Again, this project is totally self-funded and wouldn’t be possible without these amazing collaborators:
All episodes are shot and edited by the wonderfully talented Jono Tucker, Empire Films. An extremely diligent and personable soul who has added a polish to the resulting video which I never could’ve achieved, thank you Jono.
Hosted at Xequals, a centrally based web development agency who provide us with a kick-ass office which totally gets kitted out for the shoot. Thank you Alex Matthews for being so gracious with your space.
A new long-form video podcast for curious and creative humans.
Creative Welly is a new project from an old idea repurposed and reborn during the isolation of lockdown:
We curate and collide intrepid talent from the coolest most creative little capital in the world (with a few out-of-city friends as well from time-to-time).
This project is totally self-funded and wouldn’t be possible without these amazing collaborators:
All episodes are shot and edited by the wonderfully talented Jono Tucker, Empire Films. An extremely diligent and personable soul who has added a polish to the resulting video which I never could’ve achieved, thank you Jono.
Hosted at Xequals, a centrally based web development agency who provide us with a kick-ass office which totally gets kitted out for the shoot. Thank you Alex Matthews for being so gracious with your space.
This first episode represents about four to five day or pre-production experiments with lighting and seating scenarios plus editing options. The result of which is something quite different and unique.
Two further episodes are already ‘in the can’ with another two lined up for this month plus a very long list of possibles from my network here in the capital.
Each episode takes about two hours to set up (one hour to pack down), another two hours to shoot then there’s the editing time of both the video and audio. After that there’s posting the curated bios and relevant content online plus sharing out across channels.
There are also ‘hard’ and recurring costs:
Table (round table from thrift store)
Chairs (x3, comfortable and supportive)
Backdrop photographic paper (for style)
Libsyn (audio podcast hosting & distribution)
Vimeo (video hosting)
Domain + hosting
I find myself feeling so privileged to be able to start this journey and explore a new format during these challenging global times. It truly serves my purpose of ‘giving people voice’ whilst also my skill base of ‘curating’ as well.
Oh and why not YouTube? Have no intention of monetising the content and don’t like their forced adverts plus the time it takes to figure out the algorithms with the hope they choose my content over others. Vimeo is a wonderful creative community which aligns with the brand values of the intention behind the initiative.
Please let me know what you think and triple please subscribe to receive the bi-monthly episodes via Creative Welly.
A new long-form, conversational project to tickle your neural pathways.
Revealed only in retrospect these past couple of years, is a thematic thread through my past projects / experiences of ‘giving people voice’ (which has become my spoken purpose plus evidenced in both my producing and coaching roles).
Creative Welly is a mash-up-manifestation of this and my hunger for curating good people:
We curate and collide intrepid talent from the coolest most creative little capital in the world (with a few out-of-city friends as well from time-to-time).
A few years ago I bought up a bunch of domains relating to ‘creativity’ and ‘Wellington’ with the intention of bringing together groups of people to explore the future of the city. After pitching it to a few educational plus civic institutions looking for collaboration and hosts there was no appetite.
A recent retainer contract with a client to see me through till the end of the year, has freed up the head-and-energy-space to revisit and reboot the concept.
A combination of devouring hours long-form and conversational content on the web (whether that’s podcasts, interviews and / or debates) these past few months during lockdown catalysed a seed of an idea for what to do.
Last week we ran a few shooting, lighting and audio tests:
Enabling us to play with variations on editing looks from the footage which will give the episodes a unique look. The aim is to share the first episode at the end of this month with a target of releasing two a month in the first year.
Oh and the business model, well:
Selling branded merchandise
Selling tickets to live shows
Our own time and money.
Truly humbled to be in a position not to care as what’s important for me is offering something which enlightens, connects and excites, so it’s another pro-bono project and experiment in celebrating humanity through conversation.
Was wonderful to celebrate also the voice and efforts of my collaborator and co-organiser of 2016 and current 2017 event, Hannah Wignall. Would also like to shine the light on the other actioneers in the TEDxWellington team who all give their time voluntarily to ensure the capital city and its community gets a fantastic event.
Thank you Mark for throwing your time and energy behind curating the voices and in effect the passion which makes this global event series such a success.
Offered here with permission from Dennis Hodges (the interviewee) is my first attempt at narrative style podcasting:
Here’s what I learned:
have the story in mind before you start: sometimes other stories come out during an interview although having a story you want at least enables you to come out with something solid;
focus on one thing: you’ll hear from the outcome that I focussed on just the politicians eyes work. There was lots of other stuff we talked about which was equally as interesting, just this was something that was very different;
you have to be ruthless: we spoke for over 30mins and I got it down to just over 4mins which was hard work cutting out good stuff;
getting the interviewee to record their audio doesn’t always work: Dennis has a lot of audio hiss in the background which I tried for ages to clean up. Getting interviewees to record a sample in the future will help a lot (my audio could do with a rounder feel to it as well for which I’ll use my new mic in the future);
editing takes forever: seriously, ages!
I’m relearning the medium and upping my game for wysdem.com, and during my research I’ve noticed four types of podcasts:
Soloing / Group—just one person or a group sharing ideas / insights / observations. Sometimes scripted, sometimes loose in its form. Sparse editing is employed and it’s the main model used by most video podcasters / vodcasters / vloggers as well;
Interviews—simple one-to-one question and answer sessions. Medium investment in editing to ensure tidiness and the focus is very much on the interviewee and their offerings;
Narrative—heavily edited and crafted. Emphasis is on the storytelling and clarity of theme / subject matter.
Each have their place although the latter is gaining more traction although it’s obviously the hardest to do well with it’s focus on crafting something the listener consumes as a cognitive or emotional journey.
So feel free to critique and offer ideas / guidance on the above.
It’s a first offering and an attempt to ‘learn out loud’ so approach with kindness which I’m sure you will. Thanks in advance.
A podcast for innovators, creatives and the madly curious—featuring Warwick Absolon.
Warwick Absolon is Innovation & Technology Manager at AECOM, a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government (follow him on Twitter via @warwickabsolon).
[stag_button url=”https://archive.org/download/defining_innovation_005_warwick_absolon/defininginnovation005.mp3″ style=”light-blue” size=”small” type=”normal” target=”_self” icon=”headphones” icon_order=”before”] Link to mp3[/stag_button] [stag_button style=”grey”]PODCAST NO LONGER BEING PRODUCED[/stag_button]
Show notes / timestamps : 00:00 Intro / innovation in terms of Warwick’s role
04:42 what AECOM does
06:20 getting buy-in and creating a movement
10:50 gaining leadership support
12:26 innovation manifest
17:22 building of capability / culture / mindset
20:42 questions and collaboration
21:55 Inspiration: Seth Godin, Tim Kastelle, Thought Catalogue and Fast Company.
25:12 Thanks / outro
[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Podcast Transcript” state=”closed”]
0:001 DK: Welcome to the fifth episode of the Defining Innovation podcast when I get to speak to amazing individuals doing wonderful things in the innovation space. This episode, I’m speaking to Warwick Absolon. He’s the manager at Innovation and Technology for a massive company called, AECOM. They’re a global provider of global professional, and technical, and management support services to a broad range of market including transportation, facilities, environment, energy, water, and government. As with all podcasts, I started by asking him to define and deconstruct innovation from his perspective.
