Podcasts about business innovation

Share on
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Reddit
Copy link to clipboard
  • 286PODCASTS
  • 480EPISODES
  • 34mAVG DURATION
  • 5WEEKLY NEW EPISODES
  • Dec 23, 2021LATEST

POPULARITY

20122013201420152016201720182019202020212022


Best podcasts about business innovation

Latest podcast episodes about business innovation

The Compassionate Samurai Business Hour
How to Design Your Company's Innovation Strategy using The Innovation Design Wheel

The Compassionate Samurai Business Hour

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2021 55:56


Innovation means different things to different people. When a CEO says “innovation”, it's rare that employees truly understand what the CEO means. Innovation can mean … a thing, a value, a concept, a process or a strategy. Yet, some leaders use it to describe technology, R&D,or marketing. Sadly, innovation often gets thrown around like magic dust, a buzzword that's lost its charm. In this show, John Storm, President of the BrainStorm Network, will share his insights & experiences after 25 years of innovation involvement. We'll talk about a proven innovation process, along with a new model for designing a company's innovation strategy. Getting clear about what metrics should be used to measure innovation's impact is critical. We'll talk about both hard & soft metrics you can use to focus on the key elements in designing a customized innovation strategy. Innovation ultimately means long-term survival, for if a company is not changing, improving, and growing, it will die.

Unknown Origins
Peter Hinssen on Business Innovation

Unknown Origins

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 18, 2021 53:49


Peter Hinssen is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, keynote speaker, and author. Peter is one of the most sought-after thought leaders on radical innovation, leadership, and the impact of all things digital on society and business. He lectures at various business schools such as the London Business School (UK) and MIT in Boston. Peter has founded nexxworks to help organizations become fluid, innovate and thrive in 'The Day After Tomorrow.'Photo of Peter Hinssen @ Lies Willaert. Creativity Without Frontiers available at all relevant book retailersStay in touch with Unknown OriginsMusic by Iain Mutch Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/unknownorigins)

Inside Outside
Ep. 277 - Melissa Vincent, ED of Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship on Helping Midwest Startups Grow & Thrive

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 32:05


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Melissa Vincent, Executive Director of Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship. This recording was part of our IO Live series and Melissa and I sit down and talk about the people, the resources, and the companies making the Midwest a great place for startups to grow and prosper. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation, is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript with Melissa Vincent, Executive Director of Pipeline Entrepreneurial FellowshipBrian Ardinger: Welcome to Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest with us today. This is part of our IO Live series, which is our virtual conversation series to talk innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of our Inside Outside platform, where we have our podcast and newsletter and ongoing events like this. So I'm super excited to host Melissa today. Melissa is a good friend. She's the Executive Director of Pipeline. So welcome to the show, Melissa. Melissa Vincent: Brian, thank you so much. I love it when I get to chat with you. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited about this conversation. Before we get too far. I always like to thank our sponsors. Today our sponsor is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. They are a private nonpartisan foundation based in the Kansas City, Missouri. They seek to build inclusive prosperity through entrepreneur focused economic development. They've been a huge help to a lot of things going on, including Pipeline. I believe they're a sponsor for. If people are interested in finding out more about Kauffman, go to kauffman.org or check them out @KauffmanFDN on Facebook and Twitter.And so huge shout out to our sponsors for making things like this happen. And having conversations that make Midwest Entrepreneurs even better. I was gonna say, you're new to Pipeline, but you were new from the standpoint of you started working at Pipeline right before the pandemic. It seems like that's a short time ago, but it seems now we're what, almost two years into this thing. So it's exactly, exactly the pandemic years. But I wanted to have you on, because I think Pipeline has been one of those proven things in the ecosystem that has helped entrepreneurs across the Midwest here. And I wanted to get you on to talk about, you know, what have you seen? What's different and, and more importantly, what's going to happen moving forward. So maybe let's start the conversation with, tell us a little bit about what Pipeline is. For those who may not know that and where we're at right now. Melissa Vincent: I would love to. Yes. So I have been there for, as you mentioned, it'll be two years next month. So it's kind of crazy because it feels sometimes like six months and other times it feels like 10 years because of the pandemic. So you never know. So Pipeline is a fellowship for high- growth entrepreneurs in the Midwest. We are industry agnostic. So we do everything from Bio to Ag. You name it, everything in between. And do not take equity in the organizations that we work with. And so we're different in that way as well. And we focus on serial entrepreneurs because they have the greatest economic impact on the region, when you focus on someone who's going to get right back up, if they have a failure. And if they succeed, they're going to get back up, start another company and invest in the community. Brian Ardinger: Pipeline's been around for a number of years. It was actually started even prior to me starting Nmotion and that. I think you have over 140 or a 150 entrepreneurs that have gone through the program. Had had an economic benefit. 2,700 employees I think are, are based in Kansas and Missouri and Nebraska because of the founders that have been part of Pipeline. Your founders have raised over $600 million in capital since joining Pipeline. And it's a flywheel approach. So, you know what started 10 or 15 years ago. Now we're seeing some of the fruits of that payoff. So tell us a little bit about how you got involved in Pipeline. Melissa Vincent: Pipeline was started 14 years ago. It was started by Joni Cobb and a number of key people kind of in the Midwest. She was the CEO. And the idea was that there was such, as you mentioned, like 14 years ago, we were in such a different place.There weren't all the entrepreneur support organizations that we have now. And so, you know, when she started the organization, it was around this idea that if you came and you brought resources from the coast to the Midwest. And you focus specifically on serial entrepreneurs to have a massive impact on the region because of what we talked about earlier, they're going to reinvest, they're going to get back up, start another company. And that was really true. So over the last 14 years, our members are not just creating jobs. They're creating really high paying jobs. So average salary for an employee of one of our members is $52,000. So they're creating great jobs. They're creating a lot of them. And they're raising capital and they are staying here in the Midwest.And so really over 14 years, that whole concept that we were seeing, if it could be proved or not, if you bring in these resources, what impact would that have if you focused on serial entrepreneurs is proven. So it's like, okay, successful, we've done that. That's really amazing. But then it becomes the question of 14 years later, how things changed. Like to your point, we've had, with the pandemic and we've had social injustice that's been ongoing that really came to a head last year.So we have all these different things that happened over the past few years. And so I think for us as an organization, we've really looked at well, how do we respond to that? And I think there's a lot of other entrepreneurial support organizations that are doing the same. How do we step in. How do we be a part of that progress and change that really needs to happen? That's where Pipeline is headed. But we couldn't have gotten there without the legacy that was started 14 years ago, by bringing in all these resources and creating some amazing fellowship programs. Brian Ardinger: It's been a very important piece of the puzzle. When I started Nmotion, I think it was 10 years ago, ish. It was the first accelerator in Nebraska at the time that's a equity based accelerator. But we quickly wanted to tie ourselves with Pipeline and get our founders an opportunity to move through the Pipeline. And you find those early stage founders. You get them a little bit of capital. You surround them with mentors and investment capital.We help build that. And then you also then connect them into a wider network. I think that was one of the most important things about like an Nmotion is, you know, we started in Lincoln, Nebraska. But we realized quickly that you can't build a startup ecosystem by yourself. In just the four walls of your own county or city.And so how do we create opportunities for those founders to make network connections that can help them grow their business wherever they end up. And, you know, we've had some great founders that went through Pipeline. Brett Byman who started with Nobl. And now he's with another company, BasicBlock.You mentioned that serial net nature of entrepreneurs. Vishal Singh with Quantified Ag. Liz Whitaker with Pawlytics and that. And now with Brooke Mullen who's with Sapahn and she came through the GBeta Program with Gener8tor that we're now working with. So those are just some of the things, but maybe let's talk about some of the success stories of some of the Pipeline Entrepreneurs that have had success based on having access to your program.Melissa Vincent: Yeah. You know, one of the things that, you know, we're really looking for when we're investing is we're looking at high growth. So they're already at a decent place. And then we're really trying to help them get to that next phase of growth to hopefully, like we said, either exit or re invest in their community.And so some of those are ones that everyone kind of in the Midwest, you know, your Toby Rush with EyeVerify. So everyone kind of always thinks of Pipeline. They're like, oh, that was, you know, Toby went through that. But the thing that I love is that we have so many other organizations. So a couple that people know of that may not have realized that their founders went through Pipeline is ShotTracker Davion Roth.So that's a company that is still ongoing. Doing massive things. In the news. Part of Pipeline program back in the early days. Another one, let's go to Nebraska here. We have Blake Lawrence with Opendorse. Oh my goodness. Since the NIL law changes, like, I mean, he already was killing it. But now it's like, those are just like set him in a whole other trajectory because he can capitalize on college sports now and college athletes.So there've been these really successful founders. And I think that there's a lot of different pieces that in the ecosystem, like what you're doing and what Pipeline's doing. It takes more than just one organization to be able to provide the support. You really need layers to that. So you need some groups that are a little bit earlier stage. And then you have Pipeline which fits in this very unique role of serial entrepreneurs who are high growth, who are looking to exit and give back.It's a very unique spot that we fill. And so really trying to figure out how do we support each other. And I think that's kind of in the Midwest, what everyone's looking at right now. So it's like, we have organizations like yours that have been around for 10 years. Pipeline is fourteen. Like these established organizations that are now looking and saying, okay, we've done this. How do we work better together? Because if we work well together, we can do even more. So I think that's kind of the shift that's starting to happen. And I don't know if it's the pandemic that was part of like, kind of being the catalyst to that. Realizing that we all needed each other. And we needed, our entrepreneurs need more support than one organization could give solo. But when you combine forces, we can do so much more.Brian Ardinger: So let's talk about the program itself. So obviously there are specific things about the program. You go through things over the course of your year, and that. I think most people think of Pipeline and think of the value that's created from the network that's been established and the access to that network. But talk a little bit about the program itself. Melissa Vincent: When you're a Fellow In the program. You go through four modules a year. And those are really intense three day workshops, basically. And they are focused on helping you really scale your company. So the first module that they go through is understanding who your target customer is. Which these are all going to sound very like early stage.They're not. I mean, they're digging in super deep to analyze this information. So finding your target customer. The second one is all about your business model. And making sure that you have the right business model now that you know who your target customer should be. And the third is telling your story through your financials.Which, in all honesty is probably the one that everyone fears the most. Because one understanding your financials is one thing. Telling your story through your financials. Nobody wants to do that. And then when they get through that module, they are just able to easily tell the story through their financials.And then the fourth we just wrapped in St. Louis. Was about telling your story and what's your why? So taking all of the things that you learn throughout the year. Putting that into basically a pitch for an investor or a potential client. And being able to tell the entire story of your company in one single pitch. Brian Ardinger: One of the interesting things, because I've been a mentor in Pipeline for a long time, and I've seen the evolution of how these companies kinda go through that. And you mentioned things like just that customer discovery piece, for example, your business model. I think a lot of times we forget that that's not necessarily something that all entrepreneurs understand or know or use.And oftentimes just having that forced function of let's re evaluate, let's make sure that we are in the right business. And we have the right metrics. The right things that are going on can do such a powerful thing to an entrepreneur because it kind of levels the system, especially when you're surrounded with other entrepreneurs and other business models and that. It gets them thinking and doing things differently.Melissa Vincent: And we certainly saw that in the pandemic where I think as entrepreneurs we're hit across the board, just like everyone else, but realizing when you're the one who is out there as an entrepreneur, It comes to you. It's so, it is lonely at the top. It's especially lonely when you're a serial entrepreneur, because we do think a little bit differently.It's that whole like, ah, knock me down. I'll get right back up and start something else. And if I succeed, I'm gonna put myself through this all over again. But I think that in the pandemic, what we really saw was the value of that network and that connection. And really being able to lean on other people who were struggling.But because this isn't a program where you go through, and yes, you've gone through that program, but that's it, you become a member. And you're part of this pipeline family. They were really able to lean in and support each other in a very unique way. And obviously Pipeline provided resources, and we did a lot of stuff around mental health and wellness.However, that support of that network was so powerful. And you could really see it during the pandemic. Cause there was a safe space to be able to talk about things that you were struggling with, that had they not had that network maybe wouldn't have come up or they wouldn't have felt comfortable talking about. Brian Ardinger: Well, I think everybody was in that boat. Reevaluating what they're doing for who they were doing it for, et cetera, et cetera. We've got a number of people in the audience. If anybody has a question from the audience, feel free to type it in the chat, or there's a great feature in this Run the World called Grab the Mic.So you can also click the little microphone button and come on stage with us and ask your question directly. Happy to do that. So, yes, we're excited to make this a little bit more interactive. So we talked a little bit about ecosystems. So talk about the different ecosystems that you support. You know, you're in Kansas, you're in Missouri, you're in Nebraska. And obviously the cities are involved. Talk a little bit about the differences in the ecosystems and where you draw your entrepreneurs from. Melissa Vincent: You nailed it. Thank you for you have exactly right. So we are Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. And I think everyone always asks the question, like, are you guys planning to expand further? Yes, we may at some point. However, right now there is so much like attention. Resources that we know we need to provide just on that three state region, that it's super important that we stay there. But those are the areas that we look at. We are actually, we just finished. We've just closed our apps for recruiting. Had in all honesty, the best turnout we've had in years. I mean, it's interesting because at some point you don't know, during the pandemic are people really starting companies. You know, for some, it might be a really difficult time to start a company, but that's such a great, you know, response from that. And we're super excited about that. We see a lot of pockets. So we have Wichita pockets. We have Lincoln Omaha pockets. We have St. Louis pockets. And then obviously Kansas city on both sides. And so we see a lot of people coming from there. I think as far as how the different regions, and the only I can really compare it to, because I feel like I've become entrenched over the last two years here in our three state region.But when I look at like Oklahoma or some areas that aren't part of that really strong network of ESOs or Entrepreneur Support Organizations. You know, Oklahoma is further behind than let's say Kansas or Nebraska, and certainly St. Louis. I think part of that is because they have not brought in outside organizations to come in and help them establish some of the entrepreneurial groups that you need. You need more than just one group within a region. And again, when you've been doing it, as long as you know, we have here and in Nebraska and certainly in Missouri, I think that that's where you're able to, you've been doing it for a while. You realize where you play well, and then you find other people to compliment. And I think when you look at other regions who aren't there yet, they're just trying to figure out who do we even want to bring in? They're not to a place yet where they could even say, oh, here's the part that we do really well. Let's find other organizations to supplement that. So I think that the Midwest, when we're talking about Nebraska and Missouri and Kansas is unique and really amazing, and its ability to work together regionally to create really strong entrepreneur. Brian Ardinger: Are you seeing fundamental differences or different expertise in the different ecosystems? Like how does St. Louis compared to a Lincoln or? Melissa Vincent: So St. Louis has a lot of bio. Obviously there's Bio STL. So we see a lot of bio coming out of St. Louis. And then Nebraska, we see a lot more animal health resources. And obviously healthcare resources as well. And then Kansas City, this conglomeration of bio and, and also Nebraska would be sports tech. I would put that in there too, even the shot trackers here in Kansas. So you have this interesting mixture and I think along the whole corridor, you have a lot of animal health cause we're in that kind of quarter for animal health. And then we have some amazing entrepreneurs who are rural because that's an area that we really have tried to focus on. And so we have rural entrepreneurs who are doing really unique things, you know, in ag and everything else. Brian Ardinger: So talk a little bit about the mentors themselves. What type of mentors did you bring in? And how do they work. Melissa Vincent: We love to bring in a mixture of regional mentors, like yourself, and then national mentors. And we feel like that mix is super important. Because one regionally, you want people who actually understand the ecosystem, understand the issues of raising capital that are still here. And, you know, that we need to address and change if we want to really be able to grow the ecosystem. And then we want people from the coast. So we know that a lot of times what we're seeing is that on the coast, we have PE and VC that are looking to invest here in the Midwest. And so we're able to kind of capitalize on that. And because Pipeline takes our entrepreneurs through such a strong vetting process to even get into Pipeline, it's not the easiest thing to get into, but there is a pretty long process to get in. And then you have a year's long fellowship. And then they know they're going to get that extra support. We get a lot of interest from the coast about what our entrepreneurs are doing, because you're adding those layers of continued support and resource, which should hopefully help their success rates continue to go up. So that's kind of where we are. Brian Ardinger: And the type of people that you bring in, like a Chris Shipley has been on the podcast before. And spoken at our events before. People like that who have been in the industry for a long time and can navigate east, west and in between is really helpful. Melissa Vincent: And even international. I will tell you, I love Chris Shipley. She is so able to help you take and tell your company's pitch. And we just saw this because she leads our fourth module. And you can tell your entire company story in your five minutes. You're in. And she'll be like, so what I think you're saying is, and she'll like completely boil down your company to like a minute.And it's like, oh yeah, that. And it's like, oh my gosh, please tell me I wrote that down. One of my other favorites that I think, it just reminds you of how unique Pipeline is in the mentors that we bring in. So Laura Kilcrease, she leads our module three on financials. If you look her up, she's literally credited with starting the tech scene in Austin.And she's just this ridiculous, amazing leader and ecosystem builder. And now she's in Alberta running the entire Alberta, the province of Alberta, she's running their entire new innovation arm. And so she's just, it doesn't even seem real when you talk to her. I mean, she's just, she can give you stories of companies that you know, she's been on the board for, that had sold for, you know, ridiculous amounts. And she's been through so many different things. So it's that level of just resources and expertise. And just people who really care about entrepreneurs, who understand the entrepreneurial lifestyle. What's it's about. How hard it is. And really care about giving back and supporting our entrepreneurs.Brian Ardinger: I want to shift to COVID. And again, you started right before a lot of this stuff happened. Talk a little bit about how COVID and the remote nature has changed Pipeline and, and change your entrepreneurs. Melissa Vincent: You know, so I would say there were both good and, you know, difficult pieces. So Pipeline for anyone who doesn't know is very, very much an in-person organization. The modules are in person. They're three days. The professional development was always in person. There are all of these pieces that it's like a hundred percent an in-person organization.And then you have a new leader that starts, and then you have a pandemic that doesn't allow anyone to be in person. And so it was really interesting because the downside was. Our Fellows had one module, the very first one, and then everything else was virtual. And for me just research thought was okay, how does that impact, you know, who becomes a member who doesn't, or their engagement with each other. And we started with 13 Fellows, we've finished with thirteen fellows, despite the pandemic.We were very intentional as soon as the pandemic hit to go virtual with resources. So rather than having, you know, a handful of professional development. We went weekly. Everything from, okay, how do I communicate? What is this pandemic? How do I communicate to my customers, my team? I mean like things that now it feels like, oh, that was 10 years ago, but it was just last year.And so we were trying to really figure out and then PPP loans and all of that. So just started doing virtual resources. So in that way, I think it was positive because it allowed us to really beef up, any type of professional development. I mean, it was just weekly. We're coming at you and we're helping you feel connected.And then after that, I would say the downside was not being able to have those in-person connections, but we just finished our last module for this year, which we had the first two, which virtual. The last two modules were in-person. And again, we've finished with thirteen, started with 13, finished with 13.So I think really for us, it allowed us to do a whole lot more because we could do it virtually. The transition for an organization that is so heavy on live in-person events is probably some of the members who have been around for a while. And we're like, whoa. When are we going to get in the person? I heard that a lot. Brian Ardinger: Absolutely. But Hey Bob, I saw you Grab the Mic and I didn't have a chance to click the button. So if you want to grab the mic. There you go. Welcome Bob. Bob: Yeah, there's some other people from the Midwest I'm in Cleveland, Ohio, I'm at Case Western Reserve University. I run something called Launch Net. We used to be a Blackstone Launchpad, which is around the country and now we're at Launch Net, There's five of us, in different universities in the area. Besides that I'm an Entrepreneur in Residence at the economic development called Jumpstart. And also doing some business incubator. Question I had, St. Louis. Is I, I was working with a guy from Kent State. And Melissa, I don't know if you know this guy or not in St. Louis, Brian Stoyfield. Does that ring a bell? Okay. I was just curious. He's a troublemaker, which in a good sort of way. He was trying to put rockets into suborbital space for experiments. And because there's so much aerospace in St. Louis, he ended up moving down there and hung out a lot with, begins with a C the big area where everybody collaborates, connects. No people in the middle, we just have to work harder. But I think it's turned a lot. Got quite a few friends out in SF and they're leaving. Some of them, just the cost of structure. And it used to be that a VC said if I can't have lunch with you, without flying somewhere, I don't want to invest. That has changed dramatically. Austin's picked up, as you know, and Miami has picked up. We picked up a little bit here. Actually rental costs for homes have escalated tremendously. And inventory has dropped. Because people were working from here, but a number of people are staying. Which is good to see.So, but yeah, I just wanted to, you know, say hello. I'm also involved with Techstars a little bit. I just had one in Techstars, Chicago. And then Techstars, Minneapolis. And so we're gaining that. And then I used to work with GSV Global Silicon Valley. GSV.com. If you want to take a look. They just did a $220 million spec and then something called GSVbootcamp.com.We do it now twice a year. And it could be helpful for some of the people in your cohort. It's not just ed tech, it's a broader spectrum. And they kind of did it to help during COVID. And now it kind of stuck. That they said, hey, this is good. You know, while we concentrate on ed tech for our SPAC, GSV invests in other entities, plus this is a good way that people can't, you know, do something in person physical can do this.I've also done a number of, three times now, startupschool.org, which is run by YC. Which has been really helpful. But yeah, the in-person the, the two that went to Techstars. One in Chicago, that was right in the midst of COVID. So there was no in person. The other one went to Minneapolis or Farm to Fork and he was in person. And they've got a delivery robot and it's really, really, really cool. And EcoLab. The company has helped a lot. Melissa Vincent: I've been taking notes as you've been talking Bob:  CarbonOrdinance.com. It's a grad again, getting into aerospace. So a guy who worked on the Mars rover, and some other folks, one who dropped out. That basically you can deliver food in these little carts. And you can observe or be kind of like not the driver, but kind of the driver in virtual reality.So those people who don't own a car. Who maybe don't have the ability to drive a car can be drivers of this. And we already have 300 people signed up. Yeah, to drive these vehicles in virtual reality. And we're getting some restaurant pickup again. Ecolab has been a great partner in Minneapolis. It's not the best place to have a little cart delivery because when the snow flies.Brian Ardinger: Yeah, next time. Spring and Summer time. Bob: Exactly. So, but they're, they're working hard. And the other one that was in Chicago was called undone.com. Yeah. During COVID I did a hell of a lot of stuff online. I'll give you one more. If your MPD is one of the it's called pitch-force.com. They went from being in person only in San Francisco and they were charging $75 to pitch.And I don't like to pay to pitch, but they would then turn around and buy pizza, beer and pop. They went to online. Free. And I've attended almost every week for over a year. And they've got 10 companies and five VCs. These VCs generally were San Francisco based. And now they're all over the place, including Austin, including New York.And there, now that it's virtual, they now have other entities pitching from Argentina, from Australia, from Israel. And it's a good way to learn how to pitch and see how things are going for people and also things, how they're going poorly for people. So it's a good way of see a real entrepreneur. It's your real business.And so friends of mine and I, we would literally watch it and text each other, our votes. And after a while, you get pretty aligned with what the VCs would do. And the downside is you get good. And all of a sudden you see these very, you both understand, you see these very smart people going, okay, you're in love with your technology, but what's it going to do for the customer? How much are you asking for? And then you're going, this is going to burn down. And sure enough, they get a two.Other ones you go, holy crap, did they hit it. I work with a lot of students and you know, they're just learning how to do this. And I sent them there. And they see, you know, the real people putting it all on the line to do it. Max who runs it, he runs a staffing agency and he also helps startups who don't have the finances to maybe pay someone right now, get somebody to work for equity only. And that's how he makes money that you have to pay him like five grand and then a certain percentage after let's say six months, once you put them on a salary and you know, maybe they're going for that Series A or something like that, but they can't get there because they don't have that chief marketing officer. Well, he knows off people who are bad exits and they can do that. Melissa Vincent: That's awesome. I love hearing from other regions on, well, not regions, but just other states that are kind of right next to us. What's going on there and how it's similar or different. And one of the things you brought up about the VC groups out of San Francisco being like the pandemic really did shift.And I think, you know, when you're talking about who you would put capital, that has been, I think one of the best biggest shifts. The ability for us to bring capital in from the coasts. Because to your point, exactly. That was not something. If you could not do lunch or coffee, there was not capital happening here and you'd have to move.And so it's really allowed us to have a lot of people moved back to the Midwest, their roots. And then allow people who would have had to leave previously, get to stay here in the Midwest. Which is just an enormous benefit, that was a by-product of the pandemic. Bob: Absolutely. One of the entities who didn't make it into the top five does a Reg A. He pitched at going public and he didn't make it to the top five and he did a great job. And I reached out to him and his name is Darren Marble. And he has a show that he he's working with Entrepreneur magazine. It's called Goingpublic.com. And so my friend is the board director for Gen Global. Jeff Hoffman.We just went through Global Entrepreneurship Week. And I introduced Jeff to Darren. And now Jeff is one of the advisors and one of the producers on Going Public. But that wouldn't have happened if again, to go to Pitch Force, I would have had to been on San Francisco that week. And I'm going to like do that maybe twice a year.Brian Ardinger: Well, Bob, thanks for coming on stage. Anybody else have any questions? Feel free to put them into the chat. And we have a couple more minutes to keep going. You've changed parts of that program. You're actually creating a new program focused on the diversity inclusion side of things. So maybe talk a little bit about that part of Pipeline and some of the new things that are happening.Melissa Vincent: Yeah, so super excited to be able to, as I mentioned, this is a great kind of success story of what Pipeline was traditionally for the first 14 years. And without that, you know, legacy of success, you can't really add or expand. But because of that legacy of success, and because we were able to successfully say, you bring in resources from the coast to the Midwest, and you focus on these entrepreneurs who are really going to scale.And one of the things that we realized in going through the recruitment process during the pandemic was that, in order to get into Pipeline traditionally, you have to working on your company full time. And so during the application process, what we saw were a lot of really great ideas for high growth companies that the person just wasn't able to yet work on their company. Full-time. And when you looked more closely, we realized that there were a lot of those people were from underserved communities. And for us, that is rural, female, and minority entrepreneurs. And so the only thing that's holding them back is they haven't had an even playing field to get to a place where they are actually ready to be able to get into Pipeline.And so we wanted to do something to address that. And so we created a new program. It's called Pipeline Pathfinder. That is kind of like a starter program to be able to get into the Pipeline traditional fellowship. But our hope is that when you go through the program and it starts next year, we just finished recruiting for it.That it will be something that you're either able to run your company full time at the end of it. Or you get to a place where you're ready for Pipeline traditional and a really scale to the next level. So that is our hope. Next year, will be our first year to pilot it. And then after that, we hope to expand and continue to grow.For More InformationBrian Ardinger: It's exciting to see changes that are happening across the ecosystem. You know, we mentioned one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur in the Midwest is this comradery. And this ability to get access to people that you wouldn't normally have access to necessarily in the big tech hub. Where again, if you find the right person typically are one or two degrees separated from getting to the people that you need. And appreciate everything that you've done to move it forward, and then also take it in new directions. So if people want to find out more about yourself or about Pipeline, what's the best way to do that. Melissa Vincent: So go to pipelineentrepreneurs.com or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Or you can always email me at melissa@pipelineentrepreneurs.com. Could we have any longer of an email? Probably not, but. Brian Ardinger: Melissa, thank you again for coming on Inside Outside Innovation. Thanks for doing this live and thanks for all the audience folks that came and participated. We look forward to having future events and that. If you want to find out more about Inside Outside, go to InsideOutside.IO. Subscribe to our newsletter and watch the podcast every week. So appreciate you coming on Melissa. Look forward to having further conversations and thanks very much. Melissa Vincent: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. Thanks everybody.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

CQUniversity Podcasts
IMPACT | S2 | Ep 6 | Barriers, opportunities for female-led business innovation

CQUniversity Podcasts

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 12, 2021 29:17


Who gets to be an entrepreneur? According to the World Bank, just one in three businesses globally is owned by a woman. And in South Asia, the figure is as low as 18 per cent.  CQUniversity School of Business and Law academic Dr Vanita Yadav is a lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and she's exploring the barriers women face to launching start-ups, and how they overcome them.  On this episode, Dr Yadav explains the cultural and social expectations that hold women back from taking the leap into entrepreneurship. But the right support and education can boost female-led businesses into the big time. IMPACT is CQUniversity's research podcast, exploring ground-breaking research projects, and their real world impacts. For more information visit cqu.edu.au/research. In the spirit of reconciliation, CQUniversity recognises this episode was recorded and produced on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation in Sydney, and the Wurrundjeri people of the Kulin Nation in Melbourne.

First Person Plural: EI & Beyond
Workplace 4ALL | The Great Place To Work Institute

First Person Plural: EI & Beyond

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 8, 2021 66:58


To continue our conversation on the importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), we met with two folks from the Great Place to Work Institute—the consultancy and research institute behind Fortune's 100 Best Places to Work. Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Tony Bond, and their Head of Data Science and Innovation, Marcus Erb, shed light on the connection between DEIB (what they call 4ALL culture) and companies that are more innovative, creative, and are more likely to thrive during economic recessions. FPP is brought to you by Key Step Media, a media publisher of Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness & Leadership content. If you're drawn to learning more about emotional intelligence, you might be interested in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence. This set of primers offers the what, why, and how for each of the 12 competencies in Daniel Goleman's EI model. To learn more visit our shop at keystepmedia.com/shop. Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/firstpersonplural)

Between 2 Mics
The Evolution of the Cloud Recording Studio with SquadCast from That Digital Show

Between 2 Mics

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 36:14


Zach and Rock were recently on That Digital Show, chatting with host Chris Hood about cloud recording. Chris is the Head of Business Innovation & Strategy at Google Cloud. This was such a great interview that we decided to drop it on our feed! Here's the description:As podcasting and remote work both explode in popularity, so does the need for quality remote content production. SquadCast is a SaaS remote recording platform that empowers podcasters by capturing quality audio and video conversations that their listeners love. With customers in over 130 countries, SquadCast has revolutionized the way we use technology to record conversations. On this episode, Chris Hood is joined by Zachariah Moreno and Rockwell Felder, co-founders of Squadcast, to learn how remote recording has evolved and how they are empowering media creators to produce incredible content in the cloud.You may have been expecting our Community series to kick off this week. We got a bit delayed. But we'll start it up next Tuesday. Stay tuned for interviews between Zach and Rock and some of our amazing SquadCast community members.Extras:Submit your podcast pre-roll ad Register for the hunt!Give the gift of SquadCast!SquadCast.fm/shareTry out SquadCast's remote video and audio platform for 7 days freeSquadCast's YouTube channelOur podcast stack:ATR 2100 MicsApple AirPods Max HeadphonesFocusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio InterfacesAdobe AuditionBuzzsprout

Inside Outside
Ep. 276 - Ben Bensaou, Professor at INSEAD and Author of Built to Innovate on Making Innovation Accessible to Everyone

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 23:12


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Dr. Ben Bensaou, Professor at INSEAD and author of the new book Built to Innovate. We talk about some interesting case studies and essential practices that companies can use to make innovation accessible to everyone in the organization. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation is a podcast to help the new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript of Dr. Ben Bensaou, Professor at INSEAD and Author of Built to InnovateBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have Dr. Ben Bensaou. He is the professor and former Dean of Executive Education at INSEAD and author of the new book, Built to Innovate: Essential Practices to Wire Innovation into your Company's DNA. Welcome to the show, Ben.Ben Bensaou: Good morning, Brian. And thank you for having me. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you. And I understand you're in Japan right now, so we're different sides of the world. You've got a new book out called Built to Innovate. But I wanted to step back and talk about how did you get into the field of innovation research.Ben Bensaou: Well, actually, as a matter of fact, I got into the field of innovation starting where I am right now. I did my PhD looking at Japanese firms. And I had lived in Japan before, but my PhD at MIT Sloan was on the way that Japanese firms were actually developing production systems. And a production system was the quality management movement.So, I was in Japan at the time. And then when I went back and joined INSEAD, I continued my interest in Japanese firms, but this time I want to know what they were doing in the field of innovation. And this is how I got involved with companies in Japan and outside of Japan. Mostly its established firms who are trying to become more innovative.Brian Ardinger: One of the things that we think about is corporations, it's hard for them to innovate. Maybe now it's a little bit more thought of is, you know with all the disruption from everything from COVID to new technologies and that. Companies are a little bit more aware of the fact that they need to be innovating and that the world is changing around them. Can you talk a little bit about how your research and your experience in the field of innovation has changed and evolved over the years? Ben Bensaou: Yes. I would say that one thing that I've noticed over the years, I've been doing my teaching innovation and also helping firms is that I noticed that number one, a lot of people, a lot of organizations equate innovation with launching a new blockbuster product or coming up with a life changing new business model.Many also think that you need to have a genius leader or to be a startup by a matter of fact, to be innovative, to be able to innovate. But I found out that it's not true. I found in my research established even centuries old companies are able to innovate. How did they do this? Well, they don't only focus on industry changing effects, but also for small important changes, very often in unexpected places.And for this, what they do is that they rely on continuous and systematic innovation. Innovation of all kinds. And innovation driven by everyone in the organization. And that's what Built to Innovate is about. It's really about how do you embed continuous innovation inside an organization using a systematic approach.Brian Ardinger: I think that's so important because a lot of corporations that I've talked to want innovation to happen somewhere else. Or like they have their teams and they're executing on their business model and they're optimizing that, but they want innovation to happen somewhere else. So, they create an innovation lab or something and they throw the idea over to someone else to execute. But what I've seen, and I think what it's apparent in your book, and the examples you give is that again, to survive in this changing world, we all have to become innovators. And it doesn't mean, like you said, you have to come up with the next electric car, but you have to find problems and take those early ideas and then innovate them and execute on them so that they become value creation, parts of the business.Ben Bensaou: Absolutely. Absolutely. I find so many people expecting that the innovation is going to come from the leaders. Or, you know, like you say, they create a skunkworks, or they create specialist units that are supposed to do all the innovations for the company. And I think many organizations, and I found this very innovative companies in my research, are able to enlist and leverage the capability of everyone in the organization. For this, what they do is that that they create what I call an innovating engine. Which is a protected, fully legitimized and organized space within the company where everyone can innovate. Not just the specialist. You can innovate in everything you do. I mean, you can innovate of course, in your products and services, but you can innovate in your processes as well, or your internal functions. You can innovate in HR and legal. And you can make innovating a regular habit. Not a sporadic kind of burst of creativity when there's a crisis. And that's what I think I've seen some of these innovative companies do is to create this innovating engine. And leveraging everybody's inate capabilities. Brian Ardinger: So, what do you think are some of the common myths or mistakes that companies make when it comes to executing or putting these innovation initiatives into place.Ben Bensaou: I think it's always the same thing is that many of these organizations, like you were talking earlier about startups, don't have the problem of size. When they start, they're all innovating in a sense innovating mode. Everybody is in contact with customers. But as soon as you grow, you start to be dominated by an execution logic. And the execution, what I call the execution takes over. And the execution engine takes over. And the execution changing is very much about control. It's no surprise that many organizations, established organizations, develop hierarchies and vertical silos focused on supplier side view challenges. And innovating in a sense is less about control. Is more about delegating and is more about collaboration. Is more about teamwork. Horizontal structures that are focused on the customer. Like you said earlier, I think this is a very important word. You said innovation is about problem finding. What kind of new problems do we need to find to solve for the customers. And execution is very much about problem solving. It's a very convergent mindset.And I think this is where a lot of companies fail. Is that they don't realize that when you move into innovating and what I'm saying is that when you create an innovating engine, you allow for every employee to be able to spend time doing some innovating activity in the space of the invading engine. And at that time, they need to switch their mind. They need to switch from a supply side view to a customer side view. Brian Ardinger: That's really interesting because too many folks forego or forget about that exploration side of the business. That a lot of companies don't measure or reward for that type of activity as well. What are your thoughts when it comes to why is it so hard for employees to be innovating?Ben Bensaou: As a matter of fact, I would almost say that it's not very difficult for frontline people to be innovating. We can come back later to the importance of middle management, but I think it's said the dominance, I would almost say the tyranny of the execution mindset stops people from genuinely discovering what the customer really needs.So, for me, when people are switching from an execution mode to an innovating mode, they have to embrace a customer perspective. And there, there are three challenges that I like to think about. One is to listen to what I call the voice of the customer. What are the likes, the pain points, the wishes of the customer? And when you are in innovating mode, you have to switch away from the traditional tell mode or even worse, sometimes people are in complete sell mode and try to be in a listening mode very much with empathy for the customer. The second challenge I think, is about listening to what I call the silence of the customer. The silence of the customer is the things they don't tell you. They don't tell you. And they don't tell you about it either because they don't know or because they know, but they don't think it's your problem to solve. So maybe it could be interesting for the audience. I give you an example about how Phillips, I mean the Dutch appliance and consumer electronics company, develop the first kettle with limescale mouth filter. So, there was a colleague who was a consultant in a consulting firm, and he was part of the team was helping Phillips re-energize their market share for kettles in the UK market. The team leader at some point asked some of the team members to spend a few days and actually live in families in the UK. Observing how customers use their kettles.And after a few days, the members noticed that people were facing a problem they never told them about. I mean, when they were trying to pour the boiling water into the cup of tea. I guess, because the water had a lot of calcium, there was this little coat of limescale floating on top of the tea. And it's very interesting because the customer knew about the problem. It was obvious because they were trying to scoop the limescale with their spoon. But they never told the kettle manufacturer. As a matter of fact, they complain about it, but they complained to the water authorities, not to cattle manufacturer. Brian Ardinger: Interesting. Ben Bensaou: So, this is very interesting because it took only a few months for engineers at Phillips to develop this little filter, which you can find in any kettle these days, that blocks or stops the limescale. So, each time you pour the water, it stops the limescale from getting in your tea. This is what I call the silence of the customer. The customer wouldn't tell you about it. So, you need to find this problem in spite of the customer. Not thanks to the customer in spite of the customer.And then the third challenge is what I call the non-customers. It's very important to learn to listen to non-customers. So here I could give an example, one, for instance, kind of observed Fiskars's for instance, when they, the Finnish company that makes tableware and garden tools. So, for their cutting tools, for instance, they spend time with surgeons in operating rooms, you know. Or they look at first tree workers who cut trees in large scale. They're not like cutting small trees in the garden, but on a large scale and very often. And much more dramatic example is this company called EcoCem. It's in the cement business. They developed a new technology, a substitute for cement based on a technology called GGBS, which has much lower carbon footprint.And it is made out of a byproduct of the steel industry. So, it is very, very good for the environment. It has the same properties of traditional cement. Now, the only problem is that the dominant incumbents, were not looking at it very positively. So, when EcoCem tried to sell it to the customer, the customers we're hearing all this criticism from the dominant players, and they were not very keen on playing with it.It just happens at the cement industry is a very regulated industry. So, what EcoCem did instead of focusing on the customers, they focused their attention on their regulators. And they spent a lot of time engaging the regulators, bringing experts on the new technology to regulators. They managed to have the regulators actually accept and propose the new technology. And then the customers walked in. So, this is again, a very good example where the innovation didn't come by creating value to the customers, the construction companies. But to the regulators who are the people who can influence what the customer do. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: And that's a good segue because I think a lot of folks think about innovation as this solo, mad scientist comes up with an idea and executes on it. But you talk a lot about in the book, this importance of collaboration. It is important engaging that idea with others and that. So can talk a little bit more about that process of collaboration. Ben Bensaou: I think this is very important, I would say that innovation is a team sport. And cross-functional teams are very important. And I always am surprised when I observed teams, to realize that it's not always the ones we think who are going to have that critical insights.So, it's very important to bring people with different mindsets. And then it's very important to close the gap. Close the distance between the would be innovators and the customers. Or there would be innovators in the company and the salespeople. For instance, I think these are two spaces and this is part of what I call the innovating engine.So maybe I can give an example of the first situation. This is about Kordsa. This is a Turkish company. They manufacturer fabric that is used to reinforce tires. On a regular basis, they send cross disciplinary team to their customer's plants. And these teams, they literally camp at the plants of the customers.They stay for a few days, and I've seen actually in the early days, they used to have a tent in the plant. And they just roam around, talk to people, observe what is happening in the plant. And these are cross-functional teams. You might have somebody from engineering, somebody from R and D, somebody from marketing, from legal, somebody from procurement.And at one plant, the team saw that the workers and the customer were having trouble to safely handle roles of reinforcing fabric that were loaded onto a truck. Now, again, this is an example of a silence of the customer. The customers knew the problem, they were facing the problem, but they didn't know the supplier could solve it.So, what happened is that this team at Kordsa, they just went back home and remedy the problems by developing a small kind of methodology, some process. They trained the customers into this new process, and they were able to help them reduce the resources from 30 minutes for three people to 12 minutes for one worker.And this was literally because they were able to go as a team and they close the gap between the team and the customer. So, it's very important to not only have multidisciplinary team, but also to bring the inside the firm first to bring the innovators together with the salespeople and then to bring the innovators together with the customer. Brian Ardinger: The last topic I want to talk about, and we talked briefly about it, but so everybody in the organization should be an innovator and should have the capabilities and aptitude to make things happen like that. But oftentimes middle managers and higher end managers either block that or change that. What are the roles of mid managers and upper management when it comes to innovation?Ben Bensaou: Let me talk to this as an example, and then I'll explain the roles. This is about Bayer, the global pharmacology and life science company based in Germany. So, this is a company that has a long history of scientific achievements through R and D and brilliant scientists. Yet in 2014, they decided to create from scratch to create an innovating engine, to leverage the capabilities of the hundred thousand employees in the company.So how did they do this? First, they made the whole board responsible for innovation. Then they selected 80 senior managers across all country groups and global functions. And these ambassadors, they made them as ambassadors. They were supporting these 80 senior managers became ambassadors, supporting the board. They were innovation ambassadors. And as ambassadors they spend most of their time with middle managers.Explaining, training, advocating, sponsoring innovation. And then they did something very important for these middle managers. They created a formidable support structure. Between 2016 and 2020, they trained and certified a thousand innovation coaches, which they activated locally across the whole company.And then for frontline people, they created WeSolve. This is a digital platform where any employee in Bayer can post information about a problem they're struggling with. And invite input and ideas from anyone in the company. So just to give you a sense. I visited the site once at any given time, they have 200 challenges posted on a platform. And then up to now, 40,000 employees at Bayer have participated in this platform. But to tell you the truth, Brian, what really impressed me the most in the statistic they showed me is that out of the best ideas that are proposed for all these challenges that are posted, two third of the best ideas effectively come from a department or unit different from where the person who posted the challenge works. This is to give you an example of what is a formal structure for an innovating engine. You can see that the senior leaders are the ones who have to give permission. They have the ones who have to give to permission to everybody to be able to innovate.They are the ones who create the governance structure, the coaches, and the local coordinators. Then the middle managers have a very important role. I was really surprised in my research to find out that middle managers are actually the key to innovation in corporate settings. Without middle managers, innovation gets lost.I've found it in any organization, senior leaders, they get it. They're facing a tough environment. They understand that without innovation, they can't survive. Frontline people, I mean the facing customers and non-customers on a daily basis. They understand that they have to innovate to solve the pain point and respond to the wishes and desires.But the middle managers are the ones who are caught in between because they don't have that direct pressure for innovation. And on top of it, they are the ones who are incentivized on execution. They're responsible for execution and they don't know if they don't get trained. They don't know how to help their people innovate.So, they need also this support structure to help them any time an individual or a team wants to innovate. They need to have these coaches. So, I would say you need to have senior leaders. You need to have the ones who create what I call the reframing. Allow for the organization to challenge the status quo challenge. Challenge the basic assumptions. The middle managers are the ones who participate in what I call the integration process. The process by which you connect the ideas and the people and the resources. And the process by which you winnow, channel, select, maybe prototype some of the best ideas before they get moved to the execution engine.So, this is a very important role for the middle managers. And they are the ones who support the frontline. And the frontline are the ones who have a huge contribution to make to what I call the creation process. The process by which the organization generates new ideas. New ideas are the raw material of innovation.And I explain how they do this by listening to the voice of the customer, the silence of the customer, and try to learn from non-customers. So, as I say, in this innovating engine, everybody has an important role to play. Senior leaders, middle managers and frontline innovators. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: And I encourage anybody who's listening to this podcast, who's in an innovation to pick up a copy of Built to Innovate. It's got a ton of great case studies, as you said. And it really helps set the framework for how you can start creating more of a culture of innovation within your company. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that? Ben Bensaou: LinkedIn. I have a profile on LinkedIn. I have also my website on the INSEAD and then for the book, they can go to their local Amazon to find the book and to order it. Or they can go to the website for the book, which is BTIthebook.com. BTI for Built to Innovate thebook.com.Brian Ardinger: Well, Dr. Bensaou, thank you very much for being on Inside Outside Innovation. Really enjoyed the conversation and look forward to continuing it as the world changes in the future. Ben Bensaou: Thank you, Brian. It's a lot of fun.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  As an Amazon Affiliate, we may earn a small commission from purchases.  

Market Hunt
Creating innovation standards

Market Hunt

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 57:45


Episode SummaryWhat are innovation standards? How can you measure and manage innovation in organizations? What are keys to cultivating an innovative culture? Find out more in this episode.Episode NotesInterview Guest: Dr. Sorin Cohn, SO56008 Project Leader for Innovation Measurements at ISO - International Organization for StandardizationCheck out the Ie-Knowledge Hub Video Case Studies on the International Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.Questions or feedback on our episode? Get in touch with show host Thierry Harris: thierry.harris@cartouchemedia.comEpisode Research Questions:What are the three fundamental innovation strategies and give us examples of how these are applied in real world settings?What are some characteristics of an innovative culture in organizations?What are the key projects of the ISO 56000 Innovation Management Standards?Write to us at solutions@ie-knowledgehub.ca and we'll post some of your answers on our website page.Guest bio:  Dr. Sorin CohnDr.  Sorin Cohn leads the International Standards Organization world team developing the  ISO56008 standard on innovation operation measurements and metrics. He is Founder & CEO of Competitive Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship (c-IM&E) – a company providing innovation management tools and consulting services. Dr. Cohn was the Chair of the Board of Startup Canada and several other companies. Sorin has led the research on innovation metrics and management for the Center for Business Innovation at the Conference Board of Canada. Dr. Cohn was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for services to Canada. Sorin has 40+ years international business & technology experience having been involved in most facets of “innovation management”: from idea to research and lab prototype, from technology to product, new business units, and then to market success on the global stage.  He was the Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa for a California optical access company. Early 2000's, as co-founder and President Global Portfolio of the OrbitIQ global business accelerator, Sorin has been working with technology companies in North America, Israel and Europe to build their market strengths. Prior to 2000, Sorin held executive positions with Nortel Networks and was Director for Exploratory Programs at BNR. He has developed new technologies, created R&D laboratories, started new product lines and initiated/managed new business units. Sorin has several essential patents and over 100 publications and presentations. Dr. Cohn received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, an M.Sc. in Physics and an M.Eng. in Engineering Physics. He is providing innovation management workshops and lectures at Canadian, US, European and SE Asian Universities on business management and entrepreneurial innovation.EPISODE LINKS Dr. Sorin CohnCompetitive Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship (c-IM&E)Startup CanadaConference Board of CanadaInternational Organization for StandardizationISO 56000 Innovation standardISO 56008 Innovation Management - tools and methods for innovation operation measurementsISO Technical CommitteesISO Standard development methodISO Screw Thread StandardISO Circular Economy StandardISO Technical Committee 279ISO Innovation Standard Project ListISO 56 002 Innovation Management Systems - GuidanceISO 56 003 - Tools and methods for innovation partnershipsISO 56 006 - Tools and methods for strategic intelligence managementISO 56 005 - Tools and methods for intellectual property managementISO 56 007 - Tools and methods for idea managementISO 56 0004 - Innovation Management AssessmentISO 56 001 - Innovation Management System - RequirementsISO 9000 family - Quality ManagementBritish Columbia's Acuitas Therapeutics - BioNTech Pfizer VaccineChina IP patents vs U.S. China Engineers vs U.S.Sony Transistor commercializationNational Research Council of Canada (NRC)Nortel NetworksMitelNewbridge NetworksStartup statistics in Canada2011 Booz & Company paper on Innovation Global Innovation Index rankingsInnovation management systems further reading (from HBR) Promotional Links:IE-Knowledge HubIE-Knowledge Hub Case Study Directory IE-Knowledge Hub B-Con Case Study B-Con EngineeringBrian CreberThierry HarrisSHOW CREDITSMarket Hunt is produced by Cartouche Media in collaboration with Seratone Studios in Montreal and Popup Podcasting in Ottawa. Market Hunt is part of the International Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub network.  Funding for this program comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Resource Council of Canada.Executive Producers: Hamid Etemad, McGill University Desautels Faculty of Management and Hamed Motaghi, Université du Québec en Outaouais. Associate Producer, Jose Orlando Montes, Université du Québec à Montréal.Technical Producers Simon Petraki, Seratone Studio and Lisa Querido, Pop up Podcasting. Show consultant, JP Davidson. Artwork by Melissa Gendron. Voiceover: Katie Harrington.You can check out the ie-Knowledge Hub Case studies  at ie-knowledgehub.ca.

