Innovative Cultures with Colin Duff and Mike Kaeding

Innovative Cultures with Colin Duff and Mike Kaeding

The Chris Hood Digital Show - Episode 17 Innovative Cultures
The Chris Hood Digital Show
Innovative Cultures with Colin Duff and Mike Kaeding

Innovation is more than just a buzzword. It’s a culture, a mindset, a journey that companies embark on to disrupt traditional business models, explore uncharted territories, and create transformative solutions. So, how does an organization build a culture of innovation? How do we handle failures along the way, and where does the customer fit into this narrative?

In this episode, we are joined by Colin Duff, CEO of Mosaic Innovation, and Mike Kaeding, CEO of Norhart, to discuss the value of customers in building cultures of innovation.

Building Cultures of Innovation

Organizations worldwide have recognized the power of innovation. According to a McKinsey Global Innovation Survey, 84% of executives agree that innovation is critical to growth strategy, yet only 6% are satisfied with innovation performance. This disconnect underscores the importance of building a culture that fosters and harnesses innovation.

Leaders play an instrumental role in driving an innovative culture. A study by IDEO found that innovation leaders who model innovative behavior can increase their teams’ output by up to 34% [PDF]. They should act as role models, embracing a ‘fail fast, learn faster’ philosophy and showing employees that taking risks and failing is okay. Establishing a psychologically safe environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, even if they might not work, is a cornerstone of innovative cultures.

Failure in Innovative Cultures

Failure is an inherent part of the innovation process. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson suggests that organizations aiming to cultivate an innovative culture should not merely tolerate failure but learn to celebrate it. According to Edmondson, an organization’s ability to learn from mistakes increases its capacity to innovate by up to 46%.

The tech industry provides many examples where failure has been the stepping stone to success. A prominent case is that of tech giant Amazon. The company’s notable failed venture, the Fire Phone, resulted in a $170 million write-down. However, the lessons learned from this failure were instrumental in successfully launching other Amazon products like Echo and Alexa. The Fire Phone’s failure underlined the need for a clear value proposition and differentiation, lessons Amazon took to heart when developing later products.

Recognizing the importance of failure, companies like Google have institutionalized the concept of productive failure. Google X’s Rapid Evaluation Team quickly tests the potential of new ideas and is fearless in eliminating those that do not hold promise. This approach allows Google to fail fast, learn quickly, and focus resources on up-and-coming innovations.

These examples underscore the importance of viewing failure not as a setback but as an opportunity to learn, adjust, and refine ideas. A culture that embraces failure in this way fosters continuous learning and innovation.

Leveraging the Customer in Innovative Cultures

Involving customers in the innovation process can yield substantial benefits. A 2020 PwC study revealed that businesses prioritizing customer input in their innovation processes saw a 55% greater return on innovation investment than companies not involving customers.

Customer feedback, a vital component of this engagement, drives innovation significantly. According to Microsoft’s 2020 State of Global Customer Service report, 87% of global customers offered feedback to businesses, a sign of their willingness to participate in shaping products and services.

Co-creation, another customer-inclusive strategy, has shown promising results as well. Research published in the Strategic Management Journal suggests that firms employing customer co-creation strategies see a 20% higher probability of innovation success.

Lastly, an HBR study found that firms using user-centric innovation methods – making customers an integral part of the innovation process – grew their revenues and profits up to 3 times faster than their industry counterparts over five years.

Such statistics underline the importance of integrating the customer perspective into the innovation journey. It’s clear that businesses that listen to their customers, involve them in the development process, and align their strategies with customer needs are likely to enjoy more successful innovation outcomes.

Aligning Innovation with Customer Value

While innovation is essential, it should never be pursued for its own sake. Every innovative initiative must be tied back to a direct value proposition for the customer. If a new idea, product, or process does not create value for the customer, it is unlikely to contribute to the organization’s long-term success.

Before embarking on any innovation initiative, organizations should define a clear value proposition. They should ask: What problem are we solving? How does our solution create value for the customer? What differentiates our solution from existing alternatives? The answers to these questions will guide the innovation process, ensuring it is purposeful, relevant, and customer-centric.