0:36 Warwick: It’s a very broad topic. And whether it’s good or bad, we look at the most prominent type of innovation that’s out there, and we seem to think that’s the most shiniest, it’s the most biggest, it’s the most bangiest type of innovation there is. And for us at AECOM, that’s not what we do. What we do in terms of the type of work is anything that you can see out there in capital infrastructure world, we design it. so that includes roads, bridges, buildings, any sort of type of mining infrastructure, water infrastructure, etc. So we traditionally do very good engineering.
So for us and people in our industry, to deliver that big shiny bang of innovation doesn’t happen very often, if at all. So what we try and do at AECOM and certainly what I’ve been pushing at AECOM for the last four and half years is to really make it simple, and very broad so the people can understand what actually drives it rather than concentrating on what the outcome is. so for us, the innovation that we’re pushing at AECOM and have been on a sort of multiyear journey is concentrate on being able to come up with an idea, and we all have those. Be comfortable with talking to your colleague about that idea, and be happy, and satisfied that it may actually go in a direction that you hadn’t been thinking of. So it’s all about that having that idea, and it doesn’t have to be new. You do something with it, and you’re doing it because you think it’s actually going to be pretty good for the end client, the end user, for yourself, for the company. so have that as summarized is you have your innovation, it’s the idea plus the action that aims to add value. And that’s something that we have used very successfully. And people can get that.
and when I did a number of, about 153 small group discussions, we spoke about what innovation was at every one of these 153 small group discussions. And yes, they did speak about Apple, and Google, and what it actually means, and there was lots of terms, and lots of ambiguity. And then I told the group, I said to them, “What I think this innovation equals ideas plus action that aims to add value can describe the Googles, can describe the Apples, can describe Facebook, can describe all those big flashy things. but also can describe that incremental thing that you’re doing on a new bridge. That little incremental that you’re doing with a water treatment plant. Look, we may not win innovation award for it, we may not get the best innovation prize at the International Engineering Festival, if there is such a thing. but we always have to be aiming to try and do something better. so we came up wit the idea, do something about it, and that’s as simple as talking about it, and being comfortable that it’s ambiguous, and it could lead you in a direction that you hadn’t thought of. Because our work is not a manufacturing product related industry, we provide service, we provide time. so sometimes our clients come to us looking to do something different. Sometimes our clients come to us just because we can design a road very quickly and easily. So I think sometimes there’s a good connection that we had the opportunity to do different stuff, and sometimes we don’t. So we just need to make sure that we’re very comfortable, that it means many things to many different people. and with us, that doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to do it everyday of the week.
4:42 DK: I love the emphasis on process over outcome there at the innovation kind of, innovation deconstruction, that’s really cool. And I’d love to get you just to briefly give us a take on what AECOM does.
4:57 Warwick: Yeah, look, and if before I was working with AECOM, I was working as a consultant for them in a previous career. And I knew them as an engineering firm. Now what I like to refer to us now is we’re a professional services firm that concentrates on design, and planning, and engineering. So we don’t concentrate on just road, we don’t concentrate on just mining or just transport projects. We look at the whole gamut of infrastructure, and we design it. so we don’t construct it; although a small part of our firm in the American business is constructing it. Traditionally or in general, we are the designers that someone else will construct for us. So in terms of what we do, we design stuff, and it’s big chunky infrastructure, water treatment plants, mining, mining stuff, buildings, and that includes all the stuff that’s inside of it. so air conditioning, electrical work, big energy power stations. Virtually whether you can see it out in the, outside your window, that’s what you design.
6:20 DK: And then in terms of then you talked briefly about 153 small discussions. That was only an internal project you did. Was that to get started, and to get buy in from both bottom and also top down? Tell us how you created a movement, and turned the around innovations.
6:42 Warwick: Good question. And the one of the things that I thought would have been the easiest thing for me to do was to send out an email to our 4,500 people in Australia, New Zealand, and said, “Hey guess what, I’m the innovation person. just letting you know that I’m here if you want to have a chat.” That would have been easy for me to do that. I would have thought about 95% would have gone, “That’s great” and delete, and never had contacted me.
So traditionally what companies do is they hold what they like call brown bag town hall discussions or sessions where someone from the leadership team will come on in. And they’ll say, “Right, I’m coming in on to Brisbane, and I’m going to be talking 12-1 on Wednesday. Hopefully you can come and hear me talk about stuff.” Now again, that’s easy to do. But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get a lot of buy in because funnily enough our staff are responding to clients. So I wanted to match the message that I was giving to what our, my customers, my clients, and how they worked. I think that’s really important.
Because I have 4,500, or at the moment is probably a little bit less than that, clients that I have to deal with. I not only have more important things to do than read another email. So what I did was I’m based in Brisbane. When I visited Sydney, I would hold 40 small group discussions starting from 8 o’clock on Monday morning and finishing at 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon. And this was in reflection of my clients actually having giving them flexibility. So I didn’t want them to RSVP, I didn’t want them to put their name down on a piece of paper and tell me when they’re going to turn up. They knew I was going to be there. So I wanted to make it as flexible as possible that if those people really wanted to come, there was 40 chances for them just to turn on up. So it allowed them to go, “You know what, 12 o’clock on a Monday doesn’t suit me because I’ve got a client meeting, I’ve got do lunch” whatever it is. “But you know what, geez at 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon that just fits, and I’ll just walk on up.” So that was a great way to build that movement in, build the moment from the ground up in terms of what was the message I was trying to get across. I wanted to get these people on board with what I was doing. And I wanted to get them excited by it.
I knew an email, while that would be easy, would have a very little effect to the people in each of those offices. And the good thing about those 150 odd small group discussions was exactly that, they were small group. so there wasn’t a presentation. It was a discussion from me without a PowerPoint. And even though I had some words, and I had a bit of a structure to it, I could almost guarantee that for every one of those 150 sessions, I said something different each time just due to the way that I was prompted, and the way that I was discussing things, and people were asking questions. So it was small group, you didn’t have to RSVP, you could just turn up, and there was no PowerPoint. So right from the get-go, when people walked into the room, they thought, wow, this is different.
Because usually what we’ve done at AECOM is there’s been a mass email, you’ve had to respond through your calendar entry to say yes you’re going or no, you’re not, and there would be someone there behind a white board in front of a white board with some sort of PowerPoint disaster, and not really engaging with the people in the audience. So when they saw me doing something that was totally opposite, you could get that they were actually excited about being there.
10:50 DK: Now what different, what things did you did, sorry, for the leadership or was the same thing as well?
10:56 Warwick: Yeah, I think from a leadership point of view, it was just getting them comfortable that staff members liked to do this type of stuff. and again, it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel or to go out and be risky because we’re a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange, we aren’t like risk. So that was a bit of a disconnect I wanted to make sure with the leadership group that we’re going to try to do something different, but it’s still going to match our risk profile. So just encourage your staff to have those discussions with you.