Inside Outside
Ep. 275 - Karin Hurt, Co-Author of Courageous Cultures on Valuing Innovation, Curiosity & Productivity

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 22:23


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Karin Hurt, Co-author of the new book, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates. Karin and I talk about the difficulties and opportunities with creating a culture that values innovation and curiosity, and how companies can develop productive micro innovators. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger, founder of InsideOutside.IO. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started. Interview Transcript with Karin Hurt, Co-Author of Courageous CulturesBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have Karin Hurt. She's co-author of the new book, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates. Welcome to the show, Karen. Karin Hurt: Thank you so much for having me. Brian Ardinger: Karen, I am excited to have you on the show. I just got a chance to read through a preview copy of the book and excited to dig into that. Tell me a little bit about how you got interested in this particular topic.Karin Hurt: Yeah. So, I run a company called Let's Grow Leaders. And we work with human centered leaders all over the world with practical tools and techniques. So we were noticing a consistent pattern. As we were going into organizations, we'd be working at the very senior levels of organizations. And we would hear things like why don't more people speak up. Why don't people share ideas? Why do I stumble upon a best practice? Why are people sharing them with one another? And then we would go into do leadership training at the supervisor level. And we would hear things like nobody really wants my ideas. Last time I spoke up, I got in trouble. You know, why bother nothing ever happens anyway. We thought, are you all working for the same company? So, you know, most leaders really do want ideas and employees have great ideas to share. So why was there this disconnect? So, we partnered with the university of North Colorado on an extensive research study to answer that question. When people were holding back ideas, what kinds of ideas were they holding back and what was preventing them from speaking up and sharing ideas to improve the customer experience, the employee experience, or productivity in a process. That's a little bit about why we got so excited about this research. Brian Ardinger: So, let's dig into it. What makes a culture courageous? Karin Hurt: You know, our favorite definition of culture comes from Seth Godin, the marketing guru, who just says culture is simply people like us do things like this. And so, when you're talking about a courageous culture, people like us speak up. They share ideas. The default is to contribute. People are coming to work every day saying, huh, how can I make this better. And managers are proactively going out and asking for those ideas and responding well when people share them. Brian Ardinger: So clearly that is not the case in a lot of organizations, at least the ones that I've worked with and have been around. It's not always courageous. What do you think makes it so difficult for people to speak their truth or overcome that particular fear? Karin Hurt: Yeah. So, Dr. Amy Edmondson of Harvard who wrote the Fearless Organization, you know, she's really a pioneer of psychological safety. And she talks about people are more likely to hold onto a negative experience than a positive experience. And that really played out in our research as well. We would ask people; we did a whole qualitative set of interviews in addition to the quantitative study. And we would say, okay, if you're holding back an idea, you know why? And they would say, well, because you know, something bad happened in the past. Was okay, how long ago was that?And you wouldn't believe it. Sometimes people say, well about 10 years ago. And then we would say, well, was it at this company? Oh, no, no, no. I was away at some place completely different. But it was enough to teach them that speaking up is scary. So that's one piece of it. And then, you know, other things that came out in our research, 49% said, I'm not regularly asked for my ideas. Something as simple as that.And when we got underneath that binding, the managers are saying, well, I told them I have an open door. And the problem with an open door is it's passive. And for some people, especially if they've had a bad experience in the past, it still takes some level of courage to walk through that open door. And another thing that people said, which the most surprising finding quite frankly for me was 56% said, they're not sharing ideas because of fear they will not get the credit. And, you know, as fascinating. As I've been sharing that statistic people like aha. Yeah, well that happened to me too. And  so, I think that really resonates with folks. And then another statistic that I thought was really interesting was 50% said nothing will ever happen. So why bother?And sometimes that nothing will ever happen. Isn't actually true. Something has happened, but the loop isn't closed. Right? So, people think their idea went into this black hole, you know, and because we're not circling back. So, whether it's an employee survey, it's a suggestion box. It's in a one-on-one meeting. Are we closing the loop and what we call responding with regard to the ideas that are coming forward? Brian Ardinger: That's a fascinating insight, because I see that a lot when we talk with corporations and what are their innovation efforts. And a lot of them say, well, we're doing these hackathons. Or challenges and asking for employee feedback.And that's great to do that, but what they fail to do is put the process in place and what to do with those ideas after they come through the funnel. And like you said, be able to either close the loop or have a process that moves those particular ideas forward. So, you don't have this environment where people throw things in and, and again, like you say, the black hole of nothingness. And they get discouraged to do it again.In the book, you talk a lot about this loop between clarity and curiosity, kind of back and forth. Can you talk a little bit about that and why that's so important? Karin Hurt: Yes. So, when you're building a courageous culture, it really does start with clarity. And that's clarity around two things. One clarity that you really do want people's ideas. And we found this to be really, really critical as we were testing the different tools and techniques. Clarity about where you need a great idea. So, you know, not just going out and saying, hey, do you have any ideas to improve the business? Or what do you think we could do to improve productivity? That feels intimidating. Yeah. That's like, well, gosh, where do I start? I have so many ideas. So instead, if you say, can you tell me one idea that you have to and then fill in where your strategic initiative is. You know, to improve our diversity, equity, inclusion efforts. One idea to take this new product to market. One idea to go into this new customer space. One idea to improve the customer experience. When you can ask for that, and that constraint actually owns up the creative process. And then it's showing up with curiosity. And proactively going out and asking people for their ideas. And we have a variety of tools to do that. You know, one is simply asking courageous questions. And a courageous question is simply a specific and vulnerable question. So, one of my favorite comes from a client of ours. I've known Don Jaeger for 10 years, and he has been consistently asking this question and he's moved from a couple of companies, and he continues to do this. And it worked so well for him. He's the COO of his contact center company. What is one policy we have that just sucks. Now he's asking his frontline agents. The people answering the phones, who are talking to the customers all day long. He knows if they have a policy that is annoying the customers, those folks, the ones that are hearing it. And it's vulnerable because he's the COO.I mean, he either has made the policy or is endorsing the policy, that's pissing off the customers. And so, he finds that when he asked that specific vulnerable question, Then he's got a conversation going, and then he says, oh, thank you. What else? And now it's created a safe space for people to share what else is on their minds? He's said this he's gotten a lot of really good insights around that. Another example of curiosity is teaching people how to vet their ideas so that they bring you better ideas. And one model that we use, and we teach in our training programs is our idea model, which is okay, when you're thinking through an idea.Tell me why is this idea interesting, meaning strategically aligned with where we're headed as an organization or the project we're working on? D is it doable? Tell me why you think we could actually pull this thing off. E is an engaging meaning who else might we need to include in this? This is where you teach your team to think about stakeholders and then A, what are a couple of key actions recommended next steps to get started?So, you know, if you were an employee and you were sitting here listening to this and saying, yeah, I have ideas, but I'm still a little nervous. If you went to your manager and said, gosh, you know, I really care about this team. I want us to be successful. I have an idea. Here's why it's interesting. Here's why it's doable. Here's who else? I think we need to include. And here are a couple of next steps. They still might not implement your idea, but you are going to show up as a critical thinker, team player, who wants to make an impact. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: One of the things that I've talked about in our practice is this idea of changing the mindset. Most ideas are quite frankly crap when they first start. You haven't figured everything out. It's new and unknown and that.So, if you come in with more of a side project mindset. It's like, this is my side project, or this is my experiment that I want to run, it changes the framework. And a lot of times it gets rid of that fear of it having to be perfect to launch. Or having to be perfect to have that conversation with your boss and that. What's your take on that? Karin Hurt: I can, I agree with you more. I love that so much. You know, I'm always like, so just do a pilot. And, you know, I was at Verizon for 20 years and I led some really large teams there. And in one of those roles, I had a particularly change resistant boss. Like he just was super corporate. He didn't want to try anything different, you know, he's like, if it didn't come from headquarters, we're not doing it.And that's not me. And I'm not happy leading in a role like that. And I had a big job. So, I was constantly saying, let's just try it in this one market. And let me prove it in. Let's just try it with a couple of our employees. Let's take a couple of our high performers and let them kick the tires on this thing.Yeah. And that made it very, he's like, okay, but don't tell anybody you're doing it. Yeah. But then he was very happy to take it to headquarters when we proved it in. And so, I think that is a way to deal with that. And I'll say that even when we're selling in training programs to folks, I'm like you don't need to say you're going to train all of your leaders, just give me one team. And let me show you the impact and how this will play out in your culture. And that's really much easier for people to say, oh yeah, well, we could try that. Brian Ardinger: So, in your book, you talk about how you're trying to create micro innovators. These small, powerful people that can take action and do things. Is this something that you see courageous cultures being built from the ground up or top down or a combination of both. Karin Hurt: Mostly you need to go from the top down. For our first book, Winning Well was really more practical for the frontline managers to do this. To really truly create a courageous culture, you need to do all the things, right.You need to be having very clear that you do want a culture of innovation. You need to be communicating that consistently five by five. You've got to have strategic priorities that people know where things are headed. Some of that can come from the top, right? With that said either you're a manager listening to this, or you're an individual contributor and saying, I would like to be a micro innovator.You don't need to go out and declare, well, we need to build a courageous culture around here. Everybody should read Karin's book. No, just figure out where is one area of the business that could improve? And come up with a little idea. It doesn't have to be game-changing. It's just a little idea that would make things better.How would you have less stress in your day, if one process was improved. How can you collaborate better and reduce the friction that you've got with this other department that's driving you crazy? You know, that's the micro-Innovation. And when you have a culture where more and more people are coming up with these little incremental ideas, they completely add up to build a more courageous culture.Brian Ardinger: How do you start measuring your progress and success? How do you know if you are on your way to building that courageous culture? What things do you look at and what things can you measure? Karin Hurt: Yeah, so I would say one of the things that you really will see is you getting more ideas when you are in meetings, what is happening? Is it you're coming in with the agenda and everybody's listening to you and taking notes and doing what you say? Or are people saying, you know what, I'm not sure that's going to work. Or what about this? Could we try it this way? Or have an idea. And I think the quality of your ideas, because at first you might get a lot of ideas, then you're like, oh my goodness, why did we even open this can of worms? But over time as you teach people, what a good idea looks like, how to vet their ideas, how to articulate their ideas, how to, to your point pilot and test their ideas, you will see that happening. And then, you know, I think the other thing is the irony about a courageous culture is it takes less daily courage to show up because this is the way we do things around here. So, it doesn't feel courageous to raise my hand because everybody is raising their hand. So, I think that is one of the things. Now, where does it play out in business outcomes? Well, you're going to see ideas that improve productivity. That improve the customer experience. So, you see those metrics improve.And from an employee engagement perspective, it will definitely improve retention because people will feel seen. And, you know, we have this one client we've been working with for two years now. And we have trained pretty much everybody. Every leader from the senior team to the VPs, to the Director in the revenue generating and the revenue enabling side of the business it's become cultural.And one of the interesting things that they've told us is, you know, before we started working with you and really introducing this courageous cultures concept, the number one reason people were leaving was leadership. That's what they said in their exit interviews. Now it's not one of the top reasons people are leaving anymore. The cost savings of better retention is tremendous. Brian Ardinger: We are living in this new world hybrid world, or COVID, everything has literally changed the way every business is working. What are some of the trends or things that you're seeing and how can courageous culture play out as we evolve the workspace in general.Karin Hurt: Yeah. So, a couple things that I'm seeing play out as I'm sure you are too, is one, is there is a deeper need for human connection. People are really craving it. There's been a lot of mental health issues. There are people who've been through a lot. We're all tired. And so, leaders need to be more attuned to that than ever.And part of what we've seen as I've been watching good leadership and bad leadership throughout this time, is good leadership is really correlated to are people willing to show up and be authentic and a little bit more transparent than they have in the past. And I've watched people, managers who've showed up, you know, with their teams and said, I know this isn't easy. It's not easy for me too. Here's why, you know, why I know this is hard for you. Here's a little bit of a, what's been happening to me. But here's what I do believe. Now clarity. I believe in you; I believe in this team. And I know that we'll figure it out. Then curiosity. So, what ideas do you have as we've transitioned to working from home? What do you need? What's one idea that you have that could make you more productive while you're working from home? And so, it's that. It's that human, being, being human. And I think if there's any silver lining out of this whole mess that we've been in, it's that people are paying more attention to leadership. And to developing their leaders and understanding that you can't do it without the deeper human connection.Brian Ardinger: Well and that's so difficult in a remote type of environment. Are there things that you're seeing that have made it easier for some companies to latch onto that? Or create that more intimate relationship even though a lot of them are remote.Karin Hurt: So, the number one thing I would say is getting really great at one-on-one meetings. And not just phoning in the one-on-one meetings, where you show up, you have the same agenda every time, you know, and you just check it off. It's saying what does this person, this human being need most at this time. And so, you know, we talk about there's five different things that you could include in your one-on-ones. Are you having a connection one-on-one where you're just really checking in on a human level? Are you having a clarity one-on-one where you're really reinforcing strategic priorities? So, people understand what's most important right now in the sea of things coming at them. Are you curios? A one-on-one where you're going to ask them for their ideas. And so, thinking about each person on your team. And then how do you mix up the way you're doing the one-on-ones so they feel fresh. That they are serving the team. And I think if every manager could get really good at one-on-ones you're halfway there. Yeah. Brian Ardinger: Well, we have a lot of startup founders who listen to this podcast as well. Do you have any advice for companies that are forming new cultures and how to get it right early and avoid some of the pitfalls that bigger companies have fallen into?Karin Hurt: Absolutely. And that's actually one of our favorites. We work with a lot of clients that are venture based, fast growing startups. And that seems to be a sweet spot because as you're growing fast, you get to that point and you're like, oh, we probably ought to be more intentional about our culture and the values and the behaviors.And so, the things that I would say there is start by really defining what does success look like. And, you know, one way we actually do that with folks is we give people two pieces of paper and say draw the picture of what we're trying to be. Draw the picture of what we look like right now. And, you know, sometimes you'll see, especially with startups, the house is on fire.Usually there's a house on fire somewhere in the room. Right. And we would like not to be that. We would like to be smooth and organized. Or you'll see, gosh, we're in a lot of silos when we were really small, we just got in a room, and we figured it all out. And now as we're growing, we've got unnecessary bureaucracy that is creeping in and we never wanted to be that way.You can start there. And then you'd say, okay, what are the values? And not just, you can do this well, or you can do this in a way that's just not going to work very well. What are the values and don't just paint them on your walls or put it on your internet and call it a day? Then get really tactical about what are the behaviors both internally about how you're going to function and externally how you're interfacing with your clients or customers. And how does that play out?And then you could even say, get, come up with some scenarios of, and we do this a lot with folks. What are these two values are in clash? Like if compassion for your employees, is in tension with a, you know, responsiveness value. How do you play that out in real life scenarios? And so, and just getting people to talk about that and then looking at every element from how are you hiring, how are you onboarding? How are you rewarding and recognizing? And are you building those values and those behaviors consistently. And the final thing I would add there because this happens most of the time, if there is a turkey who is not behaving according to your values, just because they were there with you from the very beginning, if they are destroying your culture and you keep looking the other way, everybody is watching that.And you can say we value integrity, but if they're not operating with integrity, that is a problem. And some of our clients have had to make some really hard decisions of people that they cared about who were there at the beginning, but who could not behave consistently according to the values. And they have not regretted having to make that choice.Brian Ardinger: It's about being courageous, right? Yup. Doing the hard things sometimes. Excellent. Well, Karin, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, to tell us a little bit about this. I, again, encourage people to grab the book. It's called Courageous Cultures. If people want to find out more about yourself or more about the book, what's the best way to do that? Karin Hurt: So, our website is letsgrowleaders.com and on LinkedIn. Love to connect with people on LinkedIn. Answer any of your questions. It's Karin with an I. Karin Hurt on LinkedInBrian Ardinger: Excellent. Well, Karen, thanks again for coming on to the program and looking forward to continuing the conversation as the years continue on.Karin Hurt: Excellent. Thank you so much. It's been my pleasure.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  As an Amazon Affiliate, we may ear a small commission from purchases.  

Business Infrastructure - Curing Back Office Blues
177: Lloyd Lobo Reveals How to Quickly Secure R&D Tax Credits for Funding Business Innovation with Boast.AI

Business Infrastructure - Curing Back Office Blues

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 28, 2021 51:06


Every U.S. Dollar in Research & Development (R&D) tax credit yields $20 in new economic activity. With that kind of return, why don't more small businesses take advantage of these tax credits? Answering that question is what led Lloyed Lobo on his fintech journey. * With a background in software engineering, Lloyed was already familiar with technology companies and enjoyed a successful career leading sales and marketing teams as well as being a serial entrepreneur. One venture was Boast Capital – a consulting firm focused on securing R&D tax credits for businesses. That's when the answer to the unclaimed tax credit question became clear – the reason more than $200 billion USD goes unclaimed globally each year to fund innovation is because of the slow, archaic application-to-funding process. This led to the development of Boast.AI, a software designed to automate the tax credit application process so companies can get more money faster and with reduced audit risk. * In this episode, Lloyed not only shares how you can use Boast.AI to fund your small business' innovation, but he also gives insights on how he and his team built this successful tech startup. Discover the business infrastructure they designed to support rapid growth not only in their customer base but also in their employee base - an increase from 30 to 100 in just five months! As a bonus, you'll also learn Lloyed's four stages for building a startup as well as the ingredients for his scale recipe: customer-centricity, community, and relentless prioritization. * If you want to know how you can claim R&D tax credits to fund your company's growth and how to scale that growth sustainably, then you don't want to miss this episode! *

Inside Outside
Ep. 274 - Todd Embley, Senior Startup Advocate for Agora on Startup Tech, Trends & Ecosystems

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 24:48


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Todd Embley, Senior Startup Advocate for Agora. Todd and I talk about the new technologies and trends from no-code tools to embedded audio and video platforms, that affect how we see, hear, and interact with each other. We also explore how companies are tapping into startups and startup ecosystems to enable founders to build and impact the world more effectively. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation as the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. I'm your host Brian Ardinger, founder of InsideOutside.IO. Each week. We'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started. Interview Transcript with Todd Embley, Senior Startup Advocate for AgoraBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger, and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have Todd Embley. He is a Senior Startup Advocate for Agora and a formerly with China Accelerator. So welcome to the show, Todd, Todd Embley: Thank you, Brian. It's good to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you because we've met a while back early in my startup days when I was running NMotion. You were in China. And we met at some global accelerator network conference. I think it was in San Diego, perhaps. So, you spent a lot of time in Asia, as I did. And recently moved back to the states, working for a interesting company called Agora. We had a chance to run into each other again in Lincoln. Todd Embley: Yeah. Thanks very much. I actually did come back from China and moved to the U.S. but now I'm back in Canada. I am Canadian and I'm living in Western Canada. Brian Ardinger: I wanted to start the conversation with the most recent company that you're with is a company called Agora. It's an interesting company for a couple different reasons. And it's a real-time engagement platform that a lot of popular companies are using to build on top of like Run the World, which is something that we've used for our IO Conferences and that. And some of our IO Live events. I think you guys provide like the SDKs and the building blocks to enable these types of startups to build off of. So, I I'd love to get your take, not on just Agora, but you've got an interesting role there as a Startup Advocate. So, what is a Startup Advocate? Todd Embley: It's a great role, for those of us who aren't necessarily adept at selling. And we fall under marketing. And the role is really, if I were to compartmentalize everything that we're about and our ethos and thesis. Is go out into startup land and be as helpful as possible. Try to integrate. You know, we sponsor. I run workshops. I meet with lots and lots of entrepreneurs all the time, and we're just out there trying to be as helpful as possible. And the great thing that the company and the founders and senior leadership have all gotten behind is just be out and be as helpful as possible. And wear the t-shirt while you're doing it. That's almost the be all and end of it. And for those that are really interested in what Agora is and what Agora does, then we can get into that. But essentially, we're not trying to put it in front of everybody and not trying to blast everybody with, with Agora specifically. The team is comprised of people who have been entrepreneurs, been in startups, been in VC, run accelerators. And who have just a lot of empathy for startups and that's kind of where it begins and ends. Brian Ardinger: We see a couple of different companies use this approach of startup advocate type of program to help build their business. Walk me through like, what are the benefits and the reasons why a corporation would want to put together some type of program around this.Todd Embley: You know, I think AWS and what they've been doing for as long as they've been doing it are kind of the benchmark. And they were, I would say the pioneers, at least the most famous pioneers of running programs like this. Our senior leadership had an opportunity in China to talk to the heads of AWS Activate in China.And they divulged some interesting statistics, which I think were the precipice of Agora wanting to build their own startup team as well. And that was that after 15 years of them having a program, they will now attribute up to 65% of AWS revenues today to the activities, you know, over the last 15 years, of their startup program.And what we're trying to do is invest in our future huge customers. Knowing that the world's next billionaire companies, trillion-dollar companies. The unicorns of the future are still just startups today. And if we want to align ourselves correctly with what it takes to build a startup and how hard it is, let's maybe try to get out of their way at the early stages while they're trying to cross the early chasms of, you know, and the difficulties of what it takes. So, from a revenue perspective or from a cost perspective, let's give our stuff for free. You know, until you, their revenue. You can't get blood from a stone. So, while they're still searching for product market fit and revenue, let's let them use our software for free until such time as they are then finding product market fit and then able to start generating revenue. And only at that time, should we then start to talk to them about actually paying for the service? Brian Ardinger: That makes sense. And obviously it seems to be working. I think I read on your website, you've got over 50 billion minutes of engagement on the platform. Probably going up as we speak. I don't know if you can speak to any specific use cases or specifically what you do when it comes to helping these companies get up and off the ground. Todd Embley: Sure. As you alluded to, there are some famous companies that have been using us, especially in the real-time audio space. There are a few NDAs in place. So, you could mention who those companies are. And by all means it's pretty widely known. I necessarily can't speak directly to who some of those more famous ones are. But the nuts and bolts of the program essentially boils down to free minutes. So, my Director, Tony Blank. He and another friend of ours, Paul Ford, used to do this at SendGrid. And that's where they were a big supporter of the Global Accelerator Network where you and I met in the beginning and then the Twilio acquisition of SendGrid. So, he was there. And they were doing a great job as well. And leading on some of the data from their experience there, or Tony's experience there, and then understanding our business and the data that we had over the years that Agora has been thriving. We positioned the amount of minutes at 1 million, we figured 1 million minutes of Agora should be enough for most companies to achieve product market fit and revenue.If you haven't achieved product market fit and revenue, after using a million minutes of Agora, you may have some underlying other issues that are getting in the way of that. But we really feel that upwards of 80%, even 90% of companies who do achieve and use up the million free minutes, should be at a position of having raised money and are revenue positive.At which time we feel comfortable to say, okay, though, now we do have to, for our business purposes, need to, to work on something and we'll hand them over to sales in a gentle way and work on getting them some discounts and start forecasting future usage and things like that. But those are the nuts and bolts.In our world of real-time video, real-time audio, just the real-time engagement aspect of it. There are certain verticals that are really taking off. I think health is obviously a big one where you have doctors and patients or therapists and their clients. We're seeing a lot in fitness, so for coaches training. Doing big group classes. Education is probably our biggest. I think that's a pretty obvious use case of doing real time lessons with teachers and things. But we're also seeing a lot of activity in the area of gaming where people want talk to each other. They want to be on video with each other while playing games together. Live performances and experiences around online virtual concerts or comedy shows or things like that as well. There's a lot of added context that you can get from engaging in real time, over video. That you couldn't get at an actual conference.You know, there are solutions coming around blending those where you might be at the concert, but you'll also have on your phone different camera angles that are available to a viewer. And you can get other contextual information that is happening plus chats with other people at the concert or something like that.And then, you know, a lot of multi-verse. A lot of VR stuff. I mean, I had a conversation with a startup out of New Zealand who was working in the overcoming therapy space, where if you had a phobia of dogs, you know, a psychologist would work with their client, and they would go to a kennel and slowly start to integrate and learn how to overcome. But now we can do that in a VR environment, but overlay a lot of very interesting artificial intelligence, facial recognition. Stuff like that to really be able to measure the things that are almost imperceptible to the human eye, to understand like the dilation of their pupils when faced with a small dog versus a big dog or different breeds or something, just giving a lot more contextual information to help a psychologist really work with their client to overcome a phobia. So, it's fascinating to work with the startups because they are thinking of use cases that we even within Agora can't think of. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn. Brian Ardinger: Well, and that's an interesting thing because the platform itself is really robust. You can do video calls and voice calls and interactive live streaming and real-time messaging and white boarding. And like you said, the toolkits are there. And I think this fits into one of those trends that we've been talking about, where it's never been easier for a startup founder to find the tools they need. They don't necessarily have to build everything from scratch nowadays. They can find partners and no code, low code tools and things like that to get up and going and testing the marketplace a lot easier than ever before. And get to those use case scenarios that a platform tool provider may not have thought of originally. I'm curious to get your take on some of this accessibility to tools that founders didn't have maybe, you know, 10 years ago when we started in this business. Todd Embley: Yeah, it's amazing. I think back to, I used to be with SOSV was the fund, and we were doing kind of an internal conference for all of our portfolio, all of our mentor network. Everybody that had ever been involved with us, including investors in Agora or LPs. And we had a guy named Dave McClure come and speak. And somebody had asked him is your eight-year-old daughter learning how to code. And he said, let me rephrase that. I think what you're asking me is do I think that it is important for very young people to learn how to code and essentially that's what you're looking for. And he said, you know, coding is like learning any other language, you know, in the development of the brain and how that enables young people to really grow. But it is in his opinion, he said it is just kind of a commodity. He said coding is probably going to become a commodity. And we've seen that in the low-code no-code explosion.And then he thought, you know, design would probably not be that far behind. I mean, there probably will be a day in the future where our phones will know everything they need to know about us, where you won't have to necessarily code or design the UI UX CX, of how an app works and feels. Because it can just deploy to our phone and our phone can tell the app how to develop itself as it lands on our home screen, in the way that we prefer it to be from colors to where the settings are or where our profile lives.And we can navigate that so intuitively. It has been absolutely amazing. And I think, you know, as we go, we've launched our app builder where pretty much anybody, even without any coding experience can go on and within 20 minutes create a video conferencing tool that they can use for their family reunion. You know, that is super easy. So yeah, it's been amazing. Brian Ardinger: It is kind of crazy to think what are the uses. I'd imagine obviously COVID has changed the dynamic landscape for you guys, especially. And so maybe let's talk a little bit about that. Some of the trends you're seeing with the move to more remote and more virtual environments. Todd Embley: Anybody who just watches the stock price of Zoom over the last couple of years would understand exactly where this industry has gone, but then factors like the quote unquote Zoom fatigue. And now we're seeing people that want to have more control over the layout and the design and the backgrounds and the information and the chats and emojis and music and all these other things that you can build into it. Because you know, now for instance, all our conferences went virtual, right? So we are now having to figure out how did you run a web summit or you know, like an East Meets West, that Blue Start-ups does in Hawaii or something. How do we now do this online and create a really great experience where everybody can still try to achieve those same outcomes for why they attended in the first place. It's been a pretty amazing growth that has really kind of pushed the boundaries.The work from home, I think has been the biggest thing where everybody's now at home. So, there's working with colleagues. There is collection of data. There is monitoring output and outcomes. And, you know, as a department or as a salesperson or marketing has changed. How do we do now market to people who aren't leaving their homes anymore that has now all changed.It's been such a game changer just in the future of work. I wouldn't say it necessarily changed course, but COVID has absolutely accelerated what we were already starting to think it would be. You know, it's done some damage to the world of coworking spaces, right. Or in-person accelerators or incubators. It's changed how we, even as a startup team go out and find partners and find startups to introduce them to Agora. So, it's had a tremendous impact. Brian Ardinger: You spent a lot of time ecosystem building for lack of a better term. You know, you go to different communities and see what the landscape is in the startup world. And then again, try to help founders navigate that. So, what are you seeing when you travel around to different startup communities and that. What's maybe different than it was five or six years ago? Todd Embley: There's a lot of factors. Entrepreneurship and startup land, as we know it, just even in the last 20 years, let's say since the .com boom and bust. And then, you know, Paul Graham kind of the Godfather of the accelerator starts Y Combinator in 2005. And so, the way investors started investing, and then there was, you know, a lot of information and then Crunchbase and others started coming around. And then, then we had 10 years of data from Crunchbase, somewhere around 2013. That we're now measuring how well people were investing, how well-performing that whole venture financial class was doing.And we've seen things where investors are now looking more at timing of solutions versus not just team and problem, but they had so many investments that were either too early, too late. And they started to recognize that. A lot of funds are starting to look internally and seeing, trying to reinvest inside the value that they've created to capture more of the food on the table versus being so outwardly focused. For our jobs, even in doing ecosystem development, how to startups find us versus how do we find them? If there's no meetups. If we're not able to do in-person startup weekends, then how are we able to find them, to attract them, to support them and to help them. How are investors doing their due diligence? You know, things like DocSend. Right.Having that digital data room with a lot of analytics built into it. So that founders can now not only see who's entering and who's looking at their due diligence documents at, but where in the deck are they spending time? On what slides, what is important? Where are they stopping? Where are they looking at? There's a lot of data and information that they can measure from that as well. I'm not exactly sure if that answers the question, but it is so drastically different. And now we're going back into, you know, web summit is in-person. I'm going to be going to that next week after we record this. That is going to be a different experience as well. And then there's the hybrids that are kind of doing both. It's changed a lot. Brian Ardinger: It is definitely interesting. You know, it's always been hard to find startup founders. A lot of times they're heads down doing their thing. You know, over the last five or six years pre COVID, you started to have a different environment where things like coworking spaces and events like Startup Weekend and that, started to bring some of those folks out and started to get some energy. And then COVID kind of slap that in the face to a certain extent. But now what I'm seeing at least is more collaboration across different communities. So even though I'm based in Lincoln, Nebraska, the network and our reach to different communities for the startups in our backyard, has increased and been beneficial from the standpoint of they're no longer having to be in the middle of flyover country. They can access folks that wouldn't necessarily in the past look outside of their own Sandhill Road area. So, I guess there's pros and cons to this new environment, but I was curious to get your take on that as well. Todd Embley: Constraints, breed Innovation. And COVID has drastically brought a whole new set of constraints just by not being able to meet in person as much. So, I think it's the development and the investment in developing a different skill set. You know, you take one sense away, the other senses improve. And so, we've had to become better at being able to build relationships. And we have video. And we have voice. But suddenly we're tuning in to the video and tuning into the voice. We may not have the same social cues and we may not have the same physical cues to be picking up on things. We used to train entrepreneurs on how to pitch in person. You were on a stage facing an audience. You were standing in front of an investor at a meetup. Here's how you do it. Here's how you talk. Here's how you hold yourself. Be careful of your hands. Don't shift your feet around. You know, there is all these, you know, all this kind of training, which has had to change. Which has had to develop. And now we're reaching out, we're developing partnerships and I think I've seen a lot of ecosystems lean in on having silos or verticals that they're starting to own to be seen as a place.And accelerators are now going virtual, where they're pulling from anywhere. Right. We have a focus. We're vertically focused. And so even if you're in Brazil or you're in Russia or wherever, this is the accelerator that you want to join because the world has just been absolutely flattened. And now this is the best place. This is the best accelerator, and you don't have to fly in and live here. Right? So now you've seen costs of living. People are moving out of the main centers. It's just, it's been a tremendous change. Brian Ardinger: You've spent your life helping founders. And I'd love to get your input on for our founders that are listening to this show. Some of the biggest obstacles or barriers or things that you've seen or can help them overcome. Are there particular tips or tricks that founders should be paying attention to nowadays?Todd Embley: I still think it all starts with the problem. And I still find myself having to talk about deep diving into the problem discussion. And there has been a penchant for the snapshot. And of the landscape as it is today. But I think what we're starting to understand. And what I'm seeing from a lot of questions that come from investors, is it's not as much about what. It's about why. And when you're pitching or talking about what you're doing, you have to start layering in the why.This is our go to market strategy. Great. Doesn't really matter, but why did you choose that? They're being measured on the way they think. The way they process. The way they built. What data did you take in. Which did you keep? And which did you throw away and why? And then what decision and strategy did you make off of that data?And why did you decide to strategize that? Why are you deciding to build this next? Why is this the next iteration of what you're doing, this problem that you're trying to solve? Anybody can Google and get a lot of data on a problem that exists today. But do you have a deep understanding of how we got here? You know, we have this Canadian kind of saying of the Wayne Gretzky, don't go where the puck is, go, where the puck is going to be.And as investors, we're always trying to find the entrepreneurs who are good at figuring out where the puck is going to be. But the only way that they can figure that out, isn't understanding just where the puck is, but how the puck got to where it is. Because only then do we understand the speed and the trajectory and are able to extrapolate off of that to know where it's going with some reasonable degree of accuracy. But we'll never get it right. But that I think is always be factoring in your why. Nobody is going to be blown away by your what because you're still early stage. Unless you have a hundred thousand downloads or a million MRR, you know, it's just not that impressive. Because the only thing that matters is what people use and pay for.So, knowing that. Now, we're just trying to measure size you up as a founder. So lean in on all your why of everything that you're talking about so that they can understand how you develop, how you price, how you see the world. Be unique, be different. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Solid advice. Well, Todd, I want to thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation and sharing your insights and your experiences from the many years of being in the trenches there. I want to encourage people to check out Agora and that. If people want to find out more about yourself or about the startup program at Agora, what's the best way to do that? Todd Embley: Yeah. I mean, if they want to connect with me, LinkedIn is great. Just Todd Embley. I will generally show up. That's a great way to do it. And I'd love to connect. And I love to meet with everybody. And then agora.io/startups is where the entrance to the startup program lives. But Agora.io is where most of the information about Agora lives. And we're happy to talk to anybody, especially partners. Anybody doing events. Anything out there. We'd love to be a part of it. We'd love to sponsor. And try to add value. Brian Ardinger: Well Todd, thanks again for coming on the show. It's great to see you again and look forward to continuing the conversation in the years to come. Todd Embley: Thanks, Brian. It's been great.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 273 - Radhika Dutt, Author of Radical Product Thinking on Developing a Vision to Build Products

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 20:40


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with entrepreneur and product developer Radhika Dutt, Author of the new book, Radical Product Thinking. On this episode, we talk about the product diseases holding back good product development, as well as ways to develop and execute a more radical vision to build products that have impact in a changing world. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript with Radhika Dutt, Author of Radical Product ThinkingBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Radhika Dutt. She is the author of Radical Product Thinking: The New Mindset for Innovating Smarter. Welcome to the show. Radhika Dutt: Thanks so much for having me on Brian. Brian Ardinger: I am excited to have you on the show. I always love to have entrepreneurs and product folks on here to talk about what it takes to build in today's world. You've been in product development for a long time, and you help companies figure this out. What's the state of product development today? What's working and what's not? Radhika Dutt: I think the most important thing in terms of where we have landed today, right. Is we've learned that the way we build products is by iteration. The mantras have been, you know, fail fast, learn fast. We keep hearing that you really just have to keep iterating and pivoting until you hit this nirvana of product market fit. And here in lies the problem. Because Innovation it's like having a fast car, a fast car is great. It's good to have a fast car. But the problem is, if a fast car is just not that useful, unless you know where you're going. And the ability to iterate fast has often given us this illusion that you don't need to start with a vision, just set off on your journey, and you'll kind of discover a vision. And that is the piece that's really not working.So, if we think about the fact that Lean Startup, Agile, all of these methodologies have really become ubiquitous over the last decade, right? And yet fundamentally the number of startups who succeed or fail hasn't really changed. Right? So, we've really gotten this approach of innovating fast, but what we're really missing is a methodology that helps us set the direction and be able to navigate to it using this fast car. Meaning that our iterations have to be driven by a vision and strategy. And that's the piece that's been not working so far. Brian Ardinger: You talk about in the book, how folks in product and that, or they're building stuff, kind of run in to these product diseases that hold back good product development. Can you talk a little bit about what stops people from developing and maybe getting into this iteration rut? Radhika Dutt: These product diseases are things that we need to be able to speak openly about. Because regardless of the size of company or the industry that we're in, I keep seeing these same product diseases over and over. So, a few that I've run into or caught myself, right? One that I will admit to contributing to myself is obsessive sales disorder.This is where your salesperson comes to you and says, you know, if you just add this one custom feature, we can win this mega client. And it sounds mostly harmless as a product person. I was like, yes, let's do this. Right. And pretty soon, by the end of the year, you're sitting with a stack of contracts and your entire roadmap is driven by what you have to make good on. And that's one example. A really common one is Pivotitus. Pivotitus is where you know this idea that we have that you just pivot until you find product market fit, it leads us to just keep trying different ideas to see what works. And your team just feel demoralized, confused, even your customers, they don't know what you're about anymore. And that's Pivotitus. Brian Ardinger: I love those. And I think a lot of us in product can relate to that. And even more to that, I think it's not just product folks that are running into these particular issues. A lot has changed in the world of product development with things like no code and low code. And pretty much everyone these days has run into this ability to create something. You know, and it's democratized the product development process in general.And so, whether you are in product today and you've seen these things, the majority of folks are going to be running into these diseases, whether they know it or not. What can you talk about to the new product person, the person who maybe is new to this world and trying to understand what does it take to build something of value in this world?Radhika Dutt: Yeah, maybe first, I want to talk about what I mean by product. Because, you know, traditionally we've thought about product is a software or a hardware. A thing, basically, right. A digital or a physical thing. And that view has really become outdated is what I've realized. To me product is your mechanism to create change in the world.It's your vehicle for whatever that change is. And so, you know, whether you're a non-profit, you're working in a government agency, in a high-tech startup, or even freelance. You're creating change in the world. And as a result, you are building a product. And I think that's the first fundamental realization. Given that this is our new definition of product for every person who's entering this field, the question is then, you know, how can you create change very systematically? So, you're most likely running into these diseases and I list seven of them in the book. A few other examples are Hyper Metracina. Which is where we're all about analyzing data and optimizing for metrics, except that sometimes those wrong metrics. And things like Strategic Swelling. Which is where your, either your organization or your product just tries to do more and more and more, but it's just a very bloated product and you kind of lose your way.So, all of these diseases, like it's not just in your product itself, it's in your organization that you might be seeing it. And so, we need to think about product differently as a mechanism to create change. And then think about, are we experiencing these diseases in our organization? And then finally, if you're seeing it, then it's time for a new approach where you create change systematically and build the successful product systematically, which is what Radical Product Thinking is about as a methodology. Instead of taking this approach of let's just try what works, which is kind of evolved from the venture capital business model over the last decade. Brian Ardinger: And what I like about the book is you say all the stuff that we're doing when it comes to Agile or Lean or that, they're good tactical stuff to continue to do. But you almost have to have a layer above. That thinks about the vision and thinks about how does the vision fit into, you called it the Sustainability Matrix. Maybe can you talk a little bit more? Radhika Dutt: You know, one of the things that I've found is, we all know that we need a vision, and it's just that the way we've thought about a vision and what we've learned about, what's a good vision has been so flawed until now. For the longest time, we've heard that a good vision is a BEHAG or a big, hairy, audacious goal. For the longest time, you know, vision statements such as to be the leader in blah, blah, blah, or to be number one or number two in every market. We're touted as just visionary statements. That this is what you want in a vision. You know, stating your big aspirational goal. And the Radical Product Thinking way, what I realized is your vision should not be about you or your aspirations at all. And so, your vision has to be about the change you want to bring about.That's really the starting point of a Radical Product Thinking approach. And so, what I mean by good vision is thinking about questions like whose world are you trying to change? What is their problem? Why does that world even need changing? Because maybe it doesn't. And then you can talk about what the world would look like when you're done. And how you'll bring about this world.And so this is the Radical Product Thinking Approach, where instead of the short slogan you're writing, well, there's this fill in the blank statement that I use for writing such a vision statement. That really makes it easy to do this and answer those profound questions. And once you have a vision, then you can use this vision versus survival.The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn. Brian Ardinger: Yeah. I'd like to talk a little bit about this Radical Vision Worksheet that you have in the book. It's really almost a Mad-Libs way to fill out and fill in the blanks to get you thinking about what your vision really is and who does it serve and how does it work? And I've heard you talk about this before. Like it almost creates, what you said is that the source code of your vision. And then that's not what you necessarily have to portray to the world as far as the marketing around it. But it gives you that guiding force when you're in a product meeting, working with your teams. To look back at that source code and say, hey, are we on track.Radhika Dutt: Exactly. And you know, this idea that your vision statement has to be what you tell the world, is really the marketing vision statement, which, you know, you can figure out the marketing aspect afterwards. But first for your own team, what you really need is the blueprint. If I think about this as a house construction analogy. If your team is actually building that house, would they need is the blueprints of the house.It's not the 3D renderings that look pretty that you start with. Right. And a good vision statement, gives them a clear blueprint of what exactly are we trying to solve? Why are we trying to solve it? And then how are we going to bring about that before? Brian Ardinger: In the book, you also talk a lot about this trap that we fall into of iteratively building products and that. And so specifically like big companies and that, fall into this trap of they've been building a car the same way forever, and they don't necessarily think about, are there different ways to do that? Can you give me some examples? I read in your book about Tesla and Volt, for example. And the two approaches that they had to developing an electric car. Can you talk about some of that? Radhika Dutt: One of the fundamental differences between a Vision Driven Product versus an Iteration Led Product is in an iteration led approach, your iterations are driving where you're going. Where as when you're Vision Driven, right, it's your vision that drives those iterations. So, the example of Tesla versus Volt. Specifically, the Model 3 versus the Chevy Volt. You know, there was this really well-known auto expert, Sandy Munro, and so he took five of these cars and he was looking at these cars under the hood to really evaluate, you know, which car is better. And he had a profound reaction to the Model 3. It was like, wow, this car is revolutionary. It's not inching up. And whereas on the Chevy Volt, he said, well, this is a good little car, and you know, it's value for your money kind of thing. But the Tesla Model 3, like he was just raving about it. But if you look under the hood, like you really get to the why. The Tesla, it has a 40% more efficient engine, and it had this hall effect that Sandy Munro says, you know, I've only ever heard about it. I never seen an engine being built using this approach. And he couldn't even figure out how they manufactured some of the elements that made this engine. Whereas he looked at the Chevy Volt, he was like, you know, I'm very familiar with all of these pieces. This looks pretty much like a gas car except in an electric format.And then if you look at why Tesla built this transformative product versus Volt was just an evolutionary thing. It all comes down to their vision. The Chevy Volt was built with this vision of beating Tesla Model 3 to market with a car that had a range of over 200 miles. On the other hand, the Model 3 was built with a more transformative vision, a radical vision, which was about the change that they wanted to bring about. Which was to make it no compromise and give an affordable car to a driver who wanted to go green.And so, the two visions lead to very different products and being vision driven means taking the transformative vision and systematically just infusing it in every aspect of your product. And that's why the end product is so different. And so, in the Radical Product Thinking, right, the idea is not just that you start with a vision, but it's a step-by-step approach. So that, that vision is very systematically translated into every aspect of your product, into your everyday activities. So, your everyday activities become connected to a vision. Brian Ardinger: I'd love to get your input on some of the new trends that you're seeing when it comes to product development. Again, a lot of the stuff that used to be new as far as Lean and Agile has, there's a lot been written about. 10 years ago, it was tough to get tactical in that particular space because it was so new. You know, now we've seen a lot of folks that have executed on that particular format. What are some of the new trends that you're seeing and how do you see the world of product development playing out? Radhika Dutt: You know, we're still getting better at doing more testing, more AB testing, optimizing, right. And fundamentally the trends that I keep seeing, they aren't that different. It's more that our tactics have improved in terms of how we're doing this. If I think about product management, maybe 10 years ago, we didn't have all these tools to be this data driven. Now, there are just so many tools to be able to know how well your product is working.Is your user going through the right journeys? What all are they clicking on? What are they doing on your products? Like we've become more data-driven and have more insight into what our users are doing. We capture every piece of data and work on analyzing it. So those are more of the trends that I keep seeing. Right. But what I haven't seen is a fundamentally big shift in how are we thinking about the data? What exactly are we trying to learn from these insights? So that's one thing. The second trend, this one I'm excited about. I'm starting to see the first kernels of product people realizing that, you know, we're building products that affect society, and we have to take responsibility for what we're building.There's a chapter in my book, where I talk about Digital Pollution. And the chapter after that is the Hippocratic Oath of Product. It's fascinating to me that these two chapters are so polarizing. There are people who love the fact that I included that in the book. Because this gives you the superpower for building successful products and it has to come with the responsibility of building products that don't create collateral damage to society. But there's also, an equally large faction of people who say, you know, that had no place in your book. You should just talk about how to build successful products. You shouldn't be talking about, you know, digital production and this Hippocratic oath of product.Brian Ardinger: Well, it is interesting because you do see a lot more discussion around what it is that we build and the effects of that. And I think 10 years ago, a lot of the product building was I need to build an app because that's the new technology out there. And we've gotten to a place where a lot of that low hanging fruit of product development has been picked. And so now it's really about, we're having to tackle harder problems. And whether it's climate change or social media injustice or, or whatever, they're hard problems out there. And I think it takes more radical thinking around what type of products we produce to try to solve this particular problem.So, I found it interesting that you included that in the book as well. Primarily to get people thinking about, it's not just about solving a particular customer pain point. It's like the larger vision that you need to be including as you develop products out there. Radhika Dutt: Exactly. And my goal was to provide a framework so that we can think about, you know, how are we affecting society with our products. And ways to identify digital pollution that we might be contributing to as only if we have that awareness that we can actually do something about it. But I want to go back to something you just said in terms of trends. What you talked about, you know, it's basically that we seem to be commoditizing the skillset. When you said we've picked all that low hanging fruit, all that I was saying about, you know, we've gotten better at doing data analytics and AB testing, et cetera. I think that is really like to articulate that trend, it's that those skill sets are becoming commoditized. And what's really going to set people apart is doing that next level, which is what you are just saying. Brian Ardinger: If there are people listening, they're maybe working in an existing company, iterating through their products and that, but they want to be more radical. They want to be more transformational with what they do. Are there tips or tricks that they can start introducing into their team or into the product development that can help start moving that needle? Radhika Dutt: I'll share two types. One is, you know, if you are working in a larger organization, it's always hard to bring change. When you bring a radical new idea, it's like you're introducing a foreign body into this organization and you'll see organizational immunity that tries to attack this foreign body.And so, the first start that you need is to be able to talk about why are you even introducing this new body, so there's more acceptance. So, start with a discussion around product diseases. Very often, like the way I've even approached this, and sort of this slightly sneaky way is, you know, you do a book club where people start to think about these product diseases and kind of like, oh, that's what we're suffering from. So that gives you this first entry point to start talking about, you know, maybe we need a new, radical way of thinking about this. That's one step. The second is with your world, where you have control, you can start to develop a radical vision and start to use that with your team. You had talked about vision versus sustainability. Maybe, you know, in the book, I call it Vision versus Survival to make it really much clearer in terms of what we're trading off. So having a vision is good, but using your vision in everyday work, that's where the real power comes in. And so the way you use your vision is if we think about our own intuition, what we're really doing is we're balancing the long time against the short term. Which means that we're thinking about vision versus survival in the short term, where vision is the longer-term picture. And so things that are both good for the vision and survival they're of course ideal.But if we always focus on just the ideal, then we're just still being short-term focused. And so sometimes you have to invest in the vision where it's good for the vision, but not good in the short term. For instance, if you're refactoring code for three months or working on technical debt, you're investing in the vision. And the other quadrant, right, is Vision Debt. Basically, if you're finding this Obsessive Sales Disorder disease, it's because you have too much vision debt. It's where you're doing things that are good for survival in the short term, but it's not good for the vision. And so the way you can infuse your vision in everyday actions is you start to talk about your decisions on this two by two matrix of Vision versus Survival. If you find yourself taking on a lot of vision debt, then you know that, okay, maybe something needs to change here. And talk about your decisions so that everyone is aligned on what are the right trade-offs for your particular company. There aren't any right answers, but those discussions are what really are most important.The tips that I have for our listeners is you start with product diseases and a discussion of why you need a new approach. Then work on a vision and then use that vision and making decisions as you trade off long-term against short term.For More InformationBrian Ardinger: I love that. And I encourage anybody who's listening to grab the copy of the book, because it does walk you through the process. It gives you some great frameworks. Some exercises and a lot of great examples as well. So, if people want to find out more about yourself or about the book, what's the best way do that? Radhika Dutt: So, the book is on Amazon. It's Radical Product Thinking: The New Mindset for Innovating Smarter. The free tool kit is also available on the website. It's radicalproduct.com. And then finally, if people want to reach out to me on LinkedIn, I'm easy to find there. And I always love to hear stories of how people are applying Radical Product Thinking in their innovation journey. Brian Ardinger: Radhika, thank you very much for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, to talk about the book and all the new things that you're seeing out there. I'm excited to see where the world is going when it comes to product development and appreciate your time today. Radhika Dutt: Thanks so much for having me on this has been such a pleasure.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Meet the Farmers
Farm Business Innovation Show 2021

Meet the Farmers

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 13:38


In this episode Ben heads to the Farm Business Innovation Show in Birmingham to look at some of the diversification opportunities for farmers and landowners that are out there at the moment.

The Moneywise Guys
11/11/21 Disney misses estimates, Buffet gets scammed, and Business Reporter "John Cox" discusses Energy, Business + Innovation investment

The Moneywise Guys

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 48:43


The Moneywise Guys Thursday, November 11th BE MONEYWISE. Moneywise Wealth Management I "The Moneywise Guys" podcast call: 661-463-8264 text in anytime: 661-396-1000 email: info@moneywiseguys.com website: www.MoneywiseGuys.com Guest: John Cox, Business Writer for the Bakersfield Californian  www.Bakersfield.com      

Business Innovation and Technology
Leadership - Fireside Chat With Facebook: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Business Innovation and Technology

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 25:20


In Part 2 of our Fireside Chat, guest host Jessica Liao (Business Engineering Manager for Applied Research and Development at Facebook) returns to host fellow experts Bruce Hazan, Global Director of Business Engineering and Business Innovation for Facebook; Miku Jha, founder of AgShift and currently Applied Research and Development Lead at Facebook; and Tarin Ziyaee, Neural Interfaces Engineering Manager for Facebook. The panelists dive deeper into the innovation process, emphasizing the importance of thinking big but starting small. They share the benefits of exercising one's entrepreneurial ambitions within large organizations like Meta, especially the ability to validate and scale quickly. You'll also learn strategies for identifying meaningful success metrics at each development stage, building diverse teams, and fostering a culture of innovation. After you listen, connect with podcast host Jessica Liao and guests Bruce Hazan, Miku Jha, and Tarin Ziyaee on LinkedIn. Keep up with the latest from Meta's Business Engineering Team by following us on Medium.

Inside Outside
Ep. 272 - Dave Parker, Author of Trajectory: Startup on Ideation to Product Market Fit