Customer Transformation as a Key to Innovation

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, customers are not merely recipients of value but active participants in their own transformation. A successful innovation strategy will consider not only the direct value delivered to the customer but also how it empowers the customer’s transformative journey.

For instance, when Adobe transitioned from selling packaged software to offering cloud-based subscriptions, it wasn’t just about a new revenue model. It was about transforming the way customers interact with their products. Customers can now access Adobe’s suite of tools from anywhere, receive regular updates, and enjoy a more flexible and adaptive user experience. Adobe’s shift to the cloud didn’t just align with a value proposition but was instrumental in transforming the customer’s journey, resulting in higher engagement and loyalty.

Embracing customer transformation as a facet of innovation ensures a deeper alignment with customer needs and aspirations. By focusing on how your innovation shapes the customer’s experience, journey, and transformation, you create a more profound connection and value alignment, leading to more sustainable and impactful innovation outcomes.

Building a culture of innovation is complex, requiring organizations to embrace risk-taking, celebrate failures, and involve customers. It’s about creating an environment that encourages creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. 

Chris Hood (00:01):
Hey everyone. Thanks for listening. Innovation is more than just a buzzword. It’s a culture, a mindset, a journey that companies embark on to disrupt traditional business models, explore uncharted territories and create transformative solutions. So how does an organization build a culture of innovation? How do we handle failures along the way? And where does the customer fit into this narrative? In this episode, we are joined by Colin Duff, CEO of Mosaic Innovation, and Mike Kaeding, CEO of Norhart, to discuss the value of customers in building cultures of innovation. Get your copy of my new book, Customer Transformation, A seven Stage Strategy for Customer Alignment and Business Value. This is your essential guide for success in the digital age. Learn from industry giants, adapt to your customer’s ever evolving needs, and revolutionize your business strategy to achieve sustainable growth. Grab your copy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my website to support the show. Visit Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform. Follow us on social media and you can email me directly [email protected]. I’m Chris Hood and let’s get connected.

Voice Over (01:24):
Connecting access, it’s the Chris Hood digital show. We’re global business and technology leaders meet to discuss strategy, innovation, and digital acceleration. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Your digital evolution starts now. Here’s your host, Chris Hood.

Chris Hood (01:55):
Looking forward to our conversation today on innovation and let’s meet our guest. Colin, would you mind introducing yourself?

Colin Duff (02:03):
Hi Everyone. I’m Colin, based in London, but originally Scottish, you can probably tell. And I’ve been working in innovation for round about 20 years now. I run a boutique agency called Mosaic Innovation and we help large enterprises develop new products, experiences, services, as well as upskilling innovation themselves through training and transformation. Really excited to be here.

Chris Hood (02:25):
Great. Mike?

Mike Kaeding (02:26):
Yeah. I’m Mike Keating, CEO of Norhart. We’re based in the United States, specifically in Minnesota and we’re focused on solving housing affordability by developing and building apartments. And so we’re innovating in that space to drive down the cost of constructing housing. And our goal is to reach a 50% reduction. But imagine what that means someday. That means someday your rent could be half. So that’s our dream and the impact we’re hoping to make.
Chris Hood (02:55):
So I love this because what we have is Colin, you’re actually helping organizations build innovation types of strategies. And Mike, you’re actually in a company that is trying to be innovative. And so they kind of collide together in our conversation. And I think a good place for us to start is just under understanding how to make this all happen. And often we call that building a culture of innovation. Maybe we need to define what a culture of innovation is. So from both of your perspectives, can you put that into context for our listeners?

Colin Duff (03:33):
Yeah, happy to, happy to start. So for me, one of the real prerequisites of a culture of innovation is you do need, and sorry, it’s be a bit boring in some form of strategy. So I see a lot of big organizations I’ve worked with and they dive straight in for the foosball tables. There’s drawings, there’s three D printing, there’s startups crawling all over the place, but it’s not always very focused and purposeful. So what I mean by innovation strategy is what are some of the key themes we want to address? So if you’re working in, for example, financial services, is it crypto, is it intergenerational savings or is it I don’t know, want to win in the robo-advice market? So using AI to give financial advice. So it’s being really clear about those problems and then also thinking about what is our point of view on some of these emerging technologies and some of the capabilities.

