intelligence by the answers given to questions. Judge Creativity by the questions
asked." -- Gerald Haman
Gerald Haman is a big believer in North Dakota. "Iím always telling people about the great
things that happen in North
Dakota, and the
value of doing business in North Dakota," the Chicago man says. Haman is the man known nationally in
business circles as "Solutionman." The University of North Dakota
alumnus will be in Fargo next month to help his home stateís leaders identify
solutions not only for their own businesses but for getting the stateís economy
in high gear. Haman on July 10, at the Fargodome, will lead Innovation Growth
Day, a day- long event sponsored by the North Dakota Department of Commerceís
Division of Economic Development and Finance. The event closes with an hour-long
"Thinkathon" designed to generate ideas for growing North Dakota. Ideas that will be presented to North Dakota Gov.
John Hoeven. Those ideas will be knocked around by North Dakota leaders at a smaller session July 11. "I donít
know of any other state in the country thatís doing something like this, using
people from inside and outside the state to develop ideas for growth,"
Haman said from Chicago this week. "We want to plant some seeds. Rick
Forsgren, director of the Traill County Economic Development Corp., was among
the first to sign up. "I try to go to these seminars, because this is
where you learn new things and I always find the networking worthwhile,"
Forsgren said. Linda Butts, director of the North Dakota Division of Economic
Development and Finance, said representatives of businesses and organizations
from around the state are encouraged to attend. "We want them to bring an
organizational challenge to address or a problem to solve. If they have a
strategic plan sitting on a shelf, bring it and find new ways to implement
it," she said. Butts and other North Dakota
officials hooked up with Haman in early March, at a state-sponsored event in Chicago for North
Dakota natives living there.
Haman owns SolutionPeople, a Chicago-based
business consulting company. He also operates his "Thinkubator"
there, which North Dakota officials toured during the visit.
"Itís so innovative, so out of the
box," Butts said of the "Thinkubator," a specially-designed
meeting space Haman uses to help business leaders form corporate solutions.
SolutionPeople, is featured in a chapter of
the bestselling business book "Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal
Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force." †His "KnowBrainer," a pocket-sized
cardboard brainstorming tool, is used by the likes of Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Haman is a native of Towner, N.D.
After graduating from UND in 1982 with an
honors degree in business, political science and speech communications, Haman
worked first for Procter & Gamble and then for the now-defunct consulting
and accounting firm Arthur Andersen. He formed SolutionPeople in 1989.
Haman has worked with 160 of the Fortune 500
businesses. Notable clients include Adidas, Dow Chemical and Motorola. In
working with financial services company Capital One, Butts said, Haman helped
teams identify $74 million in savings and $10 billion in potential new sources
"What we saw with Gerald is proven
results," Butts said. The seminar being offered here costs as much as
$1,000 a participant in larger cities.
"Participants will leave with a plan for
innovation and a design for implementing that plan," Butts said.
"When we help our stateís existing businesses increase productivity and
profitability, we grow the economy of the state."