And again, once they knew that where I was coming from was a very AECOM friendly way. See I hadn’t come from an Apple or a product service industry or a product related industry, they got more comfortable with what I was doing. So because I was not, I wasn’t pushing that far out of their comfort zone, I was pushing enough, they felt comfortable to support, and encourage their staff to attend or at least contact me. So I think that’s just very important just to make sure, that you know what, we’re not going to be the worlds most innovative company ever, but we just need to improve ourselves. And again, once you can tell that, you leadership group that, I think a big sigh of relief goes out.
12:27 DK: So what, how is that manifested now in AECOM after you did all those sessions, you built up a, I don’t know a movement, an understanding, deeper relationship both with leadership and your clients rather than your colleagues. I love how you’re thinking like that. How has that manifested over time now?
12:47 Warwick: Yeah, and this is where all the way along of a multiyear journey it was a thing that I wanted to talk about and think about to do it right, and to make sure that this wasn’t just going to be a six month corporate initiative because my god, we have enough of those, and every company has enough corporate initiatives to pave the streets of our towns. I wanted to make sure that it was sustainable. So the first part, and this would have been those 150 small group discussions was giving people comfortable with word is, getting comfortable that we’re all doing it, and getting people comfortable that we can all do it pretty well on a day to day basis, and become happy that it’s going to be different to different people. So that was the first part.
So the second part was, well we know it, we like it, how can we do more of it? And that was the next stage put into AECOM was to develop what I would like to refer as a train the trainer of course. But I put it together, there was a three-hour course on how you can be innovative or how you can inspire others to be innovative. And what I’m talking about innovation, it’s all about those ideas, and asking the right questions or the questions that will prompt thought. So the first part was getting people aware of this thing called innovation. The second part was how can you do it on purpose? And that was probably a 12-month sort of program that went all across Australia, and New Zealand, and got people enthusiastic about it. Because what I didn’t want to happen is I didn’t want to get hit by a bus, and the people at AECOM go, “Geez, Warwick, he was a great guy, but what did he leave us with? He had all this information, and all this knowledge, and he was the gatekeeper of it all.”
As you can probably imagine, most people in this space are more than happy to give their ideas, and all their resources up. So I wanted to make sure that when I get hit by a bus, not if, but when I get hit by a bus, there’s plenty of other people within AECOM across the A and Zed business, the Australia and New Zealand business who could just do this type of stuff. I didn’t want to be the only person who they had to call to say, “Hey Warwick, we’ve got this client, he’s, they’re trying to build a new road out of Wellington, and we want you to come across to our Auckland office to challenge us to how to think differently.” Hey I love travels as much as anyone, but that was not going to be sustainable for the company, and I think it’s fair for the company to only have the one person to do that.
So I trained up, and I use the words very loosely, trained, I trained up about 250 odd people across Australia and New Zealand from every office who could to do the stuff that I do. So that was all about people get excited, and if they’re in our Wellington office or our Christchurch office, we’re what three or four hours behind usually, and probably a couple of light years beyond sometimes. that they couldn’t go, “Oh geez, I’ve got to get a hold of Warwick now. Hang on, he’s not up yet. Well I’ll just twiddle my thumbs and wait.” Well he knows there’s a dozen people out of 60 in our Christchurch office that that person can just talk to, and say, “Guess what, I’ve got this idea running a session for the right authority (phonetic). Are you available, can you do it? Right, let’s do it.” So I didn’t want to be that stumbling block. So that process of spreading knowledge was really important to me because I didn’t want to be the gatekeeper of it all, and because I found what I’m finding now. So between probably 2009, and 2012, people would be calling me regularly. And when I say regularly, probably 20 phone calls each month to say, “Hey I’ve got this client, I’ve got this project. The client really wants to do something different. Can you come in and run a session?” And I was traveling all over the place. I said, I love travel as much as anyone. But probably in the last 18 months, those phone calls have dropped off. And that’s not because they’re not doing. but the offices or the offices realizing that they got as good as people as me if not better to do this type of stuff. So it’s certainly more sustainable.
17:21 DK: And that building of capability in an organization, that’s just great. And I love the quote that, “Innovation on purpose” that 12 month program, I love that. And that kind of leads onto my next question to you which is just about the culture. How important is culture in an organization, and how do you influence it or have you just by doing that to move into more of an innovation mindset?
17:45 Warwick: Culture is very, very important obviously. And yeah, everyone knows I think the Peter Drucker Quote that, “Culture eats up strategy for breakfast.” And I probably haven’t said it right, but we all know that. and this is where I think what was really good from my point of view was our CEO at the time in a financial, the “Australian Financial Review” in January 2013, so early January, it would have been, he classifies a light news day. He was on the front page of the “Finn Review” and he spoke about creativity in the engineering space.
Now for someone who had been within the business for multiple decades who had come up through the ranks, engineering, the blue shirt brigade, who don’t like risk, who very noncreative traditionally or what they classify themselves as noncreative to be on the front page of the “Finn Review” and talk about engineering, and the demand to being creative was a huge big sign of approval from Michael. And that I think was very, very powerful. Because within AECOM, I don’t have t-shirts, I don’t have posters, I don’t have any sort of paraphernalia like that so that says, “Hang on this is an innovative company. We just have people just talking and doing some really good work. And I think that was a very good example of Michael who had come I wouldn’t say the full circle. He’s always been pretty supportive of it. but to actually for him to come out and say that in the “Finn Review Report” or “Finn Review Interview” was fantastic in terms of what the culture was. And what I was trying to get across through all these small group discussions is that was one of the things that people kept on saying is, “Look this is great, but what can I do?” So I tried to come across a saying that would give them some comfort. And the saying was, “Guess what, I’ve got an idea that’s not perfect, but what do you think?” So it was almost that’s the giving the permission to go up to someone and say, “Hey Warwick, I’ve got an idea. It is absolutely stupid, it’s not going to work, but I want your input about it.” And that I think was a very telltale sign of me being able to get the leadership people on board. I didn’t want to start up an innovation fund, I didn’t want to start up an innovation program or an innovation competition. All I wanted our leadership group to do was being comfortable with that saying of, “I’ve got an idea that’s not perfect, but what do you think?”
20:42 DK: Its just asking questions isn’t it and inviting collaboration?
20:47 Warwick: Exactly. And this is where for the company that we’re in, it’s not rocket science. We do some really good stuff, but it’s — we’re designing rockets just yet even though we’re doing some work what space stations. It’s that type of just breaking it down, and making it very simple for these guys. I think it was in Chip and Dan Heath’s book, and yeah, they spoke about the, we want you to be healthy program. What the hell does being healthy mean? Does it mean eating less, eating different types of food? Does it mean exercising more? Does it mean do I have to go for a run at lunchtime? It’s all too hard. And in their book making it stick, they spoke about what, for you to be healthy just change your milk choice from you know the full fat to 2% milk. So that saying of, “I’ve got an idea that’s not perfect, but what do you think?” That’s my 2% milk story. So yes, you can cut through everything else, you can keep on doing exactly the same thing, do everything else, but I want you to become comfortable with that saying that you’ve got an idea and you want to just throw it out there, and you want some input into it.