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 36:41


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Dave Parker, five-time founder, and author of the new book Trajectory: Startup. Dave and I talk about a range of topics for helping founders go from ideation to product market fit. And this conversation was part of our IO Live Series recorded during Startup Week Lincoln. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger, Founder of InsideOutside.io. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started. Interview Transcript with Dave Parker, Five-time founder and Author of Trajectory StartupBrian Ardinger: I wanted to thank our sponsors for this event. We are part of the Techstars Startup Week here in Lincoln. So, we wanted to give a shout out to them and Startup LNK for making this all possible.Also Inside Outside is sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. As many of you may know about the Kauffman Foundation, they run 1 Million Cups and a variety of other things, but they're a private, non-partisan foundation based in Kansas City. They seek to build inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship- led economic development. So, we're super excited to have them as partners with us here. And you can find out more about them at kaufman.org or follow them on Twitter at Kaufman FDN on Facebook or Twitter. So, thank you again to the sponsors. Thank you, Dave, for coming on, we had set this up when your book was coming out and I said Hey, I've got the perfect time to do this during startup week. When we might have some startup founders who may be having some questions. You and I met eight or nine years ago through Up Global. We were with Startup America. And you were based in Seattle. You also helped found Code Fellows and you're a five-time founder, so you've got a lot of experience in this particular space. Eight years ago, the startup ecosystem, and what it was like was a little bit different than is today. So, what has been the biggest trends or things that you've seen that it's changed over the course of the few years that we've known each other? Dave Parker: Well, let me go a little further back. I started my first company in 98 in Seattle. And believe it or not bill gates and Jeff Bezos weren't really giving back to the startup community at that time. Oh, wait, they haven't yet. I mean, Bill gives back to like global change the world stuff. Right. But the idea there was, wow there's a bunch of us doing this startup thing, but there's not really anybody to give much advice. So, we did a peer cohort. Which was my first thing. And after a while I was like, wow, we need to level up our city. All of us tend to think of the next city bigger than us as like, oh, we want to be more like, Seattle doesn't want to be like Vancouver, Canada. We want to be like San Francisco. Where Portland's like, well, we want to be more like Seattle.Because I grew up in Portland and then moved here to go to college and never went back. First startup in 1988. Built a software distribution company called license online. The company went from zero to 32 million in sales in 4 years. Which was ridiculously fast. And we went from 3 employees to 150 and in four years. And then we sold the company in 2002.So then in 98 to 2002, if you remember back there, there was a tech bubble in there and there was 9/ 11 in there. So, it was an interesting time. Wasn't a great time to sell a company now, too. But got it sold anyway. And that was my first startup. First of five. Three of them sold. Two of them failed. One in a rather epic crater fashion. Which is funny. Because it was after the first one, that actually worked. So, you know, people were like, I wouldn't do this again. And they're like working on the next one? I'm like obviously got a serial glutton for punishment. So, 16 exits total. So as a founder board member advisor. So, my day job is helping companies and founders sell their companies. Which allows me to my 20% time to work on community building and giving back.Which kind of got me to Startup Weekend and Up Global. Up Global was the merger of Startup America and Startup Weekend. And we did about 1,265 events worldwide, my last full year there, before we sold to Techstars. Including launching Startup Week globally. And we launched it in 26 cities globally, the second year. I ran it in Seattle.Andrew Hyde started it in Boulder. And we ran it in six cities, the first year. And 26 cities the second year. So, startup communities stuff is awesome. And I love it. It's, as you know, though, it doesn't pay, so you have to have a day job. You have to have a side hustle, so you can keep your community building job, right. Or vice versa.Brian Ardinger: Exactly. Yeah. I think we're nine years here at the Startup Week in Lincoln. We got grandfathered in when Techstars made it a global deal. But we found it very helpful to have these conversations, even if it's just once a year to get people connected and reengaged with why it's important to have a startup and why a startup ecosystem is so important in your own backyard.So, you've got a great book out called Trajectory Startup. I would encourage you to take a look at this. There's a lot of books about startups out there. What made you say, I want to take a different take in this and give back to the community by writing a book about startups Dave Parker: Two big things about the book gap that I saw in the marketplace is one, I mean, you, you know, Brian, you've been around Startup Weekend. I'd see people coming out of Startup Weekend and they're like, woo. I met my co-founder, Charles. We're going to leave at eight and then go start our start up. And I'm like, yikes. Like, there are some things you can know before you leave your day job and your benefits and all those things, which allow you to really look at what do I want to know so I can de-risk this as the first semester, right. So, I got to do the market research and competitive analysis and look how big the market is and like, and how do I do that? The book's really focused on, the original title was Six Month Startup. And then I started delivering it in different formats and I'm like that doesn't work for the brand. So, it became Trajectory Series. But the program now is focused on a five-month program that takes you from ideation to revenue. And the idea there is, if you can't get to revenue in six months, it's probably not a great idea. There are exceptions to that rule. Like if you're a B2B or B2B enterprise and you need to build a really robust product, like that's an exception. Or biotech. Or you're doing B to C and you're competing with clubhouse and you're really about growth of users, right? You won't get to revenue in six months. But in general, you should be able to validate or invalidate your idea in six months was the goal. The second thing that came out of it, I kind of backed into was somebody came to me during my time at Startup Weekend. And they're like, hey, can I have your financial model?I'm like, well, yes, you can have it. But yours is a business consumer marketplace and mine's a business- to- business subscription. And those are fundamentally different. I mean, we use the same lingo. And as you know, in startup land, we have our own language, which is knowing how to work the system for sure.But the key there was how many templates would there be. So, I reached out to Crunchbase at the time and the CEO of Crunchbase and said, hey, can you give me a list of every seed funded company in the last 18 months globally. Ends up being twenty-six hundred and fifty-four companies. So hired a team. My son who was in college at the time was my project manager.And we basically looked at all twenty-six hundred and fifty-four websites and where they didn't have a pricing model or a revenue model, that was obvious, I reached out to them and said, Hey CEO, I'm doing this research project on revenue models. How do you monetize? So, we ended up breaking down 2,600 companies into the logical revenue models and there were 14. And that was it.So, I would say the most unique part of the content of the book is really the breakdown of the 14 revenue models that are successful in tech. And how you monetize them. So, the basic unit economics of what are the key metrics and KPIs of each of the 14 revenue models. Consequently, I became super geeky about pricing and revenue.When somebody now gets to give a pitch and they're like, hey, we're doing a blah, blah, blah. I'm like, oh, you're a marketplace that monetizes this way. And people are like, how did you know that? And I'm like, it's actually not a secret. There's 14 just like pick from the list. Right. So, I think for first time founders, the question then becomes what you're building I hope is unique, but how you monetize it is almost never unique. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn. Brian Ardinger: That's an important point, because I think a lot of times we think about the features or the problem we're solving, but we don't necessarily think about the business model itself and you don't have a business without a business model. So, that's so critical to think even at the earliest stages. It may pivot. It may change based on what you find in the marketplace, but at least going in with here's our initial assumption of how we might make money. And the model that we need to... Dave Parker: And that, let me break down the business model in three parts for you, because I think one of the things that all of us look at and we're like, oh, it's in our business model. Kind of like this. It's a black box and it's a secret thing. And one of the things I discovered in the process was here are the components of the business model. So, think about it as a Venn diagram. The top circle is really creating value and how you create value is your product, your service, and your team. And those are the costs associated with creating a product or a service.So, if you're in a service business, if you and I were lawyers, God forbid. We would bill out on an hourly basis. We'd have a pay rate and a bill rate, and that differential would create gross margins. It's a service business. In a product business it's a little harder to predict because we build the software once and we have thousands of users. So, it's not like, oh, every time we build it, we have to create a new and separate version, right. But the cost of building that product, whether it's the six engineers in six months or three years, depending on what it is, is a cost associated with creating value. The value created is the product or the service. There's a cost associated with creating a value. Circle Number Two is the cost of delivering value. And that is your pricing. Because that's a variable, right. That I can adjust. It's my revenue model. How I monetize. It's my marketing and my sales. I fixed the cost to build. I have now fixed the cost to sell. And there's lots of variables in there. There's lots of marketing things you can test. There are a few sales models, not a lot. Marketing is the most creative, and obviously it can be the most expensive in some ways too. And then what you have leftovers, the third bubble which is your top line revenue and your gross margin and hopefully net profit. Those are outcomes. You don't get to control those. You get to control your cost to build it, and you get to control your cost to sell it and the price. But when you think about it, that way, you're like, oh, there's only so many variables I get to be in control of. And since those are the ones that you control of, then I'm a strong advocate of like, know what the levers are you can pull. I talk to a lot of founders and some of the research was interesting. It basically showed that most founding teams don't change their price at all in the first three years. Which is when you think about it kind of crazy. But us as founders, were like, oh, I know all the product detriments and you know, it was kind of like, I would liken it to, if you said, hey, show me a picture of your son, Brandon, I'd be like, oh, I can show you a three-year-old picture of Brandon.He's a super cute kid. He's 28 today. Plays lead guitar in a metal band. Tatted up and you know, with sleeves and gages in his ears. It would be true, but I just want it to be accurate. Right. And I think that as founders, one of the challenges we have is how do I continue to reprice my product as a product feature set goes.So, one of the things I always recommend to founders is having a pricing council, you do once a quarter. Not that you're going to change price every quarter, but you are, you should really think about it. Brian Ardinger: Well, and you can also do tests around it as well. I remember a story, Eric Ries was talking about. He was working in a corporate environment, but they were saying like, this is the price. And he said, well, have you ever tested it? Do you know if you can go higher? And they said, no, no, because you know we know our customers and blah, blah. And he said, well, why don't we just run a test? And let's, you know, throw out a different price and see what happens. So, they ran the test. And it worked. And they said, well, why don't we do it again? Let's bump up the price again. And they ran a test and it worked again. And they realized like all these years they were leaving all this money on the table, so to speak. Because they had never even tested it. They never test to see if they could extract more value out. Dave Parker: There was a company in Seattle and I'm blanking on the name, that I was trying to see if they pull up real quick. So, they were doing a competitor for PowerPoint. It would look at contextually what the content was, and it would make the image suggestions for you. When they launched the product, the product is all the same price, and they came back at one point, and they just doubled it. And they had zero churn. Right. Which makes you think like, oh my God, how long ago could we have done that? Like nobody left. Everybody's like, yeah, makes sense. Like it would have paid more for it all along.Brian Ardinger: So, what are the most common questions that you get from founders at the earliest stages? What are most founders struggling with when they come to you? Dave Parker: When we think about the go to market strategy is definitely a question. So, I'm a product person or I'm an engineer and I'm new to like go to market. There's still a little bit of that theory of like, well, if I get on Tech Crunch, I'll just go viral. And the answer is, no, it doesn't work that way. Right. I mean, it would be awesome if it did. And we see some examples of companies going viral and there's a misattribution Brian of like, well, I'm going to go to market like Clubhouse.I'm like you're B2B and only B to C companies get a chance to go viral. Like B2B companies get good word of mouth maybe but going viral is math. Right. There's probably three big things in startups that are mysteries, but when you peel them back, they're actually not a mystery. It's just math. Going viral means it's called a K factor.So, if you have a K Factor of greater than two, I'll give you this base formula. Every customer I buy, I generate two additional paid customers. So, if you think about WhatsApp right or clubhouse, the answer is I'm in a business model there that actually doesn't require a business model. So, I call it new media.And what you're trying to do is grow your customer base so fast that at some point you'll monetize it through advertising. Not a surprise. Facebook, WhatsApp, et cetera. At some point you'll monetize it through advertising. So Clubhouse, you're starting to see some of those things, Tik TOK with pre roll. And people apply that revenue model or lack of revenue model to like a B2B business and B2B companies don't go viral.There's been two examples of things that went close, right? So Slack super close to viral. Interestingly enough, Slack before their pivot was a gaming platform. The game sucked but the communication platform was great. So that's one example of a B2B company kind of going viral, but it's really just group invitations.And the second one was LinkedIn for a very short period of time, about nine months, early, early on. And they built a tool that allows you to upload your entire contact database. And for that nine-month window, they went viral for every paid customer, they got more than two. So that's what viral means. The second one is traction or product market fit.And one of the things you'll hear from investors all the time. And I work as a venture capitalist now for a fund out of Atlanta. People are like, well, when you get traction, come see us again. Which is really the VC patting you on the head and saying, you're really cute. Like, let me know how it goes. And most first-time founders are walk away from those and go like, oh, that was an awesome meeting.And I'm like, actually, no, it wasn't, you're going to get ghosted. This is just like, they just swipe left or right. Or I don't know, I don't use dating apps. So whichever way they swipe, they swipe. Wrong way. Traction and product market fit is just math as well. Right. So, when people are like, oh, it's a mystery. Like we'll know it when we see it. I'm like a VC saying it's like porn, like that's crazy. Right. But product market fit is really not a mystery, it's math. So, when I think about the method Product Market Fit, there are early indicators of Product Market fit and there's trailing indicators. And the trailing indicators are easy. Churn. Surveys of, hey, if you didn't get use our product, what would it be like and how much disappointed would you be? And lack of customer retention through either contracts going down in value versus contracts going up in value. Those are lagging indicators. The early indicators are really things around like, is the traffic at the top of your site going up, right? Are the number of people downloading your app? Is that going up? Is the time to close going down? Is the conversion from demo to customer going up? And is my average contract value going up? When I put those five factors together. Right? So, closing ratios are improving. Traffic is improving. Demos are improving. Time to close is going down. And average contract value is going up.It's like the miracle of compound interest. If you don't have any of those indicators moving the right way, maybe you have product market fit, but it's too early to tell. If you do have those indicators coming together, then the answer is right, good on you, man. This is, this is exciting. And as an investor, that's where I get excited about writing the check. Because I'm like... Brian Ardinger: Because you know your money is going towards the fueling of that growth versus building something or guessing. Dave Parker: It's the early shift between risk capital and growth capital. And typically, what I see in the early stages are people like, well, we're not spending any money, we're just doing organic growth. And that's okay. But the big question is, okay, how do you scale it with paid growth so that organic growth can go fast. Oh, I'm just doing it through my network today. So I think about it as 10, 100, 1000 customer rule, right?The first 10 customers as the founder, you're going to go hand-to-hand combat. Go get them yourself. The first hundred, you probably can't do that. You're going to need to hire a salesperson or two. And you need to get good at making them, your value proposition clear. You need to get good at getting your pricing, right.But that's when you start to scale and as the first investor for you as the founder, that's good news, right? Because it's starting to scale past what I would call the Binary Risk Stage. Right? It's a zero or one it's going to succeed. Right. And angels will invest in you because we like you, right? I'm like, oh, writes you a check for $10,000 and you know, maybe be a board advisor, right, as an angel. When I'm ready to check for the fund, our average check is $650,000. I'm looking for like numbers and math. Right. And I can help the founders see it. But typically, what happens in venture is if a VC sees the math before you do, they're going to get a really good deal because they're going to put a check in and go like, Ooh, we saw the math before the founder did. And I'm not good at that. So, when I talk with founders, I'm like, here's the math you should be looking for. And one of the funds I used to work for, it was like, why are you telling them that? And I'm like, because I think better trained founders is always a good thing. So, if you're geeky about math and numbers and unit economics, you'll love the book.If you're new to that. And don't know, you're like Dave, you're speaking a foreign language and I recognize it is English. You'll learn the lingo with the book as well. Brian Ardinger: Well, I do think that's vitally important. Especially as you go out and want to go that more venture capital type of route, because these are the things you have to be able to talk to and understand and know, like you said, the levers and that, that you have to pull to make that work. The other question I want to talk about is early-stage solo founders. One of the biggest things they've got to figure out is how to build that team and the culture and things along those lines. What kind of advice or insights have you seen at the early stage of how do I build that team create it.Dave Parker: I'm going to give you a little contrarian advice. It frustrates me at times when people pontificate around stuff that they don't actually know. So you'll hear VCs often say culture matters is the most important thing. What they mean by that is personality. When you have a two-person founding team or a three person founding team, you don't actually have culture.Like there are few repeat entrepreneurs or people come from organizational development, or maybe you're in the services business. And you're like, we're going to build our company on a services culture, and that we really understand. If you're building a product, your first milestone is product market fit. Because if you get the culture wrong, you can fix it. But if you don't get product market fit, your culture doesn't matter. You don't have a company. Right? Right. So, the first milestone is product market fit. So, in VC you say, oh, culture really matters. What they're really talking about in a three-person startup is do they like you from a personality standpoint or are you an ass?Right? So, cause if the answer is, I don't think you'll listen to feedback, I'm probably not going to write a check. If I'm like the average investment for me as an angel is probably eight years to exit. So, if I don't like you, I'm probably not going to write a check. Right. So, there's, the things I'm looking for there from a personality profile type tends to be, then there's totally from views, right?There's the Introvert view, right? Bill gates did okay. Jeff Bezos, I don't think it was really an extrovert. But people will over-index on charisma or salesmanship when the answer is maybe, right. So ultimately, I kind of look at it first and say, is this the right founder? Is it Founder Market Fit? Are they the right people to solve this problem or not?So, I remember with Mitsui when I was there at one point. I was with a big fund out of Silicon Valley for three years. We got invited to invest in this deal, that was like spin the bottle where 70% of the attendees were girls and 30% were boys. And it was like late teenagers, early twenties. I'm like, we can't invest in this. This is just creepy. We're a bunch of old guys by comparison. It's just weird. Like, wait, this is the wrong investor fit for us. So, I'm looking at the founders and going, are they the right founders for this market and for this product first off. Brian Ardinger: And I think that's an important point for the founders to understand is like not every angel or not every fund is the right fit for you. And it's not necessarily, they don't like you or don't think it's great or whatever, sometimes it's an industry that they don't invest it. Dave Parker: For sure, like the fund that I'm supporting out of Atlanta, is called the Fearless Fund. So Fearless Fund is two African American women were the founders of the fund. They launched the fund with a $5 million exploratory fund. For all the wrong reasons. It blew up, right George Floyd, et cetera. And they're going to close on $30 million. We invest exclusively in black and brown women. And when they recruited me on it, I was like, oh, hell yeah, this is like, so on-mission right. Because 3.1% of all venture capital over the last 20 years is went to white dudes named Dave. Now I just want to pinpoint Jims are worse than the Daves. They got 3.4%. 2.8% went to all women. 0.8% went to people of color. Like if I could spend the next chapter of my life helping to level that playing field, I'm in. Like, it's kind of a no brainer. But if you came to us and said, hey, I'm a black and brown woman, but I'm based in London.We would be like, sorry, I can't do it. It doesn't matter how good your ideas because we have what's called an LP Agreement. An LPA. The LPA says we invest in these things, US-based companies, black and brown women founders. And if you're not in that mix, it doesn't matter how good your idea is. And people tend to take it personally. They're like, I can't believe you told me. No, my idea is brilliant. And I'm like, you're not in our thesis. Right. And if you're not in our thesis, we can't invest in it. So, know that that's pretty common for a lot of venture capital funds. Some VCs are opportunistic by definition and the answer is they can invest in a very broad category and angels can invest in the stuff that they love. Right. I like you as a founder. And I think it's a cool idea. I give it a shot. Brian Ardinger: Yeah. At Nelnet where I do some investing, obviously on our venture capital side, we are a lot more opportunistic or we'll take different bets based on community or other things, rather than things that are always in our sweet spots, so to speak. So corporate venture is a lot different as well. So, it pays to understand who has the money. Why do they want to invest for sure? What are they looking for? Dave Parker: One of the chapters, I break down what the investor profiles are and why they invest. So, if you think about this as an enterprise sales process, if you, as a founder are out raising money, the question is, is like what stage appropriate capital. Right? So as a corporate VC, you're probably not investing in early risk stage capital. But you're investing in markets you want to keep an eye on usually. Because you're like, oh, that's a super interesting development. Let's put some money over there and see how that works and we'll follow on with it. Brian Ardinger: So, Andrew has a question in the chat. He says, I work with very early-stage VC funding, pre prototype presales. I've noticed this new trend where companies are being trained in their pitch to propose who they might be acquired by in the coming years. Do you feel this as a legitimate trend and if not, how we advise founders to prepare for acquisition? Dave Parker: So, I've done 16 exits. So, I definitely have an opinion on this one. I would say the first thing you need to focus on is like focus on building a great product and a great company. Right? And then your acquisition thing becomes a lot easier to discuss. Like I will say my general default is I like products and companies that have logical upmarket buyers.Right. So there's like, oh, it makes sense that they've and people like, oh, Google's going to buy me. I'm like, actually you can, there's a Wikipedia page. Every acquisition that Google has ever made. And in most cases I will tell you, they're not going to buy you. Now, I know aspirational, you want them to buy you and that's super cool. But there's a big difference between oh, Microsoft will buy us or it's like, actually, no. Right. So, we're selling a company right now. They're doing about $10 million runway and run rate and revenue. And at one point I was talking with the CEO and he's like, Salesforce will buy us. I'm like, no Salesforce, isn't going to buy you. You have to be way over 10 million in revenue to have Salesforce actually be interested.So, they bought Slack for, you know, something incredible in the billions of dollars. But they have to do an acquisition that moves the needle in the billions, not in the oh, it's 10 or 20 million. Right. It doesn't mean you're a bad company, it just means you have limited buyer set. So, from a founder perspective, I think if they're asking you the question there may or may not be the right investor because we don't typically look to flip deals.I know I'm going to be in the deal 7 to 10 years. But I do like where there's a logical upmarket buyer who has a track record of doing acquisitions. So, I would say it's a bit of a Catch 22. By contrast, I will tell you I've been on the board of the company for 17 almost 18 years. That we're the largest player in our space. Which means the company today is a great, you know, kicks off great dividends. We do really well with it, but there's no easy exit for it because we're the biggest player in that kind of niche market. Which gets you back to the market sizing and why you want to go after a market, that's a much bigger market than a niche market for sure. Brian Ardinger: Andrew says. Thanks. Great insight. Thank you for that. Question around what are some of the trends that you're seeing and what are you excited about when it comes to startups?Dave Parker: I think one of the ones that I'm aspirationally looking for, and I can't get myself to get off the bench and go do myself, is I think there's going to be a shift in the social platforms, not just solely based on the fact that watching Facebook stab themselves has been awkward. But the idea of platforms that empower the creatives and creators is super interesting to me.Like when I look at Sub Stack and things like that, it's like the revenue models are still flipped. Where it's too much of the money, goes to the platform and not enough money goes to the creator. So, I think there's probably a really interesting opportunity that says, hey, how do you flip that model, where the creators make most of the money and the platforms making less.You know, obviously Facebook's the extreme version of that. But Tik TOK is a good example of, hey, somebody gets on to try to monetize something and finds that they made quite a bit. I think we'll see more platforms develop that empower the creatives. Creative class. I think that's super exciting. Brian Ardinger: That's interesting too. The whole no-code low-code movement has really changed over the last five years where again five or six years ago, you, at some point had to have a development team or a, or a developer on your team to start building product. And nowadays I tell most founders, there's probably enough out there with low-code no-code tools that you can at least get your MVP some early insight without having to have that developer co-founder on board. Dave Parker: Yeah, I think that's super exciting as well. It's one of the categories we're following. And I think low-code no-code is the equivalent of what AWS was to buying servers. So, I've raised $12 million and exited $85 million. In my first startup, we had to buy servers and racks and build them ourselves and put them in a, an Exodus Data Center.And people were like Exodus, what was that? It was one of the biggest epic fails of all time. And when AWS came along and they didn't have to, I could just turn up a virtual server. I didn't have to order something from Dell. It fundamentally changed the cost of doing a startup. Low-code no-code I think will be the same. And my cost of actually doing it.Now, I still have to learn how to do that. But from a founder perspective, I can learn how to do that in months and not years. And then not have to build the development team. So, using Bubble or Air Table, for sure. Monday, I would say is the expensive version of Bubble or Air Table by comparison, from a founder perspective.Brian Ardinger: What I like about it is it allows for greater customer discovery and experimentation around your product earlier to get that feedback, to see if you're on the right stage and figure out what features you do need to build or scale or optimize. Dave Parker: Yeah. Yeah, that one's great. I think in a revenue model side, one of the things we're seeing is in the marketplace components. As we're seeing marketplace shift from transaction fees only to subscription fees, plus transaction fees. I would tell you watching revenue models over the last seven years, ish, total, there's been a few changes in them. One, if you remember Groupon, there's thousands of competitors to it because at a fundamental level, I would say revenue models aren't, they're not defensive. Revenue models, so think of they're very public domain. So even Google and pay-per-click copied that model from Yahoo. Lost the lawsuit against them. Yahoo had bought a company from Idea Lab who'd had actually patented the pay-per-click model. Yahoo ended up being a great holding company for Alibaba and Google stock, right at the end of the day.Revenue models are defensible, but if you look at all the copycats of Groupon, you see, most of those went away. Groupon is still alive in a public company, but they traded 0.49 times trailing 12 revenue. So, if you take the market cap of the company divided by sales, I would say that it's 50 cents on the dollar. Right. So as far as what they trade at. Now, compare that to a subscription business. Well, maybe the next step up would be you and I do a consulting business for a million dollars. That company is worth roughly a million dollars. It's worth one times revenues. So, because if you remember Groupon booked the top line sales of what they sold you for that certificate, but they really only made the margin on the, you know, the 10 or 15% on the margin of it.So, if you and I had a consulting company for a million dollars, it'd be worth roughly a million dollars. If we did a million-dollar subscription company, it would be worth somewhere between 12 and $15 million. And one of the new models that really came out in the last five years was the idea of a metered service company.So Twilio is a great example, AWS, if it was pulled out of Amazon is a pay as you go model. It is predominantly is B2B, but those companies traded really 35 times, right? So, if you think about, okay, if I'm going to do a startup, which revenue model should I use, I would tell you to think about again, if you're going to go back to Andrew's question about the exit multiple, I would be interested in less than who's going to buy it. More interested in the revenue model and the multiple of sales. So, I'd be like go for a metered service company for sure, or subscription at very least. Brian Ardinger: I wanted to ask around the topic of founders. It's obviously a very lonely, difficult journey at the very early stage. Do you have any advice for early-stage founders to how to get better connected and deal with the mental challenges of building a company?Dave Parker: Yeah. Great question. It was probably my most read blog post ever is I wrote about my personal battle with depression. And then I hit publish and I thought, what the hell? What did I do? What was I thinking? And I got more positive comments on it than I could have imagined. Brad Feld, who used to be on my board, as you know. Brad sent me a note with one word, and it just said brave. I think that the challenge there from a founder perspective is, you know, you're always trying to be positive. You're trying to, I was trying to be upbeat. If it's motivate the team or motivate investors. And so consequently leads to a lot of isolation.And I think that's one of the things that, like, one of the things we're doing here in Seattle is we run a cohort program for founders. We don't take any equity. There's no cash. They don't pay for it. And it's really about us up leveling the community of founders 25 to 30 founders twice a year, which is our math.And we're really helping them navigate the ecosystem, here in Seattle in six months instead of 18 months, which improve their odds of success. But also connecting them with other founders. Because other people are asking the same questions you're asking. They're not competitive. They're going through the same challenges.And by putting them in community, it serves one of those two purposes. One is we want to help them navigate the ecosystem, but we also want to help them connect with other founders like them at the same stage, which we think has two benefits. One is personal connection and not being in isolation for sure.And second is really helping them think about reinvesting in the community over time. So, if you think about classically, it was the PayPal mafia and then reinvested in each other. So, Reed Hoffman and Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, et cetera. And then it's now become the Uber mafia, right? All the people that were at Uber that are now launching other companies that are reinvesting in each other. We've never had that in Seattle. And most cities don't. It's one of the biggest gaps. So that's our secondary benefit is we think if we have them in community and at five years, but when we launched this as a program, which through the Washington Technology Industry Association. And I went back to the CEO. I'm like, this is a ten-year plan. Right. I'm like you can't judge it at three years or four years. And we're coming into our fourth year right now. And I'd say it's worked out better than we thought. But as I told him, I'm like, you don't get actually judge on it for 10 years. We've had some exits; we've had a bunch of fundraising. Our teams do it a lot faster than other teams. So, it's become a program. People are like, I want to get in. So, we just actually, Brian took it and put it into an document for a national scale-up grant for the Department of Commerce, with the State of Washington. So, we actually have those documents set up now. If somebody wanted to take it to Nebraska and say, Hey, we want to replicate all of this programming.We've opened source all the programming, we've open sourced, the narrative doc and the fundraising docs. So, somebody could turn around and say like, okay, we're going to go launch this program here as a, as a copycat with, with pride. Like we want you to knock it off. Brian Ardinger: Well, that's interesting. That may be an interesting model to explore now with COVID and the whole virtual remote angle of it. Or even in communities like Lincoln, where again, just by the pure numbers, we're not going to have thousands of founders. So how do you scale that? Dave Parker: For sure. And we're basically taking a program we were running in Seattle now and run it in Kent, Washington and Yakima. And Vancouver, Washington, and Tacoma. And we're trying to provide it from an access perspective. Like we want to make sure that we provide people with access that didn't have access to that before.But also, with a path to funding, because if you give people access to programming, but no, they can't ship an MVP at the end because they don't have any money. That's still a problem. So, we're trying to address that problem next. But the grant was a $750,000 grant over three years. Which means we'll kind of be able to take the show on the road and obviously virtual too. I think the nice thing about if there's a positive outcome of the whole COVID thing is place matters a lot less than it used to.Like the good news is I don't have to get on a plane to come be on stage with you. I'd like to be. That'd be kind of fun, because we could go have a beer afterwards and have dinner. But that that'll happen too. But I think from an efficiency standpoint, I've been doing programs for the Middle East, like six or seven cities in the middle east over the last two years. And I fly out Thursday night to Abu Dhabi for four days. And I'm like, it's kind of a fast turn for Abu Dhabi. Could do it just virtually. And be fine. More InformationBrian Ardinger: I wanted to thank you again for coming on. Here's Dave's book Trajectory Startup. Pick it up at any place you buy books. I'm going to put it in a call to action. He also is giving away some free stuff on his website. So let me share that right now. You can download his free resource guide on 14 successful Tech Revenue Models to check that. And then I also, again, I want to thank all our sponsors for bringing this today. And I encourage folks to also sign up for Inside Outside.io. Our newsletter and our podcast, where we bring these types of things whenever we can. So that's the link to that. Thanks for coming out. Thanks for all the audience for being here. Thanks for the great questions and looking forward to doing this again, at some point. And maybe having you come and see us in real life. So, I appreciate your time. And thank you again, Dave. If people want to find out more about yourself or your book, what's the best way to do that?Dave Parker: Yeah, they can find all the information is on my blog, DKparker.com. If you don't want to buy the book, you just have to figure out how to navigate all the blog posts in order. But that should be, you know, there's only 180 blog posts there. So DKparker.com, you can find the book and more information. The 14 revenue models.You can also find me on social media. I'm at Dave Parker CA for Seattle, when you find, you know, LinkedIn, Twitter. I'm not on Facebook anymore. I just finally had to just say, no. I'm still on Instagram because I want to see what my kids are doing. But Daisy, my dog has more followers on Instagram than I do at this point. But so yeah, you can find me on social media, and you can find me on DK parker.com. Brian Ardinger: Excellent. Well, thank you again, Dave. We're looking forward to having future conversations. And go out and have fun everyone at Startup Week Lincoln, and we'll see you around the neighborhood. Thanks very much for coming out.That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

InnovaBuzz
Michael Haynes, How to Leverage Business Innovation Across Multiple Sectors - InnovaBuzz 471

InnovaBuzz

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 50:52


In this episode, I'm really excited to have as my guest, Michael Haynes, an SME Business Growth Specialist and the author of Listen Innovate Grow. Michael spent over 23 years working in a variety of strategy, marketing, and customer insight roles with large corporates across a range of industries in Australia and Canada. During his time working for Australia's largest telecommunications company as a Customer Research and Strategy Manager, he experienced first-hand how big corporations utilize innovation to increase growth with business customers. Now Michael empowers service-based small and medium companies (SMEs) with buyer-centric strategies to achieve the growth and impact they seek. In our discussion, Michael talked to me about: Leveraging business innovation across multiple sectors Road-mapping and sense-making instead of "content vomit" Really listening to your customers and industry Listen to the podcast to learn more. https://innovabiz.co/michaelhaynes (Show Notes and Blog) https://innovabiz.com.au/innovabuzz/ (The Podcasts)

YPE Podcast
Kathleen Nelson Romans - Business Innovation Engineer

YPE Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 47:30


Kathleen Nelson Romans works to develop and commercialize electric vehicle charging technology, serving as a bridge between Eaton's research division and business units to ensure that time and research will actually lead to revenue. In this episode of the YPE Podcast, she sits down with hosts Mark and Jake to discuss the current state of electric vehicle infrastructure, barriers to EV adoption, and even lab-grown meat. Show Notes: 00:34 Kathleen's role as business innovation engineer & what Eaton does 02:59 Kathleen's background & development program rotations 05:14 Electric vehicle infrastructure strategies & market segments 07:04 What bottlenecks exist for switching everyone to electric vehicles? 08:59 Managed charging & time-of-use tariffs 11:34 Opportunities for young professionals in this sector 15:14 Electric alternatives to off-road vehicles? 16:44 Common misconceptions about electric infrastructure 18:24 How do the YPE hosts feel about electric vehicles? 21:29 How would existing infrastructure handle the increase in charging demand? 24:14 Emerging trend of "DC as a service" 28:14 How public perception is a barrier to EV adoption 30:49 The carbon footprint of food; water consumption in food production 34:24 Ranking food by its carbon dioxide and car miles equivalent 37:04 Meat substitutes and lab-grown meat 37:44 Advice to share with young professionals on a similar career path 38:54 Has Kathleen changed her mind about something in her industry? 40:54 Kathleen's perspective on recycling 44:14 Do any industry trends keep Kathleen up at night? Kathleen's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/knelsonromans/ The Rivian camp kitchen mentioned this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i4ezh8pneI

Cooking the Books with Frances Cook
Should you drain your KiwiSaver to buy a house?

Cooking the Books with Frances Cook

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 21:29


Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's whether it's worth draining your retirement savings to buy your first home. Hosted by Frances Cook.Scraping together a deposit for your first home can be a fraught exercise. House prices are through the roof, and in some areas, only getting worse.Take the latest data from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.Last month it revealed that finding an affordable home was getting harder for first-home buyers.It's particularly bad for those who live in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, or Tauranga.So, the vast majority of the country's young people.The solution held up to this is often to use KiwiSaver. Your savings go out automatically and get boosted by a three percent employer contribution, as well as $521 a year from the Government.But the problem is that your KiwiSaver is meant to be for retirement.There are plenty of personal finance experts who argue you should leave it alone,  and save for your house in other ways.I called up Dr Aaron Gilbert, associate professor for AUT's Business School, to discuss the dilemma.We talked about how to supercharge your KiwiSaver savings, the pros and cons of using that for a house, and what other options there are for a person to get into their first home.For the interview, listen to the podcast. If you have a question about this podcast or an idea for the next one, come and talk to me about it.I'm on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ Twitter https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

Inside Outside
Ep. 271 - Selina Troesch Munster, Principal at Touchdown Ventures on Corporate Venture Capital & DEI

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 22:54


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Selina Troesch Munster, Principal at Touchdown Ventures. Selena and I talk about the changing opportunities in corporate venture capital, both for corporates and startups, as well as the impact in the growing focus of diversity, equity, inclusion, and how it's impacting the industry. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript with Selina Troesch Munster, Principal at Touchdown VenturesBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Selina Troesch Munster. She is the Principal at Touchdown Ventures. Welcome back to the show Selina. Selina Troesch Munster: Thank you. It's great to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you back. You were out in Nebraska in 2019. You spoke at our Inside Outside Innovation Summit. And so, I'm super excited to reconnect after COVID to see what's going on in the world of corporate venture. Selina Troesch Munster: Yeah, it's such a shame that COVID ended in person events because that was such a fun event. And I encourage anybody listening to definitely get out there the next time it happens in person. It was fantastic. And I have relationships from that week that are still very fruitful. Brian Ardinger: That's awesome. Oh, I'll give a little bit of background to our audience members who may not have seen you there or heard more about you. But you started at Touchdown Ventures, I think in 2014 or so when it first got off the ground. Before that you were at Barclays in New York. You're currently an Adjunct Professor at USC teaching Venture Capital at the MBA school there. And then also just were named a Global Corporate Venturing Rising Star in 2020. So, congrats on that as well. Selina Troesch Munster: Thank you. Yeah, that's so accurate. Brian Ardinger: For those who aren't familiar with Touchdown Ventures, it's a corporate venture as a service almost type of company. So, let's talk a little bit about what is Touchdown Ventures and how does it fit into this corporate venture environment?Selina Troesch Munster: Yes, absolutely. So, Touchdown works with corporations to help them manage their venture capital programs. And what that means in practice is most corporations either don't have the appetite or ability to hire experienced VCs to run a program internally.So, what our co-founders decided to do was to create a service-based business where experienced VCs, work together with folks internally at the corporations to develop a strategy for, and then actually manage, these corporate venture programs. And the opportunity that David, Rich and Scott saw back in 2014, when they founded the business, was corporations have so much to provide to startups in you know, having a relationship with them. In addition to the capital that they deploy.But often they don't have the skill set necessary to identify which of those startups are a good investment opportunity. And then to manage those investments through to an exit, whatever that may be. Which is what we know how to do. We, on the other hand, don't have the expertise in the internal politics and priorities within that organization.And so, by marrying together, our financial analysis and, you know, opportunity evaluation skills, and then deal management skills, and their knowledge of what's impactful for their business, we have a really powerful way of making investments in startups. That as some of our corporate partners say, give them a bit of a leg up against their competitors based on that relationship. We work together with I believe 18 different corporations, as of right now, managing their funds. Each one is developed specifically for that corporation's goals and objectives and risk tolerance. And, you know, we have a dedicated team to manage each one of those specifically.And so, we run programs across a variety of different industries and have made, I think almost 70 investments at this point across all those programs. Pretty awesome growth from where we were in 2014. Brian Ardinger: When you think about corporate venture, it's somewhat new to the field of venture capital. I mean started probably with Intel. I think they were one of the first corporate venture funds to come on the scene. But you're seeing more and more companies look to startups and look to corporate venture capital as a way to either differentiate their Innovation efforts or have access to different things that they wouldn't have before. What do you think is driving corporates to taking a look at venture capital as a means to meet their goals?Selina Troesch Munster: I think there are a couple of drivers. One is the increasing rate of company formation and, you know, to use an overused word disruption within traditional industries. And so having the foresight that venture capital gives you of, oh my gosh, I just saw 10 companies that raised funding in a particular space. That gives you an idea of where the market might be moving toward and what a corporation needs to be aware of in terms of what might be coming their way and trying to eat their lunch in the future. And so, you know, even if we don't make that many investments over the course of a year, we still interacted with hundreds of startups and started to see what's happening out in the market. And that intelligence is a really important part of a corporate venture program, is you don't have to say yes to an opportunity to learn from it. The other thing that I think is driving it is that there is a lot of capital out there funding a lot of different types of businesses that haven't traditionally been venture backed. And so, we see it in the food space. That is a relatively new sector for investment for venture capitalists. You know, traditionally you're talking about software. That's pretty much it. And so, when you have VC money flowing into these sectors that are non-traditional VC sectors, you have a greater volume of threats to those businesses as well. And having that function where you get to have a much tighter relationship with some of these upstarts is really valuable to the corporate strategy team and really the business units. And there are also certain types of partnerships that just don't happen without capital investment. And startups are recognizing that they can leverage the capital raise process to also get really tight, great relationships with corporate partners in that way.Brian Ardinger: A lot of corporates out there, they do invest in the venture space, but they do it primarily just investing in other funds and that. So, are you seeing more and more companies wanting to take more of that hands-on approach? Not only just investing for ROI return, but investing in Touchdown Ventures and what you can bring to the table to give them that more hands-on insights and looks, in addition to just the ROI traditional financial model around it? Selina Troesch Munster: Yeah, I think that that's a big driver of what's helped our business grow, but also what's driven corporate venture funding to new highs over the past couple of years. And I think we've had a record year in corporations putting money into startups in 2020 and probably 2021 as well. How things are trending.And I think it is because of the desire for that direct relationship with the startup. It's something that we, as Touchdown enable because we're in the trenches with the teams at the corporations, talking through every opportunity that we see and figuring out which ones are good investment opportunities, as well as sort of strategic partnerships.And I think having fund investments also has a place within a portfolio approach for corporations. But the ownership of the program is really important to a lot of these folks because they want to see firsthand, who are these companies? What are they doing and how do we most productively create sort of mutual benefit between ourselves and the startup ecosystem? And that can be a little bit harder when you're invested in a fund and you're not necessarily seeing all of the deal flow. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn. Brian Ardinger: Are you spending more time working with the startups and sourcing startups, or are you spending a lot of time with the corporate folks trying to understand what their needs are? Is it 50/50? Walk me through the process of how you actually work with a corporate and a startup to make that match.Selina Troesch Munster: It's definitely a blend and with a team of three, for instance, on the fund that I'm working on, we split those responsibilities. And some days I spend more time with startups and some days I spend more time with their corporate partner. But both are really critical to being able to find those matches.And so, we spend, a fair amount of our week, having conversations with folks within the business units to understand, you know, what are your strategic priorities? What are the business problems that you're trying to solve? What are you trying to build internally so that we don't show up with competitors, what you're trying to do with your own R and D, but where are there places where you might want to accelerate what you're doing with an external partner? And based on that information, we will go have conversations with startups and say, all right, how well does this match up against what this person told us? Is this enough of a priority for them to spend the time to talk to this company?We manage both the funnel of investment opportunities, but also funnel of commercial opportunities where we say, all right, you know, every quarter we will come back to this person in R and D and say, hey, we talked about this last time. This is on your wish list of like, wouldn't it be cool if we could find companies that do this? These are the opportunities that we've identified. Let's talk about how they do and don't match up. And if there's anything that's sort of serendipitously really aligns, let's make sure that you were able to have a conversation and sort of take that the next steps beyond that first introduction. But it really is on both fronts that we're also figuring out what the startups care about. You know, I wouldn't want to bring a startup in and say, well, our partner is really interested in doing this with you and they're like, we would never consider that. So, there's, you know, a little bit of a needs assessment on both sides. Brian Ardinger: So, you're doing both the strategic investment and companies are buying equity in those particular companies as part of a fundraise. But it sounds like you're also doing some basically strategic matchmaking from a customer perspective. So, startups are coming to you and saying hey, we'd love to work with XYZ company, or are you a relationship with these? We'd be a good fit for providing services into that corporation. Is that a blend of what's going on as well, or? Selina Troesch Munster: Yep. Absolutely. And usually our conversations with startups are, look, you may not be fundraising right now, but there are other opportunities that we can facilitate for you. If we have an understanding of your business and an understanding of what you're looking to do with potential partners. That often gets us into conversations with companies kind of in between their formal fundraises as well, because we do have that added benefit of being able to facilitate commercial conversations.Brian Ardinger: So, you sit in between to a large extent for both the corporates and the startups. What are some of the key, I guess, problems or challenges that you would recommend for both the corporate and the startup to avoid when trying to make these relationships work?Selina Troesch Munster: I think corporates can be really scary to startups. I think that there are often legal requirements or legal agreements that the corporate wants to enter into that just look like a lot of work from the startup perspective. And look like risk from the startup perspective. And so, for corporations, I would say, keep it relatively simple on the legal side. Make sure that whatever you send over to a startup company in terms of, you know, whether it's an NDA or a side letter or, you know, commercial agreement that it's not the same thing that you would send to, you know, a bigger supplier or customer. So that's one. On the other side, I think startups often, rightly, but often see themselves as having so many different opportunities to help their customers or partners. And, if you show up with, like, I can be all things to all people, you're requiring a certain amount of imagination and thinking about what to do with your product, from someone who might have a day job, that they're very very focused on and doesn't have time to think creatively about where you might fit in. And so, the more specific a startup can be coming in saying, look, this is what we do. This is the opportunity we see with you. And this is how we would propose to work together. The easier it is for that person to say, yes, that's awesome. I definitely want to do that with you or, you know what, that's not quite what I want to do. I would tweak it in this way. Like, let's move forward. Or this isn't right for us. So, it gets you to an answer a lot faster, and it also takes some of the burden off of the corporate partner for doing the work of pitching your business. Brian Ardinger: To a certain extent it's oftentimes just finding what does that pilot first relationship look like, or that kind of first date and how would that play out so that both sides can become comfortable in that relationship and grow it as it goes along. The other area I want to talk about is if it wasn't already the case before, 2020 which has really put D. E. and I, diversity, equity, inclusion, front and center for most companies. And I'd love to get your insight and what you are seeing in the startup in corporate venture space and how folks are tackling and talking about D, E, and I initiatives. Selina Troesch Munster: Yeah, it's something that's very near and dear to my heart. At Touchdown, we've really worked on trying to figure out how we educate ourselves about bias and the impact that those unconscious or implicit biases have on how we do our jobs. But also, how we can actually make difference out in the ecosystem.It has had a lot of energy. Particularly related to improving the pipeline and hiring of minorities in whatever definition you want to, you know, make that, whether that's people of color, whether that is LGBTQ and funds are really paying attention to their recruiting process. I think it's going to take a while for us to see the results of that.I don't have any delusions that starting in 2022, we'll have like this wonderful, diverse set of, you know, of partners. That takes time, especially in VC, where partner positions are rare or the ability to raise money has particularly been challenging. I think, you know, the limited partners and allocators are paying more attention to it and making sure that they include that in their evaluation process, especially with emerging managers. It's going to take time. It's going to take a lot of time. And I think in the corporate space, where I see the most opportunity is using the existing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to apply those learnings and insights and best practices to venture investing. And I've had a couple of conversations where we're talking about potentially announcing an investment and you know, one of the questions is all right, where might we have risks from a diversity perspective in you know, announcing this. Is like, is there enough diversity on this team? And what may we, or maybe not get, in terms of PR blow back from that type of announcement.Brian Ardinger: So, are you seeing a much bigger push from the corporates themselves to say, hey, we're not only looking for companies in XYZ technology space, but we're specifically looking for minority teams or, or different types of businesses, maybe even, then we looked at it in the past. Are you seeing that from corporates and they're pushing that? Or is it you're helping the corporates come along to that space?Selina Troesch Munster: It's a little bit of both. I think where we see it the most is actually, if we're thinking about, you know, a particular business problem where maybe the e-commerce team says, you know what, we're really not reaching this demographic. Help us figure out how to reach this demographic through the investment program.So, it's less about give me businesses that do a certain thing and more about help me understand this type of person that isn't buying from us today that want to buy from us in the future. Brian Ardinger: And then from the startup side, what are you seeing when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion? Are you seeing startups being able to brace that more effectively in their partnerships and the relationships or what are you seeing on that side?Selina Troesch Munster: I'm seeing a lot more emphasis on the board level. Finding diverse board representatives. And so, one of our portfolio companies, it was particularly important, I mean, she was a female CEO, but it was particularly important to her to have a majority of women on her board. And so, identifying women with the good experience to help her achieve what she wants to achieve, but also maintaining that diversity of perspective. And so, at the board level, it's a really big focus and I'm seeing more and more advertisement, for lack of a better word, in pitch tags of the diversity of teams. And so, whether it is gender or racial diversity, all of those things are starting to come up more. Brian Ardinger: Are you seeing different types of businesses and different types of even locations around the country and that, they're getting on your radar because you're casting a wider net or companies are asking for more and different looks?Selina Troesch Munster: That's a good question. I haven't actually analyzed what our location diversity looks like. A number of our corporate partners are in the Midwest. And so have always had as part of the strategy, you know supporting startups in their own backyard. I don't know exactly how that's changed over the past year. That's an interesting data point for us to look at. Brian Ardinger: We sit in the middle of the United States and the venture world is different here than it is in the big markets. And it's always interesting to see how those trends are playing out location or technology or otherwise. I guess the last core topic I'll talk about is what's new and exciting in your world? What are you excited about? What trends are you seeing? What are the things that you're focused on? Selina Troesch Munster: So, I personally am focused on Ag Tech and Lawn and Garden investing. I manage our program with Scott's Miracle Grow, and it's been a really interesting year because people have, you know, from a consumer perspective, really shifted into spending more time in their gardens and thinking more about growing their own food.And so, there's been an explosion in interest and technology to help people do that more effective. Both from a macro trend perspective, but also from an environmental perspective. I found it really fascinating how big companies and small are tapping into the wellness and environmental aspects of growing.So that's been particularly exciting for me. And then on the flip side, in terms of professional agriculture, all of the issues that COVID exposed about the supply chain and how that affects, you know, how food gets to us, how food is grown, the energy impacts of that. I just read an article about, you know, the rising cost of electricity and what that does to greenhouse growers. Because often they're supplementing with light.And if the cost of electricity goes up and you're running on razor thin margin business at a certain point, it stops making sense. And so how do we help farmers with the systems that are necessary to better manage the business side of their business? In addition to the sort of the plants. So that's where I've been spending my time. It's, there's some of the interesting stuff that I found fascinating, the sort of the big picture problems that we're thinking about. Brian Ardinger: That's awesome. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on Inside Outside Innovation and sharing some of your insights on what's going on. Hope to have you back out in the Midwest sometime soon. And we can talk further about this stuff. The last question I want to know is Giants or Dodgers. I know you're based in LA, but which of the two teams is going to come through? Selina Troesch Munster: Giants. I am a diehard Giants fan. This is apparently the only thing that is not good about me from my husband's perspective, because he is a diehard Dodgers fan. So, we are a house divided for the, over the course of the series, and we'll see what happens. Brian Ardinger: It will probably be a tough week. This podcast will come out probably after the series, so we'll find out if you're right, and we'll probably check back in to see how you both are doing. Selina Troesch Munster: Yes. Let's hope the marriage survives. I think it will.For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Excellent. Well, Selina, if people want to find out more about yourself or more about Touchdown Ventures, what's the best way to do that? Selina Troesch Munster: I would go to our website, TouchdownVC.com. There you can link to our various content. Our blog is called Risky Business, and I am @SelinaTroesch on Twitter. So, you can also find out what I'm tweeting about. You can follow me there. Brian Ardinger: Excellent. Well, Selina again, thanks for being on Inside Outside Innovation. Look forward to continuing the conversation in the future. Selina Troesch Munster: Thank you, Brian. Appreciate it. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Innovation Now
Adaptable Technology

Innovation Now

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021


The ADEPT team observed firsthand just how well Spiderweave took the heat when exposed to temperatures above three thousand degrees Fahrenheit.

Inside Outside
Ep. 270 - Kaiser Yang, Co-founder of Platypus Labs & Author of Crack the Code on Mindsets for Creativity and Innovation

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 21:46


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Kaiser Yang, Co-founder of Platypus Labs and Author of the new book Crack the Code. Kaiser and I talk about the mindsets needed to foster creativity and innovation. And some of the pitfalls you can avoid when trying to spin up your innovation initiatives.Inside Outside Innovation as the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript of Kaiser Yang, Co-founder of Platypus Labs and Author of Crack the CodeBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Kaiser Yang. He is co-founder of Platypus Labs and author of the book Crack the Code: Eight Surprising Keys to Unlock Innovation. Welcome. Kaiser Yang: Hey, thank you so much, Brian. I'm delighted to be here and be a part of your program. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you on the show. We got connected through Josh Linkner. I was interviewing him about his new book, Big Little Breakthroughs. And he reached out recently to say, hey, Kaiser's got a new book out in and around this particular subject. You've worked with some great companies out there when it comes to Innovation, Heineken, and ESPN, and Coca-Cola. What are some of the most common problems that companies are trying to solve when it comes to Innovation?Kaiser Yang: There's a number of challenges that we help organizations focus on and prioritize. But it really starts at the leadership level of prioritizing Innovation, building the right set of rituals and rewards that motivates team members to drive inventive thinking in their day-to-day responsibilities. And so, we do spend a lot of time working from the leadership level first understanding what the desired state is. What some of the desired outcomes are.And crafting a strategy. And that strategy, it could involve a number of different things from bringing thought leadership to the organization, doing training workshops, running Innovation, bootcamps. Sometimes it even just comes down to creating inspiration and motivation in terms of ideas, like giving them the power to recognize patterns outside of their industry. So, they can innovate their own and challenge the status quo. So, for us, I think when we first work with organizations, it has to start at the top. Meaning there needs to be a commitment to driving innovation and making it a priority. And then it makes the rest of the initiatives so much smoother moving forward.Brian Ardinger: That is so important that context setting. Because I think a lot of times organizations get off the wrong track because they don't necessarily define Innovation the same way. A lot of people think of innovation as I've got to come up with the next electric car or new Uber. And as you know, Innovation can be something much simpler as far as, you know, how do you find it and identify a problem and create something of value to solve that problem. And a lot of the book talks about that creative problem-solving area that doesn't have to be transformational, but it can be little breakthroughs that make a difference. Kaiser Yang: Absolutely. It's a philosophy that I share with Josh. And his book, Big Little Breakthroughs is all about the fact that we should look for everyday acts of creativity or what he calls micro innovations.And for us too, when we work with organizations, we obviously want to look at transformational opportunities, high growth opportunities. But sometimes when you look at Innovation, just in that context, it can be paralyzing for most of the team members, right. Unless it's a billion-dollar Elon Musk type idea that it doesn't count.When in reality, some of the best innovations start with small acts of creativity applied to solving the customer experience or driving improvement in internal processes. And those little innovations can stack up and make a significant difference over time. Brian Ardinger: Well, you almost have to build up those muscles and, you know, to jump directly to starting a brand-new business or a brand-new idea is challenging, especially if you've been hired to optimize and execute in a particular business model that you know and have some certainty around. Versus a completely unknown kind of environment. Kaiser Yang: For sure. What we see in many organizations is that there's this tremendous creative readiness, this curiosity, this willingness to drive change. But where it falls short is the implementation side. And it's most often these teams and individuals don't have the right tools or the training or critical thinking skills to apply their creativity to innovative outcomes.And that really is kind of the point of Crack the Code, my new book. It's more of a field guide, a manual to help you unlock your creativity. And add a little bit more structure to the process. So rather than saying, hey, let's solve the sales challenge or this customer experience problem, or this operational inefficiency and just brainstorming in the traditional sense. These are proven tools and techniques that really guide you through that creative process, so you can realize better outcomes in the end. Brian Ardinger: Let's talk a little bit about the book. You kind of break it up into these four key mindsets that you believe individuals and organizations need to be building and growing on. Talk a little bit about the mindsets and how they came to be and the thought process around it. Kaiser Yang: Yeah. I mean, these mindsets are really based on almost like two decades worth of research and real-world experiences, having been a startup entrepreneur and starting my own businesses. Creativity is that one underlying skill set that was applied to drive growth and transformation and performance at pretty much every level.And so, when we think about some of these mindsets, they may come across to you as common sense, but common sense isn't always common practice. So, for example, the first core mindset that we start out with is this notion that every barrier can be penetrated. It's this inherent belief that no matter how difficult the challenge is, if you apply enough creative energy at it, that obstacle can be overcome.Right, the most powerful successful innovators out there, when they have a setback or they have a failure, what they don't do is throw up their arms and get discouraged. They're the ones that say not yet. So, while it seems obvious that every barrier can be penetrated, if you look at organizations and teams, once you have a couple of failures or a few setbacks, a lot of times it's like, eh, this idea is not going to work. Or maybe we should do something else. Instead, we believe that with the right focus of your creative energy, you can really overcome some of the most difficult challenges out there. Brian Ardinger: And ironically, sometimes those constraints are actually the things that open up the creativity. Having a constraint, forces you to think differently about how you might solve that problem or what problem you're actually solving. And I think that, you know, having that mindset of being able to overcome that challenge and think differently about it is very important. Kaiser Yang: The other mindset that we often teach organizations, larger organizations we work with is this whole notion of compasses over maps. The main underscoring point is you need to start before you're ready. Too often, organizations wait until they have a full-on three-year business plan. The ROI has been vetted. They've got every stakeholder approved. But the most successful innovators out there, I believe, trust their instinct to course correct along the way and get started. So, they use more of a compass to guide their innovation journey rather than waiting for a detailed map.And it's so powerful when you know, you can arm a team to really start taking action and iterative experimentation processes to test a new way to improve customer satisfaction, or get payables reduce by 20%. And just these small incremental wins, it requires organizations to empower their teams to start before they're ready. And that's what the whole compass over maps mindset is all about. So that's one of the mindsets that we talk about in the book. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: Yeah, I like that concept. It's almost like you're in a cave. Innovation is like you're in a cave and it's dark and you don't have a map. So, you have to feel around the walls to figure your way out of it. And I think obviously a lot of people are not comfortable in that particular environment, but the more you get used to knowing that maps can be directionally important, but they're not necessarily the actual be all end all to get you to the end goal. Especially in uncertain environments. The more likely you are to build that mechanism and that muscle of being okay with that ambiguity, I suppose. Kaiser Yang: Yeah. I mean that ambiguity can be paralyzing for many organizations, where there's a lot of uncertainty unknown. There isn't a clear path forward. But we view it more as that artist's studio where it's all about discovery and exploration. And so, while it's easy to say that much of the work that we do with organizations is giving that toolkit to overcome some of those anxiety driven moments led by ambiguity. So, here's a systematic process that doesn't stifle your creativity, but rather provides more of a scaffolding around it and helps you guide you through the process. So even when we talk about understanding pain points and customer needs, really for us, that's where the innovation process starts. Just saying that is one thing but giving you some tools and systems and processes that help guide you through that journey. I think that's super powerful. And it adds structure to that artist studio that many people might feel uncomfortable in. Brian Ardinger: So maybe we can dig in a little bit about some of the tactics or some of the specific guidance that you have within the book, as far as action steps or things that people can do to both create these mindsets and then take action on it. Kaiser Yang: Yeah, for sure. There's eight different tactics that are built into the book. And they're all my favorite tactics. And I think Innovation in and of itself, there isn't a silver bullet in terms of ideation or process. Every situation is unique, and we encourage many of our clients to tackle the innovation challenge, using a number of different tactics and strategies, so you can see things from a various perspective.And then you open up for exploration and deeper discovery. But for example, one of the ones that we have a lot of success teaching organizations is one that we simply called the Borrowed Idea. Right? It's looking outside of your industry for key factors that drive competitive advantage. Drive sustainable success. And taking some of those insights and bringing it back to your own.One of our partners that we work with often says that expertise can be the greatest enemy of innovation. Meaning when you know too much about an industry, or you've been in your role for too long, it's really hard to embrace new ways or see things in a different way. So, this borrowed idea technique is a very systematic way of looking outside. Looking at business models, right?So, in what ways are they leveraging technology? What is their customer experience like? How are they driving sales? What's their pricing model? And for example, like higher education. What could they potentially learn from the hospitality industry or maybe higher education? What could they learn from consumers today engaging on Tik Tok? And borrowing those ideas and bringing it back. And one of my favorite quotes was from Steven Jobs who a long time ago said that he's sometimes embarrassed when people call him creative, because he thinks creativity is nothing more than the ability to connect dots. As we grow older in our careers and become more experienced, we're very good at that one dot that we're paid very well to do, but we forget about all the dots out there. So, what can we learn from the field of music or athletics or, you know, getting into specific categories? That's the whole concept of the borrowed idea. Systematically exploring as far away from your industry as possible and finding new ways that you can bring back to your organization. Brian Ardinger: It's surprising how focused a lot of organizations get with, they know a hundred percent what their competitors are doing and everything about that particular customer segment and that, but like you said, don't necessarily take one adjacent step to the left or right to see what's going on, that could significantly change the game. Because most of the people are playing the same game. And if you slightly change the game, you can outpace your competition. So, we are living in a world of accelerating change. Obviously, innovation is much more important than it has ever been before. And I think a lot of people are now getting that or understanding that. What are some of the trends that you're seeing when it comes to Innovation? Kaiser Yang: There's lots of trends. I mean, we can categorize it in terms of strategy and technology and, you know, market trends, things like that. But I think at the height of the organizations that we've worked with, one of the trends that we have started to see with larger enterprise organizations is building this culture of rapid experimentation.We've all read about Facebook and, you know, case studies like Bookings.com, where they have 30,000 concurrent experiments going on at any given time. But even large organizations like Allstate and Mass Mutual, they're building these cultures where they're constantly testing. And I think it's so cool to see because the old school was research and experimentation was a very linear process.It was measured and calculate. But we're seeing many organizations move to this very iterative model, not being afraid of failure. Taking responsible risks and applying this notion of rapid experimentation, constantly looking for new ways to better the customer experience or to serve their community.And that shift, you know, for me, is fascinating to see like large 30,000 employee organizations move to this model of rapid experimentation. And whether it's, you know, following the Lean Startup Movement or any of those other models out there, just seeing companies put aside the need for ROI and business plans and you know, every stakeholder buy-in. But instead, just getting out there and quickly testing new ways to serve their customers. It's one of those trends that hopefully we'll see many organizations continue to embrace, because I think that's the way you find the idea right. Like remove uncertainty through experimentation. Validate your concepts. And quickly move them forward through an iterative process rather than sitting on it for 12 or 18 months waiting for the R and D department to say, okay, let's go forward with it.Brian Ardinger: Great point. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to get over that fear. You know, that seems to be one of the biggest barriers is people fundamentally understand the theory around, well, I should be experimenting more, but like the incentives aren't there, the rewards aren't there, the culture is not there such that it enables that risk-taking. So, are there any hints or tips or things you've seen that might work to overcome that fear? Kaiser Yang: I mean, again, like we said, at the start of this discussion, it does start at the leadership level, setting up the right environment that fosters learning. I don't know if I would say fosters failure, but the ability to take risks on behalf of the company and try new things.So even like there's the case studies of issuing get out of jail free cards and building different rewards that recognize people that have taken action. So, I think it starts there at the leadership level, creating the right environment, that the team members feel safe in. But more so we focus on the individual level. Because a lot of times that fear manifests itself by the fear of being embarrassed in front of our peers. Or the fear of my idea not being good enough. Or even sometimes it's the fear of success that this idea might actually put me out of a job. So, we focus more on the individual level of removing that fear by teaching them proven frameworks, to really experiment and validate and overlaying that with some of the mindsets that we talked about.One of the mindsets that we often talk about, it's not in the book, but it's this notion of, if you fall seven, you stand eight. And the best innovators out there, always find a way of shaking it off, getting back up and no matter what the challenges they persist through adversity. And I think that's kind of that mindset that's critically important to pair with all of these tools and techniques that gives you the confidence, if you will, right. To come up with ideas and stretch your imagination. Oftentimes when we sit with organizations, it's your natural tendency to come up with the safest, easiest, most obvious ideas. Those are the safe ones, right? And it can be a little bit fearful to push your imagination to further limits, to come up with the wild or unusual, or even unorthodox wacky idea. But those are usually the ones that drive the most change and progress for any organization. And so, creating the right mix of tools and techniques and mindsets to help team members get there, that's where we see at least for us it's so satisfying to find those what we call aha moments, where that light bulb goes off and you come up with some great, innovative ideas. Brian Ardinger: Yeah. The other thing I've seen that seems to work is oftentimes just changing the mindset. I think a lot of people think they have to have the perfect plan before they can present it to their boss and move it forward. But almost changing that conversation to saying, I've got something I want to try over here. Or here's a little side project I'm working on. Don't have it all figured out, but here's the next thing I'm going to try to do to learn or build out, get evidence that I'm on the right path. That type of mindset or that type of philosophy around it sometimes change the game significantly versus I guess the old way of I've got to put together a 50-page business plan, figuring out all the obstacles and hope that I'm right. When I actually launch it. Kaiser Yang: Yeah, for sure. I mean, just building crude, prototypes and running some simple experiments to remove some uncertainty can make a huge difference in the organization's ability to move a little bit quicker. But even what you said about the strategic side, right. That oh my, I have to put a 50-page deck together to pitch our ideas.We have something that's called the Strategic Canvas and it's an iterative six- step process that really simplifies the strategy building. So you're not, hyper-focused on all the details and business models and assumptions and all of that stuff. But it builds a very strong foundation under your idea.And it's a very powerful way to be able to present your idea cohesively very succinctly and very efficient. wSo, we try to demystify that business plan process as well, to empower team members, to move a little bit faster and take their ideas and get some visibility and traction around it, in the process.Brian Ardinger: A lot of our folks that are listening aren't necessarily at the leadership level, they're charged with being innovative or launching new products and that. But sometimes they're at the process of trying to get that buy in from the top. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts around how, as an individual within an organization, to start building that culture of creativity and innovation within their group? Kaiser Yang: There's a couple of ways we can look at this, but at the first cut is just teams or individuals viewing the fact that creativity is really a muscle, that needs to be stretched out, warmed up and strengthened to do its best performance. A lot of times we just need to kind of shake off the cobwebs and dust it off a little bit. But, you know, we don't put as much effort into the preparation of creativity I think, then we should. And so, there's lots of energizers and activities to help achieve hemispheric synchronization or to warm up your creative muscles. Platypus labs, we practice a lot of applied improve. Right. That helps you drive expansive thinking, but more importantly, it teaches you active listening and it gives you this platform to really try to explore your creativity in a number of different ways. And there are so many tools and techniques out there that do that, that if you build a culture where you're practicing things and applying them to your day-to-day business, I mean, it's just amazing to see the transformation and the creative capacity of the teams that we've work with. So, I would start there as really, discover some of these energizers, and workouts, if you will, for your creative muscle, that you can do on a day to day or even week to week basis. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Yeah. Start local and then go global. Well, Kaiser, I really appreciate you coming on Inside, Outside Innovation to talk about this book, I encourage people to pick up Crack the Code. If people want to find out more about yourself or Platypus Labs or the book, what's the best way to do that? Kaiser Yang: Our team's website is PlatypusLabs.com. Specific to the book, you can go to CracktheInnovationCode.com and learn more about the book there. There's actually an assessment on that site where you can see if the book is worth your time. So, I would encourage you to take that and see if it might be something of value to you. Brian Ardinger: Kaiser, thanks again for being on the show, looking forward to working together again in the future. And let's keep this conversation going in the future. Appreciate it. Kaiser Yang: All right. Thank you so much Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Emerging Tech Horizons
Johnathan Caldwell on Emerging Tech Horizons with Dr. Mark Lewis

Emerging Tech Horizons

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 25:12


On this episode of Emerging Tech Horizons, Dr. Mark Lewis is joined by Johnathon Caldwell, Vice President of Business Innovation, Transformation and Enterprise Excellence for Lockheed Martin Space. Join Johnathon and Dr. Lewis as they explore the role of digital twins in digital engineering, how they will change the development of emerging technologies, integrating digital twins into the customer review process, and 5G for defense.

The New Stack Podcast
Business Innovation Across Multiclouds

The New Stack Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 58:54


Software deployments increasingly involve highly distributed and decentralized application development processes for deployments across any combination of data centers, public cloud and to the edge. All the while, reliability, security or performance cannot be compromised.In this The New Stack Makers podcast, a panel of technology executives discussed the best ways to speed up business innovation in today's multicloud and multi-infrastructure world. They also discussed how to deliver apps and services faster to improve the customer experience — over a pancake breakfast during VMworld, VMware's annual user's conference.The guests were Dormain Drewitz, senior director of product marketing for VMware Tanzu, Mandy Storbakken, cloud technologist for VMware, Shawn Bass, CTO for VMware's end-user computing business, and Jo Peterson, vice president cloud and security services, Clarify360.Alex Williams, founder and publisher of TNS, and Joab Jackson, TNS editor-in-chief, hosted the podcast.