Now, once you have the vision for what you want to do, then you can design the type of innovation culture you need. And the biggest mistake I see is people assume an innovation culture is this monolithic, universally applicable thing. Now if you compare and contrast Amazon versus Google, I could spend all day elaborate on exactly how they differ. So there is no one size fits all. But the biggest thing is thinking about, are we talking about more close in incremental style innovation or are we talking about the kind of moon shoot Now, usually for most people is the former actually about 70% of innovation. And my top tip there for where to start is how do you do things more quickly? Which sounds a bit counterintuitive ’cause everyone’s like, oh, but surely it’s about the mindset and it’s about the people. But what crushes innovation we’re inherently creative is when things move slowly and bureaucratically.

So for example, your teams will have ideas all the time. Brainstorms are cheap, they want to go and make this stuff happen. The amount of times I’ve seen, we are getting access to customers, to, to test these ideas can take weeks or months or they have to go through some market research team. So it’s things like that knocking down those bureaucratic bro blockers in my view and cutting through. Frankly, if you want the bss, that’s how you build a real innovation culture. And you can wrap around all those hackathons and the fuzzball tables as well. But you need to start with the, the, the, the substance.

Mike Kaeding (05:57):
That’s amazing. I I love that you really think about the purpose, the mission, the vision of the organization first. I think that’s critical. But when I look at the most innovative cultures that I have personally seen, I think really it comes down to what I’m looking for is the people , is the individual person doing innovative things? Are they making those changes? Is everyone in the organization doing that? That continuous improvement and innovation and invention and not getting stuck in the bureau bureaucratic issues of organizations. And so for us, for me, the place that I start is honestly, it’s hiring the best people. We’re extraordinarily selective of who we hire, but when you bring amazing people together, magic happens. They start unlocking doors for you that you didn’t know could be unlocked. They start changing things that you didn’t know could be changed and making things happen. And so for me, I think that’s the starting point and that’s what I really look for when I’m looking for an innovative culture is really amazing. People.

Colin Duff (07:00):
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. We call it book smart, street smart. Now the book smart these days is very easy to get because they worked at some big consultants in of the M B A, the street smart is what we spend the time interviewing for and the kind of problems I face when interviewing, when I’m innovating. For example, I was in a a retail client and the wifi was too slow, so we had to go out and buy dongles for all these stores to do the testing or we were trying to do some again in store stuff and the polo shirt didn’t come and we had to go at the printers and and get one made on the fly. Or it’s all these kind of like workaround behaviors that a lot of people who’ve grown up in office jobs kind of white collar almost. I think there’s an intellectual snobbishness about it sometimes or like innovation’s actually really messy. I’m sure you’re gonna tell lots of stories about that Mike in in your field. And it’s how do you constantly problem solve and how do you do stuff on quite scarce resources? Innovation’s easy if you’ve got millions of pounds in your Google. Most of the companies that we deal with, they’re, although they’re very large, they’re actually quite scarce resources. So it’s how you use this stuff quite frugally as well.

Mike Kaeding (08:09):
I I love that. And specifically you talk about all the problems. One of the things I I tell our team oftentimes is that there are 10,000 problems that we’ve got faced with lots of little issues and it’s no one person that can solve it. We need everyone in the organization to help solve those problems. And sometimes people look at it and say, Hey, I got all these problems. That’s a bad thing to me. It’s not, if you have no problems, to me that tells you that you’re not innovating, you’re not changing stuff. ’cause It’s not until you enter new spaces and new spheres that you actually discover all these issues that you need a really high caliber team that need to process and solve those issues. One of the core things I think about is the number of new problems that we’re introducing by the fact we’re expanding and growing and changing stuff versus our team’s capacity to solve a certain volume of problems.