21:55 DK: Very accessible definitely. Look, we need to wrap it up now. But I’d love to ask you before you leave just to give us an insight into who and what is impressing you out there in the innovation space.
22:07 Warwick: Look, I think there’s three things in innovation space. And they’re, and I’m going to say they’re, they provoke different emotions in me, and I always look forward to their emails, their twitter feeds, etc., etc. And this is in no order of importance. Seth Godin, he is a person who I have been following for a number of years now. And in the age of too long didn’t read, he is perfect. He has an email that comes out everyday, my morning, and it just provokes you to think about things differently. So that I think is really important. Great provoker. And it talks about everything. So it’s not just concentrating — I think this morning, it was all about that his focus is marketing. But he will challenge you just to think about things differently. That’s fantastic.
The second one is Tim Costello. Tim Costello I think is one of the best people on twitter in this space. Again because he doesn’t just concentration on innovation. He will throw stuff up on his twitter feed that again will just challenge you. If he thinks that it’s important, and he puts it on twitter, it is great. So you, I think that is really good. So you can — you follow no one else, just follow him, and he will get through all the weeds for you.
The third one is a little bit out there, it’s Thought Catalog. Now Thought Catalog is again, got nothing to do with innovation. But it provokes me to think about things differently. And if anyone out there who actually has followed their twitter feed, they’ll have stuff as broad as what do nice girls don’t do, and to the extent how you can change office environment to think about things differently, and everything in between.
If I had to pick a fourth one just because I have the microphone now, I would subscribe to Fast Company. Their daily or weekly email/newsletter I think again is very, very good, and it’s very broad. I think that’s one of the important things that I like to do is just think about things differently and broadly. If I’m only following the top 20 or the best of, well that’s great, I’m just doing what everyone else is doing. So do something that’s a little bit different. So if your expertise is innovation, well why don’t you tick the box that talks about management, tick the box that talks about culture, tick the box that talks about HR policies. Because one of those things will come through you, ahh, I didn’t know that, maybe I should adapt my communication message.
25:05 DK: Great. Thank you Warwick for all your time this morning. My morning, your evening, I don’t know where we are in the world. But thank you. I really appreciate it man.
25:15 Warwick: My pleasure.
25:17 DK: Thank you for listening to the Defining Innovation Podcast. I’m your host DK. You can find out more about me on my website. That’s just please follow up on justadandak.com, spelled out J-U-S-T-A-D-A-N-D-A-K.com, justadandak.com. If you know of anybody in the innovation space doing brilliant things that deserve a little bit more focus, and covering, and listen to me asking them weird questions, let us know in the contact form or hit us up on twitter @justadandak. Also don’t forget to subscribe either to iTunes or through the blog, and I’ll speak to you next time.
A podcast for innovators, creatives and the madly curious—featuring Stephen Gay.
Stephen Gay is a design strategist and innovation catalyst at Intuit where he leads business teams through the early phases of design thinking and identifies new opportunities for mobile and platform products (follow him on Twitter via @stephengay).
[stag_button url=”https://archive.org/download/defining_innovation_004_stephen_gay/defininginnovation004.mp3″ style=”light-blue” size=”small” type=”normal” target=”_self” icon=”headphones” icon_order=”before”] Link to mp3[/stag_button] [stag_button style=”grey”]PODCAST NO LONGER BEING PRODUCED[/stag_button]
[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Podcast Transcript” state=”closed”]
00:02 DK: Welcome to the fourth episode of Defining Innovation pod cast series. This is DK. I’m interviewing this week Stephen Gay. He’s the design strategist and innovation catalyst at Intuit where he uses business teach in the early phases of design thinking and identifies new opportunities for more violent platform products. I start the interview as I always do asking what innovation means to him and defining it in terms of his job.
00:32 Stephen: Sure. I work for a company, Intuit. I’m actually a design strategist and I lead a small team that I’m actually innovating new products for the company. What does innovation mean? I think the real interesting question is why innovation? So why do we innovate at Intuit? It’s probably two main reasons. I think the most important reason is we want to solve real customer problems. And by going broad and coming up with new ideas to solve these problems, we can take these things that are ambiguous or all tangled up and make them tangible and much more desirable. And the second reason, which is probably the biggest business reason, is it’s a competitive advantage. It’s been proven time in and time out that driving and championing innovation programs in our organization leads to competitive advantages, our stock prices go up, we build better products and our customers are happy. And when you bundle those two together you do some amazing things. And that’s why I’m in it. That’s why I love it.
01:32 DK: That’s brilliant. So tell us a little bit for any one who’s been living under a rock for the last ten years what Intuit is.
01:39 Stephen: Sure so Intuit is a US based company but we’re actually global as well. And we focus on personal finance for consumers and individuals and small businesses. So our two real core products pivot around personal tax and business tax and also small business solutions like payments, accounting, pay roll, and a whole bunch of other products.
02:05 DK: And you’re not a small outfit are you? Just give us a sense of scale there with Intuit.
02:09 Stephen: Yeah we’re about 6,000 or 7,000 employees right now.
02:14 DK: Wow.
02:15 Stephen: We have offices all over the world right now but growing.
02:22 DK: Fantastic. And I came across you through your site and through the work you’re doing there and I Google people doing innovation. And we had a quick chat. So tell us a little bit about how you drive innovation internally around the specific areas about creating champions internally.
02:42 Stephen: Yeah so we have a great program here. It’s called Design for Delight and we basically have a program in place where we train up individuals across the company, they don’t have to be designers. They can be product managers or architects or engineers and we train them up to be called innovation catalysts. And basically these people are champions and given a tool kit of different techniques and facilitation and running workshops to sort of drive innovation around the company. And we lately have been moving this towards a more coaching and embedded model where we ask these innovation catalysts to partner with teams throughout the design process or the billing of a product to go broad at the beginning, to really think about the customer empathy and what the customer is really feeling and then a huge component is rapid experimentation. And over the last six years on this journey the company has seen some amazing results. In fact our founder Scott Cook believes that D for D, Design for Delight is our number one secret weapon to drive innovation and to grow as a company.
03:46 DK: That’s fantastic you have a CEO who already sees the benefit and champions that. And I’d love you to unpick (phonetic) a little bit about how you identify those champions internally.
03:57 Stephen: Sure. So there’s not a secret formula. It’s really driven on people’s passion for design thinking, driving innovation, and helping other teams to succeed. So at the beginning of D for D was really self selecting. People just volunteered. I think there was five people to begin with and then it grew to 20 and then to 40. And now we have a huge wait list for people who want to be an innovation catalyst because the current person who runs the program only has room for two trainings per year but we really now are encouraging people to go to our website we have internally, dford.intuit.com. That’s internal to the company. And they can learn about the techniques, watch videos on how to do them, partner up with innovation catalysts. We actually have a buddy program right now. So the idea is to get basically innovation in their DNA and that’s really our vision for D for D.