Inside Outside
Ep 269 - Nora Herting, Founder of ImageThink and Author of Draw Your Big Idea on benefits of Visual Thinking

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 17:38


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Nora Herting, Founder and CEO of ImageThink and Author of the new book, Draw Your Big Idea. Nora and I talk about the benefits of visual thinking, some of the myths surrounding art and business, and some of the exercises anyone can use to think and work more creatively using visualization tools. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript of Nora Herting, Founder and CEO of ImageThink and Author of Draw Your Big IdeaBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Nora Herting. She is Founder and CEO at the visual strategy firm ImageThink, and Author of the new book called Draw Your Big Idea: The Ultimate Creativity Tool for Turning Thoughts into Action and Dreams into Reality. Welcome to the show, Nora. Nora Herting: Hi, Brian. Great to be here. Brian Ardinger: I am so excited to have you on this show. Because I've been a big proponent, whether I'm working with startups or corporate innovation teams about using visual tools to help you think through new ideas and launch new projects and that. And when I came upon you and the stuff that you're doing in this space, I wanted to have you on the show to dig in deeper about what it all takes to make this happen.So, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How you went from becoming an artist and a photographer to working your way to work with some of the biggest companies in the world, Google and IBM and NASA on this idea of visual strategy. Nora Herting: Basically, I had started my career off in academia as an artist, going into academia, sort of the most sure-fire fit. You get the tenure track and the health insurance and whatnot. And I was 27. Managed to get a position. And then had this terrible realization that my goal was really just a failure of imagination. That I hadn't really thought or tested what else I could do with my skill set, outside of sort of this academic world.So, I left my position, moved to New York with no job. And found myself at a division of Cap Gemini that we would call now like their design thinking solution. But this was the early 2000s. And that wasn't really a term we even used there. But it was a network of facilitators that we would put huge corporate projects through these innovative incubators for three days and tell them in three days we could get three months of work out of their team. And I learned the skill of graphic recording while I was there because they knew I, besides having a Masters, I had also for a little while been an elementary school art teacher, which was actually kind of a great qualification for this particular work. And saw the power of visuals to help business people really clarify their thinking.Get people on the same page. Sort out a lot of complexity. And in time, my first client, when we started ImageThink was NASA. And I had this real moment there where they had brought in someone to talk about the space glove. They had not been able to innovate a better space glove for several decades. They opened it up to a public contest. All these teams in turn, but it was actually one solo engineer that designed a better space glove than all of the NASA scientists in a couple of decades. And they were fascinated about how this worked, and they described this guy's process. And while I was there, I'm visualizing the story. And I realized that they're really just describing a series of iterative process.Things that are really intuitive to tinkers to artists. And that it was just this moment where I thought these things that I've learned that seems so innate to the creative process were mysteries to corporations. So that's one of the joys of ImageThink is not just using the visual tools, but really helping. Tried to demystify that for business leaders so that they can take some of those same mindsets and techniques and apply them to innovation in larger companies. Brian Ardinger: I think a lot of folks do have that misperception, that businesses over here and art is over here. What are some of the myths that you've seen of how people and innovators should be doubling down on art in the business world?Nora Herting: Great question. I love this question. You know one big myth is if you don't have the title Creative on your business card and then you don't have an opportunity to think creatively. Just don't believe that that's true. At ImageThink I think that we believe that everybody who has a job that requires complexity or problem solving has a huge creative opportunity in front of them.So that's one thing is people will think, oh, because I'm in engineering or because I'm in HR, what I don't get to be creative. I forgot how to be creative. Another one is just this narrow idea that, you know, you're only creative if you can paint or write or play the guitar. Right. So, expanding that idea to things that are more broad and then, you know, just kind of a lack of creative confidence in people, kind of around those ideas. And, you know, we have different ways of trying to break that down and expose people, show people, that they can exercise that muscle. And really, they have that opportunity every time. Brian Ardinger: Walk me through some of the benefits that you've seen firsthand about getting people unstuck or what really happens when you move into that art visual mode to tackle problems that you couldn't track before.Nora Herting: One example or one benefit of it is first off is to remember it's a very, very old technology. We've been drawing and using pictures to communicate before, you know, as a species before we had written language. You know, some of the earliest cave paintings are 30,000 BC. And they're basically instructions for hunting.So, this is something that we've been hard-wired neurologically for a long time to process things and pictures. And when you do that, you're using multiple facets of your brain, including the prefrontal cortex. I like to tell people if they want to look at a problem differently, or they want to use a different set of neurons to fire, ask people to illustrate, or at least use visuals of some aspect of it to really get people just literally to think a little bit differently. So, one way we do that is first to just have people practice on really low stakes things. We'll do something called like a visual bio. We'll ask everyone to tell us about themselves, really mundane things like their name, their role, but using only pictures to convey that.And what happens is there's a lot of laughing, people feel a little awkward. But people realize pretty quickly that there's a lot more nuance that gets conveyed when someone is illustrating, let's say their role, than just say, you know, I'm a Director of Innovation at X company. Right. So how they think about that?So that immediately gets people thinking a little bit differently, even if it's not the problem at hand and understanding that there's a lot of nuance that can be conveyed. And then it's great because you have people buying in pretty quickly to the process of working visually as they start to try to apply that to real problems that they have in business.The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: So, let's talk about your book. It's called Draw Your Big Idea. It's got a ton of like exercises. I love it because it's very tactical. So, can you talk a little bit about the book and how it came to be and what are some of the things that the audience will get from it?Nora Herting: Yeah, so what was great about this is the publishers at Chronicle came to us and said, you know, we'd love for you to do something. What are you thinking? And I really wanted, my coauthor as well, really wanted to give somebody something that was practical. That they could use right away. So rather than writing a book, we sort of essentially drew a book. As you said, I think there's 108 visual exercises in it. A lot of them are versions of exercises that we use for our corporate clients but applied to an individual level as well. So, moving people from kind of the whole cycle of innovation, if you will, Brian. From scanning their environment, assessing the current state, thinking about all the potential ideas that could come out of a problem statement. All of these things, your walkthrough, basically in drawing exercises in the book up until the final chapter, which is you kind of moved through the Innovation process.And now you're speaking strategically, like how are you going to launch this new idea? Whether that's a new business or a new endeavor or, you know, a personal project. It builds on itself. It takes you through all those things. And for listeners out there, you can also kind of flip to one exercise and say, you know, I really need to do something around mapping my resources, you know, as a team. And there is a visual exercise for you to do for that as well as many other ones. Brian Ardinger: What do you see holds people back from this? You do see some people gravitate to it, but for the most part, like you said, there's a lot of. For whatever reason they are scared or fearful of what's going on. What holds people back and more importantly, what can you do to overcome that fear?Nora Herting: Well, I think that in our experience, like on a corporate level, when people are in the room and they see the visuals being done for them, they're very enthusiastic. They see the power of it. They appreciate it. I can pick up a pen and apply this to myself. That's maybe a little bit bigger of a jump, right? And so one of the misconceptions that we talked about is people feeling like, oh, I'm not creative.Another one is just around the skill level. People will say, I can't draw a straight line, you know, or my Kindergartner can draw better than me. I don't care. Because again, we're talking about leaders. We're talking about innovators. We're talking about communicating. Right. And I try to remind people really, it's not about the artistry, it's about what is being communicated and what the impact is.And so there's a number of exercises we kind of do to show people that we're wired to make meaning out of images. You know, I just talked about how we've been doing this for 30,000 years plus. So, your audience basically just needs a minimal viable product, right? Stick figures totally work. And so, once we give people a few exercises where they see that they see from other people's bad stick figure drawings, that they get a lot out of what the person's trying to communicate. They can start to see, you know, what it's really just about the end result, which is, am I communicating my idea. Am I aligning people to it? Is it resonating? And that you need an actually very low level of skill to do that. Brian Ardinger: Do you see particular types of tasks or particular types of projects that this works better for than others? Nora Herting: At ImageThink we have kind of created this life cycle of an idea, if you will. It's called the ImageThink method. Clients come to us at different points. You know, sometimes they come to us at the top of a project like, oh, we need to launch a whole new product or we're having an acquisition. But sometimes they come to us later when it's a little more tactical, like you say, or, you know, we need to map out the strategy. So we're able to understand from that where the client is and match different exercises to where they need to be.We've helped, you know, not just at the beginning of blue sky conversations and innovation, all the way to, how do we market this now that we have it ready to go to our client. So, what I love is that visuals can be helpful, I think, along the whole process. Wouldn't you agree? Brian Ardinger: Oh, absolutely. I mean, one of the things that I like, specifically like about the Business Model Canvas, for example, is it takes that what used to be a 90-page document of what your business idea was, and kind of visualizes it out and to nine core components and you use sticky notes and other ways to think through. And it makes it much more accessible than a spreadsheet or much more accessible than a document that, once it's in a document, people think it's the perfect thing. It's the perfect plan. But as soon as you add the visuals and that it brings out the messiness, that is the reality that you're dealing with in the real world. And that's why I like that particular type of technique.Nora Herting: Yeah. I think that that's true. And sometimes people think might be a barrier, but really often actually isn't, is we have a lot of technology clients. So, you know whether it's IT or pharmaceuticals, with a lot of complexity, right? And sometimes they think, oh, this is too detailed, or this is too scientific to be approached this way.But actually, most of the time, and you might've found this in your work, right. Or talking to other innovators, those people who are such subject matter experts sometimes have a really hard time leveling up from the level of detailed expertise they have. So that they can communicate it to a bigger audience. So, they can kind of engage the cross-functional departments or larger stakeholders that they need.That's been a real sweet spot for us because we're able to listen to those folks. To steal the big ideas from it. Understand what's going to resonate for other people. And help them simplify it into a story that's a little bit more relatable. So, I'm not sure if you've also found that to be the case when you've worked visually that sometimes the simplification is a benefit rather than a detraction. Brian Ardinger: And what I've also found is going through the process, your first map is not always the perfect map. Like, can you map it out and you draw it out and it's like, well, that's not exactly right. So you go back and modify it or change it or whatever. And that process gets you to think through what's actually going on in the world, around you, and that.So, I find it very powerful, and I appreciate you helping us think through some of this kind of stuff. One of the last questions I have is how can you build this type of visual thinking, visual strategy into your everyday practice. Whether it's at work or at home. Are there particular techniques or things to give a non-artist or person who doesn't do this on a regular basis, to build this into their normal practice?Nora Herting: Yeah, so that's a great question. You know, some things that people feel more empowered by is if they create a set of icons that they're going to use. So, you know, if you're in a particular domain, sometimes I'll have people like basically we kind of do like Business Pictionary. Which is like write out terms that you are often come across or you often need to express.And then we have everybody create, you know, the minimal viable product of how they would express that idea. And that can just be on Post-it Notes. So, you know, you might have 5 to 10 concepts that you've worked out and you're like, okay, this is the way I'm going to depict this visually. So now when you're thinking about it, and you're trying to practice, you're not inventing these as you go.And that's something that we do at ImageThink. Right? Like our team, we've been at thousands of meetings. So, if someone says the word disruption, we already have one or two go-to icons for that. We're not having to make it up on the fly as much. So, I think that that's like a good way to just start practicing that muscle. And then seeing if you can integrate that in. Another example would be the next time you run into a problem is to challenge yourself, to try to depict that problem as a visual as well. You know and see if you might not uncover some different ways of thinking about it or using a metaphor. There's a great article by this man named Dan Seewald, really great Innovation expert, who talks about using metaphor as a tool for Innovation. Like how is this problem maybe a metaphor for another problem. So, getting people to try to draw out that problem in a metaphor, I think could uncover a lot of different opportunity and be great practice as well. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Absolutely. Well, I encourage everybody to pick up a copy of Draw Your Big Idea and get started themselves. If people want to find out more about yourself, Nora, or about the book, what's the best way to do that? Nora Herting: Sure, so you can visit our website ImageThink.net. Lots of information resources there. Draw Your Big Idea you can find on our website or on Amazon or if you make it to an in person's book bookstore. Brian Ardinger: Excellent. Well, Nora, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation. I really do appreciate your time and insights into this world. And I encourage everybody to start drawing and start getting visual out there. Nora Herting: Thanks Brian. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Swisspreneur Show
EP #194: Stefano Saeger: Der Helvetia Venture Fund

Swisspreneur Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 17, 2021 49:31


Timestamps: 11:40 – Stage & Ticket size: Gründe für die Frühinvestition 17:24 – Entscheidungsprozess für oder gegen Investitionen 26:18 – Die Gunst der Investoren gewinnen 31:31 – Red flags für die Investoren 36:09 – Unterstützung der Startups nach der Investition Über Stefano Saeger: Stefano Saeger ist Investment Manager beim Helvetia Venture Fund, ein Investment Fund von Helvetia Versicherungen, welcher in Startups investiert. Der Fund wird extern durch btovbetrieben. Nach seinem Betriebswirtschaftsstudium an der HSG absolvierte Stefano den Master of Arts in Business Innovation, wobei er davon ein Semester in Johannesburg ablegte. Nach verschiedenen Tätigkeiten im Bereich von Business Development (Fanpictor AG) und als Projektmitarbeiter im Lehrstuhl für Controlling und Performance Management absolvierte Stefano ein 19-monatiges Trainee Programm bei der ABB in Zürich und San José USA. Als ABB Trainee kam Stefano sehr schnell mit allen Themen der Startup Welt in Berührung und fand seine Begeisterung dafür. Seit Oktober 2019 ist er als Investment Manager im Venture Fund von Helvetia tätig und mag den grossen Perspektivenwechsel, welcher durch den Mix von Makro- und Mikroebene entsteht. Memorable Quotes: "Was ich einfach unfassbar toll finde, ist, mit viel Enthusiasmus die Leute da dran sind." "Jeder, der daran arbeitet macht es gerne und macht es, weil er überzeugt davon ist, was er macht." "Ein bisschen Skepsis ist sinnvoll, weil sie uns auch weiterbringen kann, in allem was wir tun." Folge uns auf Twitter, Instagram, Facebook und Linkedin um auf dem Laufenden zu bleiben. Wir posten regelmässig über Live Shows, Give-Aways und unsere Founders Dinner Events.

Essential Ingredients Podcast
004: Developing A Sustainable Business with Joaquim Macedo de Sousa

Essential Ingredients Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 25:53


“Try to evolve into innovative ideas. Farmers are very important, but you should try to turn their mindsets into business people...that's definitely what will change the landscape of the food industry and will bring it more innovation and more sustainability.”  - Joaquim Macedo de Sousa   Episode Description: The Habitat for Business Innovation in Strategic Sectors (HIESE) serves as an innovation space that promotes entrepreneurship in rural areas. Launched in 2016, this business incubation facility in Quinta Vale do Espinhal, Penela, Portugal has 15 offices that accommodate companies in the critical early stages of their business. HIESE offers various services including physical and virtual incubation and acceleration programs, internationalization, training, and business planning.     Business incubation is a process employed to help start-ups innovate and accelerate their growth. Learn more about this and other business development programs on this episode as Justine talks with Joaquim Macedo de Sousa, Executive Director of Rural Smart HIESE.  Joaquim shares the idea behind incubation and why it is especially needed in rural areas.  Justine and Joaquim also discuss how HIESE can help you turn your ideas into a successful business, how much it costs, how to apply (and get accepted) and more!  Entrepreneurs have a unique “DNA” that makes them distinct, and also capable of creating impact in a shorter period of time. The key is to continuously develop and make that impact sustainable. Failing is an expensive lesson, so before you launch, tune in and learn how you can turn hurdles into golden opportunities!  Connect with Joaquim Macedo de Sousa:  Born in 1978 in Braga, Joaquim lives in Coimbra, is married and has four children. He  is  currently  the Executive  Director  of  HIESE  Habitat  for  Business  Innovation  in  the Strategic Sectors, a business incubator focused on entrepreneurship and innovation in rural  areas,  resulting  from  a  partnership  between  IPN Incubator and  the  Municipality of Penela.  He  is  also a Professor  of  Entrepreneurship  and  Management  at  the  Coimbra Institute  of  Engineering.  As  an  entrepreneur, Joaquim  was the co-founder  of  several companies related to the food sector (technologies, agriculture and aquaculture).   LinkedIn   Connect with Smart Rural HIESE:  Website  Facebook LinkedIn Instagram   Connect with Justine:  Website Facebook Instagram LinkedIn   Connect with NextGenChef: Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube NextGenChef App (Apple) NextGenChef App (Android)    Episode Highlights: 01:14 Rural Incubation 05:02 What Makes Entrepreneurs Unique  11:20 From Problem to Opportunity  15:03 What is a Business Incubator?  22:40 Geared Towards Sustainable Innovation 

Inside Outside
Ep. 268 - Kevin Leland, Founder of Halo and Matt Muller, Dir. of Applied Innovation at Baxter on Open Innovation & Global Connections

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 21:12


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Kevin Leland, CEO and Founder of Halo and Matt Muller, Director of Applied Innovation at Baxter. The three of us talk about the changing world of open innovation and what it takes to connect and collaborate, to solve big industry problems. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started. Interview Transcript with Kevin Leland, CEO and Founder of Halo and Matt Muller, Director of Applied Innovation at BaxterBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing set of guests. Today, we have Kevin Leland, who is the CEO and Founder of Halo. And Matt Muller, who is the Director of Applied Innovation at Baxter. Welcome. Kevin Leland: Thank you. Brian Ardinger: Hey, I'm excited to have you both on the show to talk about a topic that's near and dear to a lot of folks out there. That's the topic of open innovation and how to corporates and startups and new ideas get started in this whole world of collaborative innovation. Kevin you're the CEO and founder of Halo. What is Halo? And how did you get started in this open innovation space? Kevin Leland: Halo is a marketplace and network where companies connect directly with scientists and startups for research collaborations. It's about as simple to post RFP or a partnering opportunity on Halo as it is to post a job on LinkedIn. And then once it's posted scientists submit their research proposals. We went live in January. Matt and the team of Baxter was our very first customer. So, the earliest of early adopters and they were a really fantastic partner.I came across the idea of Halo and got into open innovation really kind of by accident. The original concept for Halo was crowd funding for medical research. So, a little bit different, but we would work with technology transfer offices at universities to identify promising technology that just needed a little bit of funding to get to the next level.And through that experience, I learned that scientists needed more than just funding. They needed the expertise and the resources of industry. Meanwhile, I was learning how industry was actively trying to partner with these scientists and these early-stage startups, because they realized that they were less good at the early-stage discovery process of research. And so to me, it seemed like an obvious marketplace solution. And so that's where the impetus of the business came and how we started. Brian Ardinger: Let's turn it over to you Matt. From the other side of the table, from a corporation, trying to understand and facilitate and accelerate innovation efforts. What is open innovation mean to you and how did Halo come to play a part in that?Matt Muller: As you mentioned earlier, I'm Director of Applied Innovation here at Baxter and I am in our Renal Care Business. And so that's the business at Baxter that's focused on treating end stage kidney disease. And that's one of Baxter's largest businesses. As a company, we have over $12 billion in sales annually, and dialysis in the renal care businesses, is our largest business unit.And it is an area that we've struggled with innovation. And particularly what we excel at, at Baxter is we excel at treating kidney disease in the home. So, this is a particular therapy called peritoneal dialysis. Patients are able to do it in their home while they sleep. And one of the big challenges that we have today with peritoneal dialysis is that patients need dialysis solution. They use about 12, 15 liters of this sterile medical solution every night to do their therapy. And today the way we do that and the way we've done it ever since this therapy has been around since early seventies is we literally deliver that solution in bags, by trucks. We make it in big plants in the United States and trucks drive all across the country and they deliver it to patients in their home.And as a company, we, for a long time have said, we really need to change this business model. It's not sustainable for us. It requires our patients store a lot of water in their home or the solution rather in their home. And they have to essentially dedicate a whole room of their houses to storage of their supplies.So, we have, for the longest time said, we want to change how this is done. And we want to be able to use the patient's own water in their home. And instead of delivering all these bags of solutions deliver concentrates much like if you go on, you buy a soft drink at the movie theater, it comes from a concentrated box of syrup that is, you add water to it and you have your soft drink. And so that's our vision. And we've struggled for many years of how to bring innovation into the marketplace for making that pure water that we need in the home. We have a lot of very bright scientists at Baxter. The problem is that as Kevin mentioned before, our scientists are really good at solving particular problems in particular getting products to market. Where we've been struggling is that the science has not or at least we haven't been aware of the science that could really allow us to break this barrier and make the leap to be able to make this pure solution medical grade solution in the home. And that's why we've reached out to Kevin and his platform as a way to do that is to go out to a really broad community of researchers to bring new ideas into the company, to help us figure out new ways to approach the problem.Brian Ardinger: The history of open innovation is long. And there's a lot of things that have been tried in the past. Did Baxter try other methods in the past? Or how did you go about trying to determine what things we should innovate internally and try to solve that way versus when and where we go outside for solutions? Matt Muller: I would say as a company, we probably hadn't been as involved specifically in the university and in the startups space. So, a lot of times as a company, we have a lot of people that come to us with ideas and looking for funding. Most of the time, it's a very common proposition that they give you. They need a certain amount of funding, and in three years, they'll have a product. Three years is like the magic number. And the reality is that it's frequently the claims and the charity are very oversold, and we haven't been really successful in that type of space. And so, we've been really looking at different ways to engage a larger community. The other element of it too, is sometimes when you talk open innovation, we're limited by our existing network of people. And so that is the employees and who they work with. Maybe it's the fact we're in Northern Illinois, we're close to Northwestern University and people here have relationships with professors at Northwestern.So, we develop those relationships and the open innovation opportunities through those connections. We've been looking into how do we expand that? Reach a broader audience and get a global connection, so to speak and open to new ideas. Brian Ardinger: And that's a great segue. Kevin, you've worked with companies also besides Baxter out there and that. What are some of the typical mistakes or challenges that you see corporations making when trying to get started in an open innovation.Kevin Leland: First of all get started is kind of the big challenge, because there's still some resistance to open innovation, and even the term open can be scary to some companies because it implies, or it can be interpreted as we're letting all of our competitors know what our strategic interests are. And so, I'm even hesitant sometime about using the word open. I mean, we're really about facilitating partnerships between companies and researchers who have mutually shared interests and can work together to solve problems. Some of the approaches in the past to me just seemed really inefficient, like traveling around the world and going to conferences and hoping you hear somebody speak or get a referral from someone or just call up the universities. Or just more likely to just work with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are just example of select universities as if there couldn't possibly be great research coming out anywhere else.And so that was part of the problem that I was trying to solve with Halo in terms of democratizing access to companies like Baxter for all scientists, regardless of where they are in the world, or what institution, where they reside and making the process a lot easier for both the scientists and for the company.Because one of the reasons that companies don't pass a wider net is because it's a lot of tedious administrative work in terms of emailing and downloading attachments and PDFs. So, the platform is designed to streamline that entire process so they can cast a wider net. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: Are there types of businesses or types of challenges that seem to work better when tackled in this open format or open environment? Kevin Leland: We're focused on scientific innovation. So the other key difference is that all of our community are PhDs or part of funded startups. So it's not a challenge site where just anybody can submit an idea. So that's one of the key differences. Brian Ardinger: Are the types of businesses or types of challenges that seem to work better in this type of environment.Kevin Leland: In the case of Halo, we seen everything from very specific requirements that were similar to what Baxter was looking for where they lay out the actual technical requirements of what they're looking for. And then on the other side of the spectrum, we have what Bayer has done, which is a very open-ended call for proposals around the area of sustainable agriculture. And so, the platform is flexible enough that it works for either approach. The key difference, I mean, it really depends on the goal of the company. So in the case of Baxter, a lot of our other customers like Pepsi or Reckitt, they're looking for a very specific solution, to a challenge that they have. Whereas a company like Bayer kind of doesn't know what they don't know, and they're just kind of want to see what's out there.And then from a management perspective, when you do have a very open-ended call, you get a lot more proposals and the more specific requirements the fewer you are going to get. So, it kind of depends on, on what your ultimate strategy is. Brian Ardinger: That's a great way to segue it back to Matt. I'm assuming that your work with Halo is not the only type of innovation initiative that's going on at Baxter. Can you talk a little bit about some of the other innovation efforts that are going on there and how does your work with Halo fit in with those?Matt Muller: As a company, really, a lot of our innovation framework is built into our core business objectives. The way we're structured as a company we're in business units. So, as I said, I work in renal care, so everything, we start with our business and understanding what does that business strategy. Where do we want to play as a company? And then what are the key problems that we want to solve?And I mentioned up front one of the key problems right now that we want to solve, is we want to figure out how to be a more sustainable business and get away from shipping water across the globe. So that's a key strategic initiative for our business. So, then what we define at that point, what are the key elements or the problems that we need to solve in meeting that strategic initiative. One is how do we purify water in the home? And then we figure out what are the ways, you know, based on those specific problems we find we have, what are the best ways to solve that problem?So, in some cases, we're at a point where we need more ideas. Whereas a company, we stagnated and we tried these pathways are not fruitful. We're kind of keep banging our head against the wall. Let's really go out there and see what's out there. And that was an example of what we did with Halo. We also have our own internal engineering organization. We're a global company. So, there are specific things that we may do from an innovation project where we would work on it internally because we feel like we have the internal expertise. Or a lot of times what we will do is we'll look for external partnerships and that may be in the form of through various engineering consulting companies and product development consulting companies that we may partner with because they may have very specific experiences in a space that we're interested in, or maybe an adjacent space.And that's another big element is we get siloed and focused in medical. But there are a lot of adjacent areas where technologies are being developed and, you know, maybe it's the petroleum or refining industry, or maybe it's, you know, some other area of medical that we just don't play in. And we can bring in these consultant firms that just have much broader exposure. And so that's also an element that we look at. So it's really a mix between this open concept like what we do with Halo, engineering consulting and partnerships, and then internal. Brian Ardinger: You know the world is changing so fast and everything is happening so rapidly that it's tough to keep up. Even if you're an expert in your particular industry, like you said, even understanding what's going on in cross industries and that. Kevin, can you talk a little bit about the types of industries that you serve and why a platform like this can give advantage to corporate?Kevin Leland: Yeah, absolutely. I thought it was interesting when Matt was talking about getting inspiration from other industries like oil and gas or petroleum, because that's really what the platform is designed for. Researchers don't necessarily think in terms of what the commercial application is. They think of what their expertise is. And by collecting all this data on what their focus area is and then on the flip side, what companies are interested in, we can more programmatically find connections that in potential partners where otherwise, it would really have no idea that there might be a fruitful opportunity there. In general, we've been focused like broadly on the area of sustainability, which can include anything from sustainable agriculture, like Bayer to sustainable packaging or work with PepsiCo and then water treatment, which is what we did with Matt and his team.So that's a really broad category. We do have a few other opportunities are kind of outside that scope. But we are also looking at doing more in the medicine and pharmaceutical areas as well. Brian Ardinger: Matt, can you talk a little bit about the early days of finding an innovation effort like this? What were some of the challenges or pitfalls or things you had to do to get buy in and then go and actually execute on this particular challenge? Matt Muller: It's hard to sometimes in a large company get traction. And so, you need a champion. And Kevin's known that cause we've actually worked together to help to get that traction within Baxter. I think it helped as we got started because Kevin had some prior connections with some core people at Baxter, which helped to get some initiative.But I think the biggest challenge is getting started and showing the value and gaining the buy-in to get something like this funded internally in a large company. I think a lot of people have an opinion of large companies have endless resources. And can do anything they want. But the reality is everything's looked at very closely.You're constantly getting distracted with the new crisis or the new area of focus. And people are constantly changing roles and companies. So, you need that champion internally. You need to then be able to get that own internal opportunity to influence. To get the approval, to fund something like this.But then secondly, you need the success stories to come out of it, because if you don't have that initial success, chances are that then you're not going to get that momentum and people aren't going to believe in following through with it. And that was key to our relationship here is getting really some initial successes that we could point to. And then things have kind of evolved from there. Brian Ardinger: And that's a great point. I think a lot of companies are naturally more fearful because failing in an existing business model is not a good thing, but yet to innovate, you know, that there are some things that are probably not going to work and that. Open innovation almost gives you some opportunity to try and test and experiment a little bit outside of your core realm.Gives you a little bit more ground cover sometimes to have different types of conversations than you would have, just if it was only internal and working from that perspective. Kevin, what else are you seeing when it comes to the benefits of companies reaching outside of their four walls to create their innovation initiatives? Kevin Leland: The biggest benefit and maybe Matt can speak to this is they're identifying partners that they would have never known about otherwise. So Matt was able to identify a team in Australia. UNSW Sydney. And I don't think Baxter has anyone on the ground there, and probably wouldn't have found that otherwise. And then the secondary benefit is it's almost like a market analysis tool or market intelligence tool because the companies are learning about new technologies and trends and different pockets of innovation around the world that they really didn't have visibility into previously.Brian Ardinger: What are you guys most excited about moving forward?Kevin Leland: I'm really excited to see this working. So, you know, I did a ton of customer discovery before launching Halo. I had dozens of interviews with innovation executives on one side and scientists on the other side. But you never really know until you actually go into the wild and introduce a platform to the users to see if it's going to work. And we've done 20 plus RFPs now since Baxter. We work to put 12 Fortune 500 companies, every one of them has resulted in signed agreements. And, you know, obviously it takes time to see these products into the marketplace, but that's the next thing I'm excited about is when Baxter introduces a new home dialysis device, where patients can make the dialysis solution from their kitchen and don't have to have 900 pounds of solution sitting in their bedroom.Brian Ardinger: Matt, what are you excited about? Matt Muller: Well, I like your vision of the future there, Kevin, first of all. Beyond that, you know, and obviously helping us accelerate, getting the innovative products to market. The other thing that I've really enjoyed is being able to make these broader connections that we never would have before. Kevin used the example of we're connected now with the University of New South Wales on a really interesting research project.But the other thing that this connected us with is a whole network of experts on an NSF Foundation called New, which is very well aligned with some of our core business and research interests that we never would have had before. You know, if we hadn't been involved with this initiative. And so, it's those types of things that also really get me excited because it really helps us.You know, at the end of the day we're scientists. We're engineers. We all like collaborating with other scientists and engineers to solve problems. And this is just exciting because it broadens that network for us even more. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Matt and Kevin, thank you for collaborating here at Inside Outside Innovation and sharing some of the insights on what's working in this new changing landscape that we're in. So, I appreciate you both being on. If people want to find out more about yourselves or the companies and that that you work at, what's the best way to do. Kevin Leland: For me, they can connect with me on LinkedIn. Just search Kevin Leland should be one of the top three, I think, or go to Halo. Science Matt Muller: And similarly, you can connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm Matthew Muller, Director of Applied Innovation, Baxter Healthcare. We also have a company bio description on Kevin's platform. Halo. We also have put out two new challenge statements with respect to some of the key technical challenges that we have in our space. So, you know, go to Kevin's platform and check those out as well, please.Brian Ardinger: Well, Matthew, Kevin, thank you again for being on Inside Outside Innovation. I look forward to continuing the conversation and thank you very much.Kevin Leland: Thanks Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Speaking to Influence
Ep 75: Ellen Weber Exec Dir., Robin Hood Ventures: Entrepreneurship & Angel Investment

Speaking to Influence

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 30:28


On this episode Ellen Weber shares the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when communicating with potential investors and how you can engage and connect while asking for the funding you need. Listen in as Laura and Ellen explore the basics of building rapport, the difference between angel investors and private equity, and the three things that every investor looks for in an entrepreneur when making an investment. Ellen Weber is the Executive Director of Robin Hood Ventures, a leading angel group helping to fuel startup growth in the Philadelphia region. She also serves as the Executive Director of Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures, hosted by Temple University's Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, and is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, and the co-chair of Temple's Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.   You can connect with Ellen in the following ways: Website: https://www.robinhoodventures.com/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elleneweber/   To learn more about Dr. Laura Sicola and how mastering influence can impact your success go to https://www.speakingtoinfluence.com/quickstart and download the quick start guide for mastering the three C's of influence.   You can connect with Laura in the following ways: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drlaurasicola LinkedIn Business Page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/vocal-impact-productions/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWri2F_hhGQpMcD97DctJwA Facebook: Vocal Impact Productions Twitter: @Laura Sicola  Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/vocalimpactproductions Instagram: @VocalImpactProductions See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Let's Talk Supply Chain
224: Speed up business innovation at enterprise scale, with Quickbase

Let's Talk Supply Chain

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 47:52


Today I'm joined by Quickbase, a company who are on a mission to unleash the creativity and problem-solving power of everyone in your business, so you can innovate every day. Quickbase is an application development platform that unites business and IT teams by enabling problem solvers of any technical background to work together to safely, securely and sustainably to create an ecosystem of applications. Quickbase helps businesses accelerate the continuous innovation of unique processes by enabling citizen development at scale across one common platform. Today Peter Rifken, Principal Solutions Consultant at Quickbase, joins me to chat all about the company: what they do; the importance of operational agility; and the power to be found in unlocking the potential of your people.   IN THIS EPISODE WE DISCUSS: [06.02] An introduction to Quickbase. “Our goal, at the highest level, is to help our customers achieve operational agility.” [08.13] An explanation of the terms no-code, low-code and citizen development. “No code gives you the ability to create end-to-end enterprise grade solutions – but with no coding experience required.” [13.45] How the Quickbase platform works and its four common pillars. [17.59] The key misconceptions or objections around embracing a cloud-based citizen development platform like Quickbase. “We're talking about the cloud, so I hear a lot of: ‘if you were in this room, talking about Quickbase, 5 years ago – you would've been thrown out!'" [24.22] Integration, scalability and Quickbase Pipelines. “Legacy systems aren't going away… We built Pipelines to both plan for your new integration needs and that connectivity to legacy.” [28.09] Why empowering your people, and unlocking their potential, is so important. “No-code taps into everybody's inherent ability and need to solve problems.” [32.32] The age of operational agility, and how can Quickbase can help facilitate it. [35.54] The culture and mindset of Quickbase's ideal client. [37.48] Case study: how Quickbase helped transform a key client's approach to establishing a new distribution center. [41.22] What the future holds for Quickbase.   RESOURCES AND LINKS MENTIONED: Head over to Quickbase's website now to find out more and discover how they could help you too. You can also connect with Quickbase and keep up to date with the latest over on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or you can connect with Peter on LinkedIn. Check out our other podcasts HERE.      

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 267 - Esther Gons, Co-founder of Ground Control & Author of Innovation Accounting on Measure Innovation

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 18:41


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Esther Gons, CEO and Co-founder of Ground Control and Author of the upcoming book, Innovation Accounting. Esther and Brian Ardinger, Inside Outside Innovation Cofounder, talk about the ins and outs of innovation accounting, and what companies should be doing to track and measure their innovation initiatives. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. Interview Transcript with Esther Gons, CEO and Co-founder of Ground Control and Author of Innovation AccountingBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Esther Gons. She is CEO and co-founder of Ground Control, which is a software platform that helps companies measure innovation and co-author of the corporate startup, and upcoming book Innovation Accounting. Welcome Esther to the show. Esther Gons: Thank you, Brian. I'm really happy to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you on the show. We've had Dan Toma, your co-author of the Corporate Startup and Tendayi Viki on the show in the past. How did you get involved in this innovation space?Esther Gons: I think for me, it's been a journey of entrepreneurship. So, my background is basically being an entrepreneur, starting startups, helping startups. So, I've always been an entrepreneur. And one of my first things that I did when I still was actually in my studies of Information Science was starting a business.And one of the things that I was asked to do by one of the bigger computer companies was building something completely new around their selling of computers. And I think that was one of the first corporate startups that I did, but it wasn't called that way, way back when. But I build over the course of two years, a platform with personal logins, with all sorts of new technologies and things that you could do just to sell their computers, to be able to be working from home. So, blog posts that weren't called blog posts. That was just content from people saying your employees will be so loyal. If you have them working from home, all these kinds of things. I even had other vendors ramped up with furniture, stuff like that. It was an amazing platform. And after two years and a lot of money when we finally launched nothing really happened.And the computer company didn't understand because there were no sales whatsoever and they just simply pulled the plug. But for me, that was a really important event because I was asking myself what went wrong there? What was the risk involved? Was it too early? How could I have known? And that was a search that put me on the path of pioneering and innovation and understanding how you could deal with that. So obviously that platform that failed was 20 years too early. If we look at the situation right now and we needed a COVID pandemic to get there. But yes, that got me into the puzzle, discovering things like the Lean Startup methodology when Steve Blank wrote about it and then working with other entrepreneurs to get it working. To evolve it. To make sure that startups heard about it. So that was when I started to volunteer for a lot of startup activity in Amsterdam. And got involved in that in the tech scene, since I've always been a tech entrepreneur. Brian Ardinger: Your first book, the Corporate Startup really gave corporations that inside look on what it was like and what it is like, to think and act, and move like startups. And create new business models from scratch. And it was a great opportunity to provide a framework for how corporations think about that. Your new book, Innovation Accounting, I'd love to start there. What is innovation? Accounting, and why is it so important? Esther Gons: A lot of corporates asked for metrics. You're absolutely right. But they usually ask for the one metric to rule everything, right? So how are we doing in terms of innovation? And then they use innovation as a catch-all phrase. We want to know about all of our innovation, right? We want to see everything in our portfolio. So, what we've seen with working with a lot of clients, because we like to be practical about things that we write.We want to know that it works. Is that for that startup kind of innovation, which is different from what you do in terms of innovation in the rest of your company, you could be doing a digital transformation. You could be optimizing your current processes with startups. It's all innovation, but if you truly want to do new business model innovation. Breakthrough in disruptive innovation. Then you actually need something else than the processes and the accounting systems that you have in your current company. And we noticed that if people didn't have that new system in place and they were trying to do Lean Startup and they were trying to build new business models, if they didn't have the whole system, the whole package, then it all turned back into incremental innovation again.So, then we thought, well, we have to let people know that if they truly want to do new business model innovation, this kind of disruptive innovation, they can measure that with the indicators that they have in their current company with that current system. Because then it will always fail or turn back into incremental innovation again.So, let's talk about that word innovation accounting, that Eric Ries, once coined as being the system that teams needed to have to be accountable for the decisions they made based on data. And talk about how that evolved into something else. And then what do you need inside a company? What kind of system do you need, need inside of a company to actually measure that kind of innovation?Brian Ardinger: I think that's such an important point that corporations really need to define innovation and understand the spectrum of it. You know, everything from, like you said, the stuff close to the core of that optimization of what they're currently doing and how that differs significantly from transformational innovation when you're trying to come up with a brand new business model. Why do you think it's so difficult for companies to understand this distinction and be able to do something about it? Esther Gons: For a company, it's ingrained in their system, that their goal is to optimize and grow their current system. Right? That's what they are there for. The CEO has been appointed by the shareholders to do that specific thing. So that means that their whole existence, their future is based on, on executing on that core thing. And that also means that everything that they have gathered around it, their processes, their culture, their people, are based around that. And it's hard to understand something that isn't there yet. Something that is probably really risky. So, if you can't see it, then it's harder to understand and to act around it. So, I think it's actually a good point that you're making Brian, because what we've seen is that if you do not make it visible by either a new system with innovation accounting, or in any other way, then top level, it's hard to make that distinction because you can't see it. You're just seeing the investment that you're making, but you can see what you're doing. And what I always say is that you have to look at it in terms of buckets, right? There's buckets that do not have a really high risk, and that have business goals that are aligned with your core business. So fine, you can do that with the current systems and your investment will have to return something in probably a year, because that's what you're used to.But if you're investing in a high-risk bucket, startups are high risk. I'm a investor myself. So, most VCs know this. This is a high-risk profession, right? You don't know how many will return, what kind of money. And the timelines are vague, could be three years, could be 12 years. So, these high risk buckets needs to have a different approach.But you need to have some sort of visibility in terms of control. So, if you make the bet in your strategy, just that saying, okay, I have business models that are fading. I need to look at the future. Then at least you should have some sort of visibility of what you are doing with that future. So are you betting on a specific innovation thesis like we've described in the Corporate Startup. So, then you want to understand how that is going along. Are we doing well? Are we turning that strategy into, into something really practical? Is your funnel turning into a portfolio? So, you need all kinds of indicators to be able to understand that without falling back to your financial indicator. Because naturally, if you're looking for something that is really new, you're searching and your core business is learning, which means that you do not have a return in Dollars or Euros. You have a return on insights and learnings, and that's what you work for. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: So, let's talk about some of those particular metrics. Traditional metrics might be things like profitability, number of customers, things like that. When you get into, on the innovation front, especially transformational innovation, what are some of the early metrics that you should be looking at? Esther Gons: That sounds really simple, right? And I can give you like three indicators, but it makes sense to sort of understand first that what we understand in terms of innovation accounting is like a whole package of indicators. Because you do not only want to understand every single individual team and how that idea is turning into a business model, right. Because we're talking about that journey from idea to business model, and that is a risky journey because you're searching. But you also want to understand how all of the teams are doing inside of the program that you have. Then you want to understand if you have enough ideas to turn that into future portfolio products or services. Is that going along? Do we need more ideas? Is everything stopped at, I don't know, stage two then we definitely have to look at what's going on here. And then you need to also understand from a strategic level, if your bets for the future are doing well. And if your total investment in the future is turning into something that you want for the company. So, these are three levels of indicators or different kinds of indicators that have some sort of abstraction from each other, right? So, at a team level, you need to understand things. Then the manager needs to understand things in terms of how are the teams doing? That is abstracted from the team indicators and strategy level.They don't want to understand how every team is doing, but they do want to understand how that is translated into their portfolio strategy, for instance. So, I think it's important to understand that where Eric Ries said innovation accounting is for the teams. If you want to do it within a corporate situation, you want to do it in a different setting. So, you need to manage all these things and you need be sort of aware or in control of how all of these investments are doing. And if there is some return, I don't know, in the future. Brian Ardinger: So, if I'm part of an innovation team and I'm trying to understand if I'm making progress, what should I be looking at? Should I be looking at the number of ideas I'm working on, the number of assumptions that I'm testing? Where should I start? Esther Gons: For me, the most important thing for, for this kind of innovation is understanding that your core business is learning. So that means there need to be teams that are doing a unified way of working and validating with experiments. Methodically de-risking that business model. Right. So that means that you want to understand if they're learning well. So how many learnings did they have? Maybe you can look at a experiment learning ratio so that every experiment have a learning or not. Or are we doing experiments for the sake of experiments, for instance. If you put that against time or against cost. Because learning for teams is essentially the core business. Brian Ardinger: So, the idea of measuring that against velocity, how fast do they learn, and the cost of that learning. Is that what you're looking at?Esther Gons: So as soon as you put learning the core, you can look at these things, right? So, what is the learning philosophy? What is the learning ratio? What is the velocity cost ratio? How much time do they spend in a certain state, for instance, doing the learnings? That makes sense if you look at the learnings. That is their core business. But I wouldn't ramp up everything if you start. And just look at the core business and what you want to improve, because you have these indicators to be able to steer and improve of them.Brian Ardinger: So, at the organizational level, what are some of the metrics at that portfolio level that companies should be using to know if they're making progress? Esther Gons: That's the top level. You mean the strategic level? I think it's important to understand if you look at that strategic level. The indicators are basically, framed around questions. So, from a strategic point of view, what you're doing is trying to understand how much your company is really under risk of disruption. Right? So is your current business model under threat of, or fade or disruption? Then that is really important to understand. So, we always say, if you look at your portfolio to understand how much you should invest in this kind of innovation, then look at your portfolio in terms of business models and not in terms of products. People usually look at it, in terms of products, right? But then if you look at it, in terms of business models, most of these products are, have the same business model, especially in product driven companies. But the question is my company under the risk of disruption, or is innovation driving growth in the company, that will give you an answer into how much of your investment should actually go to disruptive innovation.And that could then translate into indicators like portfolio fade, stuff like that. And the other questions you should ask yourself is how does my company future look like, right? Am I betting in the right direction? So how is the innovation thesis doing in terms of progressing towards newer stages. Or how efficient is my innovation ecosystem, if I look into the average speed of these innovation going through the stages or are my investment returning something in so many years. Brian Ardinger: So, looking at things like how much of my revenue is coming from new initiatives, things along those lines?Esther Gons: Things along those lines, but that's the easiest one. And that's one that corporates usually want to see that. So that's why I usually stay away from those in questions like this, because in essence, of course you want to understand how much of your growth is driven by revenue from these kinds of disruptive innovations. If you are starting out with innovation accounting right now, you won't be seeing that until three years or four years from now.I think it's then better to look at different kind of indicators on a funnel level. So, what is going on in the funnel? How many of these ideas are actually starting? And how many end up in different stages. Is that progressing well. With one of your innovation theses that you defined, because you wanted to bet in that specific future, nothing is happening after the second stage, you should ask yourself, is this the right pieces? Should we look at it again? So, you need to have some insight depending on the maturity level of your innovation ecosystem, to be able to steer towards a better ecosystem. Brian Ardinger: The last topic I want to talk about is you're based in Amsterdam, so I'd love to get your insights, and I'm curious to know what you're seeing as it pertains to European companies and their approach to innovation and how it may differ from what's going on in the U S. Esther Gons: So, the things I've seen in Europe, but maybe in the Netherlands specifically, is that the Lean Startup and the Lean Startup Methodology is a little bit farther ahead than it is in the U S maybe, especially in terms of the systematic approach towards the Lean Startup and how to do that within a corporate. Which I'm really happy about because that sort of helps me with the innovation accounting. And then the other way around in the U S there is within startups, I'm not sure how that is in a corporate world. But within startups, there's far more appetite for risk investment. So, in Europe, we tend to be a little bit risk averse. Show me first, and then can you at least show me a revenue first before we do any kind of innovation? So, you're dependent on really early-stage angels, if you want to prove that revenue first. But that differs in country per country. But if you look at ten European investment funds, that those tend to be a little bit more risk averse then the U S. And you can see that back into the amount of investments. So, if you compare VC investments, in terms of numbers, US are higher than they are in Europe. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Well, I can't wait to go a copy of Innovation Accounting. Your books are always so great because they're visual and they're tactical with templates and guides and that. If people want to find out more about your book or about yourself, what's the best way to do that? Esther Gons: For the book, definitely go to InnovationAccountingBook.com, where we have the table of contents and you can download the resources and also look where you can order, and pre-order the book. If you want to know more about me or my company, then simply go to ToGroundControl.Com or might be a little bit more difficult as EstherEmmelyGons.NL. Brian Ardinger: Well, thank you Esther, for being on Inside Outside Innovation. I look forward to continuing to have these conversations about what makes innovation so great and appreciate your time and your insights. Thank you. Esther Gons: Love to be here Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 267 - Esther Gons, Co-founder of Ground Control & Author of Innovation Accounting on Measure Innovation

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 18:41


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Esther Gons, CEO and Co-founder of Ground Control and Author of the upcoming book, Innovation Accounting. Esther and Brian Ardinger, Inside Outside Innovation Cofounder, talk about the ins and outs of innovation accounting, and what companies should be doing to track and measure their innovation initiatives. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat into what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. Interview Transcript with Esther Gons, CEO and Co-founder of Ground Control and Author of Innovation AccountingBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Esther Gons. She is CEO and co-founder of Ground Control, which is a software platform that helps companies measure innovation and co-author of the corporate startup, and upcoming book Innovation Accounting. Welcome Esther to the show. Esther Gons: Thank you, Brian. I'm really happy to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you on the show. We've had Dan Toma, your co-author of the Corporate Startup and Tendayi Viki on the show in the past. How did you get involved in this innovation space?Esther Gons: I think for me, it's been a journey of entrepreneurship. So, my background is basically being an entrepreneur, starting startups, helping startups. So, I've always been an entrepreneur. And one of my first things that I did when I still was actually in my studies of Information Science was starting a business.And one of the things that I was asked to do by one of the bigger computer companies was building something completely new around their selling of computers. And I think that was one of the first corporate startups that I did, but it wasn't called that way, way back when. But I build over the course of two years, a platform with personal logins, with all sorts of new technologies and things that you could do just to sell their computers, to be able to be working from home. So, blog posts that weren't called blog posts. That was just content from people saying your employees will be so loyal. If you have them working from home, all these kinds of things. I even had other vendors ramped up with furniture, stuff like that. It was an amazing platform. And after two years and a lot of money when we finally launched nothing really happened.And the computer company didn't understand because there were no sales whatsoever and they just simply pulled the plug. But for me, that was a really important event because I was asking myself what went wrong there? What was the risk involved? Was it too early? How could I have known? And that was a search that put me on the path of pioneering and innovation and understanding how you could deal with that. So obviously that platform that failed was 20 years too early. If we look at the situation right now and we needed a COVID pandemic to get there. But yes, that got me into the puzzle, discovering things like the Lean Startup methodology when Steve Blank wrote about it and then working with other entrepreneurs to get it working. To evolve it. To make sure that startups heard about it. So that was when I started to volunteer for a lot of startup activity in Amsterdam. And got involved in that in the tech scene, since I've always been a tech entrepreneur. Brian Ardinger: Your first book, the Corporate Startup really gave corporations that inside look on what it was like and what it is like, to think and act, and move like startups. And create new business models from scratch. And it was a great opportunity to provide a framework for how corporations think about that. Your new book, Innovation Accounting, I'd love to start there. What is innovation? Accounting, and why is it so important? Esther Gons: A lot of corporates asked for metrics. You're absolutely right. But they usually ask for the one metric to rule everything, right? So how are we doing in terms of innovation? And then they use innovation as a catch-all phrase. We want to know about all of our innovation, right? We want to see everything in our portfolio. So, what we've seen with working with a lot of clients, because we like to be practical about things that we write.We want to know that it works. Is that for that startup kind of innovation, which is different from what you do in terms of innovation in the rest of your company, you could be doing a digital transformation. You could be optimizing your current processes with startups. It's all innovation, but if you truly want to do new business model innovation. Breakthrough in disruptive innovation. Then you actually need something else than the processes and the accounting systems that you have in your current company. And we noticed that if people didn't have that new system in place and they were trying to do Lean Startup and they were trying to build new business models, if they didn't have the whole system, the whole package, then it all turned back into incremental innovation again.So, then we thought, well, we have to let people know that if they truly want to do new business model innovation, this kind of disruptive innovation, they can measure that with the indicators that they have in their current company with that current system. Because then it will always fail or turn back into incremental innovation again.So, let's talk about that word innovation accounting, that Eric Ries, once coined as being the system that teams needed to have to be accountable for the decisions they made based on data. And talk about how that evolved into something else. And then what do you need inside a company? What kind of system do you need, need inside of a company to actually measure that kind of innovation?Brian Ardinger: I think that's such an important point that corporations really need to define innovation and understand the spectrum of it. You know, everything from, like you said, the stuff close to the core of that optimization of what they're currently doing and how that differs significantly from transformational innovation when you're trying to come up with a brand new business model. Why do you think it's so difficult for companies to understand this distinction and be able to do something about it? Esther Gons: For a company, it's ingrained in their system, that their goal is to optimize and grow their current system. Right? That's what they are there for. The CEO has been appointed by the shareholders to do that specific thing. So that means that their whole existence, their future is based on, on executing on that core thing. And that also means that everything that they have gathered around it, their processes, their culture, their people, are based around that. And it's hard to understand something that isn't there yet. Something that is probably really risky. So, if you can't see it, then it's harder to understand and to act around it. So, I think it's actually a good point that you're making Brian, because what we've seen is that if you do not make it visible by either a new system with innovation accounting, or in any other way, then top level, it's hard to make that distinction because you can't see it. You're just seeing the investment that you're making, but you can see what you're doing. And what I always say is that you have to look at it in terms of buckets, right? There's buckets that do not have a really high risk, and that have business goals that are aligned with your core business. So fine, you can do that with the current systems and your investment will have to return something in probably a year, because that's what you're used to.But if you're investing in a high-risk bucket, startups are high risk. I'm a investor myself. So, most VCs know this. This is a high-risk profession, right? You don't know how many will return, what kind of money. And the timelines are vague, could be three years, could be 12 years. So, these high risk buckets needs to have a different approach.But you need to have some sort of visibility in terms of control. So, if you make the bet in your strategy, just that saying, okay, I have business models that are fading. I need to look at the future. Then at least you should have some sort of visibility of what you are doing with that future. So are you betting on a specific innovation thesis like we've described in the Corporate Startup. So, then you want to understand how that is going along. Are we doing well? Are we turning that strategy into, into something really practical? Is your funnel turning into a portfolio? So, you need all kinds of indicators to be able to understand that without falling back to your financial indicator. Because naturally, if you're looking for something that is really new, you're searching and your core business is learning, which means that you do not have a return in Dollars or Euros. You have a return on insights and learnings, and that's what you work for. The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more  information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.Brian Ardinger: So, let's talk about some of those particular metrics. Traditional metrics might be things like profitability, number of customers, things like that. When you get into, on the innovation front, especially transformational innovation, what are some of the early metrics that you should be looking at? Esther Gons: That sounds really simple, right? And I can give you like three indicators, but it makes sense to sort of understand first that what we understand in terms of innovation accounting is like a whole package of indicators. Because you do not only want to understand every single individual team and how that idea is turning into a business model, right. Because we're talking about that journey from idea to business model, and that is a risky journey because you're searching. But you also want to understand how all of the teams are doing inside of the program that you have. Then you want to understand if you have enough ideas to turn that into future portfolio products or services. Is that going along? Do we need more ideas? Is everything stopped at, I don't know, stage two then we definitely have to look at what's going on here. And then you need to also understand from a strategic level, if your bets for the future are doing well. And if your total investment in the future is turning into something that you want for the company. So, these are three levels of indicators or different kinds of indicators that have some sort of abstraction from each other, right? So, at a team level, you need to understand things. Then the manager needs to understand things in terms of how are the teams doing? That is abstracted from the team indicators and strategy level.They don't want to understand how every team is doing, but they do want to understand how that is translated into their portfolio strategy, for instance. So, I think it's important to understand that where Eric Ries said innovation accounting is for the teams. If you want to do it within a corporate situation, you want to do it in a different setting. So, you need to manage all these things and you need be sort of aware or in control of how all of these investments are doing. And if there is some return, I don't know, in the future. Brian Ardinger: So, if I'm part of an innovation team and I'm trying to understand if I'm making progress, what should I be looking at? Should I be looking at the number of ideas I'm working on, the number of assumptions that I'm testing? Where should I start? Esther Gons: For me, the most important thing for, for this kind of innovation is understanding that your core business is learning. So that means there need to be teams that are doing a unified way of working and validating with experiments. Methodically de-risking that business model. Right. So that means that you want to understand if they're learning well. So how many learnings did they have? Maybe you can look at a experiment learning ratio so that every experiment have a learning or not. Or are we doing experiments for the sake of experiments, for instance. If you put that against time or against cost. Because learning for teams is essentially the core business. Brian Ardinger: So, the idea of measuring that against velocity, how fast do they learn, and the cost of that learning. Is that what you're looking at?Esther Gons: So as soon as you put learning the core, you can look at these things, right? So, what is the learning philosophy? What is the learning ratio? What is the velocity cost ratio? How much time do they spend in a certain state, for instance, doing the learnings? That makes sense if you look at the learnings. That is their core business. But I wouldn't ramp up everything if you start. And just look at the core business and what you want to improve, because you have these indicators to be able to steer and improve of them.Brian Ardinger: So, at the organizational level, what are some of the metrics at that portfolio level that companies should be using to know if they're making progress? Esther Gons: That's the top level. You mean the strategic level? I think it's important to understand if you look at that strategic level. The indicators are basically, framed around questions. So, from a strategic point of view, what you're doing is trying to understand how much your company is really under risk of disruption. Right? So is your current business model under threat of, or fade or disruption? Then that is really important to understand. So, we always say, if you look at your portfolio to understand how much you should invest in this kind of innovation, then look at your portfolio in terms of business models and not in terms of products. People usually look at it, in terms of products, right? But then if you look at it, in terms of business models, most of these products are, have the same business model, especially in product driven companies. But the question is my company under the risk of disruption, or is innovation driving growth in the company, that will give you an answer into how much of your investment should actually go to disruptive innovation.And that could then translate into indicators like portfolio fade, stuff like that. And the other questions you should ask yourself is how does my company future look like, right? Am I betting in the right direction? So how is the innovation thesis doing in terms of progressing towards newer stages. Or how efficient is my innovation ecosystem, if I look into the average speed of these innovation going through the stages or are my investment returning something in so many years. Brian Ardinger: So, looking at things like how much of my revenue is coming from new initiatives, things along those lines?Esther Gons: Things along those lines, but that's the easiest one. And that's one that corporates usually want to see that. So that's why I usually stay away from those in questions like this, because in essence, of course you want to understand how much of your growth is driven by revenue from these kinds of disruptive innovations. If you are starting out with innovation accounting right now, you won't be seeing that until three years or four years from now.I think it's then better to look at different kind of indicators on a funnel level. So, what is going on in the funnel? How many of these ideas are actually starting? And how many end up in different stages. Is that progressing well. With one of your innovation theses that you defined, because you wanted to bet in that specific future, nothing is happening after the second stage, you should ask yourself, is this the right pieces? Should we look at it again? So, you need to have some insight depending on the maturity level of your innovation ecosystem, to be able to steer towards a better ecosystem. Brian Ardinger: The last topic I want to talk about is you're based in Amsterdam, so I'd love to get your insights, and I'm curious to know what you're seeing as it pertains to European companies and their approach to innovation and how it may differ from what's going on in the U S. Esther Gons: So, the things I've seen in Europe, but maybe in the Netherlands specifically, is that the Lean Startup and the Lean Startup Methodology is a little bit farther ahead than it is in the U S maybe, especially in terms of the systematic approach towards the Lean Startup and how to do that within a corporate. Which I'm really happy about because that sort of helps me with the innovation accounting. And then the other way around in the U S there is within startups, I'm not sure how that is in a corporate world. But within startups, there's far more appetite for risk investment. So, in Europe, we tend to be a little bit risk averse. Show me first, and then can you at least show me a revenue first before we do any kind of innovation? So, you're dependent on really early-stage angels, if you want to prove that revenue first. But that differs in country per country. But if you look at ten European investment funds, that those tend to be a little bit more risk averse then the U S. And you can see that back into the amount of investments. So, if you compare VC investments, in terms of numbers, US are higher than they are in Europe. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Well, I can't wait to go a copy of Innovation Accounting. Your books are always so great because they're visual and they're tactical with templates and guides and that. If people want to find out more about your book or about yourself, what's the best way to do that? Esther Gons: For the book, definitely go to Innovation Accounting Book.com, where we have the table of contents and you can download the resources and also look where you can order, and pre-order the book. If you want to know more about me or my company, then simply go to ToGroundControl.Com or might be a little bit more difficult as EstherEmmelyGons.NL. Brian Ardinger: Well, thank you Esther, for being on Inside Outside Innovation. I look forward to continuing to have these conversations about what makes innovation so great and appreciate your time and your insights. Thank you. Esther Gons: Love to be here Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 266 - David Schonthal, Professor at Northwestern University & Coauthor of The Human Element on Gaining Traction with New Ideas