Chris Hood (09:00):
So, you know, you talk about people and I agree, you need the right people in the organization and definitely bureaucracy is killing innovation. However, when you talk about opening up innovation to everybody, that’s a little bit more challenging because what we tend to find is that organizations will say, well that’s not your job. And their innovation or their ability to innovate is stifled. And one of the biggest reasons that we see people leaving organizations and moving into like entrepreneurship is because they have an idea. They’re trying to express that idea in the organization that they’re at and they’re being shoved away saying, no, we have a team of innovators. How do we bring that perspective of everyone is involved with innovation to the strategy that we implement in the business.

Colin Duff (09:53):
You know, I think a great example of somebody who’s done that really well is Adobe who introduced this program called Adobe Kickbox. And the idea here was you went in a two day training course or in some basics and you literally got a box of tricks and it included things like there was a coffee voucher for Starbucks and it was symbolic to say no matter what your role, if I present this card to an executive, you have to give me half an hour to discuss my idea. And then it gave them some easy to implement, again, function and sip, seniority, agnostic ways of doing early stage validation of an idea. I have some sympathy for companies when people just have a post-it note and it’s something like, we should do a loyalty scheme. And you think, yeah, that’s not an, that, that’s not an, that’s not an innovation, right? And then people get frustrated and say, no one listens. So you need them to do some work and you need to give them some kind of a structure to say, bring us a little bit of evidence. It might just be some qualitative feedback or it might be some ballpark scale in size and figures, but people need to, ideas are cheap. So I’d say you need to help people incubate the very early stages and and give them some basic tools as a, as a minimum.

Mike Kaeding (11:04):
Awesome. Yeah, I have a few additional thoughts. And the first thing I think it starts with the c e O and the leadership team and it’s about communicating what you want that culture to be. So for me, I, I literally run every single one of our orientations and I’m involved quite a bit with the staff ’cause I think this is the number one most important thing that I need to think about. And in orientation, one of the key things I talk about is actually look at everyone in the room and I kind of wave my hand like I’m, I am knighting them and I say, each one of you have the power today to break our rules. If you see something that you firmly believe should be done differently, then go do it differently. And if someone questions you on it right now, you get to tell them, Mike told you to do it.

You know, the c e o told you to do it. And then the caveat to that is we say, okay, you can change something then come back to the team, your team afterward and tell ’em what you changed. And what we find is that 90% of the time they were right and 10% of the time, maybe we have to switch back. But I know most companies are afraid or many companies are afraid that their employees are going to do the wrong thing. So they create rules and policies and procedures to box people in. I am much more afraid that our people won’t feel empowered to do the right thing. And so we we encourage people very heavily to take action on what they think is right,

Chris Hood (12:35):
That right thing and wrong thing where they come back and they say, here’s what I’ve done. How much of that is rooted in analytics or data or validation that it did or didn’t work?

Mike Kaeding (12:47):
It depends on the kind of task. So there are small cases, for example, they may be working in one of our factories and they didn’t meet the production timeline for specific item and then they’ll write kind of down the issue of what happened and then they’ll talk about write a counter mesh or something they’re gonna do to fix it and then they act upon that countermeasure. So it’s really a binary kind of thing. Did it fix it? Do we not have problems going forward for those smaller things Now really bigger decisions like do we create a new precast concrete facility or do we expand into another state? Those tend to be a little bit more of a group discus discussion. There’s analytics, finance gets involved. So it just depends on the scale of that task. But I think people have a pretty good natural sense of when they like, okay, I I maybe I should have a few more people involved before starting a new facility in another state as opposed to here’s something that I can change today. They have a good natural sense for that.

Colin Duff (13:49):
Yeah, I think that’s deeply contextual as well, Mike. And I think that we we’re seeing the variance between you and the small business, and I work with very large enterprises, so often a hundred thousand people. And the challenge there is a lot of the time they have their plans set, so annual or multi year for in terms of spend on areas like technology and things. So the alignment is more important because while I’m absolutely buy into the empowerment, if you have people running off who are not aligned, then you, you know, you, you do cause a lot of fires there as well. What I’m trying to, we always try to encourage our clients to say is you want to move away from this high purview. So the highest paid person’s opinion, which frankly is how the decisions are often made. And I’m amazed even in very large organizations that you talk about data, it’s confused for anecdote.

