Start creating your ‘foresight network’

Edward P. Salek, CAE, Executive Director | TLT Headquarters Report September 2017

Connecting with a variety of people develops your innovative thinking skills. Let STLE show you how it’s done.

According to a leading business professor, networking events like STLE’s Annual Meeting are a great place to meet the kind of innovative thinkers who can help you build your own foresight network.

MOST OF US WOULD LIKE TO BE KNOWN as an innovative thinker, whether we are running a professional society, working in a commercial enterprise or doing research in a lab. The question is: Are innovators born or made?

According to a recent blog post by George E.L. Barbee, a Fellow at the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business, there is a simple way to develop your capacity for innovative thinking beyond its current state. His piece, published online by the management magazine Strategy+Business (, urges, “Build your ‘foresight network.’ Find people in your organization who think in a creative manner. You know these people. They stand out in meetings, and you value one-on-one discussions with them.”

Barbee contends that speaking with a variety of people who fit this description will have a multiplier effect and result in “breakthrough thinking.” The process accelerates if you strive for “functional, divisional and geographic diversity.”

Barbee was not writing about the technical sector or specifically about STLE. His thoughts were directed to business executives facing decisions about strategy, marketing, operations and other domains. But even with that concession, it’s clear to me that this idea of a foresight network equates to the STLE Connect, Learn, Achieve value proposition.

Here are a few tips on how STLE can help you and your organization connect with innovative thinkers through a tribology and lubricants foresight network.

Conferences and meetings are a great place to start. September is the time of year when STLE Local Sections resume their monthly meeting activity. You can find section information, including meeting schedules, posted on You also can start thinking ahead to the 73rd STLE Annual Meeting & Exhibition, May 20-24, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA).

By the way, if you are not familiar with all that Minneapolis has to offer, check out the preview information on under the Events tab. You will discover why the NFL choose it as the site for the 2018 Super Bowl and why the NCAA will stage the Final Four college basketball tournament there in the coming year.

For those not able to travel to meetings, STLE also offers a variety of online and print options that can serve as a de facto network. There is a vibrant LinkedIn group with nearly 6,000 members where you can find daily posts by colleagues from around the world with links to articles, Webinars, etc. Click the icon on to be connected. Remember that we also have a lively Twitter feed, a YouTube channel and a Facebook group.

Each monthly issue of TLT lets you connect in print with contributors who share their ideas and expertise in the pages of this magazine. You also can research topics via the online TLT archives as well as the new Learning Pathways function available at

As you investigate the STLE network, you also will experience the functional and geographic diversity that Barbee recommends. For example, STLE has members in about 70 countries around the globe and we sponsor 20 technical committees covering topics that range from bio-tribology to wind energy.

STLE looks forward to being the source for inspiration and innovative thinking as you build your foresight network.

You can reach Certified Association Executive Ed Salek at