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 20:22


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with David Schonthal, Clinical Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the Kellogg School of Management and Coauthor of the new book, The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas. David and I talk about what keeps ideas from gaining traction and what you can do to avoid friction and resistance to new ideas. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript with David Schonthal, Clinical Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at Northwestern University and Coauthor of The Human ElementBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation, I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have David Schonthal. He is a Clinical Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at Northwestern University and Coauthor of the new book, The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas. Welcome to the show, David. David Schonthal: Thanks, Brian. Nice to be here. Brian Ardinger: Hey, I'm excited to have you here. You have spent a lot of your career thinking about and watching what it takes to make new ideas happen. You've spent time at IDEO. You were co-founder of Matter, which is that 25,000 square foot innovation center in Chicago. Has some venture capital experience and that. And I thought we could start by telling the audience how you got into the innovation space in the first place. David Schonthal: By accident is the answer. It's sort of a long story, but I wound up becoming the COO of a medical device company in San Diego, California based on a radical shift from what I was doing before, which is tax software in London. To make a long story short, one of my former bosses called me up when I was just at my lowest point with tax and the UK, no offense to the UK, but it was winter, and it was like dark 18 hours out of the day. And he called me up and all of a sudden, I just, all I remember is him saying, yada, yada, yada San Diego, yada yada, yada. I was like, oh please.He's like, would you like to know what the business is? I was like, no, not important. So, I wound up going and being the head of operations for an early stage medical device company. And then basically from that point forward was just bit with the bug around bringing new ideas to market either in the startup space, through entrepreneurship or venture capital or in the corporate space through design and innovation.Brian Ardinger: And you've got a new book called the Human Element. I would imagine it packs a lot about the things that you've learned over that career. Since you've spent a lot of time seeing how early ideas get traction or not, what is the most striking problem that you see most people making when it comes to kicking off an idea?David Schonthal: I think maybe the best place to start is by most innovators and entrepreneurs' instinct that the idea is the thing that needs to be addressed. So, if a new product or service or strategy isn't being adopted by the market, most innovators instincts says well, let's make the product a little better. Let's change the way we talk about it. Let's drop the price. Let's promote it differently. And they make the thing or the strategy or the movement, the center of their attention. And in the course of my career, I've worked on some really amazing, I mean, some terrible, but also some really amazing innovations and products and services. And I was always surprised by how, even though clearly if these things were adopted into the market, they would make the world a better place, no matter how much we tweaked or change the idea that wasn't always the key to success of getting it introduced.And so about four years ago, turned my attention to thinking about what is it that stands in the way of change and partnered up with one of my colleagues at Kellogg, who was a behavioral psychologist named Loran Nordgren. And together we've been studying this problem from both the applied side, as well as the theoretical side.And that was the genesis of the book, which is that our instincts about innovation are too heavily biased on making the thing more appealing and not focused enough on helping the market adopt it by removing the friction that stands in the way. Brian Ardinger: Yeah. I love that. You kind of start off the book, this battle between what do you call fuel and friction. The idea that a lot of times, just to make an idea better, all you have to do is add more facts or more features or try to get more folks bought into it. But really, it's a lot about how do you eliminate the frictions around that? So, in the book you talk about four frictions. Let's outline and tell the audience how they can avoid them.David Schonthal: Sure. So, if you think about a new idea, like an airplane leaving the ground or a projectile flying through the air. Fuel, to your point Brian, are all of the things that propel that idea forward. The need that the customer has, features and benefits, promotional strategies, but like an airplane leaving the ground there are also forces that stand in the way, whether it's wind resistance or sheer or gravity. And so, the book is really focused on these forces, these headwinds of innovation and the four that we specify in the book, the four frictions, our number one inertia, which is our desire as human beings to tend to stick with the status quo. Despite the fact that we know the status quo might be imperfect, our habits are surprisingly powerful. And so, recognizing that inertia is a play anytime you're trying to get somebody to change from what they're doing today, to what you'd like them to do tomorrow. Effort is the second one. All of the ambiguity, all of the costliness, all of the exertion required to get somebody to make that change. The third friction is emotion. All of the anxiety and fear that comes along with changing from something that you do today to something you do tomorrow. And you might not think that emotion comes into play for small things, but emotion comes into play when you're buying a pack of gum or when you're putting on a new shirt.And then the fourth is what we call reactants, which is people's aversion to being changed by others. And each of them show up in varying degrees, depending on what you're working on in spotting them appropriately forecasting them ideally, so that they can be muted and mitigated is really the key. Brian Ardinger: And a lot of those frictions, they're almost not necessarily irrational, but they're definitely not something that you can take an economic model and say, well, clearly there's a cost benefit analysis and everybody should end up on this side of it because of the cost benefit analysis. But there's a lot of underlying things. And it seems a lot of this frictions around ambiguity or being comfortable with failure. How can you get folks more comfortable with that environment of ambiguity? David Schonthal: There's a couple of things that are packed into that question. Number one, ambiguity maps to the friction of effort. Effort we assume is like exertion, which is how much time and money will it take me to make a change. But you're pointing out appropriately that the other way effort comes in is ambiguity or a lack of clarity about how to go about doing something.And sometimes that ambiguity can be so overwhelming that people are afraid to get started because they don't necessarily know how to get started. We talk in the book about a couple of methodologies specifically around helping people with ambiguity. One is around road mapping in simplification. Oftentimes our desire to get people to change is to like keep adding or keep making something better, add facts or add arguments to get somebody to change from what they're doing, to what you'd like them to doing.I mean, just look at vaccines. For example, in the states. Like there's no ambiguity about the evidence that vaccines help protect against severe illness. There is no ambiguity. There is no doubting, the fact that if you get vaccinated, it will make the world a safer place. But that doesn't stop people from having resistance to that idea.And one thing might be around the ambiguity about how to go about getting a vaccine. One might be around the perceived effort of getting a vaccine. The fear about getting a vaccine. And so understanding why people do or don't do the things that they do is really the key to addressing it. So simplification, streamlining, making unfamiliar ideas more familiar. Oftentimes innovators have this instinct that because their idea is new and radical. We need to highlight its newness and its radicalness is part of its allure. Oftentimes that actually works against us because the newer and more radical something seems the less familiar it is. And the more anxiety we have about how we're going to start to use it. And the great example of that comes from Apple. And if you're old enough audience to remember the introduction of the Macintosh OS. In addition to creating a new machine, one of the things that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created was a created was a new operating system for how computers are used. And unlike PCs or DOS-based systems, which you really needed to learn the language of computers in order to do something on a computer, Steve Jobs and other great innovators tend to have their products and services operate the way the rest of your world works.So, when you're working on an Apple home screen, you're working on a desktop. And when you're creating a document and you want to store that document, you put that document in a folder. And when you want to get rid of it, you drag it into the trashcan. And these might seem sort of like cute user interface principles, but these were deliberately designed to make something wildly unfamiliar to people who had never worked on a computer to immediately feel more comfortable with it because it works, sounds, and it feels the way the rest of your world works. So even though something is new, doesn't mean that it should be projected as radically.Brian Ardinger: So, if I'm a new innovator or I'm a startup entrepreneur, I've got a new idea I want to start building that out. Do you recommend mapping out these particular frictions or how do you find out what your audience or what your customers are fearful about? David Schonthal: That's a great question. There are a couple of tools we bring to life in the book. One is called a Friction Map, which is anticipating the frictions that might stand in the way of your new ideas. So, it is a document that you can fill out with your team. Where you forecast based on some clear questions that are asked in the Map. What is the relevance? What is the amount of inertia that might be present? What's the amount of effort, friction that might be present? Emotional friction that might be present in reactants? And then there's another framework around remedies. How might you take each of these frictions, test them in the market, but also test possible remedies to overcome. And the more you can bring this into your design process.So, people will fill out a Business Model Canvas based on Osterwalder's work, or they'll fill out a Horizons Framework as they're forecasting what opportunities might exist. We also recommend filling out a Friction Map, which is what are the forces of resistance that might stand in the way. And what might we prototype to overcome those forces as a way of introducing this product or service or strategy.Brian Ardinger: And then do you go out and actually test those assumptions? David Schonthal: Absolutely. Each of them can be prototyped. And yes, testing them with different audiences, testing different ways of communicating or making unfamiliar things familiar. Or identifying the sources of emotional friction so that they can be addressed in the messaging, and the way products are communicated. All are easy enough to test in low fidelity and oftentimes save us a lot of effort down the road when it comes to scaling offers up. Brian Ardinger: One of the other things I liked about the book is that you have not only these frameworks, that people can understand the methodology and that around it, but you also bring out some case studies in the book. And one of them is around Flyhomes, which is a startup company that built a new business model in the real estate space, designed to address some of the frictions in the market. So, can you talk a little bit about that case study? David Schonthal: It's a great story. So Flyhomes, for those of you who are living in the United States while you're watching this can appreciate, we are in the midst of a bananas housing market, residential housing market. Debt has never been cheaper. Inventory has never been lower. And as a result, desirable homes are just flying off the market almost the same day that they're listed, which creates a whole conundrum for people who are trying to buy homes, particularly first-time home buyers. Because when inventory is low, typically the offers that get accepted by sellers, particularly when they have multiple offers, are all cash offers or offers that are perceived to be low risk. And low risk offers are ones that don't have contingencies attached to them. Don't have home sale contingencies. Don't have loan contingencies. In order to compete, in order to get a home buyer, you have to either bring all cash to the table or convince sellers that despite the fact that they've got these contingencies, that there's actually a high degree of certainty, that something will close.Flyhomes is a business that helps address this problem by making all buyers, all cash buyers, they have focused their business model on removing the friction that stands in the way of somebody buying a home in simultaneously removing the friction that stands in the way of a seller accepting the new one offer forum.They didn't start this way. Flyhomes began, in fact, the namesake doesn't come from homes flying off the market. It came from the fact that Stephen Lane and Tushar Garg who were young entrepreneurs, started the business by thinking, all right, in the world of real estate tech, in the world of residential real estate tech, the big names or the new market innovations where things like Trulia and Zillow and Redfin, that had two primary value propositions.One we're either going to take all home inventory off the MLS that exists only for real estate agents, and we're going to democratize it and make it so that anybody who's interested in looking at homes can see all available inventory, which is great. And then the second thing they typically did was discount brokerage. Meaning that if you worked with one of their agents, you would get cash back, they would discount their service fee and you would get some of that back in a rebate. And Steve and Tushar figured there was probably more that could be done in this market. And they being millennials themselves in doing some research, found that millennials, in addition to wanting to own homes, also desired travel, adventure, freedom.And why is it that when we make big purchases on electronics or appliances on a credit card, we get all the benefits that come with a credit card, like points and travel miles. Why don't we get something like that with homes? And so, they created a product called Flyhomes, which is for every dollar you spend on the purchase of a new home, up into a half a million dollars, you would get points on an airline.And they partnered with Alaska and Jet Blue. And Jet Blue actually sent out this mass email to all their frequent flyers saying we're now in this arrangement with Flyhomes, buy a home through Flyhomes get up to 500,000 frequent flyer miles on Jet Blue. In the first day, thousands of people signed up for the platform.And Steve and Tushar looked at themselves like this is going to be huge. And then nothing. Like nothing happened. Nobody was buying a home through Flyhomes. Nobody was actually using the service. There was enough alure or to the idea that got people interested to like check it out and sign up. But that wasn't actually helping people make the progress. They really wanted to make, which wasn't getting 500,000 airline points. It was actually getting the home that they wanted. Flyhomes could address the real problem or address the real progress. All of these bells and whistles wouldn't make things easier. It would just be bells and whistles for the sake of bells and whistles.So almost at the point of going out of business, they decided to pivot. And because they both had their real estate license started selling real estate. And by studying people in this kind of ethnographic way and actually getting out and selling real estate as realtors, they understood that the problem wasn't the points in adventure.The problem was is that people desired homes in competitive markets that they were unable to access. And after two or three chances of putting in bids and having those bids rejected, people were just giving up on real estate all together. And so Steve and Tushar decided that if they could help address the problem of democratizing the ability for home buyers to buy homes in really competitive markets, that would be a revolutionary change. That would really change the game. And so, they pivoted over from points to friction removal. And today. Flyhomes is growing like crazy. They do billions of dollars a year in transactions. They just raised a really big Series C at $150 million. It's all because they changed their business model from fuel addition to friction removal.Brian Ardinger: Excellent example. Now you've got a number of them in the book and that. What other hidden gems in the book that people should be excited about when they pick it up? David Schonthal: I think the most interesting stories and we try to have as many of them as possible in the book, so the ones that are counterintuitive. Like the ones that really check our biases and our assumptions about what we think the right way to do something is relative to what the science and the data tells us. And one of the things that I think readers who read this book will find is that in many cases, our instincts about what we ought to do to affect change are actually in some ways the opposite of what we ought to do to impact change.And we actually start the book off with a really fun story about the world's most successful car salesperson. A guy named Ali Reda, who works in suburban Detroit, in Dearborn, Michigan. Who outsells every other average car dealer in the United States, by a factor of 12 to one. He single-handedly sells as many as 1500 cars a year, which is more than most dealerships sell in total.And when you study Ali, and when you interview him and when you understand how he approaches car sales, that is so much different than his peers, what you learn is that he just frames his job radically different than every other salesperson. And I won't divulge too much about the secrets of how, but there's lots of examples in this book about how people who go left when everybody else goes right. And to succeed, but it's not just that they go left, it's understanding the psychology of what it is that they're doing differently than enables them to experience that success. Which is really, I think the beautiful thing about partnering with Loren on this is not only do we have examples about how these things work in practice, but we can also help people understand why they work psychologically.Brian Ardinger: So, you've been in this innovation industry for quite a long time. What are some of the biggest changes that you've come across and how do you see the innovation space kind of evolving? David Schonthal: That is a, the ability for people to create new ideas and make them real has never been easier. The cost of starting a new business, the cost of creating a new product or service with digital technology has enabled everybody who once had an idea on a napkin sketch.You now have the ability to make that sketch into something real and tangible and available in the market. And what I find now is, we've got a different problem, which is that the world is flooded with new ideas and flooded with new technologies. And whereas before it used to be hard to make an idea into a real thing. Now it's getting people to notice and pay attention and actually adopt your real thing. And one of the ways that we think about doing it is spending a lot of money on marketing and advertising and SEO and SEM. And yes, that's part of building awareness. But we don't often think about awareness as being one side of the equation. The other side is how do you make it easy for people to say yes. Well, one of the things we noticed about new products and services, particularly when you're creating a new consumer product is people will learn about it. They'll even go to the website, they'll put it in their cart, but at the moment before they check out, they'll abandon their cart, which means you've done half the job, right.You've gotten them interested to come to the site at the beginning. You've gotten them interested enough in the features and benefits to actually add that, or imagine that in their lives, but something is holding them back from actually pulling the trigger. And I think, now we've created a world where making the idea come to life has never been easier. But how do we make sure that it's easy for people to adopt that into their lives so that they can say yes, and to get noticed in that way. It's no longer about features and benefits. Now it's just about making things as frictionless and as effortless as possible for people to adopt. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: And the great thing about that is that's becoming easier as well. And people like yourself are helping in that process. So, David, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, to tell us a little bit about some of the secret sauce behind all that. I encourage people to pick up The Human Element. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that? David Schonthal: HumanElementBook.com is a landing page that shares information about the book. You can find me on the Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management faculty page, just Google my name, David Schonthal. And usually, you can find me there and I'd love to hear from you. Brian Ardinger: Well, thank you David, for being on the show and look forward to continuing the conversation as the years and the innovation evolve. David Schonthal: Thanks Brian. Me too. It was great to be here. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 266 - David Schonthal, Professor at Northwestern University & Coauthor of The Human Element on Gaining Traction with New Ideas

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 20:22


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with David Schonthal, Clinical Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University and Coauthor of the new book, The Human Element. David and I talk about what keeps ideas from gaining traction and what you can do to avoid friction and resistance to new ideas. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help new innovators navigate what's next. Each week, we'll give you a front row seat to what it takes to learn, grow, and thrive in today's world of accelerating change and uncertainty. Join us as we explore, engage, and experiment with the best and the brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses. It's time to get started.Interview Transcript with David Schonthal, Clinical Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University and Coauthor of The Human ElementBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation, I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have David Schonthal. He is a Clinical Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University and Coauthor of the new book, The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas. Welcome to the show, David. David Schonthal: Thanks, Brian. Nice to be here. Brian Ardinger: Hey, I'm excited to have you here. You have spent a lot of your career thinking about and watching what it takes to make new ideas happen. You've spent time at IDEO. You were co-founder of Matter, which is that 25,000 square foot innovation center in Chicago. Has some venture capital experience and that. And I thought we could start by telling the audience how you got into the innovation space in the first place. David Schonthal: By accident is the answer. It's sort of a long story, but I wound up becoming the COO of a medical device company in San Diego, California based on a radical shift from what I was doing before, which is tax software in London. To make a long story short, one of my former bosses called me up when I was just at my lowest point with tax and the UK, no offense to the UK, but it was winter, and it was like dark 18 hours out of the day. And he called me up and all of a sudden, I just, all I remember is him saying, yada, yada, yada San Diego, yada yada, yada. I was like, oh please.He's like, would you like to know what the business is? I was like, no, not important. So, I wound up going and being the head of operations for an early stage medical device company. And then basically from that point forward was just bit with the bug around bringing new ideas to market either in the startup space, through entrepreneurship or venture capital or in the corporate space through design and innovation.Brian Ardinger: And you've got a new book called the Human Element. I would imagine it packs a lot about the things that you've learned over that career. Since you've spent a lot of time seeing how early ideas get traction or not, what is the most striking problem that you see most people making when it comes to kicking off an idea?David Schonthal: I think maybe the best place to start is by most innovators and entrepreneurs' instinct that the idea is the thing that needs to be addressed. So, if a new product or service or strategy isn't being adopted by the market, most innovators instincts says well, let's make the product a little better. Let's change the way we talk about it. Let's drop the price. Let's promote it differently. And they make the thing or the strategy or the movement, the center of their attention. And in the course of my career, I've worked on some really amazing, I mean, some terrible, but also some really amazing innovations and products and services. And I was always surprised by how, even though clearly if these things were adopted into the market, they would make the world a better place, no matter how much we tweaked or change the idea that wasn't always the key to success of getting it introduced.And so about four years ago, turned my attention to thinking about what is it that stands in the way of change and partnered up with one of my colleagues at Kellogg, who was a behavioral psychologist named Loran Nordgren. And together we've been studying this problem from both the applied side, as well as the theoretical side.And that was the genesis of the book, which is that our instincts about innovation are too heavily biased on making the thing more appealing and not focused enough on helping the market adopt it by removing the friction that stands in the way. Brian Ardinger: Yeah. I love that. You kind of start off the book, this battle between what do you call fuel and friction. The idea that a lot of times, just to make an idea better, all you have to do is add more facts or more features or try to get more folks bought into it. But really, it's a lot about how do you eliminate the frictions around that? So, in the book you talk about four frictions. Let's outline and tell the audience how they can avoid them.David Schonthal: Sure. So, if you think about a new idea, like an airplane leaving the ground or a projectile flying through the air. Fuel, to your point Brian, are all of the things that propel that idea forward. The need that the customer has, features and benefits, promotional strategies, but like an airplane leaving the ground there are also forces that stand in the way, whether it's wind resistance or sheer or gravity. And so, the book is really focused on these forces, these headwinds of innovation and the four that we specify in the book, the four frictions, our number one inertia, which is our desire as human beings to tend to stick with the status quo. Despite the fact that we know the status quo might be imperfect, our habits are surprisingly powerful. And so, recognizing that inertia is a play anytime you're trying to get somebody to change from what they're doing today, to what you'd like them to do tomorrow. Effort is the second one. All of the ambiguity, all of the costliness, all of the exertion required to get somebody to make that change. The third friction is emotion. All of the anxiety and fear that comes along with changing from something that you do today to something you do tomorrow. And you might not think that emotion comes into play for small things, but emotion comes into play when you're buying a pack of gum or when you're putting on a new shirt.And then the fourth is what we call reactants, which is people's aversion to being changed by others. And each of them show up in varying degrees, depending on what you're working on in spotting them appropriately forecasting them ideally, so that they can be muted and mitigated is really the key. Brian Ardinger: And a lot of those frictions, they're almost not necessarily irrational, but they're definitely not something that you can take an economic model and say, well, clearly there's a cost benefit analysis and everybody should end up on this side of it because of the cost benefit analysis. But there's a lot of underlying things. And it seems a lot of this frictions around ambiguity or being comfortable with failure. How can you get folks more comfortable with that environment of ambiguity? David Schonthal: There's a couple of things that are packed into that question. Number one, ambiguity maps to the friction of effort. Effort we assume is like exertion, which is how much time and money will it take me to make a change. But you're pointing out appropriately that the other way effort comes in is ambiguity or a lack of clarity about how to go about doing something.And sometimes that ambiguity can be so overwhelming that people are afraid to get started because they don't necessarily know how to get started. We talk in the book about a couple of methodologies specifically around helping people with ambiguity. One is around road mapping in simplification. Oftentimes our desire to get people to change is to like keep adding or keep making something better, add facts or add arguments to get somebody to change from what they're doing, to what you'd like them to doing.I mean, just look at vaccines. For example, in the states. Like there's no ambiguity about the evidence that vaccines help protect against severe illness. There is no ambiguity. There is no doubting, the fact that if you get vaccinated, it will make the world a safer place. But that doesn't stop people from having resistance to that idea.And one thing might be around the ambiguity about how to go about getting a vaccine. One might be around the perceived effort of getting a vaccine. The fear about getting a vaccine. And so understanding why people do or don't do the things that they do is really the key to addressing it. So simplification, streamlining, making unfamiliar ideas more familiar. Oftentimes innovators have this instinct that because their idea is new and radical. We need to highlight its newness and its radicalness is part of its allure. Oftentimes that actually works against us because the newer and more radical something seems the less familiar it is. And the more anxiety we have about how we're going to start to use it. And the great example of that comes from Apple. And if you're old enough audience to remember the introduction of the Macintosh OS. In addition to creating a new machine, one of the things that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created was a created was a new operating system for how computers are used. And unlike PCs or DOS-based systems, which you really needed to learn the language of computers in order to do something on a computer, Steve Jobs and other great innovators tend to have their products and services operate the way the rest of your world works.So, when you're working on an Apple home screen, you're working on a desktop. And when you're creating a document and you want to store that document, you put that document in a folder. And when you want to get rid of it, you drag it into the trashcan. And these might seem sort of like cute user interface principles, but these were deliberately designed to make something wildly unfamiliar to people who had never worked on a computer to immediately feel more comfortable with it because it works, sounds, and it feels the way the rest of your world works. So even though something is new, doesn't mean that it should be projected as radically.Brian Ardinger: So, if I'm a new innovator or I'm a startup entrepreneur, I've got a new idea I want to start building that out. Do you recommend mapping out these particular frictions or how do you find out what your audience or what your customers are fearful about? David Schonthal: That's a great question. There are a couple of tools we bring to life in the book. One is called a Friction Map, which is anticipating the frictions that might stand in the way of your new ideas. So, it is a document that you can fill out with your team. Where you forecast based on some clear questions that are asked in the Map. What is the relevance? What is the amount of inertia that might be present? What's the amount of effort, friction that might be present? Emotional friction that might be present in reactants? And then there's another framework around remedies. How might you take each of these frictions, test them in the market, but also test possible remedies to overcome. And the more you can bring this into your design process.So, people will fill out a Business Model Canvas based on Osterwalder's work, or they'll fill out a Horizons Framework as they're forecasting what opportunities might exist. We also recommend filling out a Friction Map, which is what are the forces of resistance that might stand in the way. And what might we prototype to overcome those forces as a way of introducing this product or service or strategy.Brian Ardinger: And then do you go out and actually test those assumptions? David Schonthal: Absolutely. Each of them can be prototyped. And yes, testing them with different audiences, testing different ways of communicating or making unfamiliar things familiar. Or identifying the sources of emotional friction so that they can be addressed in the messaging, and the way products are communicated. All are easy enough to test in low fidelity and oftentimes save us a lot of effort down the road when it comes to scaling offers up. Brian Ardinger: One of the other things I liked about the book is that you have not only these frameworks, that people can understand the methodology and that around it, but you also bring out some case studies in the book. And one of them is around Flyhomes, which is a startup company that built a new business model in the real estate space, designed to address some of the frictions in the market. So, can you talk a little bit about that case study? David Schonthal: It's a great story. So Flyhomes, for those of you who are living in the United States while you're watching this can appreciate, we are in the midst of a bananas housing market, residential housing market. Debt has never been cheaper. Inventory has never been lower. And as a result, desirable homes are just flying off the market almost the same day that they're listed, which creates a whole conundrum for people who are trying to buy homes, particularly first-time home buyers. Because when inventory is low, typically the offers that get accepted by sellers, particularly when they have multiple offers, are all cash offers or offers that are perceived to be low risk. And low risk offers are ones that don't have contingencies attached to them. Don't have home sale contingencies. Don't have loan contingencies. In order to compete, in order to get a home buyer, you have to either bring all cash to the table or convince sellers that despite the fact that they've got these contingencies, that there's actually a high degree of certainty, that something will close.Flyhomes is a business that helps address this problem by making all buyers, all cash buyers, they have focused their business model on removing the friction that stands in the way of somebody buying a home in simultaneously removing the friction that stands in the way of a seller accepting the new one offer forum.They didn't start this way. Flyhomes began, in fact, the namesake doesn't come from homes flying off the market. It came from the fact that Stephen Lane and Tushar Garg who were young entrepreneurs, started the business by thinking, all right, in the world of real estate tech, in the world of residential real estate tech, the big names or the new market innovations where things like Trulia and Zillow and Redfin, that had two primary value propositions.One we're either going to take all home inventory off the MLS that exists only for real estate agents, and we're going to democratize it and make it so that anybody who's interested in looking at homes can see all available inventory, which is great. And then the second thing they typically did was discount brokerage. Meaning that if you worked with one of their agents, you would get cash back, they would discount their service fee and you would get some of that back in a rebate. And Steve and Tushar figured there was probably more that could be done in this market. And they being millennials themselves in doing some research, found that millennials, in addition to wanting to own homes, also desired travel, adventure, freedom.And why is it that when we make big purchases on electronics or appliances on a credit card, we get all the benefits that come with a credit card, like points and travel miles. Why don't we get something like that with homes? And so, they created a product called Flyhomes, which is for every dollar you spend on the purchase of a new home, up into a half a million dollars, you would get points on an airline.And they partnered with Alaska and Jet Blue. And Jet Blue actually sent out this mass email to all their frequent flyers saying we're now in this arrangement with Flyhomes, buy a home through Flyhomes get up to 500,000 frequent flyer miles on Jet Blue. In the first day, thousands of people signed up for the platform.And Steve and Tushar looked at themselves like this is going to be huge. And then nothing. Like nothing happened. Nobody was buying a home through Flyhomes. Nobody was actually using the service. There was enough alure or to the idea that got people interested to like check it out and sign up. But that wasn't actually helping people make the progress. They really wanted to make, which wasn't getting 500,000 airline points. It was actually getting the home that they wanted. Flyhomes could address the real problem or address the real progress. All of these bells and whistles wouldn't make things easier. It would just be bells and whistles for the sake of bells and whistles.So almost at the point of going out of business, they decided to pivot. And because they both had their real estate license started selling real estate. And by studying people in this kind of ethnographic way and actually getting out and selling real estate as realtors, they understood that the problem wasn't the points in adventure.The problem was is that people desired homes in competitive markets that they were unable to access. And after two or three chances of putting in bids and having those bids rejected, people were just giving up on real estate all together. And so Steve and Tushar decided that if they could help address the problem of democratizing the ability for home buyers to buy homes in really competitive markets, that would be a revolutionary change. That would really change the game. And so, they pivoted over from points to friction removal. And today. Flyhomes is growing like crazy. They do billions of dollars a year in transactions. They just raised a really big Series C at $150 million. It's all because they changed their business model from fuel addition to friction removal.Brian Ardinger: Excellent example. Now you've got a number of them in the book and that. What other hidden gems in the book that people should be excited about when they pick it up? David Schonthal: I think the most interesting stories and we try to have as many of them as possible in the book, so the ones that are counterintuitive. Like the ones that really check our biases and our assumptions about what we think the right way to do something is relative to what the science and the data tells us. And one of the things that I think readers who read this book will find is that in many cases, our instincts about what we ought to do to affect change are actually in some ways the opposite of what we ought to do to impact change.And we actually start the book off with a really fun story about the world's most successful car salesperson. A guy named Ali Reda, who works in suburban Detroit, in Dearborn, Michigan. Who outsells every other average car dealer in the United States, by a factor of 12 to one. He single-handedly sells as many as 1500 cars a year, which is more than most dealerships sell in total.And when you study Ali, and when you interview him and when you understand how he approaches car sales, that is so much different than his peers, what you learn is that he just frames his job radically different than every other salesperson. And I won't divulge too much about the secrets of how, but there's lots of examples in this book about how people who go left when everybody else goes right. And to succeed, but it's not just that they go left, it's understanding the psychology of what it is that they're doing differently than enables them to experience that success. Which is really, I think the beautiful thing about partnering with Loren on this is not only do we have examples about how these things work in practice, but we can also help people understand why they work psychologically.Brian Ardinger: So, you've been in this innovation industry for quite a long time. What are some of the biggest changes that you've come across and how do you see the innovation space kind of evolving? David Schonthal: That is a, the ability for people to create new ideas and make them real has never been easier. The cost of starting a new business, the cost of creating a new product or service with digital technology has enabled everybody who once had an idea on a napkin sketch.You now have the ability to make that sketch into something real and tangible and available in the market. And what I find now is, we've got a different problem, which is that the world is flooded with new ideas and flooded with new technologies. And whereas before it used to be hard to make an idea into a real thing. Now it's getting people to notice and pay attention and actually adopt your real thing. And one of the ways that we think about doing it is spending a lot of money on marketing and advertising and SEO and SEM. And yes, that's part of building awareness. But we don't often think about awareness as being one side of the equation. The other side is how do you make it easy for people to say yes. Well, one of the things we noticed about new products and services, particularly when you're creating a new consumer product is people will learn about it. They'll even go to the website, they'll put it in their cart, but at the moment before they check out, they'll abandon their cart, which means you've done half the job, right.You've gotten them interested to come to the site at the beginning. You've gotten them interested enough in the features and benefits to actually add that, or imagine that in their lives, but something is holding them back from actually pulling the trigger. And I think, now we've created a world where making the idea come to life has never been easier. But how do we make sure that it's easy for people to adopt that into their lives so that they can say yes, and to get noticed in that way. It's no longer about features and benefits. Now it's just about making things as frictionless and as effortless as possible for people to adopt. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: And the great thing about that is that's becoming easier as well. And people like yourself are helping in that process. So, David, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, to tell us a little bit about some of the secret sauce behind all that. I encourage people to pick up The Human Element. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that? David Schonthal: HumanElementBook.com is a landing page that shares information about the book. You can find me on the Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management faculty page, just Google my name, David Schonthal. And usually, you can find me there and I'd love to hear from you. Brian Ardinger: Well, thank you David, for being on the show and look forward to continuing the conversation as the years and the innovation evolve. David Schonthal: Thanks Brian. Me too. It was great to be here. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

On the Edge with April Mahoney
Dr. Karen Miller founder of Leading Growth speaks to the future of business

On the Edge with April Mahoney

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 48:00


Youtube Version https://youtu.be/qcDMRAGIEio Across four Universities Karen taught mainly Masters students online/hybrid/ and face-to-face. She developed innovative and engaging Courses for Applied Business Research, Consumer Behaviour, Digital Marketing & Branding, Marketing Management, and used design thinking to create quality learning outcomes for her students resulting in happy students and four teaching and learning awards. She is an author of 41 publications, and a recipient of over $800, 000 in grants using Luxury Brand Management, Innovation Management and Design Thinking Frameworks to assist with agri-business growth.

The Compassionate Samurai Business Hour
How to Design Your Company's Innovation Strategy using The Innovation Design Wheel

The Compassionate Samurai Business Hour

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 55:56


Innovation means different things to different people. When a CEO says “innovation”, it's rare that employees truly understand what the CEO means. Innovation can mean … a thing, a value, a concept, a process or a strategy. Yet, some leaders use it to describe technology, R&D,or marketing. Sadly, innovation often gets thrown around like magic dust, a buzzword that's lost its charm. In this show, John Storm, President of the BrainStorm Network, will share his insights & experiences after 25 years of innovation involvement. We'll talk about a proven innovation process, along with a new model for designing a company's innovation strategy. Getting clear about what metrics should be used to measure innovation's impact is critical. We'll talk about both hard & soft metrics you can use to focus on the key elements in designing a customized innovation strategy. Innovation ultimately means long-term survival, for if a company is not changing, improving, and growing, it will die.

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 265 - Sarah Stein Greenberg, ED of Stanford's d.School and Author of Creative Acts for Curious People on Exercises to Move Ideas Forward Faster

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 18:32


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Sarah Stein Greenberg, Executive Director of Stanford's d.School. Sarah and I talk about her new book, Creative Acts for Curious People and dig into a number of the exercises and activities that innovators can use to move ideas forward faster. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator. Interview Transcript of Sarah Stein Greenberg, ED of Stanford's d.School and Author of Creative Acts for Curious PeopleBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Sarah Stein Greenberg. She's the Executive Director of Stanford's d. School and author of the new book, Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create and Lead in Unconventional Ways. Welcome to the show, Sarah. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Thanks so much, Brian. I'm really excited to be here. Brian Ardinger: You know, as a person in the trenches, trying to help companies and teams think through the innovation process. It's kind of hard-to-get people on board half the time. And you've taken and created this new book, that's really the tactical guide of exercise and experiences, almost a roadmap for that. What made you decide to tackle this topic and what do you hope for folks to get the most out of it? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Oh, great question. We're living through this historic moment right now, where on nearly a daily basis, each of us are trying to solve problems that we have not faced before. So, as we were getting going, we were talking about the challenge of having one kid vaccinated. One kid not vaccinated. People are back in school. There's lots of different risk factors. Folks are starting in some cases to return to offices. Like what's the new social etiquette. And then at the same time, there are these like community level issues or global issues around whether it's wildfires, which are happening in my area, or really different perspectives about politics that we're experiencing all over the country.And it's a lot of ambiguity and a lot of uncertainty. So, while we might be used to thinking about like, how do we apply our creativity to innovation and coming up with new products and services, there's also this whole realm of use for our creative abilities that has to do with these kinds of both small personal and large global challenges.So, I wrote this book because I think that design offers a set of abilities that are really useful when you're trying to tackle problems where you don't know the right answer. Maybe there is no right answer, and you have to bring your full creative self. These are the kinds of skills and abilities that we seek to help develop in our students at the d. School and with executives and teachers and folks all over the world. And I think there's something in here for everyone, no matter where you are in your creative journey. I think you can find something that will be of use to you. Brian Ardinger: A lot of folks are understanding that to a real extent this idea of living in constant change and ambiguity and a world in flux. What are some of the key skillsets that you find are important to be able to dabble in that world?Sarah Stein Greenberg: One is the act of noticing and observing how the world is changing. And, you know, we get really habituated to the routines and the things we see every day. But when you look at what amazing designers do, somehow, they see opportunities that no one else is noticing. But there are really a set of ways, I have a few great assignments in the book based on this to cultivate your own ability to observe and notice differently.So, one of my favorites is called the Dureve, in which you are able to take a walk and navigate around a space or your neighborhood, or your office building, by using the practices in the Dureve. All of a sudden you notice things that maybe have been there for 25 years, and you haven't noticed these elements. And it awakens you to recognize how many opportunities are around us all the time that are just lying in plain sight, but we are not seeing them. So that's one of those skillsets. I think another key one is just, we talk about this all the time in innovation and design, but it's about collaboration. Right. And how you get to a state of true creative collaboration and how much trust that requires, an openness, and the ability to navigate together with a group of people who may think very differently about the same things through a creative process.Brian Ardinger: You talk about in the book, the difference between problem finding and problem solving. Can you outline that and why that is so important to understanding how to work in this innovation space? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. I mean, for me, that was one of the critical ahas that I experienced when I first started learning about design when I was a grad student. You know, I think in a lot of more analytical disciplines, you are taught to take the problem that you've been given, break it into small pieces and then figure out how are you going to solve that? And that is a very valuable set of skills, but in design, we add some stages before you start working on problem solving. That's about problem framing, as you said. And the reason for doing this is that often the way a problem has been framed is a conventional way, right? It's kind of the way that's either out there and sort of the obvious way. It is what we assume that our customers might need, or we assume that people would care about. But in fact, if you allow yourself that stage of problem finding that's often what drives the innovation, is when you reframe an opportunity and then you start to see it in a whole new way. Brian Ardinger: Do you have any examples that you can share around that? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. One of the examples that I go into detail in the book is the example of a team of students who ultimately wound up founding a new company. And they were tasked with working with a partner, a hospital, a cardiac care hospital in India. And they thought that their mission as a team was to design something that could really assist with like efficiency or sort of patient flow. They thought that they were going to wind up designing something for either the clinicians or maybe for the hospital administrators. What they saw when they started doing their research was a completely different set of opportunities. What they spotted was the fact that there are many people in the hospital who were coming to accompany their family member and then winding up waiting for hours or days even, and not having a lot of information about how their family member was doing, what their prognosis was.The students really like feed into this and wound up designing something for those family members. So they have now launched this organization that provides healthcare training to family members during that waiting process. And what that allows is that the patient then goes home with a trained caregiver who actually has the largest stake in the outcome, the health outcomes.And they've trained over a million people. They work in over 150 hospitals across South Asia. It's a really unconventional solution. It's so powerful because they just took this completely ignored opportunity and created a very low cost, very effective solution that helps reduce the rate of hospital readmissions. It reduces complications following surgery. Those students would not have been able to get to that outcome if they didn't have the permission to really do the problem finding work, right. And not take the problem as given but find a new opportunity. Brian Ardinger: I think that's so important because when you work with corporate teams, a lot of times they think they understand the problem because they've worked with that customer before, they understand a lot of the dynamics versus like a startup. Maybe that's working in a green space idea. What kind of advice can you give for a team that's working in an existing environment to give them permission, to think about things differently and tackle the problem side first. Sarah Stein Greenberg: I'm going to give two examples of assignments in the book that I think are incredibly relevant for the scenario that you just depicted. And neither of them are a huge investment of time. So, when people are always worried about like, hey, we just got to jump right into problem solving mode, taking one day or even just a couple of hours to check whether or not there might be solution space is it's such a good investment of time. The first one that I'll mention is an activity called Experts Assumptions. And it's based on the practice of Assumption Storming. Everybody knows about brainstorming, but there's a really cool practice created by a guy named Craig Lauchner called Assumption Storming, where you list all the assumptions that you have about what your customer needs, or what the market opportunity looks like.I really list all of them. And then you start categorizing them based on whether they're fact or opinions or guesses. And actually, what you discover is there's a lot more opinions and guesses, behind most of our assumptions, than you would think. Anything that's a fact you just disregard for the sake of the exercise, but anything that's an opinion or a guess, you challenge that.So, you flip it and you say, well what if this opinion were not true, what could we design them? What could we make then? And oftentimes it just reveals that like our assumptions are built on this foundation of a lot of guesswork and it gives you the opportunity to do that right up front when you're starting something.The other practice that I would advise in this case is called shadowing. And shadowing is just the practice of following in the footsteps of whoever you're trying to design for for a full day. We have a lot of experience running this with educators who follow a student for the entire day, from the bus stop to the drop off at the end of the day.And they come back with the most interesting and unexpected insights, right? So those are people who are in the school context all day. They think they really understand what's going on, but until you put yourself in the shoes or you walk in the shoes of someone else, you don't realize how much of the experience might be altered from having that different perspective. And again, it helps you challenge those assumptions, and it helps you spot all of these opportunities for creative work or innovation that you haven't noticed yet. Brian Ardinger: So, you've worked with a lot of teams, and they'd gone through a lot of these types of exercises and that. What are some of the biggest aha moments or obstacles and where do people get stuck and how do they overcome it? Sarah Stein Greenberg: I love it when people get stuck, because that means it's a challenge worthy of their creative abilities. I think getting stuck has a bad rap, but actually it means you're doing important work and you're stretching and you're learning. One place where we often see students in our classrooms get stuck is during the phase when you're trying to light on the direction for your project, kind of synthesis phase, establishing a point of view.I also see our teams get stuck when everybody's gone off and done the exploration research separately. And nobody has actually like gone to interview users together and had the aha that comes from having two different people interpret, oh, is that what that person was saying? There's a real missed opportunity there.And then there was a wonderful moment of feeling the pressure of the final deadline that often causes a lot of angst and tension within a team. And what those moments often are is what's called productive struggle. So, there's research from mathematics education that says that when you struggle, when you're first trying to learn a new skill in math, you actually wind up learning it more deeply. And you're more likely to be able to transfer that knowledge to other kinds of problems. And so people who kind of get things right away the first time, that doesn't mean they're deeply learning. So again, I welcome the struggle. I think the struggle can be a sign that the task is worthy of your attention and that you're going to have to stretch and grow while you're conquering it.Brian Ardinger: One of the things that I've seen working with teams, a lot of times that keeping the momentum and the consistency is difficult. A lot of times they go and get excited, and they go out and do customer discovery and then they think they can check it off the list and then be done with it. Do you have any hints or tips for, how do you keep that momentum and consistency not get pulled away to the executing and optimizing mode, that too many people get pulled?Sarah Stein Greenberg: Really establishing upfront that you're going to go back to customers multiple times is critical. When you first interpret whatever you learned during that exploration and research, you can kind of be like, oh, I'm onto it. Like I've got this new idea. It's new to me. It's exciting. But if you don't actually go back and test your assumptions by exposing those early prototypes to real people, then you're not really closing the loop.So, treating those first insights as a hypothesis, but then continuing to test and make sure that you're getting real feedback from the market or from colleagues or from anyone who has an external perspective to the work, I think that's what really helps you avoid that pitfall that you're describing.And a lot of people, you know, it is easy to get into that like solution optimization mindset. And a lot of that comes from this sense of, I need to work fast. In my opinion, and I think the experience with, you know, a lot of innovators would bear this out, if you take the time to do those tests, you really save yourself risk. Right.You really help get the right product to market or the right innovation going rather than some kind of more arbitrary internal deadline. It's so easy to like lose sight of that fact in the pursuit of, you know, getting to the preexisting timeline rather than actually thinking about what is right here, how am I solving the right problem? How am I going to come up with something that's truly meaningful to some customer somewhere? Brian Ardinger: The key is accelerating the learning, not necessarily the outcome itself. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah, I think that's right. And I think the learning also is useful to a company or a team, not just in this particular project, but then going forward. So, if you think about, am I optimizing for learning, what am I really doing to make sure we come out of this project, having a great outcome, but also like setting the team up for success in the future. That's the exact right mindset. That's the learning mindset that you want to cultivate. Brian Ardinger: So, as you're out in Silicon Valley at Stanford. So, technology is obviously a core component of the whole region. How do you see technology changing the way we design and some of the new trends that you're seeing out there? Sarah Stein Greenberg: One thing we've all gone through in the past 18 months is much more remote collaboration, particularly for many people in the world of design than we have experienced before. And I think that that's been certainly a challenge, but it's also provided a lot of new opportunities to design new types of interactions, new types of practices. So, there are increasingly ways to be testing at scale through online platforms that we maybe haven't used in the past. Personally, still think that has to be complemented by the kind of depth human, you know, more individual, small qualitative research approaches. I think a blend is really useful. It's challenged all of our teams in terms of how do you build trust? How do you build resilience? How do you build the kind of collaboration that we're talking about be necessary when you're not, it's easy to have less empathy for your team members when you're not seeing them every day? And you know, not maybe scheduling in time to have those more human conversations that kind of coffee chat just happens in a in-person office environment. I think you can design for that remotely in a distributed culture, but you have to be conscious that that's an important thing that you value. Brian Ardinger: Like I said, there's, I think over 80 types of activities or exercises that you have in this book. Are there particular ones that you like or want to talk about?Sarah Stein Greenberg: Sure. I mean, one example that I'll give, and I feel like this is the epitome of what we talk about when we say these are unconventional approaches. So, one of my favorites is an activity that I lead every year with students called Distribution Prototyping. So, this is like phenomenal for small businesses or large businesses. Too often in design or in engineering we like think about the thing that we want to make or the service we want to deliver, but we don't think about how it's actually going to reach the customer. That's such a miss because there is so much innovation and creativity that can happen in the distribution and the marketing and the sales experience and all of that.So, thinking more broadly about where innovation can show up, that's a favorite idea of mine. And in this particular assignment, I have people stretch a string across the biggest room they have, or the longest hallway that they have. And then imagine the thing that they're trying to deliver to the customer at one end and the place where it's either being the person being trained to deliver the service, or you know, where it's being manufactured at the other end.And then systematically you hang cards using paperclips or whatever you have at hand to represent all of the different steps along the channel. And there's something very powerful about the embodiment of that, right? Like you can get your head around it. You can build a model. You can put it on a spreadsheet.It doesn't do as much for you as if you physically do what's called body storming and make that physical representation. So, you will have kinds of insights about, oh, we could cut some costs here. Ooh, this could be a really nonsense traditional agent in my channel who might really change how people are experiencing the delivery of the service. Or you might think differently about the economic arrangements or some way to incentivize retailers that you haven't thought about before. So that's one of my favorites. That's really what I'm taking a string and putting it... That is the kind of embrace of the more playful unconventional approaches that can really work. Brian Ardinger: Yeah, that literal mapping of a customer journey gives you so many different dimensions to look at. It's almost like the whole business model canvas versus a running of a business plan. It gives you a visualization of things that you can move around and change. I really like that. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. And I would say like the visualization is a huge part of it. And then that one step further into the physicalization is like, there is a reason that when you walk into any design studio, it is usually cluttered with so many different objects. It's because designers think with things and there is some really magical part of your brain that gets lit up. When you do that. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: I appreciate you being on Inside Outside Innovation, to talk a little bit about the book it's called Creative Acts for Curious People. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that? Sarah Stein Greenberg: They can reach us at dschoolbooks.Stanford.edu. We are going to be delighted to get this into people's hands as soon as possible. Brian Ardinger: Go and grab it at Amazon or wherever books are sold. And we're excited to have you on the show and thanks very much for being a part of it.Sarah Stein Greenberg: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 265 - Sarah Stein Greenberg, ED of Stanford's d.School and Author of Creative Acts for Curious People on Exercises to Move Ideas Forward Faster

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 18:32


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Sarah Stein Greenberg, Executive Director of Stanford's d.School. Sarah and I talk about her new book, Creative Acts for Curious People and dig into a number of the exercises and activities that innovators can use to move ideas forward faster. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator. Interview Transcript of Sarah Stein Greenberg, ED of Stanford's d.School and Author of Creative Acts for Curious PeopleBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Sarah Stein Greenberg. She's the Executive Director of Stanford's d. School and author of the new book, Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create and Lead in Unconventional Ways. Welcome to the show, Sarah. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Thanks so much, Brian. I'm really excited to be here. Brian Ardinger: You know, as a person in the trenches, trying to help companies and teams think through the innovation process. It's kind of hard-to-get people on board half the time. And you've taken and created this new book, that's really the tactical guide of exercise and experiences, almost a roadmap for that. What made you decide to tackle this topic and what do you hope for folks to get the most out of it? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Oh, great question. We're living through this historic moment right now, where on nearly a daily basis, each of us are trying to solve problems that we have not faced before. So, as we were getting going, we were talking about the challenge of having one kid vaccinated. One kid not vaccinated. People are back in school. There's lots of different risk factors. Folks are starting in some cases to return to offices. Like what's the new social etiquette. And then at the same time, there are these like community level issues or global issues around whether it's wildfires, which are happening in my area, or really different perspectives about politics that we're experiencing all over the country.And it's a lot of ambiguity and a lot of uncertainty. So, while we might be used to thinking about like, how do we apply our creativity to innovation and coming up with new products and services, there's also this whole realm of use for our creative abilities that has to do with these kinds of both small personal and large global challenges.So, I wrote this book because I think that design offers a set of abilities that are really useful when you're trying to tackle problems where you don't know the right answer. Maybe there is no right answer, and you have to bring your full creative self. These are the kinds of skills and abilities that we seek to help develop in our students at the d. School and with executives and teachers and folks all over the world. And I think there's something in here for everyone, no matter where you are in your creative journey. I think you can find something that will be of use to you. Brian Ardinger: A lot of folks are understanding that to a real extent this idea of living in constant change and ambiguity and a world in flux. What are some of the key skillsets that you find are important to be able to dabble in that world?Sarah Stein Greenberg: One is the act of noticing and observing how the world is changing. And, you know, we get really habituated to the routines and the things we see every day. But when you look at what amazing designers do, somehow, they see opportunities that no one else is noticing. But there are really a set of ways, I have a few great assignments in the book based on this to cultivate your own ability to observe and notice differently.So, one of my favorites is called the Dureve, in which you are able to take a walk and navigate around a space or your neighborhood, or your office building, by using the practices in the Dureve. All of a sudden you notice things that maybe have been there for 25 years, and you haven't noticed these elements. And it awakens you to recognize how many opportunities are around us all the time that are just lying in plain sight, but we are not seeing them. So that's one of those skillsets. I think another key one is just, we talk about this all the time in innovation and design, but it's about collaboration. Right. And how you get to a state of true creative collaboration and how much trust that requires, an openness, and the ability to navigate together with a group of people who may think very differently about the same things through a creative process.Brian Ardinger: You talk about in the book, the difference between problem finding and problem solving. Can you outline that and why that is so important to understanding how to work in this innovation space? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. I mean, for me, that was one of the critical ahas that I experienced when I first started learning about design when I was a grad student. You know, I think in a lot of more analytical disciplines, you are taught to take the problem that you've been given, break it into small pieces and then figure out how are you going to solve that? And that is a very valuable set of skills, but in design, we add some stages before you start working on problem solving. That's about problem framing, as you said. And the reason for doing this is that often the way a problem has been framed is a conventional way, right? It's kind of the way that's either out there and sort of the obvious way. It is what we assume that our customers might need, or we assume that people would care about. But in fact, if you allow yourself that stage of problem finding that's often what drives the innovation, is when you reframe an opportunity and then you start to see it in a whole new way. Brian Ardinger: Do you have any examples that you can share around that? Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. One of the examples that I go into detail in the book is the example of a team of students who ultimately wound up founding a new company. And they were tasked with working with a partner, a hospital, a cardiac care hospital in India. And they thought that their mission as a team was to design something that could really assist with like efficiency or sort of patient flow. They thought that they were going to wind up designing something for either the clinicians or maybe for the hospital administrators. What they saw when they started doing their research was a completely different set of opportunities. What they spotted was the fact that there are many people in the hospital who were coming to accompany their family member and then winding up waiting for hours or days even, and not having a lot of information about how their family member was doing, what their prognosis was.The students really like feed into this and wound up designing something for those family members. So they have now launched this organization that provides healthcare training to family members during that waiting process. And what that allows is that the patient then goes home with a trained caregiver who actually has the largest stake in the outcome, the health outcomes.And they've trained over a million people. They work in over 150 hospitals across South Asia. It's a really unconventional solution. It's so powerful because they just took this completely ignored opportunity and created a very low cost, very effective solution that helps reduce the rate of hospital readmissions. It reduces complications following surgery. Those students would not have been able to get to that outcome if they didn't have the permission to really do the problem finding work, right. And not take the problem as given but find a new opportunity. Brian Ardinger: I think that's so important because when you work with corporate teams, a lot of times they think they understand the problem because they've worked with that customer before, they understand a lot of the dynamics versus like a startup. Maybe that's working in a green space idea. What kind of advice can you give for a team that's working in an existing environment to give them permission, to think about things differently and tackle the problem side first. Sarah Stein Greenberg: I'm going to give two examples of assignments in the book that I think are incredibly relevant for the scenario that you just depicted. And neither of them are a huge investment of time. So, when people are always worried about like, hey, we just got to jump right into problem solving mode, taking one day or even just a couple of hours to check whether or not there might be solution space is it's such a good investment of time. The first one that I'll mention is an activity called Experts Assumptions. And it's based on the practice of Assumption Storming. Everybody knows about brainstorming, but there's a really cool practice created by a guy named Craig Lauchner called Assumption Storming, where you list all the assumptions that you have about what your customer needs, or what the market opportunity looks like.I really list all of them. And then you start categorizing them based on whether they're fact or opinions or guesses. And actually, what you discover is there's a lot more opinions and guesses, behind most of our assumptions, than you would think. Anything that's a fact you just disregard for the sake of the exercise, but anything that's an opinion or a guess, you challenge that.So, you flip it and you say, well what if this opinion were not true, what could we design them? What could we make then? And oftentimes it just reveals that like our assumptions are built on this foundation of a lot of guesswork and it gives you the opportunity to do that right up front when you're starting something.The other practice that I would advise in this case is called shadowing. And shadowing is just the practice of following in the footsteps of whoever you're trying to design for for a full day. We have a lot of experience running this with educators who follow a student for the entire day, from the bus stop to the drop off at the end of the day.And they come back with the most interesting and unexpected insights, right? So those are people who are in the school context all day. They think they really understand what's going on, but until you put yourself in the shoes or you walk in the shoes of someone else, you don't realize how much of the experience might be altered from having that different perspective. And again, it helps you challenge those assumptions, and it helps you spot all of these opportunities for creative work or innovation that you haven't noticed yet. Brian Ardinger: So, you've worked with a lot of teams, and they'd gone through a lot of these types of exercises and that. What are some of the biggest aha moments or obstacles and where do people get stuck and how do they overcome it? Sarah Stein Greenberg: I love it when people get stuck, because that means it's a challenge worthy of their creative abilities. I think getting stuck has a bad rap, but actually it means you're doing important work and you're stretching and you're learning. One place where we often see students in our classrooms get stuck is during the phase when you're trying to light on the direction for your project, kind of synthesis phase, establishing a point of view.I also see our teams get stuck when everybody's gone off and done the exploration research separately. And nobody has actually like gone to interview users together and had the aha that comes from having two different people interpret, oh, is that what that person was saying? There's a real missed opportunity there.And then there was a wonderful moment of feeling the pressure of the final deadline that often causes a lot of angst and tension within a team. And what those moments often are is what's called productive struggle. So, there's research from mathematics education that says that when you struggle, when you're first trying to learn a new skill in math, you actually wind up learning it more deeply. And you're more likely to be able to transfer that knowledge to other kinds of problems. And so people who kind of get things right away the first time, that doesn't mean they're deeply learning. So again, I welcome the struggle. I think the struggle can be a sign that the task is worthy of your attention and that you're going to have to stretch and grow while you're conquering it.Brian Ardinger: One of the things that I've seen working with teams, a lot of times that keeping the momentum and the consistency is difficult. A lot of times they go and get excited, and they go out and do customer discovery and then they think they can check it off the list and then be done with it. Do you have any hints or tips for, how do you keep that momentum and consistency not get pulled away to the executing and optimizing mode, that too many people get pulled?Sarah Stein Greenberg: Really establishing upfront that you're going to go back to customers multiple times is critical. When you first interpret whatever you learned during that exploration and research, you can kind of be like, oh, I'm onto it. Like I've got this new idea. It's new to me. It's exciting. But if you don't actually go back and test your assumptions by exposing those early prototypes to real people, then you're not really closing the loop.So, treating those first insights as a hypothesis, but then continuing to test and make sure that you're getting real feedback from the market or from colleagues or from anyone who has an external perspective to the work, I think that's what really helps you avoid that pitfall that you're describing.And a lot of people, you know, it is easy to get into that like solution optimization mindset. And a lot of that comes from this sense of, I need to work fast. In my opinion, and I think the experience with, you know, a lot of innovators would bear this out, if you take the time to do those tests, you really save yourself risk. Right.You really help get the right product to market or the right innovation going rather than some kind of more arbitrary internal deadline. It's so easy to like lose sight of that fact in the pursuit of, you know, getting to the preexisting timeline rather than actually thinking about what is right here, how am I solving the right problem? How am I going to come up with something that's truly meaningful to some customer somewhere? Brian Ardinger: The key is accelerating the learning, not necessarily the outcome itself. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah, I think that's right. And I think the learning also is useful to a company or a team, not just in this particular project, but then going forward. So, if you think about, am I optimizing for learning, what am I really doing to make sure we come out of this project, having a great outcome, but also like setting the team up for success in the future. That's the exact right mindset. That's the learning mindset that you want to cultivate. Brian Ardinger: So, as you're out in Silicon Valley at Stanford. So, technology is obviously a core component of the whole region. How do you see technology changing the way we design and some of the new trends that you're seeing out there? Sarah Stein Greenberg: One thing we've all gone through in the past 18 months is much more remote collaboration, particularly for many people in the world of design than we have experienced before. And I think that that's been certainly a challenge, but it's also provided a lot of new opportunities to design new types of interactions, new types of practices. So, there are increasingly ways to be testing at scale through online platforms that we maybe haven't used in the past. Personally, still think that has to be complemented by the kind of depth human, you know, more individual, small qualitative research approaches. I think a blend is really useful. It's challenged all of our teams in terms of how do you build trust? How do you build resilience? How do you build the kind of collaboration that we're talking about be necessary when you're not, it's easy to have less empathy for your team members when you're not seeing them every day? And you know, not maybe scheduling in time to have those more human conversations that kind of coffee chat just happens in a in-person office environment. I think you can design for that remotely in a distributed culture, but you have to be conscious that that's an important thing that you value. Brian Ardinger: Like I said, there's, I think over 80 types of activities or exercises that you have in this book. Are there particular ones that you like or want to talk about?Sarah Stein Greenberg: Sure. I mean, one example that I'll give, and I feel like this is the epitome of what we talk about when we say these are unconventional approaches. So, one of my favorites is an activity that I lead every year with students called Distribution Prototyping. So, this is like phenomenal for small businesses or large businesses. Too often in design or in engineering we like think about the thing that we want to make or the service we want to deliver, but we don't think about how it's actually going to reach the customer. That's such a miss because there is so much innovation and creativity that can happen in the distribution and the marketing and the sales experience and all of that.So, thinking more broadly about where innovation can show up, that's a favorite idea of mine. And in this particular assignment, I have people stretch a string across the biggest room they have, or the longest hallway that they have. And then imagine the thing that they're trying to deliver to the customer at one end and the place where it's either being the person being trained to deliver the service, or you know, where it's being manufactured at the other end.And then systematically you hang cards using paperclips or whatever you have at hand to represent all of the different steps along the channel. And there's something very powerful about the embodiment of that, right? Like you can get your head around it. You can build a model. You can put it on a spreadsheet.It doesn't do as much for you as if you physically do what's called body storming and make that physical representation. So, you will have kinds of insights about, oh, we could cut some costs here. Ooh, this could be a really nonsense traditional agent in my channel who might really change how people are experiencing the delivery of the service. Or you might think differently about the economic arrangements or some way to incentivize retailers that you haven't thought about before. So that's one of my favorites. That's really what I'm taking a string and putting it... That is the kind of embrace of the more playful unconventional approaches that can really work. Brian Ardinger: Yeah, that literal mapping of a customer journey gives you so many different dimensions to look at. It's almost like the whole business model canvas versus a running of a business plan. It gives you a visualization of things that you can move around and change. I really like that. Sarah Stein Greenberg: Yeah. And I would say like the visualization is a huge part of it. And then that one step further into the physicalization is like, there is a reason that when you walk into any design studio, it is usually cluttered with so many different objects. It's because designers think with things and there is some really magical part of your brain that gets lit up. When you do that. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: I appreciate you being on Inside Outside Innovation, to talk a little bit about the book it's called Creative Acts for Curious People. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that? Sarah Stein Greenberg: They can reach us at dschoolbooks.Stanford.edu. We are going to be delighted to get this into people's hands as soon as possible. Brian Ardinger: Go and grab it at Amazon or wherever books are sold. And we're excited to have you on the show and thanks very much for being a part of it.Sarah Stein Greenberg: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Designing Next: Achieving growth through transformation and innovation
Strategies for Deploying Innovation in Large Organizations

