptown in the Atherton Lofts, this space was designed with ideation in mind.  (They also use it for focus groups and other types of market research.)  It’s a huge space packed with creative stimuli (magazines, toys, and local art) and has smaller spaces ideal for breakout exercises.  Lots of amenities are included, like coffee, snacks and tech equipment.

The Local: Imaginon
One of the benefits of having a session in a children’s museum is that it encourages your participants to think like kids again.  Frank Blair of PLCMC suggests choosing one of the round rooms, adjacent to the courtyard, to have a session outdoors.  Note that meetings technically have to be open to the public, so it may not be ideal for super-secret topics, but would be a nice place for brainstorming with potential customers.
Runner up “public” space: The Green at Wachovia

The Extra Sensory Experience: Amelie’s French Bakery
Though I haven’t had a workshop here myself, I imagine it would be a lovely place to host one, especially with the tasty treats so close by.  And it would be a neat option for teams who are most creative during non-business hours, since they’re open 24/7.
Runners-up: The galleries at the Light Factory or the studios at Area 15 in NoDa (site of local meetups and barcamps.)

I’d love to hear about spaces that other folks in the area have tried.  Post them in the comments!



3 assumptions I had about BarCamp that were totally wrong by Nheeda Enriquez

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What fun!  Not knowing what to expect, I attended the first half of BarCamp Charlotte today over at Area 15.  Reflecting on my newbie experience, I realized I arrived with a few assumptions, all of which were handily proven wrong.

1. I thought the informal nature of the setup would be frustrating. I’ve been working in a corporate setting where meetings and agendas are arranged months in advance.  But in this format, participants pitch whatever topics they want to talk about, either as an expert presenter or as a discussion leader.   Then the rest of us vote on which ones we want to see.  Despite a few logistic glitches, I found this free-wheeling format to be invigorating and liberating.  And wonderfully innovative.

2.  I assumed the topics would only be about SEO and/or social media. Not so. Though there were plenty of extremely relevant sessions about those things, the floor is open to many others.  Like the kid who taught folks how to make balloon animals.  Or setting up photo-voltaics in your home.

3.  I figured the average age of the participants would skew young. Boy, was I wrong on that one.  Of the 200(?) or so folks at the event, there was a wide range represented.  The mix in the room was impressive: small business owners, enthusiasts, and random interested friends (like me) of all levels of expertise and backgrounds.