Now an anecdote’s great in the inspiration stage to say, I showed it to some friends and they loved it. But you know, six weeks on, if that’s all you have, you don’t have a lot. But the, the is again, I was saying earlier, it’s giving people the tools. So I’ve got this cool idea, I’ve spoke to some people, what now? And I can’t tell you how difficult it is in a big organization to build, for example, a landing page because then you might need to speak to the digital function if you’re not in it. And a digital function will tell you about, oh, we have a roadmap and it’s not on it. Or Oh, we need also some social media support. Well, they’re busy for three months. And again, this is where you need really good governance as you get bigger so that you can have empowered teams who report to a few number of masters who can make things happen and almost act as diplomats. So the diplomacy, it doesn’t sound as though it’s so important in your organization because it’s inherently entrepreneurial, but if you’re in a big tail could be 40,000 people, I can’t tell you how hard it is to navigate through the kind of corporate morass.

Mike Kaeding (15:40):
Man, I love that. ’cause As a, as a leader, like you only have so many hours in the day. Even if you were an expert, even if you understood everything well you only have so much time to make decisions. And so the best answer I I love that is to say, I don’t know, or what do you think we should do? And let them drive to a decision that then you can guide them and help coach them. You work more as a coach rather than a, maybe a nicer word is probably out there, but like a dictator, you don’t wanna be that. Right. That’s great.

Colin Duff (16:11):
And, and just one other build on that as well is we have a same, what we call like stage appropriate economics or the fidelity of evidence. So if you are in a normal stable environment doing a business investment, you want it really robust and bulletproof, you want that financial model. If you’re doing something innovative, you need to accept there is inherent risk and uncertainty. So don wouldn’t try and over-engineer it. So that’s what we’re advising as well is that start building out those unit economics through those experiments. And I can give you lots of examples of, of things we’ve done. We call it smoke tests. We’ll often, you know, build in landing pages, we use experiments from the lean movement like fake doors. So when people click to it says, you know, we’re not quite ready yet, or give us your email. I know sometimes people worry about the ethics behind those, but there is nothing more powerful because most of those experiments do fail sadly for us as well. And I’m often the one saying, oh this will definitely work, but you know, we always learn from them. So how can you be more experimental?

Chris Hood (17:11):
Yeah, you talk about projects themselves failing, but how do we root failure into the innovation process?

Colin Duff (17:21):
So the, the best advice I give leaders is I say, look, you can eliminate failure no matter how smart you are. Even the best tech companies, if we, you could round them off, but the thing you can do is have a, a wider portfolio of things and fail more quickly. And the way you fail more quickly is you stop doing the theoretical thought land and pure market research and you build what they call sometimes minimum viable products. So, or minimal marketable products where you usually, in particular in a digital context, almost these simplified simulations. Maybe there isn’t a a backend on them or they’re semi manually executed because typically, and your, your example might be different by your context, but in the digital world in particular, the question is rarely can we build it? Almost always Yes. These days, unless you’re really bleeding edge. The question is do people want it?

And a really bad way to figure it out is to ask them the amount of projects. People say, do you want to buy green energy? Absolutely. I’m a committed environmentalist and I’ve launched green energy. No one bought it when we first launched it ’cause no one wanted to pay a penny more or assisted living for your parents. Yeah, absolutely. I care about my parents. Good luck in the UK because it’s state funded healthcare. So I’ve had lots of instances where we’re like, oh, there’s a quantitative survey that shows X and it bears no relation to the market reality. Or I love the Mike Tyson quote. Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face. I think that is just how I, how innovation works that way,

Mike Kaeding (18:53):
Man, that’s such a great technique to use. I think another perspective is also you want to get people comfortable with the concept of failure. And so kind of one of the things we, we talk a lot about is how do we decide who to hire and who to fire? Well it’s our values. And one of the questions I asked then, or at least one person spoke up at one of our meetings and said, well Mike, that makes me feel a little bit like I’m walking in eggshells. ’cause If I screw up, you know, at some point you’re just gonna fire me. ’cause We’re very honest about letting people go if they’re not a good fit. And I said, well let’s think about that. How, how do we decide who to hire and who to fire? Well it’s our values. Okay, good. Is there anywhere in our values that say if you make a failure, you are not the right person here. Well, no. Yeah, absolutely not at all. In fact, it’s almost polar the opposite. Our values are very much tied to things like innovation. And so if you are not feeling at least some, to me that’s a bit of a concern. That means you’re not trying new things. So we very much encourage and support and celebrate that failure. ’cause Those failures are learning opportunities.