Designing Next: Achieving growth through transformation and innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 31:44


In our first episode of the Fall season, we are talking innovation with Paul Puopolo, Executive Vice-President of Innovation at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Not only is it interesting to explore innovation in the aviation and airport industry, but Paul brings the podcast an incredible depth of knowledge and experience in innovation as a whole. Paul has had an interesting path to his role today leading innovation for one of the busiest airports in the United States. He served over 12 years in the U.S. Navy and then entered the corporate world in the health insurance space, holding several roles at Humana, leaving after 9 years as their Director of Consumer Innovation. He then moved onto Highmark, holding the role of Vice President of Business Innovation, before spending two years at MetLife as Vice-President of Innovation. He's been in his current role at DFW for three years. In this episode, Paul shares a lot of interesting insights and learnings around innovation. Look forward to learning: The commonalities has seen in the successful innovation projects he has been a part of What he wished he knew “then” - the advice he would give to those building a career in innovation How Paul sees the differences between being an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur Paul Puopolo's four P's - the four key elements Paul believes are crucial to the success of any innovation initiative  Sponsor info: Cast & HueWebsite: castandhue.comLink to more information on in-depth interviews: https://podcast.castandhue.com/interviewsSponsor info: InterceptCXWebsite: intercept.cx/

Inside Outside
Ep. 264 - Wayne Li, Director of Design Bloc & Professor of Design and Engineering at Georgia Tech on Design, Design Thinking and Changing Trends

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 25:14


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Wayne Li, Professor of Practice of Design and Engineering, School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech and Director of Design Bloc. Wayne and I talk about the growing importance of design and design thinking, and we explore some of the changing trends when it comes to technology, tools, and tactics for building new products and services that matter. Let's get startedInside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Brian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Wayne Li. He is Professor of Practice of Design and Engineering, School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech, Director of Design Bloc. Welcome to the show, Wayne.Wayne Li: Hi thanks. Thanks Brian. Thanks for having me. Brian Ardinger: Hey, I'm excited to have you on, because you have had a long career in this whole world of design and innovation. You were a founding class member at the Stanford d.school. You've worked with great companies like Ford and Pottery Barn and VW. And I think you were a part of the original team that helped develop the original Tesla Roadster. I think I'll start off the conversation with where you're currently at with Design Bloc and how it got has origin. Wayne Li: Design Bloc is a multidisciplinary Design Thinking initiative on Georgia Tech Campus. So, you can think a center. We try to bridge different schools and colleges. Think like a large university, they're separated in different units or colleges. You have a college of engineering and college of design, college of natural sciences.And what Design Bloc tries to do is to teach in a multidisciplinary type of way. And so we partner with professors from all over the Institute to try to offer courses that teach not only Design Thinking, but do it in a way that bridges more than one unit, more than one college. We have things like Bio-inspired Watercolor Painting all the way to Transportation Design.Community Engagement and Service, like a humanitarian design project. And again, you can see that those problems exist. They exist beyond just the sphere of one unit. For example, you're saying, okay, I'm going to address developing countries energy grid. That's not just engineering that requires public policy. It requires cultural engagement and community knowledge. You have structure or architecture there. So, you can see a problem like that is multifaceted. We shouldn't be teaching in a siloed or singled mono disciplinary manner. You know, I learned this really early on, probably back when I was still in college, actually. But I worked at IDEO product development very early on in my career.You know, I think the reason why it came to be like, you mentioned, like, you know, what is it, how did it get started? Was that when I went to undergraduate, I was both a fine arts and engineering major. I kind of saw how the perception of an object, its beauty, its appearance, had a cultural relevance to it.And then you coupled that with how well it was engineered. How well it was built. What it was actually intended to function as and whether or not those mesh together well. And I think that's kind of what got me to my work at IDEO. But I think that was the benefit. And so about almost seven years ago, an alumnus from Georgia Tech, Jim Oliver, went back and visited the Institute and just notice that the College of Engineering and the College of Design really didn't talk to each other that much. Even though he himself had had a similar background. In undergraduate, he also had a mechanical engineering and industrial design background just like me.So, he basically put out a search and said, I want someone. I will donate a certain sum of money. And I want someone to establish this kind of initiative, whose goal it is to teach students in a more well-rounded way. And so, I'm very lucky and very blessed after a nationwide search that I managed to get it. That's kind of how it came to be.So, we started about six, seven years ago with basically one class. With 8 students to 12 students in it. And now we teach about 20 classes a year, with about a thousand to 2000 students. Right? So, it has grown. It's wonderful to see it. I love being the director of it and seeing it grow and getting partners and collaborators who are really psyched about it.And the cool thing is, yeah, you actually see professors who have a PhD in something, so they're very, very intelligent about something. All of a sudden get intrigued, like I never thought of myself as a designer. Well, everyone, little d design. Brian Ardinger: That's an interesting point because obviously people are beginning to understand that design is a core component of every facet of their life nowadays. But tell me a little bit about like what's the process of Design Bloc and how do you go from an idea to creating something valuable in the market? So, walk me through the whole process of Design Bloc. Wayne Li: Design Bloc, the initiative, right? Is you, like you mentioned, I did my graduate work at Stanford. We were in the class that helped to found the Stanford d.school. So, let's take like the little d design. Don't think like I'm a fashion designer or I'm a software designer or I'm a car designer. Let's take the little d design. So, design, if we just think about design process, right. Stanford has a certain method for their design process. They call it Design Thinking Process. But if we just think of it as a process, when anyone goes through steps or goes through mindsets or phases in order to create something, they go through a design process. Design is a very flexible word. It's like Smurf, it's the only word where you can almost use it like six or seven times and still get the actual understanding.Like I could say, well, I'm designing a design that will design a design to design. So, and you'll be like, what? But that would make sense, right? I'm designing a design; I'm creating a blueprint that will create a robot that will actually learn and make something of use. That's what it is. The idea of course, is that when they build anything. They're going through what we consider a process, a design process. And again, this isn't something that necessarily is taught at an Institute. You know, an Institute will teach physics, or it'll teach mathematics or Latin. They're not actually teaching the process of how you create novel, useful, effective ideas, right, for society. The Design Thinking processes that Stanford created along with the Hasso-Plattner Institute in IDEO. Talks about how can you hone and better your design process regardless of what it is. Regardless of what you're building. So, I think in that sense, Design Bloc is also trying to create courses that allow students to learn about the design process, hone it, and foster good mindsets and behaviors as they go through it.Like for example, with pick something relatively trivial, but let's just for kicks. You get up in the morning and you want to make eggs for your partner or your wife or your spouse. That's a design process, right? You're making something that serves a need or a benefit to someone or some entity. So technically you went through a design process.Now the question is, if you think about it, if you really wanted to make eggs well for your spouse or partner, what would you have to do? Well, you kind of needed to know what they like. So, if they love poached eggs and you give them hard-boiled, they might not like that. And then you also have to be creative.You have to know how many different ways can you make eggs. You also have to think about whether or not it gets well received. Obviously, if you don't know your partner or spouse very well, and you make horrible eggs for them, they'll let you know about it. So sooner or later, and of course that last part is the cycles, the iteration, the more and more you do it, the better you get at it.Right. The better you get at making eggs, the better you get at making the eggs the way your partner or your spouse likes them. So, you can imagine that's another, like a semi trivial one day activity. But whether or not you're making eggs, an electric car, a public policy, a courtroom drama, novella, all of those are design processes. Now apply it to something more serious and you get my drift. Brian Ardinger: Is there a standard iteration of step one, do this step two do this. Or is a lot of it driven by the learnings that you find by moving the idea forward in the first place? Wayne Li: Yeah, no, this is great because I mean, there are many design practitioners and researchers and, you know, people who are designed professors, people who study design, and the people who practice it, who have put terminology around their design process. You might hear these in the industry, right. You know, Google will say, well, we use Design Sprint, it's an Agile Methodology. You might hear maybe a traditional company say, well, we use a double diamond approach, right? Where we go out and we go in, they have their terminology. And of course Stanford's Design Thinking Process is empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, or evaluate. And they've put words to that. I think when people get a little bit tripped up on is when they hear things defined with either a series of words or a diagram that like, it looks like it moves to the right.It's like, oh, arrow, arrow, arrow moves to the right. They get into this mindset that if I blindly follow a process from start to finish, I will be guaranteed a great result. And that's where I think practitioners understand that the design process is not linear. It's messy, it's cyclical. It repeats it folds on itself. It goes backwards. You jump two steps forward or back. Part of it is the sense and respond. That's why, what I mentioned before, the more and more you practice your design process through experience, and through each phase, you get better at understanding how the design process is going to affect the final result.And that takes some skill. It takes experience. You know, it can also be taught. It can be learned. As you go through a phase, are you sensing how it's going? Do you understand the implications of what you're doing at the time? And then can you respond? For example, if you're in a ideate phase, it is a creative phase. I need to know how many different types of eggs I can make to address my partner.Let's say I only know how to make one. I only know how to boil eggs. I don't know how to poach them. I don't know how to fry them. I don't how to scramble. If you only make one solution and then go get that tested, chances are you're wrong. You know, one out of 10 shot that or one out of seven shot that that's right. If you're not creative by nature or your company doesn't have a creative culture in it, then blindly going through that phase of creating or ideating, isn't going to help.So, if you don't know how to ideate, you're going to be in trouble because that phase will result in the same ideas you always come up with. Part of that is again the sense and respond. Knowing how you execute. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are in each phase and whether or not you can cultivate those.If you know, you're not a very creative person in the sense that you very quickly drill down to one possible solution, and then you're very dogmatic about it, then realize that's a weakness in your creative process. It's a weakness of your design process. At the same time, if you're really blue sky and you just love imagining all day and at the end of the day, you need to put something in front of someone, otherwise this product doesn't get built, then you're going to have to learn about your execution and critical thinking skill.At a certain point, I think we try to instill in our students is that, you know, the design process is fluid, it's living and it's part of you. You need to understand how you use it, and then you need to understand how companies use it. Cause that's not always the same thing. Brian Ardinger: That's an interesting point. Are there particular areas that you find, doing these workshops and working people through a process, where people tend to get stuck? What's the biggest aha moments about teaching a process and how to think about designing? Wayne Li: A lot of this is cultural, right? A lot of this deals with people, and of course you see this right with various established or rigid companies that have very, very well-documented well hewn, traditional processes. They love buying out startups. Why? Because the startups are small four employee kind of entities that are usually young. They take risks. They don't know what they can't do because they've never been slapped on the wrist so many times. For them like big companies who are really staid, who don't encourage or empower all levels of their company to come up with ideas, will usually get into this group thing. Like, well, I can't possibly be right. No one values my opinion. The only person that's valued is the CEO or the executive management or the senior vice president. So, then that just destroys a kind of innovative culture because the creativity is not fostered. It's not empowered across all levels. I see that often, usually when I'm brought in to consult with a company or a company comes in and wants a project with a Design Bloc and we do projects for companies. You know, they're always like looking for something like, let's just show something we don't know. That they usually, something will surprise them. And part of that is because young students don't know what they can't do. When they come up with an idea, a lot of the times, the reason that large companies can't or companies that don't have an innovative culture, they don't ask that question anymore.Right. So, like maybe three generations ago, they stopped doing it a certain way because they learned something. But now the business environment has shifted and no one's bothered to really question why they can't do it that way. Or why they can't do it in a new way. Right. It's always so we've always done it that way.Well, yeah, that's the group thing, right? No, one's empowered to ask and go, wait a minute. Yeah, that was true 20 years ago, but the technology has shifted around you. The audience has shifted around you, the people that use your product has shifted around you. Why not go back and question some of those baseline assumptions.Brian Ardinger: Have you learned any techniques that you could help folks that are in that particular environment to open up their thinking or open up their exploration and not fall into this typical traps? Wayne Li: There are a lot of different ways that you can do that, Brian. What I tend to always ask is when someone is in kind of that group think is to say, okay, wait Taguchi calls it Root Cause Analysis.I think Dev Patnaik  uses, who teaches Needfinding at Stanford has taught like a Contextual Ladder, which is like a How Why Ladder. If you're confronted with a problem, do you understand the constraints with which you are assuming are already frozen. Taguchi method is just, why does that exist as a root problem?That's not necessarily creative, but what it does is it tries to ask, do you understand your context? If you're confronted with, I only know one way to do this, or this is the way that we think the company always wants to work, then at least questioning that constraint to say, well, why do we do it this way? What assumptions are we making about either our processes or our customers, that make us decide that we should be doing it this way? Brian Ardinger: And basically being okay with the fact that let's assume that this is an assumption. And then like, how do we find evidence to figure out is this assumption true or false? I think a lot of people don't go back to that process, like you said, and just double-check like, I know we've been doing this 20 years like that, does it still hold true. Its an important part of the process.Wayne Li: And one thing I always love is just pushing constraints, right? I mean, ultimate creativity is having no constraints. But it's difficult in a business environment because you always have some type of like time and money are always going to be constraints. You don't have infinite time. You don't have infinite money.If you had those, you can make anything you wanted and take as long as you want it to make. So you always have some type of constraint. But what I always like to do is push against it. So if you say something like we can't build that, that's too expensive. Then if you say, okay, well we'll hold on a second.What are those assumptions? And then say, there's inherent assumptions in that way. You're building it the same way. That's one assumption. If you built it with a different material or different process, you could maybe save money. If you built it with a different volume, it could be cheaper. So you're like, well, you're assuming that we can only sell that to 10,000 people.What if we sell to 10 million? Or you're assuming no one will pay for it at a higher cost. So again, really, it is about pushing on that constraint to say, we can't do this. Flip that and reframe it. What are all the different ways that we can actually push beyond that boundary? And I take each, sometimes I'll take the top three constraints and kind of see if they're related and in tandem, push against them.Sometimes I'll take each constraint and basically brain on each one separately. Right. But ultimately I'm always asking why is this assumption here and why is this constraint here? And, you know, sometimes somebody will say, well, that just defies the laws of physics. I'm like, no, that just defies the laws of your creativity of your brain.Right. You're not framing it well enough. The only meaningful attribution you have is that that must be a mechanism that follows the laws of physics or follows the laws of finance. Like it has to, you know, supply demand. You must sell something for more than you make it. But those laws are inherent in a human assumption.Somebody is using that device. So the laws of physics change if a 10 year old uses it versus a 30 year old. So if you're like making a shovel, a kid's plastic shovel is way different than a 30 year olds Gardener's shovel. So one shovel is made out of metal costs, maybe $25, and one's made out of plastic and cost two. So again, your physics law didn't change, but your framing did. Part of that is understanding your framing when you'd make an assumption, Brian Ardinger: I'd lIke to switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about some of the things that you're seeing, what are some of the interesting trends in UX, UI design, and maybe even technology that you've seen and where do you see this whole I guess, industry going Brian?Wayne Li: That's a great question. I mean, I work with industrial design students and mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, computer scientists, human computer interaction, math graduate students. Definitely the thing you see faster and faster and faster for UI and UX is both portability and anticipation. So let me kind of explain what that means.Portability in the sense that devices get smaller, they get more personal, right? No, one's out of client terminal. There's no client terminal relationship anymore. So the portability meaning your ability to consume data, manipulate software, has to be more and more flexible, more and more intuitive. You basically be at the will it like, you know, sooner or later, you might not even use your hand.It's going to be so fluid and so natural. Then you can talk to it. You can gesture at it. The interactions will be more and more natural and quicker, faster, smaller. Now the other thing, like I said is the anticipation. Everything you do is being logged so sooner or later between the machine learning algorithm and the companies that are constantly monitoring your data, they'll be able to truly understand what you are based on your behavioral pattern. If you've read the Singularity Is Near, they basically say, you know, pretty much by 2045, your consciousness will be digitized. So in that sense, if we, if we got what 20 some odd years, 24, some odd years to get there, that basically means AI will be conscious by then, in the sense that hopefully if I live long enough, I could go back and go, what did Wayne think in 2019, every thought that you put into Instagram, Facebook, anything you put into your computer will be logged and kept. So every thought you've ever had. You may no longer corporally exists, but someone got a, what would Professor Li have thought in 1998, about this vehicle. And based on the machine learning though, well, Wayne said this about certain vehicles. And this vehicle and this vehicle people are very similar. So even if I'm not alive in 2080, and there's a 2080 sports car, they're going to go, well, what would Wayne have thought about this 2080 sports car?And they would probably, the machine learning algorithm will say, well Wayne talked about these vehicles or design these sports cars. And these were his thoughts on them because they've all been logged. And by the weighting metric I have, he would have liked it. Or he would have said blah-blah-blah send it.  Sooner or later, we'll have digital avatars that anyone can consult. And so that's the anticipation part. If you can anticipate that now how will that change, what you do Brian Ardinger: Tomorrow is Tesla's AI day. And they're gonna be talking a little bit about some of the new mind of the car stuff that they're working on. Similar to what you're saying, where the car can anticipate based on its surroundings, what's happening and self-driving and everything else around that.But you know, you take that beyond just transportation. You take that to everything else and how does that change the world and what we're looking at? Even things like I think about technology and how it's accessible to anybody now. So I have to be a coder, for example. A lot of no code tools and things along those lines that allow you to experiment and build and try things that 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you had to have a design development team to make that happen. So it'll be interesting to see where that trend takes the world of design as well. Wayne Li: Yeah, no, absolutely Brian. I mean, going back to what you said. I mean, obviously the sort of research area of mine, because I have an automotive interface, a human machine interface lab at Georgia Tech, right. That looks at futuristic automotive experiences. And absolutely you're right. I mean, thinking about it this. Not only can all the cars, right now is 5g. Like let's just think, think about 5g. If 4g was something like, oh, it was novel for us to have one HD movie streaming on our phone. Like that's the data of 4g, without major compression. 5g is like 40 simultaneous HD streams. So for example, if we just take some of that bandwidth and each car is communicating to the 15 nearest cars next to it, and those cars are connected and getting next to the internet enabled lampposts signage traffic stops, then that information is being shared very, very quickly.So if there's something that optimizes traffic flow like a stop says, well, this is open, right now. And there's really no need for a green light or a red light or a yellow light anymore, because everyone's already talking to each other. Brian Ardinger: Tie that into a person's phone and you realize, well, Joe's a crappy driver and he's, he's in the lane next to me. I probably need to adjust for that. Wayne Li: Yeah. Every car in the compass directions around you will notice that, right. Or based on your driving pattern already know that you're a bad driver based on your previous driving history. Right? So that economists levels between semi and fully is tricky. But that data, if it's freely shared, is there. The same thing and will be the minute you tell your car where you're going. So if you say, oh, I'm going to work and it's like, great, I'm driving you there. That's great. It will then ping everyone who's also going to work with you. And so it'll just say, oh, well, you know your neighbor down the street who works at the same company, why don't y'all platoon together.And all of a sudden you match up and you can streamline your traffic. Right? So, same thing, if you, all of a sudden, you tell the car out, I'm going to a concert. It's a new thing. It'll ping everyone on the internet who's interested in that same topic, who's going to the concert with you. And your windshield will turn into a screen.We actually have this in the lab, a windshield that is an augmented reality screen. And then you can then meet 15 people who will meet you at the door. Cause you'll be all dropped off at the same time to the same concert. So now you can go to the concert with not only the friends in your own car, but feel close kinship to 15 other cars that have the same people going at the same concert.It's an interesting concept when you can share that much data that quickly, and you see that as a trend. Yes, privacy is an issue, but you don't really see people pushing against it that much. They're sharing their information. Brian Ardinger: I love what you're doing and some of the things that you've seen in the past, and that. If people want to find out more about yourself or more about Georgia Tech or Design Bloc, what's the best way to do that?Wayne Li: My email's fine. That's just my name. W A Y N E . L I @ design . G A T E C H - Georgia tech.edu. If you want to know more about Design Bloc, basically design bloc without the K so D E S I G N B L O C.ga tech.edu. So they can go to our website and then see what we do. There's a contact us button there.Obviously, if you're a Georgia tech student or a prospective high school student, plenty to learn about what we do, which classes you can take. We do do workshops and not only for students, but we have done workshops for other entities. And so we are in the process of getting those things approved by the Institute. Right. But we have mechanisms in which we do give workshops to companies or groups like the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. We've done Design Thinking workshops for them. So you'll see a list of all the workshops we tend to give. And if it's something that you are interested in or you're interested in giving to your company or entity, then there's a connect to us button and we can talk about that.Brian Ardinger: Wayne, thanks again for being on Inside Outside Innovation, look forward to seeing what the future brings Wayne Li: Me too. It's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 264 - Wayne Li, Director of Design Bloc & Professor of Design and Engineering at Georgia Tech on Design, Design Thinking and Changing Trends

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 25:14


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Wayne Li, Professor of Practice of Design and Engineering, School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech and Director of Design Bloc. Wayne and I talk about the growing importance of design and design thinking, and we explore some of the changing trends when it comes to technology, tools, and tactics for building new products and services that matter. Let's get startedInside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Brian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Wayne Li. He is Professor of Practice of Design and Engineering, School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech, Director of Design Bloc. Welcome to the show, Wayne.Wayne Li: Hi thanks. Thanks Brian. Thanks for having me. Brian Ardinger: Hey, I'm excited to have you on, because you have had a long career in this whole world of design and innovation. You were a founding class member at the Stanford d.school. You've worked with great companies like Ford and Pottery Barn and VW. And I think you were a part of the original team that helped develop the original Tesla Roadster. I think I'll start off the conversation with where you're currently at with Design Bloc and how it got has origin. Wayne Li: Design Bloc is a multidisciplinary Design Thinking initiative on Georgia Tech Campus. So, you can think a center. We try to bridge different schools and colleges. Think like a large university, they're separated in different units or colleges. You have a college of engineering and college of design, college of natural sciences.And what Design Bloc tries to do is to teach in a multidisciplinary type of way. And so we partner with professors from all over the Institute to try to offer courses that teach not only Design Thinking, but do it in a way that bridges more than one unit, more than one college. We have things like Bio-inspired Watercolor Painting all the way to Transportation Design.Community Engagement and Service, like a humanitarian design project. And again, you can see that those problems exist. They exist beyond just the sphere of one unit. For example, you're saying, okay, I'm going to address developing countries energy grid. That's not just engineering that requires public policy. It requires cultural engagement and community knowledge. You have structure or architecture there. So, you can see a problem like that is multifaceted. We shouldn't be teaching in a siloed or singled mono disciplinary manner. You know, I learned this really early on, probably back when I was still in college, actually. But I worked at IDEO product development very early on in my career.You know, I think the reason why it came to be like, you mentioned, like, you know, what is it, how did it get started? Was that when I went to undergraduate, I was both a fine arts and engineering major. I kind of saw how the perception of an object, its beauty, its appearance, had a cultural relevance to it.And then you coupled that with how well it was engineered. How well it was built. What it was actually intended to function as and whether or not those mesh together well. And I think that's kind of what got me to my work at IDEO. But I think that was the benefit. And so about almost seven years ago, an alumnus from Georgia Tech, Jim Oliver, went back and visited the Institute and just notice that the College of Engineering and the College of Design really didn't talk to each other that much. Even though he himself had had a similar background. In undergraduate, he also had a mechanical engineering and industrial design background just like me.So, he basically put out a search and said, I want someone. I will donate a certain sum of money. And I want someone to establish this kind of initiative, whose goal it is to teach students in a more well-rounded way. And so, I'm very lucky and very blessed after a nationwide search that I managed to get it. That's kind of how it came to be.So, we started about six, seven years ago with basically one class. With 8 students to 12 students in it. And now we teach about 20 classes a year, with about a thousand to 2000 students. Right? So, it has grown. It's wonderful to see it. I love being the director of it and seeing it grow and getting partners and collaborators who are really psyched about it.And the cool thing is, yeah, you actually see professors who have a PhD in something, so they're very, very intelligent about something. All of a sudden get intrigued, like I never thought of myself as a designer. Well, everyone, little d design. Brian Ardinger: That's an interesting point because obviously people are beginning to understand that design is a core component of every facet of their life nowadays. But tell me a little bit about like what's the process of Design Bloc and how do you go from an idea to creating something valuable in the market? So, walk me through the whole process of Design Bloc. Wayne Li: Design Bloc, the initiative, right? Is you, like you mentioned, I did my graduate work at Stanford. We were in the class that helped to found the Stanford d.school. So, let's take like the little d design. Don't think like I'm a fashion designer or I'm a software designer or I'm a car designer. Let's take the little d design. So, design, if we just think about design process, right. Stanford has a certain method for their design process. They call it Design Thinking Process. But if we just think of it as a process, when anyone goes through steps or goes through mindsets or phases in order to create something, they go through a design process. Design is a very flexible word. It's like Smurf, it's the only word where you can almost use it like six or seven times and still get the actual understanding.Like I could say, well, I'm designing a design that will design a design to design. So, and you'll be like, what? But that would make sense, right? I'm designing a design; I'm creating a blueprint that will create a robot that will actually learn and make something of use. That's what it is. The idea of course, is that when they build anything. They're going through what we consider a process, a design process. And again, this isn't something that necessarily is taught at an Institute. You know, an Institute will teach physics, or it'll teach mathematics or Latin. They're not actually teaching the process of how you create novel, useful, effective ideas, right, for society. The Design Thinking processes that Stanford created along with the Hasso-Plattner Institute in IDEO. Talks about how can you hone and better your design process regardless of what it is. Regardless of what you're building. So, I think in that sense, Design Bloc is also trying to create courses that allow students to learn about the design process, hone it, and foster good mindsets and behaviors as they go through it.Like for example, with pick something relatively trivial, but let's just for kicks. You get up in the morning and you want to make eggs for your partner or your wife or your spouse. That's a design process, right? You're making something that serves a need or a benefit to someone or some entity. So technically you went through a design process.Now the question is, if you think about it, if you really wanted to make eggs well for your spouse or partner, what would you have to do? Well, you kind of needed to know what they like. So, if they love poached eggs and you give them hard-boiled, they might not like that. And then you also have to be creative.You have to know how many different ways can you make eggs. You also have to think about whether or not it gets well received. Obviously, if you don't know your partner or spouse very well, and you make horrible eggs for them, they'll let you know about it. So sooner or later, and of course that last part is the cycles, the iteration, the more and more you do it, the better you get at it.Right. The better you get at making eggs, the better you get at making the eggs the way your partner or your spouse likes them. So, you can imagine that's another, like a semi trivial one day activity. But whether or not you're making eggs, an electric car, a public policy, a courtroom drama, novella, all of those are design processes. Now apply it to something more serious and you get my drift. Brian Ardinger: Is there a standard iteration of step one, do this step two do this. Or is a lot of it driven by the learnings that you find by moving the idea forward in the first place? Wayne Li: Yeah, no, this is great because I mean, there are many design practitioners and researchers and, you know, people who are designed professors, people who study design, and the people who practice it, who have put terminology around their design process. You might hear these in the industry, right. You know, Google will say, well, we use Design Sprint, it's an Agile Methodology. You might hear maybe a traditional company say, well, we use a double diamond approach, right? Where we go out and we go in, they have their terminology. And of course Stanford's Design Thinking Process is empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, or evaluate. And they've put words to that. I think when people get a little bit tripped up on is when they hear things defined with either a series of words or a diagram that like, it looks like it moves to the right.It's like, oh, arrow, arrow, arrow moves to the right. They get into this mindset that if I blindly follow a process from start to finish, I will be guaranteed a great result. And that's where I think practitioners understand that the design process is not linear. It's messy, it's cyclical. It repeats it folds on itself. It goes backwards. You jump two steps forward or back. Part of it is the sense and respond. That's why, what I mentioned before, the more and more you practice your design process through experience, and through each phase, you get better at understanding how the design process is going to affect the final result.And that takes some skill. It takes experience. You know, it can also be taught. It can be learned. As you go through a phase, are you sensing how it's going? Do you understand the implications of what you're doing at the time? And then can you respond? For example, if you're in a ideate phase, it is a creative phase. I need to know how many different types of eggs I can make to address my partner.Let's say I only know how to make one. I only know how to boil eggs. I don't know how to poach them. I don't know how to fry them. I don't how to scramble. If you only make one solution and then go get that tested, chances are you're wrong. You know, one out of 10 shot that or one out of seven shot that that's right. If you're not creative by nature or your company doesn't have a creative culture in it, then blindly going through that phase of creating or ideating, isn't going to help.So, if you don't know how to ideate, you're going to be in trouble because that phase will result in the same ideas you always come up with. Part of that is again the sense and respond. Knowing how you execute. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are in each phase and whether or not you can cultivate those.If you know, you're not a very creative person in the sense that you very quickly drill down to one possible solution, and then you're very dogmatic about it, then realize that's a weakness in your creative process. It's a weakness of your design process. At the same time, if you're really blue sky and you just love imagining all day and at the end of the day, you need to put something in front of someone, otherwise this product doesn't get built, then you're going to have to learn about your execution and critical thinking skill.At a certain point, I think we try to instill in our students is that, you know, the design process is fluid, it's living and it's part of you. You need to understand how you use it, and then you need to understand how companies use it. Cause that's not always the same thing. Brian Ardinger: That's an interesting point. Are there particular areas that you find, doing these workshops and working people through a process, where people tend to get stuck? What's the biggest aha moments about teaching a process and how to think about designing? Wayne Li: A lot of this is cultural, right? A lot of this deals with people, and of course you see this right with various established or rigid companies that have very, very well-documented well hewn, traditional processes. They love buying out startups. Why? Because the startups are small four employee kind of entities that are usually young. They take risks. They don't know what they can't do because they've never been slapped on the wrist so many times. For them like big companies who are really staid, who don't encourage or empower all levels of their company to come up with ideas, will usually get into this group thing. Like, well, I can't possibly be right. No one values my opinion. The only person that's valued is the CEO or the executive management or the senior vice president. So, then that just destroys a kind of innovative culture because the creativity is not fostered. It's not empowered across all levels. I see that often, usually when I'm brought in to consult with a company or a company comes in and wants a project with a Design Bloc and we do projects for companies. You know, they're always like looking for something like, let's just show something we don't know. That they usually, something will surprise them. And part of that is because young students don't know what they can't do. When they come up with an idea, a lot of the times, the reason that large companies can't or companies that don't have an innovative culture, they don't ask that question anymore.Right. So, like maybe three generations ago, they stopped doing it a certain way because they learned something. But now the business environment has shifted and no one's bothered to really question why they can't do it that way. Or why they can't do it in a new way. Right. It's always so we've always done it that way.Well, yeah, that's the group thing, right? No, one's empowered to ask and go, wait a minute. Yeah, that was true 20 years ago, but the technology has shifted around you. The audience has shifted around you, the people that use your product has shifted around you. Why not go back and question some of those baseline assumptions.Brian Ardinger: Have you learned any techniques that you could help folks that are in that particular environment to open up their thinking or open up their exploration and not fall into this typical traps? Wayne Li: There are a lot of different ways that you can do that, Brian. What I tend to always ask is when someone is in kind of that group think is to say, okay, wait Taguchi calls it Root Cause Analysis.I think Dev Patnaik  uses, who teaches Needfinding at Stanford has taught like a Contextual Ladder, which is like a How Why Ladder. If you're confronted with a problem, do you understand the constraints with which you are assuming are already frozen. Taguchi method is just, why does that exist as a root problem?That's not necessarily creative, but what it does is it tries to ask, do you understand your context? If you're confronted with, I only know one way to do this, or this is the way that we think the company always wants to work, then at least questioning that constraint to say, well, why do we do it this way? What assumptions are we making about either our processes or our customers, that make us decide that we should be doing it this way? Brian Ardinger: And basically being okay with the fact that let's assume that this is an assumption. And then like, how do we find evidence to figure out is this assumption true or false? I think a lot of people don't go back to that process, like you said, and just double-check like, I know we've been doing this 20 years like that, does it still hold true. Its an important part of the process.Wayne Li: And one thing I always love is just pushing constraints, right? I mean, ultimate creativity is having no constraints. But it's difficult in a business environment because you always have some type of like time and money are always going to be constraints. You don't have infinite time. You don't have infinite money.If you had those, you can make anything you wanted and take as long as you want it to make. So you always have some type of constraint. But what I always like to do is push against it. So if you say something like we can't build that, that's too expensive. Then if you say, okay, well we'll hold on a second.What are those assumptions? And then say, there's inherent assumptions in that way. You're building it the same way. That's one assumption. If you built it with a different material or different process, you could maybe save money. If you built it with a different volume, it could be cheaper. So you're like, well, you're assuming that we can only sell that to 10,000 people.What if we sell to 10 million? Or you're assuming no one will pay for it at a higher cost. So again, really, it is about pushing on that constraint to say, we can't do this. Flip that and reframe it. What are all the different ways that we can actually push beyond that boundary? And I take each, sometimes I'll take the top three constraints and kind of see if they're related and in tandem, push against them.Sometimes I'll take each constraint and basically brain on each one separately. Right. But ultimately I'm always asking why is this assumption here and why is this constraint here? And, you know, sometimes somebody will say, well, that just defies the laws of physics. I'm like, no, that just defies the laws of your creativity of your brain.Right. You're not framing it well enough. The only meaningful attribution you have is that that must be a mechanism that follows the laws of physics or follows the laws of finance. Like it has to, you know, supply demand. You must sell something for more than you make it. But those laws are inherent in a human assumption.Somebody is using that device. So the laws of physics change if a 10 year old uses it versus a 30 year old. So if you're like making a shovel, a kid's plastic shovel is way different than a 30 year olds Gardener's shovel. So one shovel is made out of metal costs, maybe $25, and one's made out of plastic and cost two. So again, your physics law didn't change, but your framing did. Part of that is understanding your framing when you'd make an assumption, Brian Ardinger: I'd lIke to switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about some of the things that you're seeing, what are some of the interesting trends in UX, UI design, and maybe even technology that you've seen and where do you see this whole I guess, industry going Brian?Wayne Li: That's a great question. I mean, I work with industrial design students and mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, computer scientists, human computer interaction, math graduate students. Definitely the thing you see faster and faster and faster for UI and UX is both portability and anticipation. So let me kind of explain what that means.Portability in the sense that devices get smaller, they get more personal, right? No, one's out of client terminal. There's no client terminal relationship anymore. So the portability meaning your ability to consume data, manipulate software, has to be more and more flexible, more and more intuitive. You basically be at the will it like, you know, sooner or later, you might not even use your hand.It's going to be so fluid and so natural. Then you can talk to it. You can gesture at it. The interactions will be more and more natural and quicker, faster, smaller. Now the other thing, like I said is the anticipation. Everything you do is being logged so sooner or later between the machine learning algorithm and the companies that are constantly monitoring your data, they'll be able to truly understand what you are based on your behavioral pattern. If you've read the Singularity Is Near, they basically say, you know, pretty much by 2045, your consciousness will be digitized. So in that sense, if we, if we got what 20 some odd years, 24, some odd years to get there, that basically means AI will be conscious by then, in the sense that hopefully if I live long enough, I could go back and go, what did Wayne think in 2019, every thought that you put into Instagram, Facebook, anything you put into your computer will be logged and kept. So every thought you've ever had. You may no longer corporally exists, but someone got a, what would Professor Li have thought in 1998, about this vehicle. And based on the machine learning though, well, Wayne said this about certain vehicles. And this vehicle and this vehicle people are very similar. So even if I'm not alive in 2080, and there's a 2080 sports car, they're going to go, well, what would Wayne have thought about this 2080 sports car?And they would probably, the machine learning algorithm will say, well Wayne talked about these vehicles or design these sports cars. And these were his thoughts on them because they've all been logged. And by the weighting metric I have, he would have liked it. Or he would have said blah-blah-blah send it.  Sooner or later, we'll have digital avatars that anyone can consult. And so that's the anticipation part. If you can anticipate that now how will that change, what you do Brian Ardinger: Tomorrow is Tesla's AI day. And they're gonna be talking a little bit about some of the new mind of the car stuff that they're working on. Similar to what you're saying, where the car can anticipate based on its surroundings, what's happening and self-driving and everything else around that.But you know, you take that beyond just transportation. You take that to everything else and how does that change the world and what we're looking at? Even things like I think about technology and how it's accessible to anybody now. So I have to be a coder, for example. A lot of no code tools and things along those lines that allow you to experiment and build and try things that 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you had to have a design development team to make that happen. So it'll be interesting to see where that trend takes the world of design as well. Wayne Li: Yeah, no, absolutely Brian. I mean, going back to what you said. I mean, obviously the sort of research area of mine, because I have an automotive interface, a human machine interface lab at Georgia Tech, right. That looks at futuristic automotive experiences. And absolutely you're right. I mean, thinking about it this. Not only can all the cars, right now is 5g. Like let's just think, think about 5g. If 4g was something like, oh, it was novel for us to have one HD movie streaming on our phone. Like that's the data of 4g, without major compression. 5g is like 40 simultaneous HD streams. So for example, if we just take some of that bandwidth and each car is communicating to the 15 nearest cars next to it, and those cars are connected and getting next to the internet enabled lampposts signage traffic stops, then that information is being shared very, very quickly.So if there's something that optimizes traffic flow like a stop says, well, this is open, right now. And there's really no need for a green light or a red light or a yellow light anymore, because everyone's already talking to each other. Brian Ardinger: Tie that into a person's phone and you realize, well, Joe's a crappy driver and he's, he's in the lane next to me. I probably need to adjust for that. Wayne Li: Yeah. Every car in the compass directions around you will notice that, right. Or based on your driving pattern already know that you're a bad driver based on your previous driving history. Right? So that economists levels between semi and fully is tricky. But that data, if it's freely shared, is there. The same thing and will be the minute you tell your car where you're going. So if you say, oh, I'm going to work and it's like, great, I'm driving you there. That's great. It will then ping everyone who's also going to work with you. And so it'll just say, oh, well, you know your neighbor down the street who works at the same company, why don't y'all platoon together.And all of a sudden you match up and you can streamline your traffic. Right? So, same thing, if you, all of a sudden, you tell the car out, I'm going to a concert. It's a new thing. It'll ping everyone on the internet who's interested in that same topic, who's going to the concert with you. And your windshield will turn into a screen.We actually have this in the lab, a windshield that is an augmented reality screen. And then you can then meet 15 people who will meet you at the door. Cause you'll be all dropped off at the same time to the same concert. So now you can go to the concert with not only the friends in your own car, but feel close kinship to 15 other cars that have the same people going at the same concert.It's an interesting concept when you can share that much data that quickly, and you see that as a trend. Yes, privacy is an issue, but you don't really see people pushing against it that much. They're sharing their information. Brian Ardinger: I love what you're doing and some of the things that you've seen in the past, and that. If people want to find out more about yourself or more about Georgia Tech or Design Bloc, what's the best way to do that?Wayne Li: My email's fine. That's just my name. W A Y N E . L I @ design . G A T E C H - Georgia tech.edu. If you want to know more about Design Bloc, basically design bloc without the K so D E S I G N B L O C.ga tech.edu. So they can go to our website and then see what we do. There's a contact us button there.Obviously, if you're a Georgia tech student or a prospective high school student, plenty to learn about what we do, which classes you can take. We do do workshops and not only for students, but we have done workshops for other entities. And so we are in the process of getting those things approved by the Institute. Right. But we have mechanisms in which we do give workshops to companies or groups like the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. We've done Design Thinking workshops for them. So you'll see a list of all the workshops we tend to give. And if it's something that you are interested in or you're interested in giving to your company or entity, then there's a connect to us button and we can talk about that.Brian Ardinger: Wayne, thanks again for being on Inside Outside Innovation, look forward to seeing what the future brings Wayne Li: Me too. It's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Unknown Origins
Peter Fisk on Business Innovation

Unknown Origins

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 28:06


Every successful artist, entrepreneur, and business needs to innovate continuously or risk being surpassed by competition in the longer term.The digital revolution has democratized information and accelerated the pace of change. It is a world that is increasingly technology-mediated, changing how we live, learn, work, get things done, and blur the boundaries between physical and virtual life where the edges are no longer the boundaries.Peter Fisk is a global thought leader – author, futurist, speaker – whose career was forged in a superconductivity lab, accelerated by managing supersonic brands, shaped by working with some of the world's best companies in Europe, North America, and Asia, evolved by leading a digital start-up, and formalized as CEO of the world's largest marketing network.He works with business leaders to reimagine their markets and strategies for a better future. He brings together the best in strategy and innovation, brand and customer thinking to drive smarter, sustainable growth.His new book “Business Recoded” challenges leaders to have the courage to create a better future, harnessing the opportunities of a post-pandemic world through 7 shifts built on deep dives with 49 of the world's most inspiring business leaders today. It is shortlisted for CMI Business Book of the Year 2021 and was reviewed by the Financial Times with “Wow. The book you have to read now”.Peter provides perspective on his creative approach for helping businesses be innovative, what it takes, pitfalls to avoid, keys to success, and his vision for the future of business.  Welcome to Geniusworks - Peter FiskMore about Creativity:"Creativity Without Frontiers" is now available at Unknown Origins Books and all relevant book retailers. Stay in touch:Web: https://www.unknownorigins.com/Twitter: Unknown Origins (@UnknownOrigins9) / TwitterInstagram: Unknown Origins (@unknownorigins_)Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Unknown-Origins-112791887004124LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/unknown-origins/YouTube: Unknown Origins - YouTubeMusic by Iain MutchWALKERANDWILLIAMSupport the show (https://www.paypal.com/unknownorigins)

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 263 - Jason Birnbaum, SVP of Digital Technology at United Airlines on Innovating During a Crisis

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 18:50


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Jason Birnbaum, Senior Vice President of Digital Technology at United Airlines. Jason and I discuss what it takes to innovate during a crisis and how United continues to adapt to evolving customer, employee, and market changes. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcription of Jason Birnbaum, Senior Vice President of Digital Technology at United AirlinesBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Jason Birnbaum. He is a SVP of Digital Technology at United Airlines. Welcome to the show, Jason, Jason Birnbaum: It's a pleasure to be here. Brian Ardinger: Jason, I am excited to have you on the show. You are in an industry that is in the midst of disruption as we all are. But I think the travel industry is even facing more dilemmas. So, I wanted to get somebody on who's focused on innovation in this trying times, to see what it's like to be in the trenches in this world. So, tell us a little bit about what's your role at United and how it deals with it.Jason Birnbaum: I really am responsible for all of the technology associated with our employees, but also all the customer experiences that you would have at the airport, on board, really anywhere that you're physically involved with United Airlines. So, if you like the kiosks or you don't like the kiosk, that's what we do. All the signage in the airports moving you around. That's all part of my team as well. So wide scope, but lots of fun. Brian Ardinger: And when we had a chance to be introduced, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is because the United Airlines takes a broad approach to innovation. You know, I think a lot of companies focus on innovation and think about it from a, like a product perspective only, but you seem to focused on more holistic. Talk a little bit about how you perceive innovation and what goes into making those particular types of decisions.Jason Birnbaum: First of all, when you think about the airlines, our product is the airline. And so our product is the employees. And the product is the experience, and so for us, almost every part of it, including people that actually work and fix the airplanes, people that actually, you know, load the bags and all of those are so intimately connected to the whole experience, that we have to think of innovation in a broad way.And so, when we started thinking about it, we realized that we needed to enable our employees to deliver great service. And connect that to the way our customers traveled. So, a lot of our innovation was really employee focused so that they could deliver great service. And when you start thinking about it in that thread, it really opened the door for a lot of really, really amazing innovation, whether it's freeing up employees, so they can actually spend time with customers. Right. Or it's just giving them information or data to anticipate your need, or if it's making that technician able to get the plane going faster. So, you are not late, like all of that fits together. And the way we think about innovation, Brian Ardinger: I imagine you get bombarded with new ideas and challenges and problems that are coming from their employees or from your customer set saying, hey, fix this or make this better. What's the process to go about looking at, across the ideas, and doing something about them. Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. Well, it's a, it's a great question. There is a lot and we do get bombarded. You know, I, I think one of the pivots we made as an organization was moving from thinking of more of a traditional information technology organization that really took orders, got prioritization lists, to thinking of the whole group as a really like a product development organization. We had a much stronger opinion as to what the next steps were going to be. And really partnered and drove an agenda. And so, for us, the transformation was really about, I have a team of product designers, design thinking experts, people who help us build those roadmaps, whether the product owners are on our team or in some other place, and really lay out, not necessarily a prioritization process, but what's the road map.And then from there we've moved very quickly to how do we prototype, test the theory, move quickly, move in small pieces, to get to the product. We've tried to get away from two-year projects. Four-year projects. You know, we try to think about how do I solve a problem, get something going, start it and empower.And I think when a big company, especially companies have been around for a long time, you know, they built a lot of control mechanisms and we've really worked to strip those out and say, hey, if you're the decision maker, if you're in the front, You've got the product. Make the change, see if it works, and let's move forward from there.Now that's certainly for the customer experience and for efficiency, obviously, you know, when I think about things like safety and those things, obviously all those controls are really important, and we take those very seriously. But there's a lot of places where experimentation can really lead to innovation.Brian Ardinger: Can you talk about some examples of where you've deployed technology and some of the changes that you've made over the years to make the experience better for employees and customers? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah, no, we have so many great examples. I'll hit two things. The first thing we realized, and this was a few years ago is none of our employees sit behind a desk. They, none of them have seats. Yet we built all these applications and all these tools for them on a PC. And so, we started to say, well, how do we un-tether is the word we used, our employees from these desks. And so, we rolled out one of the first innovations was creating and building a mobile ecosystem for our employees. Where, whether you're a gate agent, a technician, you're on the ramp, pilot, flight attendant, you had a mobile device and that mobile device, first and foremost, gave you tools to do your job. So, you could board a plane, help a passenger, take an order for a drink. That was like the base case. Then we said, well we've got this mobile ecosystem, what else can we do? And the second thing we said was how do we give people data to anticipate what they're going to need to do? So now I've got this delivery mechanism. How do I say all right, this passenger is getting ready to reach a milestone on their mileage. So why don't we thank them? Or this passenger has had a couple of bad flights. Take care when you're on this flight. So, we started giving that information. And then lastly, and this is where the real excitement came in. We connected everybody via just communications and chat functionality. We created a product, we call it Easy Chat, that connects everybody involved with the flight. The pilots, flight attendants, the gate agents, the catering company, everybody together in one chat space so that everyone knows what's going on.And that's been an amazing advantage for our employees. And it's really created the capability to deliver unbelievable customer service. I was thinking about it. I got a note from a customer, and they said, you know, my father was 80. He was traveling on the plane and he got on the plane. He realized he left his bag in the lobby, like at the gate.Right. And in the old days, like that would have been a myriad of phone calls and radio calls and running back and forth. And so, the flight attendant just typed on the chat. Hey, does anyone see a bag out there? And the gate agent got it and brought it back on. And it was just a much better experience. And they were really happy for that level of customer service.And I think the other thing we're really excited about right now, I mean, there's many, but the other thing we're really excited about is, we call it Agent On Demand. In a COVID time, one of the things we're seeing is that one people don't necessarily want to be face-to-face as, as much. And two, with a lot of different staffing shortages and things going on right now. And just general air travel, you know, there can be problems. Getting a hold of somebody at an airport can be tricky and there can be lines and it can take some time. And so, we said, well, what if we could scale it by creating just a way that I can hit a QR code or walk up to a kiosk. Push a button and speak to an agent who maybe isn't at the airport, you're at, maybe they're in another airport or some other location, but maybe they aren't as busy as the ones happening right now, where there's a storm or a disruption.And we started really simply and about eight months ago, and we started testing it. Caught on fire. We've gotten it in all of our hubs and another handful of stations and we're continuing to roll it out. But customers really love it because it marries the technology and the ease of using your phone or kiosk with an actual person.And so, they do get the personal touch, but they do it in a way that the technology really supports. So, it's been a big win for us. And it's certainly something we're going to see more of that kind of innovation. Brian Ardinger: You mentioned customers playing a role in that innovation process and giving you feedback in that. How do you go about rolling out a new product like the agent on demand? Did you do that across everything all at once? Or how did you go about testing and building out that particular example? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah, look, we go out and we test, like, we send our people out to the airports and our designers and our researchers. We'll prototype something. We'll grab our employees and our customers and just test it out. And we use our airports as labs almost. Living labs. And we learn from it. We're very transparent about what we're doing. So, we will tell our customers, Hey, we're trying a new process or a new technology. We'd love to get your feedback on it. We stood up a kiosk for Agent on Demand. We sort of had some of our people standing around. We said would you like to try this? What do you think? Did it work? Did it not work? And it just grows from there. So, it's a pretty organic process, but it's certainly not going into a conference room for six months. Emerging with the answer, the answer. What we find out is we're not very good at solutioning in that bubble.The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship, to increase opportunities that allow all people to learn, to take risks, and to own their success. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri and uses its $2 billion in assets to collaboratively help people be self-sufficient productive citizens. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org. That's www.kauffman.org.Brian Ardinger: Well, you mentioned COVID. Obviously, that's affecting all of us, but it's affecting the travel industry quite a bit. What have you seen over the last 18 months of how fast your processes have had to change or what's the impact been on both the industry and how United reacts to it? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. It's been, obviously for our business, the most disruptive event in the history of the airline industry. And I think travel in general. So, and a tragedy in terms of the loss of human life and really the whole problems and pain that it's caused. But for us, our mission was to keep the airline alive, because we believe that it was critical to provide support for the doctors that needed to get to places. It's a lifeline for our economy. And so, the mission was really clear. And it, but it did force a tremendous amount of innovation, really fast, whether it's ever-changing requirements to travel both domestically and in other countries and how we empower our employees to know that in real time. We had to build a lot of tools and connections to that.We've had to become very smart on the big innovations, partnering with Abbott and other providers on how to get testing done, whether your international travel or employee testing. We had to set up clinics in our airport to do both vaccination and testing. As you know, we recently just today announced that we are going to have all of our employees vaccinated over the next few months. And you know, that involved us setting up a system where people could upload their vaccine cards and then use that information to give it to the various systems that people schedule their work. So, we know who is and who isn't and where they are and et cetera. And so, there's been a lot of innovation in that space, but it's been a very proud moment for me of the team and the way they've risen to the occasion. And the way they thought differently to really keep the whole industry alive.Brian Ardinger: You know, a lot of times we think about, you know, all the negative effects of COVID and, and that, but I've seen not only with United, but other companies, like rising to the occasion and understanding that innovation is now not just something that we think about in the future, but something we have to do on a regular basis. Are there any particular surprises or positive effects that have come out because of the crisis? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. In the beginning of the pandemic, you know, we had to go through like everyone else, some tough cuts, reprioritize. And, and we got through it all. And we said, we've still got an airline to run. And so, we got together and said, you know what we need, we coined a phrase, and we call it, we need to get scrappy. So, we actually created a little manifesto around it. And at the heart of it was, it said, you know, we got to start thinking like a small business. We got to start thinking about how to move forward. It's going to be about, everyone's got to do more, do different roles, take chances. You know, maybe you don't do testing. When are you going to do testing or maybe you don't know how to do this kind of coding, but you're going to do this kind of coding, because we just don't have a lot of people in time that we were used to. And I think that really caught on and the idea that we can find scrappy answers to tough problems is something now that's really sort of taken over the whole company. And we talk a lot about how do we get scrappy, which is code for how do we find simple, fast solutions to tough problems, and then scale them from there. And I think when I talk to my team, especially, they're like, we don't want to go back. We don't want to go back to the bureaucracy. We don't want to go back to the way it was before. We want to stay scrappy. And I think that's going to be a legacy coming out of this, that we're going to continue. Brian Ardinger: Well, that's a great segue for the trends that you're seeing, both in the travel industry and within United. What, what are you most excited about in moving into the future and maybe what are you most worried about or scared about?Jason Birnbaum: Well, first of all, I'm excited people are traveling again. Which is fantastic. I think there's a lot of work and thought happening right now about the travel experience. And I think we are going to be on the front end right now of a lot of innovation and travel in terms of how do we take the friction out of it. Is biometrics a big part of that?And we're working with the TSA. But make that a much more seamless opportunity. There's a lot more personalization that can happen. Whether it's food on board or different kinds of services. So, I, I'm really excited that as we emerged from the pandemic that I think we're going to be able to really continue to make the experience better.And I know some people love it and some people don't, but I think there's going to be a lot of new things that come out using technology to make it just a much better experience for folks. And connect your whole journey, beyond just the airline, but maybe to the hotel and to the rental car as well. And how do we think of it in a more seamless way?So, I think that's what I'm excited about. I think I'm excited as we continue to just the new business models that we're thinking about in terms of, you know, are we more Uber. You know, use your mobile app more, we've got the best mobile app in the industry. How do we continue to make that experience better? So, there's a bunch of stuff I'm really excited about. Nervous, I think again, you know, it's a tough industry. There is innovation happening there is disruption happening. So, I think we have to continue to get better. We have to continue to prove to our customers that we have the best product. And whether that's through a great operation and getting you there on time. Whether it's through the technology that we offer. Whether it's through the great employees and the customer service and their anticipation of your needs through the journey. Like we just got to win on all those fronts.And so, the thing that I'm worried about is complacency as we come out of this. And as people come back that we cannot forget that we've got to continue to up our game because there's always folks out there that will come and try to compete with us. Brian Ardinger: And it's so important that culture aspect, like you said, you know, rallying around the new, new, and the new next and that culture and that. Are there particular things you have looked at as far as being effective at implementing that culture of innovation?Jason Birnbaum: The culture of innovation, I think it's for us, it's about having our innovators or our technology team or people that are driving change as close as possible to the frontline and to the employee and to the customer. If you get bright, creative, motivated people, with people that actually are serving our customers or our customers, they will naturally find a million great ideas.And then our job is to help support them in the creation and the development of those things. And so for me, the culture comes from actually having our folks right there with them shoulder to shoulder, out in the operations, out on the planes. And I think my message to anybody is the fewer people between the user and the customer and the person who's building it, the better off you are. Because you lose some, every step, you lose something in that translation. And you don't end up with the kind of innovation that you want to get to For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Jason, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation and sharing what you're seeing in the trenches. Again, I appreciate the time. If people want to find out more about yourself or more about what the United Airlines is doing in this space, where should they go? Jason Birnbaum: I mean, certainly you can hit me up on Twitter @Jason_ UAL or my LinkedIn profile is available. I've got links to some articles on some of the things that we've done in more detail. So happy to take any comments there and questions, and any feedback you might have on what's happening out there as your audience is out and starts traveling again. Brian Ardinger: Well, Jason, thanks again for being on Inside Outside Innovation, look forward to continuing the conversation and best of luck. And where are you going to travel next?Jason Birnbaum: We just got back. We were just in Mexico. We were just in California, and now I'm setting my sights on trying to figure out how to get to Europe when that opens up. And so, I love to travel, and I've got a long list of places I need to get to. Brian Ardinger: Well, I hope to see you on the road, and I appreciate your time again. Thank you very much. Jason Birnbaum: Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 263 - Jason Birnbaum, SVP of Digital Technology at United Airlines on Innovating During a Crisis