04:53 DK: And you talk about the toolkitsthere, obviously you’re going to be training these innovation catalysts up, but what’s the tool kit? How does that break down? Is that a digital one or is that literally just a suite a resources they can tap into?
05:06 Stephen: It’s both, so we have the training classes where we hand out guidebooks and presentations too really (inaudible). So we very much believe at Intuit to learn through doing, through experiential learning. So the tool kit has that hands on element but we also have a website to go to. And for example some of the elements are things like brain storming, leveraging two by twos to narrow, story boarding and concept sheets, we have even modules that are extreme inspiration. So I worked on a product that was geared towards voice interaction and one of the extreme inspirations we did was we went out and talked to people who lost the ability to hear. So how do they interact with technology when they can’t hear? How do they interact with technology with they’re blind where using voice is even that much more critical. And that gives you feet back and inspiration to how to build your product. So we have a whole gamete of different tools and techniques that we leverage.
06:07 DK: Wow I love that phrase extreme inspiration. That’s just awesome man. And tell us a little bit more about the mobile scavenger hunt project. Now when we chatted earlier I got really excited by this so please share with us how you got everybody involved in this mobile scavenger hunt.
06:28 Stephen: Yeah this was a great project. I think in 2010 the world was really moving fast. It was definitely moving towards mobile and I think it was probably moving a little faster than intuit could keep up. And we saw this opportunity that we potentially were missing and we saw that there were potential threats coming from start-ups who were adopting this mobile platform. So we didn’t want to wait too long and our leader Karen Hanson, she wanted to create a real immerse of experience. So how the cadence works at Intuit is we have Brad Smith who’s our CEO. He has his CO off site and then it moves to a leadership off site and then finally cascades across the company to an all company wide plus site. So Karen used this (inaudible) as a — the platforms are really championed this sort of mobile first mindset. Brad obviously, our CEO and our founder and the whole company was really excited about this. But to really sort of reinforce this mobile first we came up with this idea of a mobile scavenger hunt. So the idea was that instead of just sitting in a meeting room and seeing power points or looking at data, it’s how can you really understand the mobile world? Some of these executives were still on Blackberries. They didn’t have access to the app store. Obviously Blackberries didn’t have things like GPS tied to an app with a camera phone and all these different features and functionality that these new devices offer. So we kept this concept of a mobile scavenger hunt and what that entailed was we gave all the executives iPhone and Android phones and we hosted in San Francisco and for about two hours we sent them on this scavenger hunt to find three clues that would lead to a final destination. So for example the first step would be to use your phone to let’s say go find a bakery. So you’d use Google Maps, you’d go to the bakery, and then in the bakery the executives would have to use a translation app to ask for a fortune cookie in Mandrin. And again this real time translation only could be done with the phone. And once they got the phone they’d crack open a custom fortune cookie, which would have one of the clues. And they did a series of these steps. The next one was they went to Geocache where they would scan a key word code and that would launch to YouTube. And so on and so forth. And through this action and competitive nature people rushed through the course in context understood the power of mobile. When they got to the end they were really energized. They had no idea the phone could do this many things in real life, getting around the city, finding things, interacting with physical objects, locations, it was just amazing and it really highlighted that. And it created the sense of energy and urgency around the products.
09:24 DK: And what were the results around that then?
09:27 Stephen: So I would say for that one particular day we had executives coming up to us and saying, “Wow I had no idea how powerful these phones were. I had no idea it could do this.” And the most skeptical of users before came back to us and said, “Wow I knew the phone could do some of this stuff but you showed me one new app that I was totally blown away by. And one in particular really highlighted was an app called Word Lands (phonetic) where you would hold the phone up to Spanish translation printed and it would real time translate that on the phone screen into English. So it was real time, using augmented reality. Just even one app could get that level of insight and that level of excitement. And I think after that — again the mobile scavenger hunt was a component of that but I think that whole two days really changed how people perceived mobile and over the next two years it went from really negligible revenue in mobile to over 70 million dollars. So we saw a big financial shift in the organization in just two years.
10:29 DK: That’s incredible, the outcomes of that right there. You know got a dollar figure that’s 70 plus million, which is just amazing. So that’s — it’s just so inspiring fellow. I love the words you were using about energizing and emerging to drive people’s thinking about this stuff. I want to for a minute take a perspective, how much did you invest in that program?
10:53 Stephen: Yeah that’s an interesting question. I think from a time perspective, I think that’s a real interesting area. You know to carve out at the executive level two days for executives focused on just that is pretty amazing to itself but as this program cascades, it goes from the CEO level down to the leadership level and that’s 100 people going through this exact same scavenger hunt for two days. Then we go to a company wide level and for that internal company wide conference is everybody really focused on this new initiative. So from just a resource perspective and commitment of the company to really invest in that transformational change, the dollar amount, I don’t know what it would be but it’s really about that level of commitment to innovate. And it’s something you just don’t do in the part time or as an after by product. It’s about really investing in your people, really driving that transformational change and that’s what gets the big results I think.
12:01 DK: It’s fascinating because you have the innovation catalyst program there, then you have projects such as that mobile scavenger hunt. How much of your time is kind of split between those projects that you devise to drive ideas and questions through the company versus the catalyst program?
12:22 Stephen: So right now from a catalyst perspective we’re asked to give ten percent of our time to doing D for D in the every day. And as a designer I’m leveraging that tool kit and that mind set in my projects really every day. But when you’re asked to do that ten percent it’s really volunteering not just for your projects but for other projects. And we bring D for D not just in Intuit. We actually bring it outside of Intuit. So I’ve taken the time to help organizations outside of Intuit champion innovation and understand the tool kit of Design for Delight. And in terms of the transformational change work and I’ve shifted from that team recently but when I was working within that group we would regularly spend cycles to spend time building these really immersive projects. Like the scavenger hunt alone, it sounds really easy but when you’re talking about 100 executives and you’re asking them to go out in the city and do all these different things, you don’t just need one bakery and one Geocache. You need three Geocaches and you need three bakeries and you need three restaurants and you need people at each of those stations sort of standing there to make sure if there’s a problem they’re getting the help. The last thing we wanted was to have an executive lost in San Francisco not being able to move forward. So the amount of detail and effort that’s required to do it right, we prototyped it about three times just to make sure we had all the I’s dot and the T’s crossed to make sure it went off really seamlessly. And the reason why is so they had that moment of insight. They had that real big mindset shift so we could all move forward.
14:14 DK: It’s such a delicious project and thanks for sharing. I want to take a more strategic approach to the questions now and ask you what models or systems or processes you use there when it comes to driving innovation. Do you have steps like that?