Colin Duff (20:04):
You know, I’ve got a great example of when it went wrong. So years ago I was setting up a bunch of venturing for a, a large logistics company and we set up four or five of these things and the first couple failed and people worked really hard and the superintendent, it just didn’t work. And what did they do? They got rid of the people on the ventures. So the three remaining ventures, which some of them were not that strong, no one would admit that because people said, well if I’m losing my job, so not like, so there was this pretense if we’re doing great and no one wanted to join the innovation unit because they said that’s career suicide if you fail. And also your promotional prospects or your loss of political capital. So people talk about celebrating failure, it’s, I think they mean the learning, but if you can have the executive and saying, you know, like Mike has just like done this really pioneering thing, got these great learnings, we’re promoting them because you know, what you achieved was great. A lot wasn’t commercially successful, but that really often does not happen. And you get a lot of, when we work with the corporates, kind of the B grade people that people voiced and say, oh, you’re setting up an innovation unit. I’ll give you John, Jill, and Harry. And you think, is that your top talent? And you’ve, you know, it’s, you know, or it’s, yeah, that’s happens so often,

Chris Hood (21:24):
Mike, you talk about the values within your organization for your team, but I think there’s also a value alignment that has to happen with your customers. Where do you place the customer into your innovation, especially when you’re trying to develop things that the end user, the consumer is going to actually partake in.

Mike Kaeding (21:47):
You know, I think one of the big steps we did there is we actually became our own consumer. So in the world of construction, typically developers are not necessarily the owners and certainly developers are not the subcontractors and things like that. And so we’ve integrated that whole spectrum all the way through owning our own buildings. And that was actually a key innovation for us because then we could control that whole lifecycle and actually smooth out our demand curves. So now we push that to the, the actual end customer is our residents into our units. And for innovation, we think a lot about that customer experience. For example there was a whole push for a while into smart home technologies. Very cool. We had software developers working in the same kind of technologies, but one of the things we started missing, we just failed in understanding is the end resident is using a light switch versus their phone. Well, it’s really hard to beat the ease of use of a light switch and the reliability of a light switch. And so I think really understanding where your customer is at, what experiences they have, how to remove some of those points of friction in their life is a very important piece to doing innovation well. ’cause If you do innovation without understanding the customer, it’s you’re creating just fun stuff for, for nothing really.

Colin Duff (23:13):
Yeah, couldn’t agree more. Mike. I’ve seen a lot of tech driven innovation. I remember years ago we asked to help with a liquid tea and instead of tea bags and you know, we said, what problem does this solve? And the answer was, we don’t know. We’ve just figured out a way to do it. And it, it really didn’t go well. And I had so many problems are wove invested in a drone company? Oh, brilliant. What was the use case you were thinking of? Well that’s your job around like innovation or novelty for novelty sake. Yeah,

Chris Hood (23:44):
I think a lot of organizations struggle with that. They want technology just for the sake of technology or they want to innovate just for the sake of innovation. They don’t really have a strategy as you started off with. And so I go back to the consumer perspective, you ultimately have to be able to drive a value proposition that we are innovating to serve the needs or to solve a problem for the consumer.

Colin Duff (24:13):
I always like this because people confuse technology with innovation. Technology is often an enabler, but I say to them, what was the tech breakthrough for Uber or Airbnb? I mean, there, there wasn’t one, right? Uber burst after an SMS and Airbnb’s first website. I can’t remember if it was Squarespace, but it was very basic, right? And those are unicorns. So the tech is the enabler, not the, not the thing in itself.

Mike Kaeding (24:38):
When I struggle with this all the time because I love technology. I have a background in computer science, so I get really geeking out about the technology. But yeah, if we create some tech that is not creating any real value or it’s not solving a problem, it is just a waste of time. And I’ve, I’ve done that many times myself.