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 18:07


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Jason Birnbaum, Senior Vice President of Digital Technology at United Airlines. Jason and I discuss what it takes to innovate during a crisis and how United continues to adapt to evolving customer, employee, and market changes. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcription of Jason Birnbaum, Senior Vice President of Digital Technology at United AirlinesBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Jason Birnbaum. He is a SVP of Digital Technology at United Airlines. Welcome to the show, Jason, Jason Birnbaum: It's a pleasure to be here. Brian Ardinger: Jason, I am excited to have you on the show. You are in an industry that is in the midst of disruption as we all are. But I think the travel industry is even facing more dilemmas. So, I wanted to get somebody on who's focused on innovation in this trying times, to see what it's like to be in the trenches in this world. So, tell us a little bit about what's your role at United and how it deals with it.Jason Birnbaum: I really am responsible for all of the technology associated with our employees, but also all the customer experiences that you would have at the airport, on board, really anywhere that you're physically involved with United Airlines. So, if you like the kiosks or you don't like the kiosk, that's what we do. All the signage in the airports moving you around. That's all part of my team as well. So wide scope, but lots of fun. Brian Ardinger: And when we had a chance to be introduced, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is because the United Airlines takes a broad approach to innovation. You know, I think a lot of companies focus on innovation and think about it from a, like a product perspective only, but you seem to focused on more holistic. Talk a little bit about how you perceive innovation and what goes into making those particular types of decisions.Jason Birnbaum: First of all, when you think about the airlines, our product is the airline. And so our product is the employees. And the product is the experience, and so for us, almost every part of it, including people that actually work and fix the airplanes, people that actually, you know, load the bags and all of those are so intimately connected to the whole experience, that we have to think of innovation in a broad way.And so, when we started thinking about it, we realized that we needed to enable our employees to deliver great service. And connect that to the way our customers traveled. So, a lot of our innovation was really employee focused so that they could deliver great service. And when you start thinking about it in that thread, it really opened the door for a lot of really, really amazing innovation, whether it's freeing up employees, so they can actually spend time with customers. Right. Or it's just giving them information or data to anticipate your need, or if it's making that technician able to get the plane going faster. So, you are not late, like all of that fits together. And the way we think about innovation, Brian Ardinger: I imagine you get bombarded with new ideas and challenges and problems that are coming from their employees or from your customer set saying, hey, fix this or make this better. What's the process to go about looking at, across the ideas, and doing something about them. Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. Well, it's a, it's a great question. There is a lot and we do get bombarded. You know, I, I think one of the pivots we made as an organization was moving from thinking of more of a traditional information technology organization that really took orders, got prioritization lists, to thinking of the whole group as a really like a product development organization. We had a much stronger opinion as to what the next steps were going to be. And really partnered and drove an agenda. And so, for us, the transformation was really about, I have a team of product designers, design thinking experts, people who help us build those roadmaps, whether the product owners are on our team or in some other place, and really lay out, not necessarily a prioritization process, but what's the road map.And then from there we've moved very quickly to how do we prototype, test the theory, move quickly, move in small pieces, to get to the product. We've tried to get away from two-year projects. Four-year projects. You know, we try to think about how do I solve a problem, get something going, start it and empower.And I think when a big company, especially companies have been around for a long time, you know, they built a lot of control mechanisms and we've really worked to strip those out and say, hey, if you're the decision maker, if you're in the front, You've got the product. Make the change, see if it works, and let's move forward from there.Now that's certainly for the customer experience and for efficiency, obviously, you know, when I think about things like safety and those things, obviously all those controls are really important, and we take those very seriously. But there's a lot of places where experimentation can really lead to innovation.Brian Ardinger: Can you talk about some examples of where you've deployed technology and some of the changes that you've made over the years to make the experience better for employees and customers? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah, no, we have so many great examples. I'll hit two things. The first thing we realized, and this was a few years ago is none of our employees sit behind a desk. They, none of them have seats. Yet we built all these applications and all these tools for them on a PC. And so, we started to say, well, how do we un-tether is the word we used, our employees from these desks. And so, we rolled out one of the first innovations was creating and building a mobile ecosystem for our employees. Where, whether you're a gate agent, a technician, you're on the ramp, pilot, flight attendant, you had a mobile device and that mobile device, first and foremost, gave you tools to do your job. So, you could board a plane, help a passenger, take an order for a drink. That was like the base case. Then we said, well we've got this mobile ecosystem, what else can we do? And the second thing we said was how do we give people data to anticipate what they're going to need to do? So now I've got this delivery mechanism. How do I say all right, this passenger is getting ready to reach a milestone on their mileage. So why don't we thank them? Or this passenger has had a couple of bad flights. Take care when you're on this flight. So, we started giving that information. And then lastly, and this is where the real excitement came in. We connected everybody via just communications and chat functionality. We created a product, we call it Easy Chat, that connects everybody involved with the flight. The pilots, flight attendants, the gate agents, the catering company, everybody together in one chat space so that everyone knows what's going on.And that's been an amazing advantage for our employees. And it's really created the capability to deliver unbelievable customer service. I was thinking about it. I got a note from a customer, and they said, you know, my father was 80. He was traveling on the plane and he got on the plane. He realized he left his bag in the lobby, like at the gate.Right. And in the old days, like that would have been a myriad of phone calls and radio calls and running back and forth. And so, the flight attendant just typed on the chat. Hey, does anyone see a bag out there? And the gate agent got it and brought it back on. And it was just a much better experience. And they were really happy for that level of customer service.And I think the other thing we're really excited about right now, I mean, there's many, but the other thing we're really excited about is, we call it Agent On Demand. In a COVID time, one of the things we're seeing is that one people don't necessarily want to be face-to-face as, as much. And two, with a lot of different staffing shortages and things going on right now. And just general air travel, you know, there can be problems. Getting a hold of somebody at an airport can be tricky and there can be lines and it can take some time. And so, we said, well, what if we could scale it by creating just a way that I can hit a QR code or walk up to a kiosk. Push a button and speak to an agent who maybe isn't at the airport, you're at, maybe they're in another airport or some other location, but maybe they aren't as busy as the ones happening right now, where there's a storm or a disruption.And we started really simply and about eight months ago, and we started testing it. Caught on fire. We've gotten it in all of our hubs and another handful of stations and we're continuing to roll it out. But customers really love it because it marries the technology and the ease of using your phone or kiosk with an actual person.And so, they do get the personal touch, but they do it in a way that the technology really supports. So, it's been a big win for us. And it's certainly something we're going to see more of that kind of innovation. Brian Ardinger: You mentioned customers playing a role in that innovation process and giving you feedback in that. How do you go about rolling out a new product like the agent on demand? Did you do that across everything all at once? Or how did you go about testing and building out that particular example? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah, look, we go out and we test, like, we send our people out to the airports and our designers and our researchers. We'll prototype something. We'll grab our employees and our customers and just test it out. And we use our airports as labs almost. Living labs. And we learn from it. We're very transparent about what we're doing. So, we will tell our customers, Hey, we're trying a new process or a new technology. We'd love to get your feedback on it. We stood up a kiosk for Agent on Demand. We sort of had some of our people standing around. We said would you like to try this? What do you think? Did it work? Did it not work? And it just grows from there. So, it's a pretty organic process, but it's certainly not going into a conference room for six months. Emerging with the answer, the answer. What we find out is we're not very good at solutioning in that bubble.The Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationSponsor Voice: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship, to increase opportunities that allow all people to learn, to take risks, and to own their success. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri and uses its $2 billion in assets to collaboratively help people be self-sufficient productive citizens. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org. That's www.kauffman.org.Brian Ardinger: Well, you mentioned COVID. Obviously, that's affecting all of us, but it's affecting the travel industry quite a bit. What have you seen over the last 18 months of how fast your processes have had to change or what's the impact been on both the industry and how United reacts to it? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. It's been, obviously for our business, the most disruptive event in the history of the airline industry. And I think travel in general. So, and a tragedy in terms of the loss of human life and really the whole problems and pain that it's caused. But for us, our mission was to keep the airline alive, because we believe that it was critical to provide support for the doctors that needed to get to places. It's a lifeline for our economy. And so, the mission was really clear. And it, but it did force a tremendous amount of innovation, really fast, whether it's ever-changing requirements to travel both domestically and in other countries and how we empower our employees to know that in real time. We had to build a lot of tools and connections to that.We've had to become very smart on the big innovations, partnering with Abbott and other providers on how to get testing done, whether your international travel or employee testing. We had to set up clinics in our airport to do both vaccination and testing. As you know, we recently just today announced that we are going to have all of our employees vaccinated over the next few months. And you know, that involved us setting up a system where people could upload their vaccine cards and then use that information to give it to the various systems that people schedule their work. So, we know who is and who isn't and where they are and et cetera. And so, there's been a lot of innovation in that space, but it's been a very proud moment for me of the team and the way they've risen to the occasion. And the way they thought differently to really keep the whole industry alive.Brian Ardinger: You know, a lot of times we think about, you know, all the negative effects of COVID and, and that, but I've seen not only with United, but other companies, like rising to the occasion and understanding that innovation is now not just something that we think about in the future, but something we have to do on a regular basis. Are there any particular surprises or positive effects that have come out because of the crisis? Jason Birnbaum: Yeah. In the beginning of the pandemic, you know, we had to go through like everyone else, some tough cuts, reprioritize. And, and we got through it all. And we said, we've still got an airline to run. And so, we got together and said, you know what we need, we coined a phrase, and we call it, we need to get scrappy. So, we actually created a little manifesto around it. And at the heart of it was, it said, you know, we got to start thinking like a small business. We got to start thinking about how to move forward. It's going to be about, everyone's got to do more, do different roles, take chances. You know, maybe you don't do testing. When are you going to do testing or maybe you don't know how to do this kind of coding, but you're going to do this kind of coding, because we just don't have a lot of people in time that we were used to. And I think that really caught on and the idea that we can find scrappy answers to tough problems is something now that's really sort of taken over the whole company. And we talk a lot about how do we get scrappy, which is code for how do we find simple, fast solutions to tough problems, and then scale them from there. And I think when I talk to my team, especially, they're like, we don't want to go back. We don't want to go back to the bureaucracy. We don't want to go back to the way it was before. We want to stay scrappy. And I think that's going to be a legacy coming out of this, that we're going to continue. Brian Ardinger: Well, that's a great segue for the trends that you're seeing, both in the travel industry and within United. What, what are you most excited about in moving into the future and maybe what are you most worried about or scared about?Jason Birnbaum: Well, first of all, I'm excited people are traveling again. Which is fantastic. I think there's a lot of work and thought happening right now about the travel experience. And I think we are going to be on the front end right now of a lot of innovation and travel in terms of how do we take the friction out of it. Is biometrics a big part of that?And we're working with the TSA. But make that a much more seamless opportunity. There's a lot more personalization that can happen. Whether it's food on board or different kinds of services. So, I, I'm really excited that as we emerged from the pandemic that I think we're going to be able to really continue to make the experience better.And I know some people love it and some people don't, but I think there's going to be a lot of new things that come out using technology to make it just a much better experience for folks. And connect your whole journey, beyond just the airline, but maybe to the hotel and to the rental car as well. And how do we think of it in a more seamless way?So, I think that's what I'm excited about. I think I'm excited as we continue to just the new business models that we're thinking about in terms of, you know, are we more Uber. You know, use your mobile app more, we've got the best mobile app in the industry. How do we continue to make that experience better? So, there's a bunch of stuff I'm really excited about. Nervous, I think again, you know, it's a tough industry. There is innovation happening there is disruption happening. So, I think we have to continue to get better. We have to continue to prove to our customers that we have the best product. And whether that's through a great operation and getting you there on time. Whether it's through the technology that we offer. Whether it's through the great employees and the customer service and their anticipation of your needs through the journey. Like we just got to win on all those fronts.And so, the thing that I'm worried about is complacency as we come out of this. And as people come back that we cannot forget that we've got to continue to up our game because there's always folks out there that will come and try to compete with us. Brian Ardinger: And it's so important that culture aspect, like you said, you know, rallying around the new, new, and the new next and that culture and that. Are there particular things you have looked at as far as being effective at implementing that culture of innovation?Jason Birnbaum: The culture of innovation, I think it's for us, it's about having our innovators or our technology team or people that are driving change as close as possible to the frontline and to the employee and to the customer. If you get bright, creative, motivated people, with people that actually are serving our customers or our customers, they will naturally find a million great ideas.And then our job is to help support them in the creation and the development of those things. And so for me, the culture comes from actually having our folks right there with them shoulder to shoulder, out in the operations, out on the planes. And I think my message to anybody is the fewer people between the user and the customer and the person who's building it, the better off you are. Because you lose some, every step, you lose something in that translation. And you don't end up with the kind of innovation that you want to get to For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Jason, thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation and sharing what you're seeing in the trenches. Again, I appreciate the time. If people want to find out more about yourself or more about what the United Airlines is doing in this space, where should they go? Jason Birnbaum: I mean, certainly you can hit me up on Twitter @Jason_ UAL or my LinkedIn profile is available. I've got links to some articles on some of the things that we've done in more detail. So happy to take any comments there and questions, and any feedback you might have on what's happening out there as your audience is out and starts traveling again. Brian Ardinger: Well, Jason, thanks again for being on Inside Outside Innovation, look forward to continuing the conversation and best of luck. And where are you going to travel next?Jason Birnbaum: We just got back. We were just in Mexico. We were just in California, and now I'm setting my sights on trying to figure out how to get to Europe when that opens up. And so, I love to travel, and I've got a long list of places I need to get to. Brian Ardinger: Well, I hope to see you on the road, and I appreciate your time again. Thank you very much. Jason Birnbaum: Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure. Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 262 - Naomi Shah, Founder of Meet Cute on Trends in Audio Storytelling and New Media Formats & Moving from VC to Founder

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 22:32


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Naomi Shah, founder of the venture backed modern media company Meet Cute. Naomi and I talk about some of the innovations and trends in the world of audio and new media formats, as well as her insights for moving from the world of venture capital to becoming a founder. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with Naomi Shah, Founder of the venture backed modern media company Meet CuteBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Naomi Shah. She is the founder of the venture backed modern media company called Meet Cute. Naomi Shah: Thank you. It's so nice to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you here on the show because you've got a hot new startup that we want to talk about. You've got to innovate a company, innovative story. So, what is meat cute? How did you come up with the idea to start a new media company at the age of 24? Naomi Shah: So, Meet Cute, just to start with, with what it is I do every day, is an entertainment brand. We make original scripted, romantic comedies. And these are audio stories that are completely written by a network of over 500 creators. Directed, produced, and voice acted professionally. And we distribute them on Apple Podcast, Spotify, wherever you get your audio. And really what we're trying to do with Meet Cute is show that you can create a lot of scripted content and create trust with an audience because of the consistency of how often you release the stories, the types of stories, and really become the best storytellers in original scripted content. Brian Ardinger: You've got an interesting background to go down that particular path. My understanding is you started out as a macro equities trader at Goldman Sachs. You studied mechanical engineering with a minor in human biology at Stanford. Then you just started working at Union Square Ventures. How did you go about kind of that diverse background to end up where you are at? Naomi Shah: It's a really good question. I actually will start even earlier than graduating from Stanford and that is when I was growing up, I saw both my parents working on a company together. My mom was the president. My dad was the vice president, and it was always part of our family dinners, our family vacations. We always heard about what they were working on. It was this like subliminal informal look into what it's like to run your own thing. To be a founder. And to manage people and to bring people along with the vision that you have. And I never really knew how that was going to play out in my life. But I did know from a young age that was impacting the way that I wanted to go to school, study, and then start my career. And so, at Stanford, I went in wanting to be a surgeon and I left with a mechanical engineering degree. And so that kind of explains why I was a mechanical engineering major with a minor in human biology.And what fascinated me about human biology and why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place is I was really interested in the research process. Like how you ask a question, how you create a research project to answer that question, how you're very analytical and then how you convince people to listen to what you have to say.And so, in high school, and actually in middle school, I ended up going down this path of working on a lot of research. Presenting it at a lot of conferences. So, I did a TED talk when I was 15 and it was my first foray into, wow, you can have an impact on the world, that's a lot bigger than the immediate community around you.Fast forward a few years, to your point, I went into finance. I was really excited about pattern recognition in public markets and how it affected trading decisions. But I really was looking for something a little bit more creative. I always felt like I had this creative side of my brain that I couldn't really exercise day to day at work.And that was because my resume was very technical. It was very based on engineering and data and math, but I loved creative writing and I loved storytelling. And that was something that I felt like was part of my personality that I couldn't bring to work every day. So, in venture capital, it gave me a look at how founders would kind of marry different skill sets together. Make that the foundation of how they run their company. And I was really excited about that whole process, but really hadn't seen myself as an operator just yet. But I spent a lot of time at USV, which is the venture capital firm I was at right after Goldman. Our company was focused on human wellbeing. So, what are things that we do for fun?And one of the things that we do for fun is we consume content. We read books; we listen to podcasts like this one. We go to concerts with our friends. And I realized that there was kind of a gap in the market where there wasn't a lot of original scripted stories being created in a really scalable way. Where venture investors felt comfortable taking that risk and investing in a company that was working on that problem.Instead, it felt like you had Hollywood investors that were used to taking out risk profile and venture investors were like, oh no, we only do software and product. And so, I wanted to find a way to bring those two things together, which I felt like there wasn't really a company working on that out there.And that led me to starting to come up with the business model for Meat Cute. At first, from the investment side of the table, where I was looking for that company to invest in. And eventually I took that leap of faith into founding and said, if we're not seeing this company out there, let's go be the ones to create it.Brian Ardinger: So, as you were in venture, kind of looking at particular companies, did you ever think that you were going to jump to the other side of the table or was it something that came about based on your interactions with founders and that? Naomi Shah: I think it was a little bit of both. I think it kind of goes back to growing up and seeing that that was possible. I did see my mom as a leader, and I knew that at some point I wanted to follow in my parents' footsteps in some capacity. Where it's you have an impact outside of just the immediate people that you touch. And I think that that's really what inspired me with founding is that you can have an impact on millions of millions of people who use your product or listen to your stories.And that was really exciting to me. Another thing that I'll say besides seeing my mom in a leadership position early on is that I'd always seen myself on this path of, okay, I'll go to school, I'll work for a few years and then I'll go back and get my MBA. And what I saw when I was in venture capital, Is that so much of the learning that comes along with founding is just natural.It's baked into the process of struggling with how to figure out HR and how to negotiate contracts and how to hire people and how to inspire people like that. And I thought, okay, like I always saw myself on this really traditional path where it felt like if I went to business school, I could do all of these things.And being at USV and interacting with these founders, I started to see a different path for myself, where I thought, I don't have to go down this, what I felt like was a safe path for me. And I could step off that path and do something a little bit different that felt riskier in the moment. But I knew that it was a risk worth taking because all of these people before me had done. And you just learn on the job and that's just part of the CEO gig.Brian Ardinger: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned a little bit about experimentation and that. When you started Meet Cute, what was your initial thesis and then how has it pivoted or changed based on what you found out in the marketplace? Naomi Shah: It's so interesting how these like subtle pivot tap in, and sometimes you don't even realize that they're happening, but you're learning with every single day or every single story that you make. At first, we wanted to just test, can we make a 15-minute story in audio. No one had done that before in a way that you could start, tell, and end of story, in 15 minutes, in a cohesive way. Everyone is used to 90-minute films or 22-minute TV shows, but we wanted to do it in audio and bring people in and capture audiences to the point where people felt like they were listening to a movie in their ears.And we wrote our first story. Our head of development wrote the entire script. We found a producer to make it. And we put it out there in the world when we just started sharing it with our friends and family. And we said, hey, we're working on this thing. We'd love for you to listen to it and give us feedback.That was probably the moment where we were like, okay, we're doing this now. We actually have content out there in the world with our name on it. We have conviction in short form audio content. And then the next step for us became, okay, we know we can make one story. Can we make hundreds of stories? And so, to our investors, we said, our goal for the next year is really to prove that we can make stories at scale.Anyone can make one story if they put their mind to it. But we want to tell hundreds of these stories consistently and give people something to look forward to every single day. And so that was kind of like this subtle change in the way that we thought about ourselves, where we no longer were just proving the idea of storytelling. We were now proving storytelling at scale. So, the next challenge for us became, can we grow a creator network, large enough to tell so many diverse stories within this set container. And for us, our container was we were audio only. So, we had to engage an audience without any visuals. We wanted to tell 15-minute stories. We found that a 15-minute story broken up into five three-minute chapters, really engaged people and people wouldn't leave in the middle of the story. They would stay until the end. And then finally, as we were making so many diverse stories, we learned that there were certain categories of stories or certain techniques that we could use to engage audiences even more. So, with every story that we put out there, we captured listening data, engagement data, and use that to turn it into the cycle where it fueled our development. So now we were taking our learnings from the stories that we'd already put out there and pulling it back into development and making more of those stories.The idea is we're no longer just a hit driven company where we're making all the decisions. Our listeners are the ones that are teaching us about what's right, and what's wrong. And so today to bring it to present day, what we're working on is scaling this storytelling engine, this incubator to millions of listeners, to get more and more feedback on our stories and then make each story better. And that's really towards that goal of becoming the official source of romantic comedies, the best storytellers out there. That's what we think sets us apart. Brian Ardinger: I'm curious, how much did you look back to old technologies like radio and the old radio shows of the past? We've kind of come full circle in some ways. Obviously with different types of distribution models and that. But talk about what did you learn and take from the past and how are you evolving that into the current day.Naomi Shah: I think radio plays are one of the best analogies for Meet Cute. Some of our listeners, you know, even though they're listening to us on podcast apps, they're like this doesn't really sound like what I imagine a podcast to be. Where podcasts are generally conversational, and they're more interview based, or news based. We're really taking that older analogy of taking a radio play and turning it into something that people in the digital era can consume on whatever platform they're on, making it super accessible to people whenever and wherever they want a story. But to your point, there are so many historical analogies that this works and that consistent storytelling in a tight format is what people actually crave. Another really good example of it is you look at pop music where every single pop song is about three minutes long. And there's a reason for that because not to go too far into this rabbit hole, but when records transitioned to the 45 RPM record, there was only enough room on that physical record for three minutes of music.And what that meant is that as you created a cheaper way to make records, you also needed to fit the content into that physical constraint. And so, it's interesting because people relisten to music over and over again, because it's only three minutes. And so, you listened to an Ellie Goulding song or Lady Gaga song on repeat, and you don't feel like you're wasting your time. But that behavior hasn't really translated into audio storytelling yet.And so, by changing our format to be something that we know works. With repeat listening, we found that actually our listeners keep coming back to Meet Cute stories and tuning into one chapter that they resonated with or the happily ever after, or the Meet Cute moment, in the same way that they would listen to pop songs.And so, they think that it's really fun to say let's build a next generation of storytelling, but let's look backwards at what's worked and what's engaged audiences to do that. Last example, P & G invented the soap opera literally to sell soap. And it was this really interesting tool for branded content that didn't feel super on the nose as an advertising tool. It was a story. It was something you could escape into. And I think that that's a really interesting analogy for Meet Cute. We're we're trying to create escapism and that can be a vehicle for so many things. Like the message, like a social message, or it could be a vehicle for a brand to talk about what's important to them. But through the context of a story, which is a lot more emotional than a pure advertisement, or like the news cycles. Brian Ardinger: P & G built itself on that soap opera platform and change the way they sold soap and became a massive company around it. So, talk about your business model and is it more of the traditional advertising model? What are you seeing and what kind of expectations do you have for the future? Naomi Shah: Yes. So, I think we're in a really unique position because we see ourselves as the intersection of technology and Hollywood. So, technology and media, let's put it that way. Where on the technology side, we'd love to test business models, like let's create an engaged community that cares about this content and wants more access to exclusive content and create opportunities to deepen that relationship with the community that we're building. So, we're using things like. Let's engage people with shoulder content and other podcast feeds and exclusive interviews with guests. And then let's release more content in a subscription form. We just launched on apple podcast subscriptions, which is the tried and true business model on the technology side. On the media side, advertising to your point is an incredible way to be able to bring other companies and other brands into the mix, into the storytelling process. And so that's something we're definitely exploring. We're also exploring how do we engage with our communities outside of audio? So we've gotten a lot of interest from production companies and streaming platforms to start bringing this content into video and licensing our audio to other platforms that need more content. Because while we love being the sole distributor of our content. We realized that there is constantly a lack of content in the world. People always need to tell more stories. And so we can be that source of stories for other people. And so I love it because that really allows us to say let's form a relationship directly with our listeners and our audiences and be that direct to consumer entertainment company. But we don't have to stop working on creating stories for the industry and bringing our stories to audiences in ways that Meet Cute might not be the right platform for. For example, we're not a full in-house video production studio. So we want to partner with the right people there to tell our stories in the best way possible for video production as well.Brian Ardinger: Well, you brought up video, you know, what made you decide that we're going to start tackling the audio format first versus new platforms like Tik TOK or YouTube, that seemed to be getting a lot of traction because of the video format. Naomi Shah: So, audio, what I love about it is that it's such a unique format that has the constraint built in where you can't see the characters. And at first, we were like, oh, that's really tough. It's hard to engage without seeing the characters. But that's just because people haven't done it before. And what we're trying to do is really create more intimate connections with characters and plots and narrative arcs, where people start to visualize the stories in their head.So, if like the main character Natalie goes on vacation, we want the person listening, the audience member, to say, oh, what was my last vacation? Like, let me put myself in Natalie shoes and it becomes a very intimate experience. And I think audio is an incredible way to engage in a deeper way with listeners and really have them be a part of the storytelling themselves.The other thing is audio super accessible. So, you don't need to sit down and watch something. You don't need to take time out of your day. It can really go along with you in whatever you're doing. So, we have found that our audiences actually don't listen to Meet Cutes in the traditional entertainment viewing times.Meet Cutes are consumed throughout the day from like 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, when you're getting ready for school, getting ready to walk to your classes, getting ready to get lunch ready for your kids. These are the times that people really incorporate Meet Cutes into their daily routine. It almost feels like a meditation or an escape because it's so consistent. It's so predictable, you know exactly what you're going to get at the end of it. So, it's been this really interesting shift in what we thought entertainment behavior was or entertainment consumption was, where we're seeing people develop new habits because they haven't had cinema in audio before. And we wanted to start to push back on assumptions about what that looks like and create new behaviors around it.Brian Ardinger: As a founder, I always like to get founders opinions and insights into what recommendations can you help other folks who are out there, whether they're within a corporation, trying to spin up a new idea or an entrepreneur. What are some best practices, resources, or advice that you would recommend for folks trying to get off the ground?Naomi Shah: Great question. And I relied on so many people that came before me for advice. I would say, getting off the ground relies so heavily on conviction in your idea and standing by your idea in the face of other people telling you, I think you should do it this way, or I think you should do it that way. While it's so important to take advice from people. If you are not certain in what you want to build and the vision for your company or your project or your idea, I think it's really easy to be taken off track and to do things in a way that's already been done before. And that's not the reason that you go into founding, you go into founding to do something that no one has done before.And so actually through the fundraising process, because I just went through that in the pandemic, I learned that in meeting hundreds of really smart people, you have so many opinions coming to you every day. And it's really important to like take time, block off your calendar and like reflect on what you're hearing, because some of those things will actually help you shape your vision for the company.And you have to filter out the noise because there are going to be conflicting opinions that might not be the vision for your company. And it's really important to take time to reflect on that. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a completely different place that you didn't want to end up. So, I think having conviction is probably the number one piece of advice.And the second thing is finding people who are going to support you no matter what. I think that can be in the form of team members, it can be in the form of investors, can be in the form of people outside of your company who are your personal board of investors. Without those people, sometimes founding can be really lonely and really a little bit isolating. And I think that with those people, you find that you have sounding boards or people who will tell you, okay, you don't need to overthink that, focus on this instead. Having those people in your life makes, makes you feel like you're not alone on this journey as you're like climbing up the mountain and trying to figure out what this vision is for five years for the future or 10 years into the future. So, I would say people and having conviction are probably the two most important building blocks in the early stage. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Oh, they're fantastic building blocks. And I want to really thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, telling your story and giving some focus, some insight in what it takes to really do something innovative. So, thank you for being on the show. If people want to find out more about yourself or Meet Cute, what's the best way to do that? Naomi Shah: So great to be here. Loved, loved this conversation. Finding out more about Meet Cute, were on every social platform. So, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok. And the best way to learn about what we're doing is to tune in to some of our stories on any podcast platform, where you listen. Subscribe on apple podcasts.I am also super available to talk about anything entrepreneurship, business related, entertainment, podcasts, and you can find me on Twitter or on LinkedIn as well. Just feel free to DM me. Brian Ardinger: Naomi, thank you again for being on Inside Outside Innovation. Look forward to continuing the conversation and best of luck in the future for you.Naomi Shah: Thank you so much, Brian, Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 262 - Naomi Shah, Founder of Meet Cute on Trends in Audio Storytelling and New Media Formats & Moving from VC to Founder

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 22:32


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Naomi Shah, founder of the venture backed modern media company Meet Cute. Naomi and I talk about some of the innovations and trends in the world of audio and new media formats, as well as her insights for moving from the world of venture capital to becoming a founder. Let's get started.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with Naomi Shah, Founder of the venture backed modern media company Meet CuteBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Naomi Shah. She is the founder of the venture backed modern media company called Meet Cute. Naomi Shah: Thank you. It's so nice to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm excited to have you here on the show because you've got a hot new startup that we want to talk about. You've got to innovate a company, innovative story. So, what is meat cute? How did you come up with the idea to start a new media company at the age of 24? Naomi Shah: So, Meet Cute, just to start with, with what it is I do every day, is an entertainment brand. We make original scripted, romantic comedies. And these are audio stories that are completely written by a network of over 500 creators. Directed, produced, and voice acted professionally. And we distribute them on Apple Podcast, Spotify, wherever you get your audio. And really what we're trying to do with Meet Cute is show that you can create a lot of scripted content and create trust with an audience because of the consistency of how often you release the stories, the types of stories, and really become the best storytellers in original scripted content. Brian Ardinger: You've got an interesting background to go down that particular path. My understanding is you started out as a macro equities trader at Goldman Sachs. You studied mechanical engineering with a minor in human biology at Stanford. Then you just started working at Union Square Ventures. How did you go about kind of that diverse background to end up where you are at? Naomi Shah: It's a really good question. I actually will start even earlier than graduating from Stanford and that is when I was growing up, I saw both my parents working on a company together. My mom was the president. My dad was the vice president, and it was always part of our family dinners, our family vacations. We always heard about what they were working on. It was this like subliminal informal look into what it's like to run your own thing. To be a founder. And to manage people and to bring people along with the vision that you have. And I never really knew how that was going to play out in my life. But I did know from a young age that was impacting the way that I wanted to go to school, study, and then start my career. And so, at Stanford, I went in wanting to be a surgeon and I left with a mechanical engineering degree. And so that kind of explains why I was a mechanical engineering major with a minor in human biology.And what fascinated me about human biology and why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place is I was really interested in the research process. Like how you ask a question, how you create a research project to answer that question, how you're very analytical and then how you convince people to listen to what you have to say.And so, in high school, and actually in middle school, I ended up going down this path of working on a lot of research. Presenting it at a lot of conferences. So, I did a TED talk when I was 15 and it was my first foray into, wow, you can have an impact on the world, that's a lot bigger than the immediate community around you.Fast forward a few years, to your point, I went into finance. I was really excited about pattern recognition in public markets and how it affected trading decisions. But I really was looking for something a little bit more creative. I always felt like I had this creative side of my brain that I couldn't really exercise day to day at work.And that was because my resume was very technical. It was very based on engineering and data and math, but I loved creative writing and I loved storytelling. And that was something that I felt like was part of my personality that I couldn't bring to work every day. So, in venture capital, it gave me a look at how founders would kind of marry different skill sets together. Make that the foundation of how they run their company. And I was really excited about that whole process, but really hadn't seen myself as an operator just yet. But I spent a lot of time at USV, which is the venture capital firm I was at right after Goldman. Our company was focused on human wellbeing. So, what are things that we do for fun?And one of the things that we do for fun is we consume content. We read books; we listen to podcasts like this one. We go to concerts with our friends. And I realized that there was kind of a gap in the market where there wasn't a lot of original scripted stories being created in a really scalable way. Where venture investors felt comfortable taking that risk and investing in a company that was working on that problem.Instead, it felt like you had Hollywood investors that were used to taking out risk profile and venture investors were like, oh no, we only do software and product. And so, I wanted to find a way to bring those two things together, which I felt like there wasn't really a company working on that out there.And that led me to starting to come up with the business model for Meat Cute. At first, from the investment side of the table, where I was looking for that company to invest in. And eventually I took that leap of faith into founding and said, if we're not seeing this company out there, let's go be the ones to create it.Brian Ardinger: So, as you were in venture, kind of looking at particular companies, did you ever think that you were going to jump to the other side of the table or was it something that came about based on your interactions with founders and that? Naomi Shah: I think it was a little bit of both. I think it kind of goes back to growing up and seeing that that was possible. I did see my mom as a leader, and I knew that at some point I wanted to follow in my parents' footsteps in some capacity. Where it's you have an impact outside of just the immediate people that you touch. And I think that that's really what inspired me with founding is that you can have an impact on millions of millions of people who use your product or listen to your stories.And that was really exciting to me. Another thing that I'll say besides seeing my mom in a leadership position early on is that I'd always seen myself on this path of, okay, I'll go to school, I'll work for a few years and then I'll go back and get my MBA. And what I saw when I was in venture capital, Is that so much of the learning that comes along with founding is just natural.It's baked into the process of struggling with how to figure out HR and how to negotiate contracts and how to hire people and how to inspire people like that. And I thought, okay, like I always saw myself on this really traditional path where it felt like if I went to business school, I could do all of these things.And being at USV and interacting with these founders, I started to see a different path for myself, where I thought, I don't have to go down this, what I felt like was a safe path for me. And I could step off that path and do something a little bit different that felt riskier in the moment. But I knew that it was a risk worth taking because all of these people before me had done. And you just learn on the job and that's just part of the CEO gig.Brian Ardinger: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned a little bit about experimentation and that. When you started Meet Cute, what was your initial thesis and then how has it pivoted or changed based on what you found out in the marketplace? Naomi Shah: It's so interesting how these like subtle pivot tap in, and sometimes you don't even realize that they're happening, but you're learning with every single day or every single story that you make. At first, we wanted to just test, can we make a 15-minute story in audio. No one had done that before in a way that you could start, tell, and end of story, in 15 minutes, in a cohesive way. Everyone is used to 90-minute films or 22-minute TV shows, but we wanted to do it in audio and bring people in and capture audiences to the point where people felt like they were listening to a movie in their ears.And we wrote our first story. Our head of development wrote the entire script. We found a producer to make it. And we put it out there in the world when we just started sharing it with our friends and family. And we said, hey, we're working on this thing. We'd love for you to listen to it and give us feedback.That was probably the moment where we were like, okay, we're doing this now. We actually have content out there in the world with our name on it. We have conviction in short form audio content. And then the next step for us became, okay, we know we can make one story. Can we make hundreds of stories? And so, to our investors, we said, our goal for the next year is really to prove that we can make stories at scale.Anyone can make one story if they put their mind to it. But we want to tell hundreds of these stories consistently and give people something to look forward to every single day. And so that was kind of like this subtle change in the way that we thought about ourselves, where we no longer were just proving the idea of storytelling. We were now proving storytelling at scale. So, the next challenge for us became, can we grow a creator network, large enough to tell so many diverse stories within this set container. And for us, our container was we were audio only. So, we had to engage an audience without any visuals. We wanted to tell 15-minute stories. We found that a 15-minute story broken up into five three-minute chapters, really engaged people and people wouldn't leave in the middle of the story. They would stay until the end. And then finally, as we were making so many diverse stories, we learned that there were certain categories of stories or certain techniques that we could use to engage audiences even more. So, with every story that we put out there, we captured listening data, engagement data, and use that to turn it into the cycle where it fueled our development. So now we were taking our learnings from the stories that we'd already put out there and pulling it back into development and making more of those stories.The idea is we're no longer just a hit driven company where we're making all the decisions. Our listeners are the ones that are teaching us about what's right, and what's wrong. And so today to bring it to present day, what we're working on is scaling this storytelling engine, this incubator to millions of listeners, to get more and more feedback on our stories and then make each story better. And that's really towards that goal of becoming the official source of romantic comedies, the best storytellers out there. That's what we think sets us apart. Brian Ardinger: I'm curious, how much did you look back to old technologies like radio and the old radio shows of the past? We've kind of come full circle in some ways. Obviously with different types of distribution models and that. But talk about what did you learn and take from the past and how are you evolving that into the current day.Naomi Shah: I think radio plays are one of the best analogies for Meet Cute. Some of our listeners, you know, even though they're listening to us on podcast apps, they're like this doesn't really sound like what I imagine a podcast to be. Where podcasts are generally conversational, and they're more interview based, or news based. We're really taking that older analogy of taking a radio play and turning it into something that people in the digital era can consume on whatever platform they're on, making it super accessible to people whenever and wherever they want a story. But to your point, there are so many historical analogies that this works and that consistent storytelling in a tight format is what people actually crave. Another really good example of it is you look at pop music where every single pop song is about three minutes long. And there's a reason for that because not to go too far into this rabbit hole, but when records transitioned to the 45 RPM record, there was only enough room on that physical record for three minutes of music.And what that meant is that as you created a cheaper way to make records, you also needed to fit the content into that physical constraint. And so, it's interesting because people relisten to music over and over again, because it's only three minutes. And so, you listened to an Ellie Goulding song or Lady Gaga song on repeat, and you don't feel like you're wasting your time. But that behavior hasn't really translated into audio storytelling yet.And so, by changing our format to be something that we know works. With repeat listening, we found that actually our listeners keep coming back to Meet Cute stories and tuning into one chapter that they resonated with or the happily ever after, or the Meet Cute moment, in the same way that they would listen to pop songs.And so, they think that it's really fun to say let's build a next generation of storytelling, but let's look backwards at what's worked and what's engaged audiences to do that. Last example, P & G invented the soap opera literally to sell soap. And it was this really interesting tool for branded content that didn't feel super on the nose as an advertising tool. It was a story. It was something you could escape into. And I think that that's a really interesting analogy for Meet Cute. We're we're trying to create escapism and that can be a vehicle for so many things. Like the message, like a social message, or it could be a vehicle for a brand to talk about what's important to them. But through the context of a story, which is a lot more emotional than a pure advertisement, or like the news cycles. Brian Ardinger: P & G built itself on that soap opera platform and change the way they sold soap and became a massive company around it. So, talk about your business model and is it more of the traditional advertising model? What are you seeing and what kind of expectations do you have for the future? Naomi Shah: Yes. So, I think we're in a really unique position because we see ourselves as the intersection of technology and Hollywood. So, technology and media, let's put it that way. Where on the technology side, we'd love to test business models, like let's create an engaged community that cares about this content and wants more access to exclusive content and create opportunities to deepen that relationship with the community that we're building. So, we're using things like. Let's engage people with shoulder content and other podcast feeds and exclusive interviews with guests. And then let's release more content in a subscription form. We just launched on apple podcast subscriptions, which is the tried and true business model on the technology side. On the media side, advertising to your point is an incredible way to be able to bring other companies and other brands into the mix, into the storytelling process. And so that's something we're definitely exploring. We're also exploring how do we engage with our communities outside of audio? So we've gotten a lot of interest from production companies and streaming platforms to start bringing this content into video and licensing our audio to other platforms that need more content. Because while we love being the sole distributor of our content. We realized that there is constantly a lack of content in the world. People always need to tell more stories. And so we can be that source of stories for other people. And so I love it because that really allows us to say let's form a relationship directly with our listeners and our audiences and be that direct to consumer entertainment company. But we don't have to stop working on creating stories for the industry and bringing our stories to audiences in ways that Meet Cute might not be the right platform for. For example, we're not a full in-house video production studio. So we want to partner with the right people there to tell our stories in the best way possible for video production as well.Brian Ardinger: Well, you brought up video, you know, what made you decide that we're going to start tackling the audio format first versus new platforms like Tik TOK or YouTube, that seemed to be getting a lot of traction because of the video format. Naomi Shah: So, audio, what I love about it is that it's such a unique format that has the constraint built in where you can't see the characters. And at first, we were like, oh, that's really tough. It's hard to engage without seeing the characters. But that's just because people haven't done it before. And what we're trying to do is really create more intimate connections with characters and plots and narrative arcs, where people start to visualize the stories in their head.So, if like the main character Natalie goes on vacation, we want the person listening, the audience member, to say, oh, what was my last vacation? Like, let me put myself in Natalie shoes and it becomes a very intimate experience. And I think audio is an incredible way to engage in a deeper way with listeners and really have them be a part of the storytelling themselves.The other thing is audio super accessible. So, you don't need to sit down and watch something. You don't need to take time out of your day. It can really go along with you in whatever you're doing. So, we have found that our audiences actually don't listen to Meet Cutes in the traditional entertainment viewing times.Meet Cutes are consumed throughout the day from like 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, when you're getting ready for school, getting ready to walk to your classes, getting ready to get lunch ready for your kids. These are the times that people really incorporate Meet Cutes into their daily routine. It almost feels like a meditation or an escape because it's so consistent. It's so predictable, you know exactly what you're going to get at the end of it. So, it's been this really interesting shift in what we thought entertainment behavior was or entertainment consumption was, where we're seeing people develop new habits because they haven't had cinema in audio before. And we wanted to start to push back on assumptions about what that looks like and create new behaviors around it.Brian Ardinger: As a founder, I always like to get founders opinions and insights into what recommendations can you help other folks who are out there, whether they're within a corporation, trying to spin up a new idea or an entrepreneur. What are some best practices, resources, or advice that you would recommend for folks trying to get off the ground?Naomi Shah: Great question. And I relied on so many people that came before me for advice. I would say, getting off the ground relies so heavily on conviction in your idea and standing by your idea in the face of other people telling you, I think you should do it this way, or I think you should do it that way. While it's so important to take advice from people. If you are not certain in what you want to build and the vision for your company or your project or your idea, I think it's really easy to be taken off track and to do things in a way that's already been done before. And that's not the reason that you go into founding, you go into founding to do something that no one has done before.And so actually through the fundraising process, because I just went through that in the pandemic, I learned that in meeting hundreds of really smart people, you have so many opinions coming to you every day. And it's really important to like take time, block off your calendar and like reflect on what you're hearing, because some of those things will actually help you shape your vision for the company.And you have to filter out the noise because there are going to be conflicting opinions that might not be the vision for your company. And it's really important to take time to reflect on that. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a completely different place that you didn't want to end up. So, I think having conviction is probably the number one piece of advice.And the second thing is finding people who are going to support you no matter what. I think that can be in the form of team members, it can be in the form of investors, can be in the form of people outside of your company who are your personal board of investors. Without those people, sometimes founding can be really lonely and really a little bit isolating. And I think that with those people, you find that you have sounding boards or people who will tell you, okay, you don't need to overthink that, focus on this instead. Having those people in your life makes, makes you feel like you're not alone on this journey as you're like climbing up the mountain and trying to figure out what this vision is for five years for the future or 10 years into the future. So, I would say people and having conviction are probably the two most important building blocks in the early stage. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: Oh, they're fantastic building blocks. And I want to really thank you for coming on Inside Outside Innovation, telling your story and giving some focus, some insight in what it takes to really do something innovative. So, thank you for being on the show. If people want to find out more about yourself or Meet Cute, what's the best way to do that? Naomi Shah: So great to be here. Loved, loved this conversation. Finding out more about Meet Cute, were on every social platform. So, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok. And the best way to learn about what we're doing is to tune in to some of our stories on any podcast platform, where you listen. Subscribe on apple podcasts.I am also super available to talk about anything entrepreneurship, business related, entertainment, podcasts, and you can find me on Twitter or on LinkedIn as well. Just feel free to DM me. Brian Ardinger: Naomi, thank you again for being on Inside Outside Innovation. Look forward to continuing the conversation and best of luck in the future for you.Naomi Shah: Thank you so much, Brian, Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 261 - April Rinne, Author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change on Skills and Tactics to Better Prepare Yourself