14:29 Stephen: So the Design for Delight program has three key principles. And I think a lot of organizations that drive design thinking innovation program probably are very similar but these are the ones we use. It’s really, one develop deep customer empathy. We believe that is one of the three pillars to drive innovation. If you’re not thinking about your customers, walking a mile in their shoes, really building empathy for them you’re not going to be successful. So that’s really pilar number one. The second pillar is really generating broad ideas and then narrowing. We have sessions dedicated to really getting all these great ideas out, on the table so people can have conversations with them and then really narrow based on key criteria. And I think that’s one of the pillars that we know you don’t just jump to one solution immediately. There’s probably a whole bunch of great ideas you need to get on the table to really discuss. The third principle is really conducting rapid experimentation with customers to learn. We’ve been in the last few years really focused on experimentation, building key hypothesis to experiment around to get the warnings as fast as we can to then move forward. And we figure these three pillars are really the key to driving innovation and building delight. That’s at the high level. And then when you get to these lower levels then you can use the whole series of different toolkitsto make these three pillars happen.
15:58 DK: And are the toolkitssomething you’ve put together, commissioned, brought people within the company together and say how do you design? Let’s take a little bit of that compared to how these guys design?
16:10 Stephen: Yeah I think — Intuit’s main office is in Montague, California, which is Silicon Valley. So I think as we hired people we brought in some amazing people in house to learn from what they’ve been doing. I know originally Karen Hanson and her team had gone out to look at how other companies were innovating. So we did our homework to figure out what would work best for Intuit and we really figured out a bunch of toolkitsthat would work well for us. So we kind of took existing patterns in the real world, invented our own, and created it in the Intuit way. And I think that’s kind of really important for businesses to drive innovation is to really figure out how these design thinking innovation toolkitsfit within your own culture. You know extreme inspiration may not be great for all companies but for us it really resonates. And that’s tied to empathy. And then we have these ideas of dune journey lines (phonetic) with customers where you sit down with them and map out their journey. We just did a session recently with ten amazing customers who were focused on a real pain point around managing money. And we sat and mapped out their journey and got into the details. A real classic one that we pulled from externally is the empathy map and that’s a great one to really walk how the customer’s thinking, saying, doing, and feeling. And that we use to capture that. So these are all really powerful tools to get to real big insights, which lead to innovation.
17:41 DK: I appreciate you brining up all that. Those are some absolutely, incredible models there that people can go, and we’ll try and link that up in the show notes. So what’s next for you in terms of your focus around the core products and the innovation cycle?
17:56 Stephen: Yeah so I spent a lot of time at Intuit my first few years really focusing on kind of thinking about the next generation of product, so sort of driving innovation for the next two, three years. And also focusing on these transformational change initiatives, for example one being mobile. In the last year or so I’ve been really getting into the products, working within the business units to build products that are coming out tomorrow. So this has been great for me because I get to really apply all my learnings and lead a team who are driving a whole bunch of new products for this particular business unit. And a lot of that pivots around coaching and mentoring and helping define great visions and even building design principles on how to move forward in a good way.
18:52 DK: Cool, so to close out this interview, like we do with all our pod castees, tell us who is impressing you out there around innovation whether that be a model or brand or organization? Who do you steal your ideas from?
19:07 Stephen: You know it’s interesting. I’ve been pulling a lot of my inspiration from a non-traditional design area. I think a local person, BJ Fogg he hosts a persuasion boot camp here in California and he talks a lot about behavior design. And his work is phenomenal for anyone who wants to understand why users do particular behavior and how can you influence that behavior change? His boot camp I would highly recommend. And I think Kelly McGonigal and Jane McGonigal are both great sources of inspiration for me as well. There’s a great book, The Will Power Instinct and it really talks about again what is motivating these users to do things or not to do things and it all ties into willpower. That’s a tremendous read. I’d highly recommend that. And I know there’s the business model canvas tool (phonetic) is another great way to tie innovation into the business model. That’s another great book as well, another great resource.
20:11 DK: Those are all great stuff and we’ll definitely link those ideas and those links and those resources up so thank you Stephen for giving up your time to talk to us and share, absolutely fantastic insight, so really appreciate it.
20:24 Stephen: Yeah it was my pleasure.
20:28 DK: So that was Stephen Gay, design strategist and innovation catalyst at Intuit. You can follow him on Twitter @StephenGay, that’s S-T-E-P-H-E-N-G-A-Y, that’s Stephen Gay and you can also follow him on his dot com as well. Please leave a comment or review us on the iTunes page, subscribe to our blog, do all those funky things to make me smile. And if you think that we should be interviewing anybody in the innovation space to define it better, drop us a line at justadandak.com/contact.
[stag_button url=”https://archive.org/download/defining_innovation_003_tim_kastelle/defininginnovation003.mp3″ style=”light-blue” size=”small” type=”normal” target=”_self” icon=”headphones” icon_order=”before”] Link to mp3[/stag_button] [stag_button style=”grey”]PODCAST NO LONGER BEING PRODUCED[/stag_button]
Show notes / timestamps : 00:00 Intro / academic definition of innovation
02:53 focus of Tim’s work
05:36 how do you teach innovation
08:49 cultural conditions for organisations / companies
13:45 the air sandwich
17:00 creating change
21:10 what’s impressing Tim
23:41 Thanks / outro
[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Podcast Transcript” state=”closed”]00:01 DK: Welcome again to the Defining Innovation podcast. This is episode number three where today I’m chatting to Tim Kastelle. He’s the senior lecturer for Innovation Management at the University of Queensland, in the business school there. He has an amazing blog, which is just an embarrassment of riches. It’s called Discipline of Innovation. Find it in the show notes. And you can also find him on Twitter @timkastelle. I asked him straight off the bat what his academic definition of innovation is and if it differs from any others?
00:34 Tim: So the definition that I always use for innovation is executing new ideas to create value. And everyone that studies it has their own definition but they all basically boil down to some way of saying that same thing. And there’s a couple of critical issues there, one is that everyone has the new ideas part and they get that. But you have to execute. So the issue of, you know you don’t want to be the guy in the bar that said I had the idea for Facebook ten years ago. You actually want to be the guy that builds Facebook, or the girl that builds the next Facebook. So you actually have to execute. And then the third point is the idea of creating value. Sometimes people will say — they’ll actually talk about money in their definition. So they say that innovation is an idea that has been translated into money. But I prefer value because value is more interesting. When we talk about value it means that education institutes can innovate without having to make a bunch of money. Governments can innovate without having to make a bunch of profit. So value I think is really important as a third part of it so executing new ideas to create value. To innovate you have to do all three of those things. It’s not enough to just have an idea. It’s not enough to be really good at executing without creating value. You have to do all of them. I think the biggest error that people often make, and this will come up again later as we continue to talk is to mistake innovation just for having ideas. Often people just say, “Well I have the idea. What more do you want?” and you absolutely have to execute. And it may be different people. If you have an organization it might be different people that have the idea and the execute, but at the end of the day — I hate when people say at the end of the day. But anyway to innovate effectively you have to be able to carry the idea all the way through and that means that you don’t just have them. It means that you actually have to do something with them. So that’s why that definition is fairly broad. But it covers I think all of the different types of innovation that you might have.
02:53 DK: That’s superb. Thank you for that Tim. So tell us what you do with those definitions because you work at the University of Queensland doing what sir?