Colin Duff (24:55):
Yeah. And, and the big organization, the problem is the tech stack. So these big organizations think about, well these are all of the limitations, so how are you going to build within them? And very often you say, but the people we’re competing against the newer organizations, they don’t have a tech stack or they’ve got a modern one, so maybe we should build to compete with them and think about, but it’s, it’s almost the, the back to front or scale it and then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll re reimagine it. And you think, but you’ll never scale it if you don’t. One other build on that is, I think because I work with big organizations, there’s a tendency to do too much yourself. So yeah, there was a phase five, 10 years ago when a lot of them were doing, you know, these kind of like startup incubators and stuff.

And maybe a, this is based on personal experience that seems to have went out of Vogue and I can’t tell you the amount of people who are reinventing the wheel or you think you as a big organization have one chance to get the timing and the technology and everything else, right? There are dozens or hundreds of startups who are all approaching it differently. Wouldn’t it be better to think about how you could collaborate, you can bring them access to market capital, all the kind of things they would value have done well, but it seems to be that is yeah, less and less. I see at least

Chris Hood (26:10):
For the listeners who are running their own businesses and they’re trying to figure out, I wanna be more innovative. We’ll use an apartment analogy. What’s a good foundation for them to be able to start being more innovative within their organization?

Mike Kaeding (26:26):
You know, here’s one really s simple technique that I think has made a big impact for us is that each week each team creates a video. It’s just something short they shoot in their iPhone of something that they’ve improved upon. Can we talked about earlier how there’s different kinds of innovations. There’s a small incremental and there’s like the big wild changes. Well, the vast majority of massive innovation over time comes from small incremental improvements. You wanna get all of your team members actually doing that. So we have them create a video and the end of the week we should show the videos off or it’s different teams show ’em off to each other. They kind of celebrate, they give an award to the best one for that week. Sometimes they do like n b a kind of brackets and stuff to make it fun. But the whole goal there is to get people, everyone actively thinking about what’s just a little two second improvement that I can make this week to my job that will improve things overall.

Colin Duff (27:26):
Yeah, and I think Matt up tip as well is, right, the, the, the rocket fuel of innovation is insight and inspiration and the best source of that is from customers. So the more you can bring them into the process, the better. And I’m talking about the boardroom as well as the, the the front line. Sometimes by a video if you can’t logistically do it. And when you meet these people firsthand and they tell you particularly in the customer experience service space, it’s like a slap in the face for a lot of these leaders who haven’t experienced that. I think the other point to do is to look beyond your industry if you want to innovate and look at the kind adjacencies, what has happened those, and how does it impact you? So again, if I use a bit of a cliched example, Uber, the fact that I was able to summon a car with the click of a button, that impatience and expectation doesn’t respect the category boundary.

That when I’m at an, at a hotel and I want where room service delivered, what I want to order in the car on the way to the hotel, and you tell me I can’t do that, that’s the, the way we need to be thinking is this across boundaries. And then the final one, just as I create individual one is the more dumb questions you can ask the best are, right? So I love the idea of like the Netflix engineer who says, why do movies go to cinema first? And everyone kinda looks like, what an idiot, right? We know why. But then you think about it or you know, you’re doing a transport project, well why is Seton better than standing up? And again, it’s like, why do people eat ice cream? Right? It’s actually not because it’s hot, it’s because it’s sunny, because it’s a bit joy and it can really take your interest in places, but you don’t hear, people don’t wanna look foolish. So it is, you know, the psychological safety thing.

Chris Hood (29:06):
Well, thank you both for joining me today. It’s been a fabulous conversation.

Mike Kaeding (29:11):
Thanks for having us.

Colin Duff (29:12):
Pleasure, Chris. Thanks.

Chris Hood (29:13):
And of course, thanks to all of you who are listening. If you like what you heard, please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform and leave a review. Your feedback helps us improve and grow. And if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for the show, you can connect with us throughout social media and online at Chris Hood Show. And please share this episode with your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else looking to grow their business and start their own digital evolution. Until next week, take care and stay connected.
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