Deb Mills-Scofield, Business Innovation Maven

Deb Mills-Scofield calls herself a long-term trouble-maker. What she really does is resolve paradoxes, or show people how odd partners can coexist creatively.

Deb Mills-Scofield calls herself a long-term trouble-maker. What she really does is resolve paradoxes, or show people how odd partners can coexist creatively.


Deb has long been an innovator, beginning with her work at AT&T Bell Lab where she created the patent for a multimedia messaging service in the early 80s.

Today she applies her skills to strategy, business models, adaptive change, and predicting success through leading indicators.

Describing her work to me she said, “I do strategic alignment and planning in a way that execution is built in – it’s a constant adapting process. Rather than being cast in concrete, it’s cast in jello.”

Deb has a unique approach to innovation she calls innovanomics™, a framework for integrating strategy and innovation in a unified process. To support this work she has created a unique way to measure innovation using what she calls innovametrics that identify, apply, and analyze direct and indirect metrics for successful, profitable innovation.

Deb says, “I am very much into paradox. I love oxymorons, because usually they are not. People tend to look at the world as either/or. For me the world is and. It’s all about recombining, repackaging, and putting things together.

“Most innovation metrics are trailing. I am interested in how you can look for, find, and measure leading indicators. The front end of innovation that is very hard to measure. Some would say it’s a paradox, or it’s impossible. I don’t think so.


“When different people in different spheres or different parts of the globe start recognizing something, we can see it emerge – we know something is there. There are ways to name that process, to capture that phenomenon.

“After being in a venture capital firm for 10 years, I have gotten much better with my assessment. Some of it is plain old experience. But, there is something else operating, a sensitivity to something new before it arrives.”

Deb writes the Forbes blog, Work in Progress, and can be found on the web through her website, She is a major player in the upcoming event in DC, Revolutionizing the World of Work. These two days, hosted by Steve Denning and I, will be dedicated to remaking the management mindset; that is, reinventing business, government, education, and health.

Seth Kahan ( is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan’s CEO Leaders Forum, a year-long learning experience for CEOs in Washington, DC. His book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, is a Washington Post bestseller. Visit for more info and a free excerpt. Follow Seth on Twitter. Learn more about Seth’s work at

About the author

I help leaders with change, innovation, and growth. My latest book is "Getting Innovation Right." My first book, "Getting Change Right," was a business bestseller.