03:02 Tim: I do sort of everything. I divide my time up in a number of ways. I spend a lot of time just out talking to people in firms about how innovation works. Sometimes that can be very formally as a piece of research where I’m doing it through interviews or through surveys. A lot of time it’s just more casual where people have come to me with a problem and they want some kind of help. I have a number of people that I just have sort of mentoring relationships with that are trying to run innovation programs inside of their organizations. I just touch base with them on a fairly regular basis to see what issues they’re facing because that helps me learn about what the big obstacles are and what people are struggling with. So a lot of my time is actually spent out in the field actually studying what’s going on inside of organizations. So that’s a big part of my time. And then I spent a fair bit of time then also teaching about innovation. So I teach into the MBA program. I’ve got other courses, educational courses and other things where I try to take all that stuff that I’ve learned and that other people have learned and packaged it up into some set of ideas that people can then take and apply in their particular setting in a way that will help them create value for whoever it is that they’re trying to create value for. So those are the two main things that I spend my time doing. And then kinds of my spare time hobby in the evenings is I then write a blog about innovation as well which kind of cuts across both of those things. My original thought with that was that I wanted to have a way to communicate with people that had taken my classes just to keep them up to date with what was going on with innovation. And then it’s just kind of grown and grown and grown and now I’ve gotten an opportunity to talk to even some people that have never met me about what’s going on in innovation and so the blog is basically when I take all these other things that I’ve learned and apply them in a way again that hopefully is useful to people.
05:16 DK: And we’ll be sticking that in the show notes because Discipline Innovation, which is the blog title, is a fantastic resource. I spend far too much time in there researching this interview. The digital kind of breadcrumbs and the rabbit hole really goes deep on your blog, in a good way.
05:32 Tim: It’s goes deep for me too.
05:36 DK: So tell us a little bit if you can how you actually teach innovation.
05:41 Tim: Well it’s one of those things where my official title is senior lecturer in innovation management. And often I’ll explain that to people and they’ll say well that’s an oxymoron. You can’t manage innovation. And it gets down to again that issue of thinking about innovation as just ideas. And the thing of it is we can’t — I can’t manage it so that you have an awesome idea in the next ten minutes. Maybe it will trigger one in the next ten minutes through conversation which is one of the things that you try to do to support innovation but if I’m a manager I can’t say, “Hey you guys, go have great ideas. And do it tomorrow or do it right now.” And I think one of the guys that I have done a lot of research with is a guy named Mike Coles and he did knowledge management for Hatch Engineering for a number of years. Now he’s out on his own. And one of the things that he said about knowledge management that has always stuck with me is he said, “Look people talk about herding cats, that knowledge management is like herding cats. And it’s not. It’s actually like herding butterflies because the thing with cats is that they’re actually some things you can do to herd cats. There’s nothing you can do to herd a butterfly. All you can do is set up the conditions that will attract the butterfly in.” And innovation is kind of the same thing. So the issue you have when we’re saying well how do we teach it, what we’re talking about is how do we create the conditions that will be attractive for good ideas? And it will help us then execute them once we’ve had them. And so when we talk about how do we train or how do we teach it, we talk about what are those conditions? How do we enable the construction of those inside of our organizations? There are some mechanical things, once we have really good ideas, do we have resources in place to execute? Do we have the skills that we need to execute and that sort of thing? And then that value bit we can also think about really clearly who are we creating value for and be very specific about is our strategy right for doing that? So you can think about the different parts of the definition. You can think about some of the tools and the techniques that support that and then if you pull all that together, that ends up being a little bit of an innovation course. It’s often not what people expect when they come in because they’re thinking well we’re going to have a class with beanbag chairs and Nerf guns and that’s not it. And there are situations when the bean bags chairs and the Nerf guns are cool but the main thing we try to get across in the course is here’s some stuff you can do. And I think that herding butterflies analogy is a really good one because what we’re really trying to do is we’re trying to create the conditions that enable people to innovate. We’re not forcing people to innovate.
08:49 DK: And you’ve written a little bit about this and I remember reading a bit about habits and forming habits which comes from the conditions and there’s a thing I used to say a lot was habitats form the habit right? And could you speak a little bit how an organization, for a lot of organizations that means a cultural shift rather than an operational or a hierarchical kind of fragmentation, maybe it is. But what’s the cultural shift that organizations have to do then to get their heads on the conditional side of innovation?
09:19 Tim: Yeah so that’s a great question and I think there’s a couple of key issues there. One is that if we’re talking about organizational habits or routines or the processes that we try to put in place, I think for me the most critical one is building up a skill for experimenting.
09:45 DK: A skill for experimenting.
09:47 Tim: Yeah or a habit, right but basically having that system in place where basically somebody says, “Hey I’ve got this great idea,” and then the response is, “That’s pretty cool. Let’s see if it works.” And the whole point, there’s a few I think critical points with that. One is that when you’re seeing if it works, if it’s an experiment, we’re just testing. And so we’re not trying to prove that it works. We’re not assuming all the way through oh yeah that’s the right idea. We actually have to figure out well how would we test it? So is there a way that we can build a prototype? Is there a way that we can scale it down to a really small level to see if it’s going to work to gather some data and then to see if that’s something that’s worth building more? The other thing with experimenting is that with an experiment you don’t fail. The whole thing with an experiment is we try it, and then the thing that we expected to happen either happens or it doesn’t and in both cases, then we have data. So either we’ve learned hey we have this idea and in this particular setting and under these circumstances it doesn’t work, so either we need to try different circumstances or a different way to approach it or do it with a different set of people or maybe it’s not right for us right now. But it’s not a failure. But then if it does work then we can say okay we learned something and let’s do more of that. But I think that habit of experimenting gets around a lot of problems that we run into with innovation including just getting hung up on the idea because if you’re experimenting we have to actually execute to figure out if the ideas any good. The second thing that it does is it gets around this issue of well what happens if we try an idea and it doesn’t work as we’re going out to learn? And I think the third thing that experimenting does is it just gets you into that habit of action. So if you talk about what’s the core skill of innovating, for me that’s it. And a lot of everything else that’s really important for innovation builds on that. So we have that habit of experimenting and that culture of experimenting and learning in place, then you can build a lot on top of that. And so if we’re saying well how can we be more innovative, a lot of people say well let’s go get an idea management tool. Or let’s get an innovation (inaudible) or all this other stuff. And for me all that stuff can be fine and it has it’s place but all the other stuff doesn’t really help you that much. So for me that whole thing is to experiment because that where an innovation culture then comes from.
12:38 DK: I love that and I never thought about how powerful just that one singular point, that granular point of experimentation can be and it leads into so many things. And then unhinges all the barriers, which you talked about.
12:50 Tim: Yeah if you’re talking about well what’s the thin edge of the wedge, you know we want to make our organization more innovative, what’s the one thing that we can do that would start to expand the way that we’re thinking, for me that’s it. It’s just how do we figure out a way to do that? And if you can do that a lot of really good stuff sort of naturally follows from it. And the thing of it is it’s not straightforward. It takes some changes to do that. You require different relationships in terms of power. You require different things in terms of empowerment that enable experimenting. And so it’s not like we can just walk in the door and say now we’re experimenting. But it’s for me the way to start.