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 25:07


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with April Rinne, author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. April and I talk about what it takes to thrive in a world of constant change and uncertainty and explore some of the skills and tactics you can use to better prepare yourself and your organization for a world of flux.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with April Rinne, Author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in ChangeBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. With me today is April Rinne. She is the author of a new book coming out called Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. Welcome April. April Rinne: Thank you, Brian. Glad to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm super excited to have you on the show. When I got a preview copy of the book, I started going through it and it's like, ah, this resonates with everything that I've been talking about, and our audience has been talking about. This whole idea that the world is changing. I think we fundamentally or theoretically understood that 18 months ago, but now every individual has felt that we are in flux.So, this is an amazing book. You start off the book with a gut-wrenching story that gives you immediate insights into what's required to live in a world of flux. And I don't know if you can share that story and maybe its impact on your life and your career and how you got to this place. April Rinne: Yeah. Sure. So, it's interesting. Just picking up on what you just said, which is I was actually working on this book for a long time. Long before the pandemic or lockdown. I like to say that the book itself was about three years in the actual writing, but it was more than three decades or close to three decades in the making. And that relates to my earlier story. But it is kind of interesting where over the last 12 to 18 months, people are like, oh, world in flux, you know, welcome to my life. But I'm sort of looking at this saying, Hm, there was a lot of flux before and there's going to be a lot more moving forward. But my entry into a world in flux or what I, what I sometimes call like my baptism. But my baptism into flux happened more than 25 years ago. I was in college, and I was a junior and I was studying overseas, and I'd had this kind of life expanding mind expanding year.And just as it was wrapping up, I received a phone call and basically at age 20, both my parents were killed in a car accident. And that was that moment where whatever you think your future is going to be, whatever you think the world has in store for you. However you think the world works, like it just all changed.You know, I would not have imagined back then that I would write a book about this sense of like, what do you do when you just can't control constant change. But that's when the seed was really planted. Brian Ardinger: Whether it's the loss of a parent or a major job change or a pandemic. A lot of folks are in that space right now. Like they're trying to understand what I thought the world was going to be is different. So, I think the book helps outline some of the things you can think about or some different ways to approach it. So, tell me a little bit about the book and why a person should pick it up. April Rinne: Yeah, absolutely. And you really nailed it. That sense of like, that was my version, but everyone has today I believe their own version. And what's key is the future is not more certainty. It's not more stability. The future is more uncertainty, more change, more flop, and are we really ready for it? And so the crux of the book is exactly that. That's sense of, you know, on the whole humans, we tend to love change that we opt into. You know, exactly. But we tend to really, really struggle with change we don't. The unexpected change. The change that waylays you. The change that is unwelcome. And yet that's the world we live in today. There's more, not less of that. And so, the fundamental premise of Flux the book is that in a world in constant change, we need to radically reshape our relationship to change from the inside out. I can add. In order to have a healthy and productive outlook. So, we're good at a slice of change, but we're really, really bad at a big chunk of it. This is where I get excited because also individually, this plays out. Organizationally, this plays out. And societally this plays out. So that's the basic punchline of the book, but the eight superpowers are the kind of how to. Brian Ardinger: Talk us through, like, how did you come up with those eight and maybe an overview of those. April Rinne: Sure. This is one of my favorite framing devices, which is, you know, Flux is both a noun and a verb. As a noun it means constant change. I think we all kinda get that. It's also a verb and as a verb, it means to learn to become fluid. So, the way I like to put it as the world is in flux, and we need to learn how to flux. To become fluid in our relating to all kinds of change. And so, I'll be really candid. The Eight Flux Superpowers evolved through a lot of hard work and thinking and post-its and reframing and structuring, you know, all of that.And I will admit now, you know, the book's been written for some time. It's obviously in the publication process. I haven't yet found the ninth one. So, I feel pretty good about that right now. But in short, the eight flux super powers, the first one is run slower. The second is see what's invisible. The third is get lost. The fourth is start with trust. The fifth is know you're enough. The sixth is create your portfolio career. The seventh is be all the more human and the eighth, one of the more provocative, although they're all provocative I think in some way. The eighth is let go of the future. Each of those kind of relates to different themes, you know, run slower is a lot about anxiety and burnout and so forth. And start with trust is obviously about trust. And letting go of the future is not about giving up or failing. It's actually about our relationship to control. So there's a lot more packed in each of those, but that's a quick summary. Brian Ardinger: Absolutely. The first one you start off with in the book is run slower. And I think a lot of people, when you talk about innovation, and you see what's out there in the press and that everybody talks about acceleration and speed of change and that. And the obvious antidote people think of is well, I've got to run faster. I've got to go, go faster and that. So, it's kind of a contradictory approach to that. So, talk about what you mean by run slower and let's unpack that a little bit. April Rinne: Landing on this particular superpower did result from a range of sources. But one of which was my many, many years as an advisor to companies, many of them were startups. But also, governments and think tanks and nonprofits. Organizations of all stripes, shades, colors, flavors, whatever, and their quest to innovate. And recognizing that change breeds innovation, but innovation itself, that simply means something new.It's not inherently good or bad. And I'm looking at this going, how do we innovate well. How do we innovate responsibly? How do we innovate in ways where we don't end up having blind spots and regretting some portion of what we did later on, et cetera. And I think we see a lot of that today, right? So back to the superpower. Run slower. The way I define it is in a world of ever faster pace of change, societally. The way we thrive is to slow our own pace. So again, you nailed it where I like to say the pace of change has never been as fast as it is today. And yet it is likely to never again, be this slow. Right. Now just let that sink in for a moment.Right. It's sort of exciting and it's kind of terrifying as well. And I kept looking around as a futurist, as an adviser, as a human being and saying, okay, society tells us that when the pace of change increases, we need to run faster. We need to keep up. And if we know that tomorrow, there's going to be more change than today and next week there's going to be more change than this week.And next year, next decade. Draw that out as far as you wish. If you know today that every single day for the rest of your life, your mandate from society is to run faster. That does not look like a future in which I want to live. And organizationally run ever faster. Wait a minute. You're gonna miss the very best decisions you could make. You're going to miss the very best opportunities. At an extreme, I say, you know, when we run ever faster, we run the risk of running right past life. This is not about doing nothing. This is not about being lazy. This is about slowing your own pace so that it's sustainable. So that in fact, you can be in touch if you will, with yourself, as opposed to just chasing after the next thing that you're supposed to do or the torrent of the info flow.But also, it helps us make wiser decisions. You want to slow down enough so that you can see, recognize, identify, and focus on the things that really matter. So there are lots of different angles there, but I find this is a lot with people, both struggling with anxiety and burn out. But also, when it comes to innovation, how do we make the best decisions? How do we make sure that we've covered our scope of possibility and so forth? Brian Ardinger: Yeah, it's, it's very much like that professional athlete. When they get into that flow, they talk about this idea of everything slows down. And they can understand the environment that they're in. And I think that's kind of what you're talking about.I've also seen the reverse where people go slow because everything's moving so fast, they fail take any action. Or they're scared of being able to keep up, so they don't make decisions and things like that. So, it's, it's that balance almost of like you said, running. But running at a pace that finished the marathon. April Rinne: Very much so. Exactly. I did not say sit still. I did not say do nothing. I said, run, but run slower. Run at a pace that you can sustain over time. Run at a pace that allows you to take in and take stock of everything that's going on. That really matters. And it's funny that you bring up athletes. There's a section in the book there, too.Everything from, you know, what's the right time to make a judgment or a decision. To also one of my favorite quotes. And it relates to athletes, but also children. And I think adults too. Certainly, for me. This notion that there is a kind of growth that comes only with rest. Just think about that. We assume that growth has to happen through motion and action.Think about how kids grow. Think about how athletes strengthen their muscles. It doesn't happen only when they're in motion. It happens when they're at rest. Brian Ardinger: Another area that you tackle is this idea of getting out of your own way and expanding your vision. And you're talking about expanding your peripheral vision, specifically. Being able to look at industries and ideas in that in different ways and, and expanding your business. So talk a little bit about that particular superpower April Rinne: Yeah. So that's the second one. See what's invisible, which says that, you know, when life feels uncertain or blurry, we need to shift our focus from what's visible to what's invisible. And actually, there are all kinds of overlaps with innovation here. The classic cases that, in which again, what does society tell us? You need to focus on your goal straight ahead. And I'm not saying that having goals isn't important and that you shouldn't know how to focus. I'm saying that actually, where is typically most of the action. It's right in front of you or so we think. Where's the actual and really new ideas. The really game changing opportunities. They tend to be on the periphery. They tend to be outside the mainstream. They may end up going mainstream some years later. And then you feel like, oh, I was a really early, you know, joiner to that particular company or idea or whatever. And so expanding our peripheral vision to see more and to see what is again by society standards, quote unquote, invisible.Now just one quick example here. I've spent much of the past decade in the space called the sharing economy. You know, access over ownership and this, that, and the other. It's a classic case in which entrepreneurs and innovators in the sharing economy saw what was invisible to traditional companies. So, case in point, you know, a car sits parked on average 23 hours a day, 95% of the time. We've come to believe that's kind of normal. How in the world that got normalized to have a 95 or 96% inefficient asset is beyond me? But you look at this and you go, this doesn't make sense. Yet society tells us everyone needs a car, not just one car. You need many cars. This is how we're going to build the car. Yeah. And so, you have, car sharing entrepreneurs who look at this and say, no, we actually see value in that parked car.We actually see value in that parking space. We're going to flip the lens and actually put these assets into shared use, thereby helping people save money. Helping reduce CO2 emissions. Freeing up space. I mean, the list goes on and on. But that's a really interesting case. Society tells us to focus on what's visible, which is the cost of a car. GDP. Things with dollars and cents, but there was idling capacity, or what we could think of is invisible value in streets and cities around the world.When you learn how to see that there's a whole new kind of ecosystem, not just for transportation, but far beyond, that can be developed. So that's an example on, again, the innovation kind of organizational end of things. But it definitely applies in terms of individuals and our own blind spots. And where we think we should be looking versus where the action, the action that really matters where it happens to be.Brian Ardinger: And it doesn't even have to be within your industry. I think some of the low hanging fruit for a lot of corporations would be just to look at other industries and see what they're doing when it comes to customer relationships or whatever. And it may not be in your wheelhouse, or your industry may not be doing it, but it may be something that's very easy to adapt or adopt into your industry. And all you have to do is just quite frankly, look at a different set of competitors out there and see what happens. April Rinne: I love that you bring this up, Brian, because I joked with you in advance. Like ironically, what people often call me is a kind of insider outsider in terms of my advisory work. And I have lost count. I'll share this with you. It's so fun because I have lost count of the number of times I've been contacted by an organization and they've said, we want you to do what you did for that company, for our company. But they're in a domain, I'm like, I think you have the wrong person.I began by saying that, because it was like an energy company that first asked me this. And I was like, I'm not an energy expert. They were like, we know. But, you know, just enough about us to actually be able to bring in insights from financial services, from the sharing economy. You know, and the point was not that I had their solution, but then I could bring a perspective and a set of examples and a set of ideas and a set of principles, et cetera, et cetera.That were wildly different than what they were used to hearing. That ended up kind of churning their engines, if you will, around creativity, curiosity, and innovation. So you're absolutely right. And one of the things not just to see what's invisible, but all of the eight superpowers in the entire book. What I love is that I'm not asking you to have any kind of technology or money or whatever that you don't already possess. It's a matter of knowing where to look. So, see what's invisible. All that you need to learn how to see what's invisible. It's right there in front of you. It requires you actually though, to be able to take the step, to reach out and say, I need to learn more about what I don't know. I need to go somewhere that again, society tells me that's outside my domain. That's outside my sector. It's actually really, really relevant for what you're doing. Brian Ardinger: Well, that power of exploration. I think people underestimate it. And a lot of times it's not even exploring for a specific solution. It's just literally the act of exploring leads you to collisions of ideas and thoughts that lead you to that epiphany of whatever the thing is you're working on.April Rinne: And just a quick side note there, which is it's a little bit meta, but I like to bring it up because I think the moment in time, we're all living in right now. Whether it's reopening, whether it's, you know, what parts of normal are going to continue to exist. You know, is there a such a thing as normal?What, what do you want to leave behind in the last year? And what of the ways in which you changed; do you want to take forward. In this world of like we're in not just massive flux, but the sense of we don't have the solution. We're figuring them out. And we're in the early stages of what I believe will be a massive phase of exploration, iteration, experimentation, improvement, but like, we're not even close to those solutions right now.And I think especially like hybrid work. I focused on the future of work for years. Anyone who tells me they figured out hybrid work. I'm like, no, you haven't. And the more you believe you have, the more, I'm less inclined to actually listen to what you're saying. But if we can all kind of wrap our arms around the fact that we don't know, and we won't know, and to start that process exactly as you've said of, of exploring and experimenting and iterating, we're going to be just fine. But it's the people who want to control and know right now, what it's going to look like. Those are the ones that I worry about where we're going to find ourselves in some trouble. Brian Ardinger: And that's probably a good segue to the last superpower I kind of want to talk about. It's this idea of creating your portfolio. I think maybe you and I are similar from that perspective that, you know, every couple of years, it's a new hat we throw on. I talk about it from the standpoint of everybody's going to have a slash in their name. So, I'm a, you know, entrepreneurial slash podcast slash director of innovation slash whatever. And this idea that everyone in society is going to have this portfolio of experiences that they bring to the table. Talk a little bit about why that superpower is important and, and what I that means to you. April Rinne: Yeah. So this does relate directly to the future of work. It's a bit unique in that regard and that a lot of the superpowers are more applicable personally, professionally, societally. Portfolio career is very much about you and your career.And fundamentally what we're looking at is the career of the future looks much less like a career path, a kind of linear trajectory, and much more like a portfolio that you take responsibility for. And you curate. It gets super interesting. So, the whole like study work, retire, learn linear path that we, again, society told us this is how your professional life is likely to play out.Not to say that that didn't work for some time, but what we're finding is it's broken at every node today. And a lot of people want something more, once something different. I think the great resignation that's going on right now is directly related to this. And so, the notion of a portfolio, it's not just acknowledging that the structure of the workforce is changing.It is now possible to work in more ways than ever before. The role of technology, et cetera, et cetera. But it's also looking at, you know, our professional identity. How do you actually want to show up and bring your best to the world? And so the shift from the career path, which you can think of as a ladder to climb, you know, it's, it's that linear, like pursue, pursue, pursue.So, what's happening is more and more people are not wanting to climb that ladder. More and more people are finding that ladder is teetering, if not broken. And it doesn't work for a whole lot of people. A portfolio, which again, just in the spirit of creativity, you'll hear them refer to it as a jungle gym, rather than a ladder.You'll hear them refer to it as a bento box. If you know the Japanese delicacy. But we're looking, I've also heard of actually a flower that has different pedals and different ways of blossoming. But what we're looking at is basically a shift in how you view your professional development. Your professional identity. And your career overall. And that it's not a path, but it is exactly, as you say, it is a curation of all of the things you care about. All of the things you can do. And if you will, your best work. So, from a portfolio perspective, there are lots of ways you can look at it. The two that I prefer, because I find most people gravitate towards one or the other. One is, you know, investors have a portfolio. It's a portfolio of their investments obviously, but why do they have a portfolio?They have it to diversify, to diversify and to mitigate risk. Right? Then you've got an artist portfolio. Well, what's in his or her portfolio, their best work. So whichever of those, you like, it's more a matter of everything that you've ever done or want to do or skills you have paid or unpaid that can contribute to society. All of that's in your portfolio. And then it's up to you to mix and match and curate it into something that's unique, which is where we end up with hyphens. Brian Ardinger: The other thing about the portfolio career concept is that as the world is accelerating and you know, new tools are becoming easier for the average Joe or Jane to pick up and that. The fact that, you know, what you learned in college is no longer relevant after four years because of the, you know, the world's changed. It's both easier and harder to jump into that next portfolio or learn and take advantage of that, whatever that is. So if you look at it from an opportunistic perspective and it's like, as an opportunity, this pace of change is actually a really good thing. Because you're never really that far behind whatever the next thing is. Because you can jump in and become a part of it and learn faster, because those tools are available to you as well. So because of that pace of change, not only you have to be good at it, but it also gives you an opportunity to be able to flex and change in ways you've never done it in the past. April Rinne: Absolutely. And this is, it's actually a perfect entry or a segue into the portfolio career being much more aligned with and fit for a future of work in flux. And what's interesting, there's a quote, it's actually by Jerry Garcia of all people, but you know, the quote is don't be the best be the only. And the reason I like this is because in the future, being that single greatest expert on X, Y, Z, less and less likely, more and more difficult and less and less just not really aligned with reality.It's going to be the combination of different skills in your portfolio that allow you to stand out. And the more things you have in your portfolio, the more you can mix and match. And to your point, the easier it becomes to add things, layer up or level up. Moving forward as new technologies come through, as new roles become design, become available, et cetera.So it is that sense of this is how not just that you're ready and prepared for the future of work, but also the more robust your portfolio, the harder it is going to be to automate some portion of what you do. The easier it is to keep refreshing your portfolio over time, et cetera. So, one thing I would add, because this comes up a lot where people are like, wait, are you just talking about kind of hustling and the gig economy and that sort of thing, when they hear the word portfolio and I'm always like, no, no, no, no, no, absolutely not.Any full-time job you have is in your portfolio, any side hustle or gig you have is in your portfolio too. Any volunteer experience you have is in your portfolio. The thing I like to remind people is each and every one of us already has a portfolio today. The hook is most of us don't realize it and we're not necessarily being deliberate about curating it.But that's where, like I say, you've already got again, you've got the pieces of your puzzle. It's a matter of putting them together in a different way. That's much more aligned with and ready for constant change. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: We have plenty more superpowers to cover. I encourage people to pick up Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. If people want to find out more about you April or about the book, what's the best way to do that.April Rinne: The best website for my book and all things flux is fluxmindset.com. And I also have my site, which is just more about me, aprilrinne.com, but head to Flux first and feel free to follow up with questions. I'm super easy to reach. My email is april@aprilriinne.com. I'm always happy to be in touch and thank you again for today.Brian Ardinger: Well, April, thanks for being on Inside Outside Innovation. I look forward to having you as part of the community in the years to come, and I appreciate your time today. April Rinne: Absolutely. Likewise, thank you, Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside Innovation
Ep. 261 - April Rinne, Author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change on Skills and Tactics to Better Prepare Yourself

Inside Outside Innovation

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 25:07


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with April Rinne, author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. April and I talk about what it takes to thrive in a world of constant change and uncertainty and explore some of the skills and tactics you can use to better prepare yourself and your organization for a world of flux.Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring you latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with April Rinne, Author of Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in ChangeBrian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger and as always, we have another amazing guest. With me today is April Rinne. She is the author of a new book coming out called Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. Welcome April. April Rinne: Thank you, Brian. Glad to be here. Brian Ardinger: I'm super excited to have you on the show. When I got a preview copy of the book, I started going through it and it's like, ah, this resonates with everything that I've been talking about, and our audience has been talking about. This whole idea that the world is changing. I think we fundamentally or theoretically understood that 18 months ago, but now every individual has felt that we are in flux.So, this is an amazing book. You start off the book with a gut-wrenching story that gives you immediate insights into what's required to live in a world of flux. And I don't know if you can share that story and maybe its impact on your life and your career and how you got to this place. April Rinne: Yeah. Sure. So, it's interesting. Just picking up on what you just said, which is I was actually working on this book for a long time. Long before the pandemic or lockdown. I like to say that the book itself was about three years in the actual writing, but it was more than three decades or close to three decades in the making. And that relates to my earlier story. But it is kind of interesting where over the last 12 to 18 months, people are like, oh, world in flux, you know, welcome to my life. But I'm sort of looking at this saying, Hm, there was a lot of flux before and there's going to be a lot more moving forward. But my entry into a world in flux or what I, what I sometimes call like my baptism. But my baptism into flux happened more than 25 years ago. I was in college, and I was a junior and I was studying overseas, and I'd had this kind of life expanding mind expanding year.And just as it was wrapping up, I received a phone call and basically at age 20, both my parents were killed in a car accident. And that was that moment where whatever you think your future is going to be, whatever you think the world has in store for you. However you think the world works, like it just all changed.You know, I would not have imagined back then that I would write a book about this sense of like, what do you do when you just can't control constant change. But that's when the seed was really planted. Brian Ardinger: Whether it's the loss of a parent or a major job change or a pandemic. A lot of folks are in that space right now. Like they're trying to understand what I thought the world was going to be is different. So, I think the book helps outline some of the things you can think about or some different ways to approach it. So, tell me a little bit about the book and why a person should pick it up. April Rinne: Yeah, absolutely. And you really nailed it. That sense of like, that was my version, but everyone has today I believe their own version. And what's key is the future is not more certainty. It's not more stability. The future is more uncertainty, more change, more flop, and are we really ready for it? And so the crux of the book is exactly that. That's sense of, you know, on the whole humans, we tend to love change that we opt into. You know, exactly. But we tend to really, really struggle with change we don't. The unexpected change. The change that waylays you. The change that is unwelcome. And yet that's the world we live in today. There's more, not less of that. And so, the fundamental premise of Flux the book is that in a world in constant change, we need to radically reshape our relationship to change from the inside out. I can add. In order to have a healthy and productive outlook. So, we're good at a slice of change, but we're really, really bad at a big chunk of it. This is where I get excited because also individually, this plays out. Organizationally, this plays out. And societally this plays out. So that's the basic punchline of the book, but the eight superpowers are the kind of how to. Brian Ardinger: Talk us through, like, how did you come up with those eight and maybe an overview of those. April Rinne: Sure. This is one of my favorite framing devices, which is, you know, Flux is both a noun and a verb. As a noun it means constant change. I think we all kinda get that. It's also a verb and as a verb, it means to learn to become fluid. So, the way I like to put it as the world is in flux, and we need to learn how to flux. To become fluid in our relating to all kinds of change. And so, I'll be really candid. The Eight Flux Superpowers evolved through a lot of hard work and thinking and post-its and reframing and structuring, you know, all of that.And I will admit now, you know, the book's been written for some time. It's obviously in the publication process. I haven't yet found the ninth one. So, I feel pretty good about that right now. But in short, the eight flux super powers, the first one is run slower. The second is see what's invisible. The third is get lost. The fourth is start with trust. The fifth is know you're enough. The sixth is create your portfolio career. The seventh is be all the more human and the eighth, one of the more provocative, although they're all provocative I think in some way. The eighth is let go of the future. Each of those kind of relates to different themes, you know, run slower is a lot about anxiety and burnout and so forth. And start with trust is obviously about trust. And letting go of the future is not about giving up or failing. It's actually about our relationship to control. So there's a lot more packed in each of those, but that's a quick summary. Brian Ardinger: Absolutely. The first one you start off with in the book is run slower. And I think a lot of people, when you talk about innovation, and you see what's out there in the press and that everybody talks about acceleration and speed of change and that. And the obvious antidote people think of is well, I've got to run faster. I've got to go, go faster and that. So, it's kind of a contradictory approach to that. So, talk about what you mean by run slower and let's unpack that a little bit. April Rinne: Landing on this particular superpower did result from a range of sources. But one of which was my many, many years as an advisor to companies, many of them were startups. But also, governments and think tanks and nonprofits. Organizations of all stripes, shades, colors, flavors, whatever, and their quest to innovate. And recognizing that change breeds innovation, but innovation itself, that simply means something new.It's not inherently good or bad. And I'm looking at this going, how do we innovate well. How do we innovate responsibly? How do we innovate in ways where we don't end up having blind spots and regretting some portion of what we did later on, et cetera. And I think we see a lot of that today, right? So back to the superpower. Run slower. The way I define it is in a world of ever faster pace of change, societally. The way we thrive is to slow our own pace. So again, you nailed it where I like to say the pace of change has never been as fast as it is today. And yet it is likely to never again, be this slow. Right. Now just let that sink in for a moment.Right. It's sort of exciting and it's kind of terrifying as well. And I kept looking around as a futurist, as an adviser, as a human being and saying, okay, society tells us that when the pace of change increases, we need to run faster. We need to keep up. And if we know that tomorrow, there's going to be more change than today and next week there's going to be more change than this week.And next year, next decade. Draw that out as far as you wish. If you know today that every single day for the rest of your life, your mandate from society is to run faster. That does not look like a future in which I want to live. And organizationally run ever faster. Wait a minute. You're gonna miss the very best decisions you could make. You're going to miss the very best opportunities. At an extreme, I say, you know, when we run ever faster, we run the risk of running right past life. This is not about doing nothing. This is not about being lazy. This is about slowing your own pace so that it's sustainable. So that in fact, you can be in touch if you will, with yourself, as opposed to just chasing after the next thing that you're supposed to do or the torrent of the info flow.But also, it helps us make wiser decisions. You want to slow down enough so that you can see, recognize, identify, and focus on the things that really matter. So there are lots of different angles there, but I find this is a lot with people, both struggling with anxiety and burn out. But also, when it comes to innovation, how do we make the best decisions? How do we make sure that we've covered our scope of possibility and so forth? Brian Ardinger: Yeah, it's, it's very much like that professional athlete. When they get into that flow, they talk about this idea of everything slows down. And they can understand the environment that they're in. And I think that's kind of what you're talking about.I've also seen the reverse where people go slow because everything's moving so fast, they fail take any action. Or they're scared of being able to keep up, so they don't make decisions and things like that. So, it's, it's that balance almost of like you said, running. But running at a pace that finished the marathon. April Rinne: Very much so. Exactly. I did not say sit still. I did not say do nothing. I said, run, but run slower. Run at a pace that you can sustain over time. Run at a pace that allows you to take in and take stock of everything that's going on. That really matters. And it's funny that you bring up athletes. There's a section in the book there, too.Everything from, you know, what's the right time to make a judgment or a decision. To also one of my favorite quotes. And it relates to athletes, but also children. And I think adults too. Certainly, for me. This notion that there is a kind of growth that comes only with rest. Just think about that. We assume that growth has to happen through motion and action.Think about how kids grow. Think about how athletes strengthen their muscles. It doesn't happen only when they're in motion. It happens when they're at rest. Brian Ardinger: Another area that you tackle is this idea of getting out of your own way and expanding your vision. And you're talking about expanding your peripheral vision, specifically. Being able to look at industries and ideas in that in different ways and, and expanding your business. So talk a little bit about that particular superpower April Rinne: Yeah. So that's the second one. See what's invisible, which says that, you know, when life feels uncertain or blurry, we need to shift our focus from what's visible to what's invisible. And actually, there are all kinds of overlaps with innovation here. The classic cases that, in which again, what does society tell us? You need to focus on your goal straight ahead. And I'm not saying that having goals isn't important and that you shouldn't know how to focus. I'm saying that actually, where is typically most of the action. It's right in front of you or so we think. Where's the actual and really new ideas. The really game changing opportunities. They tend to be on the periphery. They tend to be outside the mainstream. They may end up going mainstream some years later. And then you feel like, oh, I was a really early, you know, joiner to that particular company or idea or whatever. And so expanding our peripheral vision to see more and to see what is again by society standards, quote unquote, invisible.Now just one quick example here. I've spent much of the past decade in the space called the sharing economy. You know, access over ownership and this, that, and the other. It's a classic case in which entrepreneurs and innovators in the sharing economy saw what was invisible to traditional companies. So, case in point, you know, a car sits parked on average 23 hours a day, 95% of the time. We've come to believe that's kind of normal. How in the world that got normalized to have a 95 or 96% inefficient asset is beyond me? But you look at this and you go, this doesn't make sense. Yet society tells us everyone needs a car, not just one car. You need many cars. This is how we're going to build the car. Yeah. And so, you have, car sharing entrepreneurs who look at this and say, no, we actually see value in that parked car.We actually see value in that parking space. We're going to flip the lens and actually put these assets into shared use, thereby helping people save money. Helping reduce CO2 emissions. Freeing up space. I mean, the list goes on and on. But that's a really interesting case. Society tells us to focus on what's visible, which is the cost of a car. GDP. Things with dollars and cents, but there was idling capacity, or what we could think of is invisible value in streets and cities around the world.When you learn how to see that there's a whole new kind of ecosystem, not just for transportation, but far beyond, that can be developed. So that's an example on, again, the innovation kind of organizational end of things. But it definitely applies in terms of individuals and our own blind spots. And where we think we should be looking versus where the action, the action that really matters where it happens to be.Brian Ardinger: And it doesn't even have to be within your industry. I think some of the low hanging fruit for a lot of corporations would be just to look at other industries and see what they're doing when it comes to customer relationships or whatever. And it may not be in your wheelhouse, or your industry may not be doing it, but it may be something that's very easy to adapt or adopt into your industry. And all you have to do is just quite frankly, look at a different set of competitors out there and see what happens. April Rinne: I love that you bring this up, Brian, because I joked with you in advance. Like ironically, what people often call me is a kind of insider outsider in terms of my advisory work. And I have lost count. I'll share this with you. It's so fun because I have lost count of the number of times I've been contacted by an organization and they've said, we want you to do what you did for that company, for our company. But they're in a domain, I'm like, I think you have the wrong person.I began by saying that, because it was like an energy company that first asked me this. And I was like, I'm not an energy expert. They were like, we know. But, you know, just enough about us to actually be able to bring in insights from financial services, from the sharing economy. You know, and the point was not that I had their solution, but then I could bring a perspective and a set of examples and a set of ideas and a set of principles, et cetera, et cetera.That were wildly different than what they were used to hearing. That ended up kind of churning their engines, if you will, around creativity, curiosity, and innovation. So you're absolutely right. And one of the things not just to see what's invisible, but all of the eight superpowers in the entire book. What I love is that I'm not asking you to have any kind of technology or money or whatever that you don't already possess. It's a matter of knowing where to look. So, see what's invisible. All that you need to learn how to see what's invisible. It's right there in front of you. It requires you actually though, to be able to take the step, to reach out and say, I need to learn more about what I don't know. I need to go somewhere that again, society tells me that's outside my domain. That's outside my sector. It's actually really, really relevant for what you're doing. Brian Ardinger: Well, that power of exploration. I think people underestimate it. And a lot of times it's not even exploring for a specific solution. It's just literally the act of exploring leads you to collisions of ideas and thoughts that lead you to that epiphany of whatever the thing is you're working on.April Rinne: And just a quick side note there, which is it's a little bit meta, but I like to bring it up because I think the moment in time, we're all living in right now. Whether it's reopening, whether it's, you know, what parts of normal are going to continue to exist. You know, is there a such a thing as normal?What, what do you want to leave behind in the last year? And what of the ways in which you changed; do you want to take forward. In this world of like we're in not just massive flux, but the sense of we don't have the solution. We're figuring them out. And we're in the early stages of what I believe will be a massive phase of exploration, iteration, experimentation, improvement, but like, we're not even close to those solutions right now.And I think especially like hybrid work. I focused on the future of work for years. Anyone who tells me they figured out hybrid work. I'm like, no, you haven't. And the more you believe you have, the more, I'm less inclined to actually listen to what you're saying. But if we can all kind of wrap our arms around the fact that we don't know, and we won't know, and to start that process exactly as you've said of, of exploring and experimenting and iterating, we're going to be just fine. But it's the people who want to control and know right now, what it's going to look like. Those are the ones that I worry about where we're going to find ourselves in some trouble. Brian Ardinger: And that's probably a good segue to the last superpower I kind of want to talk about. It's this idea of creating your portfolio. I think maybe you and I are similar from that perspective that, you know, every couple of years, it's a new hat we throw on. I talk about it from the standpoint of everybody's going to have a slash in their name. So, I'm a, you know, entrepreneurial slash podcast slash director of innovation slash whatever. And this idea that everyone in society is going to have this portfolio of experiences that they bring to the table. Talk a little bit about why that superpower is important and, and what I that means to you. April Rinne: Yeah. So this does relate directly to the future of work. It's a bit unique in that regard and that a lot of the superpowers are more applicable personally, professionally, societally. Portfolio career is very much about you and your career.And fundamentally what we're looking at is the career of the future looks much less like a career path, a kind of linear trajectory, and much more like a portfolio that you take responsibility for. And you curate. It gets super interesting. So, the whole like study work, retire, learn linear path that we, again, society told us this is how your professional life is likely to play out.Not to say that that didn't work for some time, but what we're finding is it's broken at every node today. And a lot of people want something more, once something different. I think the great resignation that's going on right now is directly related to this. And so, the notion of a portfolio, it's not just acknowledging that the structure of the workforce is changing.It is now possible to work in more ways than ever before. The role of technology, et cetera, et cetera. But it's also looking at, you know, our professional identity. How do you actually want to show up and bring your best to the world? And so the shift from the career path, which you can think of as a ladder to climb, you know, it's, it's that linear, like pursue, pursue, pursue.So, what's happening is more and more people are not wanting to climb that ladder. More and more people are finding that ladder is teetering, if not broken. And it doesn't work for a whole lot of people. A portfolio, which again, just in the spirit of creativity, you'll hear them refer to it as a jungle gym, rather than a ladder.You'll hear them refer to it as a bento box. If you know the Japanese delicacy. But we're looking, I've also heard of actually a flower that has different pedals and different ways of blossoming. But what we're looking at is basically a shift in how you view your professional development. Your professional identity. And your career overall. And that it's not a path, but it is exactly, as you say, it is a curation of all of the things you care about. All of the things you can do. And if you will, your best work. So, from a portfolio perspective, there are lots of ways you can look at it. The two that I prefer, because I find most people gravitate towards one or the other. One is, you know, investors have a portfolio. It's a portfolio of their investments obviously, but why do they have a portfolio?They have it to diversify, to diversify and to mitigate risk. Right? Then you've got an artist portfolio. Well, what's in his or her portfolio, their best work. So whichever of those, you like, it's more a matter of everything that you've ever done or want to do or skills you have paid or unpaid that can contribute to society. All of that's in your portfolio. And then it's up to you to mix and match and curate it into something that's unique, which is where we end up with hyphens. Brian Ardinger: The other thing about the portfolio career concept is that as the world is accelerating and you know, new tools are becoming easier for the average Joe or Jane to pick up and that. The fact that, you know, what you learned in college is no longer relevant after four years because of the, you know, the world's changed. It's both easier and harder to jump into that next portfolio or learn and take advantage of that, whatever that is. So if you look at it from an opportunistic perspective and it's like, as an opportunity, this pace of change is actually a really good thing. Because you're never really that far behind whatever the next thing is. Because you can jump in and become a part of it and learn faster, because those tools are available to you as well. So because of that pace of change, not only you have to be good at it, but it also gives you an opportunity to be able to flex and change in ways you've never done it in the past. April Rinne: Absolutely. And this is, it's actually a perfect entry or a segue into the portfolio career being much more aligned with and fit for a future of work in flux. And what's interesting, there's a quote, it's actually by Jerry Garcia of all people, but you know, the quote is don't be the best be the only. And the reason I like this is because in the future, being that single greatest expert on X, Y, Z, less and less likely, more and more difficult and less and less just not really aligned with reality.It's going to be the combination of different skills in your portfolio that allow you to stand out. And the more things you have in your portfolio, the more you can mix and match. And to your point, the easier it becomes to add things, layer up or level up. Moving forward as new technologies come through, as new roles become design, become available, et cetera.So it is that sense of this is how not just that you're ready and prepared for the future of work, but also the more robust your portfolio, the harder it is going to be to automate some portion of what you do. The easier it is to keep refreshing your portfolio over time, et cetera. So, one thing I would add, because this comes up a lot where people are like, wait, are you just talking about kind of hustling and the gig economy and that sort of thing, when they hear the word portfolio and I'm always like, no, no, no, no, no, absolutely not.Any full-time job you have is in your portfolio, any side hustle or gig you have is in your portfolio too. Any volunteer experience you have is in your portfolio. The thing I like to remind people is each and every one of us already has a portfolio today. The hook is most of us don't realize it and we're not necessarily being deliberate about curating it.But that's where, like I say, you've already got again, you've got the pieces of your puzzle. It's a matter of putting them together in a different way. That's much more aligned with and ready for constant change. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: We have plenty more superpowers to cover. I encourage people to pick up Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Change. If people want to find out more about you April or about the book, what's the best way to do that.April Rinne: The best website for my book and all things flux is fluxmindset.com. And I also have my site, which is just more about me, aprilrinne.com, but head to Flux first and feel free to follow up with questions. I'm super easy to reach. My email is april@aprilriinne.com. I'm always happy to be in touch and thank you again for today.Brian Ardinger: Well, April, thanks for being on Inside Outside Innovation. I look forward to having you as part of the community in the years to come, and I appreciate your time today. April Rinne: Absolutely. Likewise, thank you, Brian.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 260 - Jonathan Brill, Author of Rogue Waves: Future-proof Your Business to Survive and Profit from Radical Change on Growth, Innovation, and Decision Making

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 24:51


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Jonathan Brill, author of the new book Rogue Waves: Future-proof Your Business to Survive and Profit from Radical Change. Jonathan and I discussed the coming rogue waves of change and how to prepare your company for resilient growth, innovation, and decision making under uncertainty. Let's get started. Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week, we'll bring the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need to thrive as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with Jonathan Brill, Author of Rogue WavesBrian Ardinger: [00:00:30] Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Jonathan Brill. He is the author of the new book, Rogue Waves: Future-proof Your Business to Survive and Profit from Radical Change. Welcome to the show Jonathan.Jonathan Brill: [00:00:58] Thanks. It's a pleasure to be here. Brian Ardinger: [00:01:00] Well, I'm excited to have you on the show to quite frankly learn about what you've seen over your amazing career, when it comes to innovation. To give the audience some context. You are a senior leader and global futurist at Hewlett Packard. Creative director at Frog Design. You've probably helped create over 300 plus products in the innovation firms that you've worked in. And you've been a contributor to Ted and Singularity University and Forbes and Harvard Business Review. And the list goes on and on. Now you've got a new book coming out. So, I really wanted to dive right into it. The title of the book is called Rogue Waves. So, let's start there. What is a rogue wave and why should companies start preparing for them? Jonathan Brill: [00:01:38] So in the deep ocean, literally out of nowhere at the snap of a finger, 120-foot wave and pop up and sink you know, a 600-foot ship. We used to not think these things were real. We thought they were kind of sailors' tales, but it turns out that as we're having better tracking and satellites and whatnot, that these things are happening every day in a major storm, that one of these things might pop up about every eight or 10 hours. So, the issue isn't that rogue waves are rare it's that the world is large. And to use that metaphor and in many ways, the same types of mathematics apply. We're moving faster as a society. We're becoming more connected as a society. The reason, and so more freak occurrences will occur, and when they do, you'll see more contagion, you'll see more movement between those occurrences. And so, when you think about business. When you think about something like COVID right, why did COVID happen? And SARS was a pandemic. It didn't scale in the same way. Mers was a pandemic. It didn't scale in the same way. Lots of reasons. But I would argue that the biggest was we've put a population, the size of Los Angeles into the wilderness and outside of WuHan. So, we increased density, but we did that at the scale of literally the population of the United States and China, over the last 20 years or so. Connected them by 16 high-speed rails.Since 2010, we've increased travel out of China by 10 times, making China the largest spender on tourism in the world. Literally coming from out of nowhere and that didn't just happen in China. It happened in India. It happened across Southeast Asia and it's happening in Africa. And so, what was containable, 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, is suddenly not containable today. Not because of the disease, but because of all of the things that surrounded. All of those overlapping trends that surrounded. And when you think about a rogue wave, that's what it is. It's these independently manageable waves of change that overlap to become massive and unmanageable.Brian Ardinger: [00:03:43] It's not the one particular thing that is necessarily the disruptor. It's the blending of emerging technologies and changing demographics, and the data economy, and all of this colliding at once that creates that seismic events so to speak.Jonathan Brill: [00:03:57] Absolutely. And there are something like 10 major trends. And I picked these because they're the 10 sort of highly trackable trends by analysts and whatnot. And they tend to be highly quantifiable trends, that are overlapping over the next 10 years to virtually guarantee that the next decade will be more volatile than the last decade. And so, what that means is that we'll have more risk. Risk is a measurement of volatility change over time. And most people sort of, a lot of traditional risk management looks at that and says, okay, well, how do we push back the future? How do we protect ourselves from it? But the reality is when a rogue wave comes at you, you cannot protect yourself from it. What you can do is position yourself to try and ride it. Be more resilient. And if you're more resilient, take advantage while your competitors are trying to recover from being capsized. That's a radically different way of looking at the future. Looking at the world, then business schools have been teaching us for the last 30 or 40 years. They kind of assume that even though new competitor might disrupt you, and a new technology might disrupt you, that the rules that the playing field, the game board will stay the same. And that's simply not true anymore.Brian Ardinger: [00:05:13] Do you think companies are getting it so to speak? I mean, obviously COVID was a major factor, I think for most individuals and companies alike. Where I think we've been talking about change and disruption, you can see examples throughout the ages about this. But rarely did it hit everybody at the same time. So, are you seeing companies being able to fundamentally grasp that this type of change is here? And are they getting better or worse when it comes to navigating this type of change? Jonathan Brill: [00:05:40] So within that question, there are so many other questions, right? At the board level, is there an awareness that we need to focus on resilience? Yes. The number or percentage of meeting topics on agendas, that are focused on resilience has gone through the roof. The number of topics that have focused on innovation and other things is also dropped through the roof. And so, I don't know that at the investor level, at the board level, we yet understand that resilience and growth are intertwined issues. You can't focus on one without the other. It's a balance because if you don't have that resilience, if you don't know where to position yourself, it doesn't matter that you're better, you're faster. That you have a life jacket, right? Like you're still out at sea. Brian Ardinger: [00:06:30] So tell me about this book. How did it come about? And what's in it for the readers? Jonathan Brill: [00:06:35] I spent the last several years at HP as the Global Futurist. And a lot of our study was looking at long-term change. What could happen? What risks did we think were static risks? Like hundred-year pandemics that were actually dynamic risk. And so, if you are in that community of people who look at these things, pandemics were becoming more and more and more likely over time.And yet most of us, most of our leaders, 8 of the 10 largest companies in the United States, failed to identify pandemics as a risk in their SEC Risk Filings. So, we were in denial as a, an economy about what was happening. A lot of my job at HP was also to figure out, okay, If the world is changing, what are the new opportunities?Not just what are the risks and how do we become resilient, but how do we turn those into new opportunities? And one of the things our group focused on was how do we deal with disease diagnostics? Because we know that the population is getting older. We know that something like a pandemic can rapidly accelerate this type of work.And I actually just published an HBR article about how to balance that kind of resilience and growth that we experienced at HP over the last year. I've recently left to write this book because it's, and it's really about what I learned as a practitioner. Right. I spent 20 years as a consultant working on contract R and D. All of a sudden was a practitioner and you had to figure out how to actually drive change in the 58,000  person organization. And it turned out that it's a different problem entirely. And so, this book was really about how do you blend that world, that the knowledge of the consultant versus the reality of the practitioner.  What are the simple steps that you can take? And there are really three and I call them the ABCs of Resilient Growth.First, you need to increase your awareness as an organization that the world outside is changing. And you need to think about the range of ways it could impact you. It's really easy to look at the world and say, okay, you know, our technologies have to change, or our workforce has to change or whatever. What we discovered over the last year is actually that all has to change at the same time. A lot of times, things overlap to become unmanageable rogue waves of change. So, you need to create awareness, not just of what the changes are, but what would happen if they overlap. Brian Ardinger: [00:08:56] On that front, is it something where you can't manage it incrementally? It is something where you have to transformationaly change these things to actually be able to keep up, or are there opportunities to, to do a more incremental approach to, to this.Jonathan Brill: [00:09:11] I think there are two answers to that. Yes, there are opportunities to do an incremental approach, and that's the only way that works. You can't change your culture overnight and you can't change all of your processes overnight. And by the way, if you do that, there's a better than even chance that you'll, that you'll sink yourself.So, it's this balance. The first piece is building that awareness of there is stuff going on outside. The second is building the skills, the behavior change within the organization. Because even if you know that the wave's coming, if you don't know how to swim, it's not a good idea to pick up big wave surfing. So, you got to build the skills. And then the third is the culture, right? You have to, I don't believe that you can really change corporate DNA. I think that's consultant speak. But I do believe that you can change the RNA. When you think about DNA, this is the deep code that causes life. That allows life to build itself.But RNA is the code that controls the types of proteins that you use to regulate your body. That RNA can actually be changed relatively quickly. If you take a look at an octopus, for instance, or a Cephalopods, like a squid, a cuddle fish, they can change 60% of their RNA in a  lifetime. And companies do it all the time.You change your processes, you change your hard incentives, right? Bonuses, bonus structure, and whatnot. And you change your soft incentives right? Who do you encourage? Who gets ahead? Those, those kinds of things. So, you can change that stuff pretty much overnight, but the change is incremental, right? The company has to catch up to the reality that you're serious and that you can sustain the change over time.And that's the real challenge. I see a lot of these sort of change efforts. I read, the other day in Harvard Business Review that 70% of change efforts fail. And so there, I think are two things there, right. One is, do they fail or do people just not keep at them long enough? Do the leaders not convince their population that they're serious?And I think there are kind of like four phases in corporate change of any type, but certainly in becoming what I call a resilient growth organization, right. The first is you come, and you say the future is going to be different. The sky's falling, whatever your story is. And everybody looks at you like you're insane. But you get a few early adopters. The second is that people start saying, well, actually you're not the legitimate person to make that argument. I am. Your arguments dumb, my argument's better. It turns out that's actually a win. And as a, as a manager, if you're asking people to be change agents, you need to recognize when that shift occurs. And that that's actually the big win. What you see though, is that people take whatever the change message is, and they start covering the first page of their PowerPoint deck with it. To justify whatever it was they wanted to do, all right. It's a shift. It's an important shift. It's about being future compliant, as opposed to actually thinking about the future.The third one is when they start actually asking for budget to do new things, and this is where I think a lot of change management breaks down, right? You can get through the first one. Sure. You send in your Avant guard; you send out your Scouts. And you send out your missionaries and they, they preach the future.Couple of people believe it. The better politicians figure out how to do what they already wanted to do. But then a couple of people say, no, I want to find out if you're serious and I'm going to start asking for money. Not like a hundred thousand dollars, like a million dollars, $10 million. A meaningful amount of money and, and talking about large organization terms. Right. And if you say no, think about what happens. Their ideal is almost destined to fail, right? It will be right. It's almost destined to fail. And so, if you're a rational manager, you say, well, I'm not going to invest in something that I know is going to fail. And if you don't support them, when they do fail for trying, you cut off the opportunity. You cut off the change.And I think that's where a lot of change management breaks down, right? That you have the senior manager incentives on an annual basis, versus a senior manager incentives on a long-term basis and they get disconnected. And then the third piece is when your senior managers start looking at this as a process and saying, okay, we're going to embed this in the process. We're going to take whatever the change is. In this case, becoming a resiliently, a growth organization. And we're going to have it be part of our annual decision-making process budget process. And we're going to set a minimum that we spend on this thing. And that's when I think you start to see the long tail of growth from this work. But it's often, you know, it's a three-year or five-year process. It doesn't happen in six months, and it doesn't happen because the board woke up on Tuesday and realized that they'd been cutting resilience for 20 years. Brian Ardinger: [00:13:59] Absolutely. On that you've seen and worked with a lot of different companies and have seen this progression. Where are the biggest struggles or obstacles that companies are facing going through that? Are most of them dying at that stage one stage two stage three? Or is it a combination or, or what are the things that people should be preparing for as they go along this journey?Jonathan Brill: [00:14:19] I think there are two answers to that question. The first is really at the board level, you know. Are you serious about this? If the board has a cocktail party and they say we should be more resilient than, you know, that verbals down, like that happens a lot. That happens a lot. That change isn't going to happen.And the people who participate in that change, especially in performance driven organizations, tend to not keep their job. So you've got to figure out, okay, well, are people serious about this? And that's why phases one and two happened. That I was talking about earlier. That's why they happen. The second question is, if you are serious about this, you know, can you be serious about it from the bottom up?Can you make that change from the bottom up? Or do you have to make it from the top down? I think it's probably generally a bi-directional process where you have to link the communications between the senior leadership and the edge of your organization. And that, that's a huge political challenge, especially like in organizations where you have high longevity of career. You know, where you have 20-year careers and whatnot. It gets really hard to do that. You know, people in the middle, don't like, you know, the people in the center talking to the edge, you got to break through that. And I think that's one of the real places where the issue breaks down. And I think the third, and this is really important to, and I think this is why I wrote the book, or one of the main reasons, is that if you have somebody, if you're headquartered in Indonesia and you have somebody who sees a rogue wave on the horizon in Mozambique, right.That person in Mozambique, probably even if they can talk to the CEO, probably doesn't have the skills to the language, the context. They're just going to sound crazy. And we've all been in that conversation, right? We've all been in that conversation. And so the key thing is you also need to increase the executive judgment, executive communication skills far lower in your organization. If you want to have an innovative organization. You can't trust people to innovate if they don't understand the context. You know, and they don't understand how to take risks, as opposed to just manage. Brian Ardinger: [00:16:32] And maybe that comes back to some of that, like you were talking, one of the first themes is, is awareness. And it's not just awareness at the board level or at the CEO level, it's awareness across the organization that these risks are happening and exist. And what can you do to both understand them, as well then do some behavior or cultural things around it to actually execute or, or take advantage of that. On that awareness front. Are there things that you've seen that can help companies think outside their industry and see what's going on and explore in areas that they don't typically explore. Whether it's technology or human resources or whatever.Jonathan Brill: [00:17:08] Right. So, in a pre COVID world. One of the things that I did was I'd bring teams who'd been in Europe and the US their entire careers. High potential leaders or whatever, and I'd bring them to China. And this is one of these things where if you're an American and you try and explain the   Grand Canyon to a European, they just don't get it.If you're an American and you haven't been to Beijing or Shenzhen or Shanghai, you just don't get it. That, you know, every two years, literally they're using the concrete that the U S poured in the United States in the 20th century. The scale is unimaginable. And once you get there, once you see that. Once you see your Grand Canyon, once you see your Beijing, your mind can't go back to the same place.And so that would be my first thing is just kind of, how do you get that cross-cultural awareness of, of what's happening. The scale of change in the world. The second thing that I really suggest is figuring out how to create peer groups outside of your industry, but at your level. And ideally across the world. And that's some of what I do is building those peer groups, so that we can have those conversations. Because otherwise you don't actually understand the challenge. You don't understand the scale of the opportunity. You don't see the rogue wave coming, right. If you were sitting around and you know, you were very specifically, you know, stockpiling face masks for the US government and you see, you know we can get these things cheaper in China. Like let's shut down our supply chains. Let's shut down our local manufacturing. Yeah. That all makes sense. Right? Because it's a price performance issue. Like all the incentives are there to do that. Until you look at the bigger picture, risk is changing. Everyone's going to need all this stuff all at once. And we're going to need it when we need it on a sustained basis. And by the way, it's super cheap. Right. Like there's no, which is the entire problem, right? There's no margin in this. It's so cheap. There's no margin in, this. It totally makes sense, as a middle manager that you'd say let's get rid of that thing. But as a senior manager, as a senior leader, you need to say, okay, that doesn't make any economic sense today, but in the long-term, we're going to have an inevitable need. Brian Ardinger: [00:19:34] So how far out in the future do you think companies should be preparing or looking. To, or is, does it depend on the rogue wave that you're looking at?Jonathan Brill: [00:19:42] How far out should you be preparing and looking are interesting. There, there are two different questions. What I really am interested in is that there's a range of possible futures. There isn't one, the closer you get to that future that, you know, the more the rank shrinks So the farther out you're looking at the broader the range should be obviously. But the goal isn't necessarily to look at 7 years out or 10 years out, or 3 years out, or 1 year out. It's to figure out, am I prepared for the types of threats and opportunities I'm likely to see?And so I think about this as kind of like, what are the financial, operational, external, and strategic aspects of my corporation of my organization. And what types of waves would impact it? What types of challenges or opportunities might you see?  And the same thing applies to customers, by the way. Could a static threat,  a hundred year disease, suddenly become a dynamic threat, right?We're starting to see these more often. Could a symmetric threat, it's going to impact everybody the same become an asymmetric threat? So you take a look at a Toyota. Their investment in semiconductors, after the Daiichi nuclear explosion in 2011. They looked at, you know, we had an asymmetric thing happened to the us, all those American manufacturers they didn't get hit by this nuclear meltdown. But we did. What would happen when the next thing happened. And how could we move that from a situation where we get hit and no one else does, to we survive and then everyone else gets hit. So how do you shift between symmetric and asymmetric threat? And the result of that is in 2016, when there was an earthquake in Taiwan, China had a six-month supply of chips and they kept operating just fine. Everyone else got hit. This past year, same thing happened. How do you move things from synchronous to asynchronous threats or the other way around? So how do you move them from things that hit everybody at the same time to things that hit people at different times, because you know, often all you really need is enough buffer.All you need is enough time to respond. And then the other is to think about which issues are temporary and which ones are permanent. So, what's amazing to me about the U S response to COVID is this thing that really should have been a 10 year, five-year, ten-year issue historically. Appears at the moment, you know, to have been shifted from a permanent issue in the United States to a temporary issue. Now we're going to need to manage our response permanently. Right. But the economic impact may be temporary. It's one of the greatest innovation moments, you know, I think when we look back 50 years from now, we changed the path of nature. It was one of the great innovation moments of the 21st century.Brian Ardinger: [00:22:36] It's, I mean, truly fantastical times, we're living in, in a number of different ways. Are there particular trends or things that you're seeing or want the audience to pay attention to that they may not be as familiar with? Jonathan Brill: [00:22:47] So we can talk about trends you might be unfamiliar with, but I think the question that you should really be asking is what happens when the trends that you're familiar with collide? I mean, a lot of the things that I talk about were in the news. Can you take a look at the growing risk of a pandemic? I mean, and all of the things they talked about, high speed rail Maglev in China, the explosion of urbanization around the world, massive increases in Chinese Asian travel, the explosion of low-cost airlines around South Asia. Right? These were all front-page news. The issue is that people weren't putting them together. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: [00:23:25] It's a fascinating book and I love folks who are listening to this to take a deeper dive. It really is a really good framework for how to start thinking about these things. And you dig into a lot of the tactics and examples around that as well. So I encouraged people to pick that up. But if people want to find out more about yourself or about the book, what's the best way to do that? Jonathan Brill: [00:23:44] Jonathanbrill.com is my website and there's piles of useful tools, HBR articles, Forbes articles, advisory options, surfaces, and they're all focused on being useful to you.Brian Ardinger: [00:23:58] Well Jonathan, I want to thank you again for being on Inside Outside Innovation and sharing your thoughts on this. I'd love to have you back. You know, as the world changes and we get more used to seeing innovations and digging in and being a part of it, I'm sure things will pop out new best practices and that will emerge. So, I appreciate you sharing what you know now, and hopefully we'll have you back on to talk about the future as the world evolves. Jonathan Brill: [00:24:21] I'd be glad to anytime. Thank you very much for having me.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.  

Inside Outside
Ep. 259 - Brant Cooper, Founder of Moves The Needle & Author of The Lean Entrepreneur and Disruption Proof on Empowering People, Creating Value, and Driving Change

Inside Outside

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2021 13:01


On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with New York Times bestselling author and founder of Moves The Needle, Brant Cooper. Brant and I talk about his upcoming book, Disruption Proof, and provide a sneak peek into our upcoming IO Live event on September 20. Let's get startedInside Outside Innovation is the podcast to help you rethink, reset, and remix yourself and your organization. Each week we'll bring you the latest innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneering businesses, as well as the tools, tactics, and trends you'll need as a new innovator.Interview Transcript with Brant Cooper, CEO of Moves The NeedleBrian Ardinger: [00:00:30] Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today we have Brant Cooper. He's the founder of Moves The Needle, New York Times bestselling author of the Lean Entrepreneur, and author of an upcoming book, which I'm so excited to talk about called Disruption Proof: Empower People, Create Value and Drive Change. Welcome Brant. Brant Cooper: [00:01:07] Thanks Brian. Pleasure as always. Brian Ardinger: [00:01:10] I'm excited to have you back. As our audience knows you've been a part of the lean scene for a long time. You had a chance to speak at our IO2020 Summit. And we're going to do a little something different with this podcast episode, because we're having you back on September 29th for a live event. It's part of our IO Live series. Basically, we're going to have an hour to talk about the book and have audience questions and do a little bit more in depth stuff with you. So, I wanted to save this episode more as a preview to get folks excited about the book and excited about some of the things we're going to be talking about. So, with that, you got a new book out called Disruption Proof. Tell us how you got to the point of writing a new book and what's it all about? Brant Cooper: [00:01:50] Yeah. So, I guess it's been in the works for a couple of years, actually. It seems like so pandemic ready, but that was maybe just fortuitous that I was already embarking on it. And then of course the pandemic itself hit and business kind of dried up. So that gave you the opportunity to really crank it out. You know, over the last seven, eight years taking some of that lean stuff into the large enterprise. And it's just, that was an interesting journey in the sense that, you know, all of this lean startup, lean innovation stuff really started in Silicon Valley startups.I mean, honestly it preceeded all of that, but you know, us tech startup people like to feel like we've invented everything. There was a movement. Right. And so, starting in startups and then we bring it into the big companies. And inevitably we start with the innovation groups. As I'm trying to work through the change that is required inside of these companies, I really realized that there's uncertainty everywhere inside the enterprise.There's something happening here, way bigger. And this is perhaps obvious to a lot more people. It takes me awhile. I think really this fundamental shift from the industrial age and management practices and even management organization, that's based around the industrial, really this level of complexity and endless disruption that is in the digital age, leads to this uncertainty.And we continue to try to tackle the uncertainty the way we did in the industrial age. And it just creates more angst, and it creates more doubt and people just really wondering what the heck is going on. Then the pandemic hits. And I think we blame all of that angst and anxiety on the pandemic. And now people are like, ah, man, I can't wait to get back to the old normal. And yet the old normal was still filled with that uncertainty. And so that's really what the book ended up addressing. So again, I didn't start out with writing, you know, sort of this post pandemic book, but because I was writing it right in the middle of all of this, there really ends up being these pandemic…and how do you respond to it? And what does this mean in that bigger picture that ends up being what the book is about? Brian Ardinger: [00:04:05] It's interesting because I think, you and I have I've been talking about disruption forever. And innovation groups have been talking about it and trying to figure out how to do this. And the pandemic really seems to have taken that theory and made it real for most people.I mean, everybody on the planet to some extent has been disrupted by various means of, of what happened during the last 18 months. And it really, I think has brought out the conversation where it's no longer theory we're talking about. It's like, yeah, I get it. But now I really get it. But I still don't know what to do about it.So, you know, I've seen a proof of your book in that you really capture it and talk about the five elements of what you need to be doing to embrace this new world of work. So maybe talk through a little bit about that and some of the things you found out. Brant Cooper: [00:04:48] Yeah. So, to me, the key is to all of this, is that it's not really the technology, even though we're in a digital revolution and we're doing digital transformation and we're working in innovation. It just really isn't about the technology because there's not that much uncertainty around the technology.It's really about the mindset and the way we have to change our thinking and our behavior relative to this massive change in technology. And so, I described the behavior change that we need based upon these five elements. And so, empathy, exploration, which is basically admitting what we don't know. And so going out and learning. Leveraging evidence, so data plus insights to help us inform decisions. We don't want just algorithms and AI deciding for us, but certainly what we go and figure out needs to inform our decision. This concept of equilibrium, which is building a balance between the execution, everything that we know we have to get done, and this exploration work, meaning that we have to go and learn something first. That's a continuum throughout the organization. Even your core business needs to do some amount of exploration. It's not this bifurcation of one side of the house is execution. And one side is exploration. I think that's industrial age innovation thinking. And then the final one is ethics. And with all of the data problems that we have, and with livable wages and all of these other things that have really come to the fore, it's really incumbent upon businesses to figure out how they live up to their own values that they establish and that they broadcast.And again, that ends up being something that we have to drive down into the human behavior. And so rather than some of the big management theories on how you do change, which is very top down. I wanted to describe the behaviors of what people actually have to do day in, day out inside of their jobs. And it really is a ground up initiative.It requires obviously leaders to buy in and go, yes, we're going to change. It's kind of a pincer move, but you have to start with developing that behavior on the ground. And I guess the one other point I would make about it is the reason why I'm somewhat optimistic about that is this behavior already exists, right?The people that are subscribing to your podcast and that read your stuff, Brian, Design Thinkers, and Agile people, and Lean Startup people and entrepreneurs, people that are doing side gigs, these are people that already have this mindset. And so, what we have to take is not put them all in this silo, but rather get them to be the leaders of tomorrow, bringing this diverse mindset, this exploration skillset to the rest of the business. Brian Ardinger: [00:07:32] All the stuff you talked about, it's just so messy. And I think everybody's still looking for that silver bullet. Like if you do this, this, and this follow this particular path, you will have success. And Lean Startup was never meant to be the perfect path. Even if you follow lean startup 100 percent, you're still not guaranteed a successful product, service, whatever you're trying to create. It's that journey. You have to put on those exploration hats or backpack or whatever. I talk about going into a cave. The only way you can get out of the cave is you got to stumble around and figure it out. And the challenge is we don't reward that stumbling around. We don't provide the tool sets or the skillsets for folks that are not inherently like the entrepreneur that kind of has that built into their ecosystem. So, what can an average Joe hearing about this, understanding theoretically, like they need to do this. Are there tactics or things that you've seen that help start building that muscle? Brant Cooper: [00:08:26] There's a couple of things in there that come to mind. Number one is go find the like-minded people. Go find the people that maybe already exist inside of every big business. So go find them. And it could be just doing an innovation mindset happy hour once a week or every other week. But it's something that you want to try to spread throughout the organization, because these are your early adopters. And what you find is that there are leaders that actually belong to that group. And suddenly you make, you have these areas where you can start running experiments even with budget or even with permission. So, number one is finding like-minded people. Number two is to not wait for permission. To go and run experiments and come up with data. And then when you actually are seeking permission or advice or input. You're actually bringing evidence to the table and not just ideas. And I really do believe that ideas are a dime a dozen. Every big organization I've worked with has no problem with ideas. And I think leadership and middle management and all the rest go, yeah, we really need to empower the ideas of people. It's just not taking it far enough. If you've got thousands of ideas, literally it's how do you choose those ideas? The people on the ground need to themselves, not just go ask for stuff. They need to be able to provide evidence for what they're asking for. And I think that that added layer is actually going to start changing the conversation.And then the third thing that I really encourage people to do is to try to go and get empathy for their leadership. And so, it's kind of a funny concept because we often in that hierarchical command and control structure, are either afraid to do that, or don't think that we're even allowed to do that.And it doesn't mean that we are to whatever the whims are of the leaders. There's a selfish aspect of developing empathy in the sense that the more I understand my bosses, the more I understand how I'm going to get what I think that I need. Right. So, you're learning just as if they were a customer. You're learning how to navigate your relationship with the leader in order to get what you think is the right thing for yourself, your team, and your company. For More InformationBrian Ardinger: [00:10:45] Yeah. Oftentimes it is a balance. You still have to hit those quarterly numbers and still do what you're designed to execute on and optimize but knowing full well that if you do that and only that you're not going to get to where you need to be or not create the next future, whatever ends up on it.Again, we can go and talk for hours and we're going to do that here in the coming months. So, I encourage people to go to Insideoutside.IO. We'll have information posted there about signing up for the IO Live event here with Brant Cooper and in the interim, if people want to get a little sneak preview, find out more about yourself, more about the book, what's the best way to do that?Brant Cooper: [00:11:20] Yeah. So, I'm brant@brantcooper.com. Brant Cooper on all the social media. And I really encourage people to reach out. I respond to everyone. The website is Brantcooper.com right now. And people can pre-order the book as well as get some other goodies and we'll be sharing a content from the book in the coming months. As we prepare to join you on your show. Reach out, say hello and join the conversation. Really. I think that one of the things that you said, Brian, is that there isn't a formula. I mean, there's actually not one way out of that cave. And that's what complexity is right. Is that there's no best practices. And so, all of these different variables that people face based upon their businesses and based upon the history and based upon the people that are inside that business, everybody's going to have to figure out their way out of the cave, but there are some fundamentals.And also, what we want to do is try to create community around what works. We can share, what works and what doesn't work and those types of things. So, all of these people can start figuring it out, what works in their organization. Brian Ardinger: [00:12:21] Excellent. Well, Brant I'm excited for this conversation. Thanks for being a part of it. I look forward to having, again, a more in-depth conversation with the audience and encourage people to come out for that. Participate in that. And we look forward to talking in about a month or so. Thanks again for coming on. We'll talk to you soon. Brant Cooper: [00:12:35] Thank you, Brian. Great to catch up, man.Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.FREE INNOVATION NEWSLETTER & TOOLSGet the latest episodes of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast, in addition to thought leadership in the form of blogs, innovation resources, videos, and invitations to exclusive events. SUBSCRIBE HEREYou can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.  For more innovations resources, check out IO's Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.