13:45 DK: Wonderful, thank you for that. So let’s shift a little bit. Talk to us a little bit about the air sandwich. Just because I love this thing that I read on your blog about expectations between senior teams and implementation staff and how that is sometimes one of the biggest barriers for any innovation programs or even just communicating new ideas. Just talk to us about the air sandwich, it’s just so cool.
14:14 Tim: Okay well that’s an idea that I’ve stolen from my colleague and co-author Nilofer Merchant. So she wrote about that in her book The New How, which is wonderful. And in that she talked about how strategy gets built. And her whole argument is that within our organizations we’re not inclusive enough in how strategy happens. And I think it applies also to innovation. So the idea of the air sandwich is that if you’ve got one group that sets the strategy and then you’ve got a second group that’s expected to implement, you end up with a gap between them. And that’s what she calls the air sandwich. And so what happens is if the strategy group which is often a senior group, they set the strategy and then they just throw it over the wall and they say, “Here it is, go to it.” If the people that have to execute it have no investment in it, they’ve had no participation in developing the strategy. They have often no understanding of what the goals and objectives are, they can’t and they won’t do what you need to do to make that strategy work. And so what you end up with, if we think back to that definition of innovation, you have a gap in the value that’s trying to be created because the people that are being expected to implement don’t understand it, they don’t buy into it, they don’t see the value for themselves. So Nilofer’s argument and I endorse this 100% is that to be more effective with building our strategy we have to be more inclusive in including more people in the building of strategy. And that’s the way that you get rid of that air sandwich. And it’s too bad that everyone is just listening to this on the podcast because my physical gestures is really expressive. But the issue that if more people participate in building the strategy and building the goals and building the objectives of an organization, they’re more invested in making sure that those things work. Often those people are closer to the people you’re trying to create value for so they often have a better understanding of what your other stake holders will value. And so that idea being more inclusive in building strategy and building the ideas that you try to innovate around I think is very powerful one.
17:00 DK: I really love it. It’s just such an obvious thing that probably between us we can cite so many examples from our previous experience of working in global authorities or education institutions, you see it. My kind of only frown point with that if there is one is if you’re talking to an organization which is quite fat like maybe a governmental organization or university like Queensland, it’s quite big, how do you make sure the air sandwich is nonexistent which is what you’re advocating for or at least has a very thin layer of air?
17:36 Tim: Yeah, well so that gets into a huge can of worms. So the bigger question there is if we have a large organization and they’ve got set ways of doing things and we want to get them to change, how do we do that? And I think there’s a few points with that. One is that first off it’s really hard, unsurprisingly. And so that’s one issue but the second thing then is that there are in fact organizations that have done it successfully. IBM has transformed themselves twice in the past 20 years. You know first to respond to the rise of PCs and second to respond to the rise of the Internet. And so they’ve gone from being a hardware manufacturer to being a service company. And if you look at who were their big competitors in the 60s and 70s, they’re all gone. So all the organizations that were just as big that they were competing against have just disappeared because they didn’t make that transition. And IBM was thousands and thousands of people. So how did they do it? They did it by doing exactly the sort of thing that we’re talking about which was broaden the base of people that are participating in generating ideas and coming up with a strategy. You know their big innovation in the 1990s was the innovation jam. And the whole idea of that was well wait a minute we’ve been setting direction here in the boardroom with 20 people for years and that was fine while the environment was stable. But now the environment isn’t stable so maybe we should talk to everyone. Those first innovation jams, we went from having our strategy and our objects set by 20 people to having 10,000 people participating in figuring out what we should do next. So that idea of can we broaden the base of the people that are contributing ideas and contributing to our purpose and contributing to our direction, it can be done. So we have examples that we can look at. The third point in all of this is that often — so that’s doing that on a big scale. If we’re in an organization and we’re not the CEO, so we don’t have the power to change everything, I think the next question to ask then is okay there’s good stuff going on someplace here, how do we identify that and build on that? Because you’re better off finding the positive things and building on those than trying to stamp out barriers even if there’s barriers that are hindering innovation or change, it doesn’t necessarily just unleash a torrent of ideas or innovation that was just sitting there waiting to be unleashed. You’re better off finding the people that have already figured out a way to fight that inertia and of succeeding that system and encourage that. Try to get that to spread. You knock down barriers (inaudible) actually building the behaviors that you want rather than — supporting the behaviors that you want rather than trying to get rid of the ones that we don’t.
21:10 DK: Thank you, yeah that’s brilliant. So we could just rap forever man but we’re going to have to bring this to a close so I’m going to ask you, which I’ve asked the other guys I did a podcast with, who’s impressing you in this innovation space whether that be a person, a brand or organization, or even just an idea that’s popping in that you think has some legs?
21:30 Tim: Okay, I’m going to cheat and pick two because as you can tell I can talk. And so there’s a couple of ideas that has popped up. One is for an idea the thing that I think is really powerful and you and I met when I was talking about this is business model innovation. I think business model innovation the idea that we can change not the thing that we’re delivering to people but everything around it and then we’re creating fundamentally different value for people, I think is incredibly powerful. And it’s something that is available to pretty much every organization. So I think that the idea that we can innovate a business model is something that is a relatively new idea, obviously the activities that go into have been around for ages but thinking about it as a business model and innovating that relatively new and I think it’s very powerful. And so when we look at things like wing start up, that business model is right in the middle of that and that’s transforming the way that we start businesses. It’s also having a huge impact on larger firms as well and so I think that’s a really important idea and one that people should investigate. If we’re talking about organizations it’s another one that you and I were talking off mic at the start. The company that’s really impressing me right now is Under Current. And I think if we think about ideas that we’ve been discussing, how do we get (inaudible)? How do we flatten? How do we experiment? How do we find (inaudible) and expand it? That’s the think that their whole practice is built around. And I just think that they’re doing great work and I would love to see more companies like that. I would love to see them get really huge because I think that their approach to this is really, really good. They’re doing fundamentally good work. And it’s based on good theory and pretty solid theoretical underpinnings and that to me is the kind of company I’d love to see more of.
23:41 DK: I appreciate that and thank you. So Tim thanks for your time. It’s really been a joy to speak to you.
23:47 Tim: Yeah, thanks for the opportunity. As you can tell I love talking about innovation with pretty much anyone I get a chance to and I hope that this is been a good useful thing for people.
24:01 DK: That was Tim Kastelle, senior lecturer of the innovation management at the University of Queensland. You can follow him on Twitter because of course you’re young and funky and follow people on Twitter right? You can follow him on Tim Kastelle, that’s T-I-M-K-A-S-T-E-double-L-E, timkastelle, please subscribe to the blog, leave a comment or review it on iTunes. That would really help me out immensely. If you think we should be interviewing anybody for the Defining Innovation podcast just leave a comment or drop us a note on the contact page of justadandak.com. Until next time, I’ll speak to you then.