Episode #4 – Interview with Ethan Bagley – Emerging Leader in Collaborative Innovation
Date: December 18, 2019
In this episode we interview Ethan Bagley, an Emerging Leader in Collaborative Innovation.
Join us as he talks about:
Destroying 100 robots
What’s in his design thinking toolkit
Mitigating the challenges of redirecting inertia
Why engineers can make great innovators
How to structure innovation experiments
Advice for new innovation leaders
About Ethan Bagley:
Ethan is a certified Master Facilitator and Six Sigma Green Belt, and he has special expertise in design thinking and agile methods. He received his bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University and an MBA with a technology innovation focus from Northeastern University.
Ethan resides in Appleton, Wisconsin, and is based in the J. J. Keller Corporate Campus in Neenah, Wisconsin.
Below, we’ve shared the full transcript of our interview with Ethan Bagley :
Ethan Bagley | edison 365 Podcast
Stewart Noyce: [00:00:00] The Edison 365 podcast explores the best practices and deep insights of modern-day Edison’s people who innovate 365 days of the year. This podcast is brought to you by Edison 365 the company that enables idea management from idea to business impact.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Edison 365 podcast. My name is Stuart noise, and I’m joined by my partner Dennis Hoel Our Guest today is. Ethan Bagley and emerging leader and collaborative Innovation Ethan. Thank you very much for taking this interview with us today.
Ethan Bagley: [00:00:37] Absolutely happy to be here.
Stewart Noyce: [00:00:39] Now. We typically start our interviews with five questions that get to the bottom of what how you think about Innovation and where you are in your journey.
So, let’s start with the first one and that is what is the problem you see in the world that you intend to address.
Ethan Bagley: [00:00:56] I’ve met a lot of people who are very passionate through working with startups and startup weekend and TechStars and kind of being all over the place with working with entrepreneurs. You know, you meet a lot of people who are passionate about a thing and they go through that thing and they and they develop a solution around it or they develop an idea around it.
They do all the work to focus on that one thing and I had a conversation with an entrepreneur one time and they were asking me like, okay, so I’ve got this thing that I’m really passionate about what is it that you’re passionate about. And I took me a really long time to think through it.
But what I ended up with was actually like the ideas I’m passionate about ideas. Getting them from the concept to the to some point where they can be validated invalidated executed upon. So, I don’t necessarily have a particular area of passion in terms of building a product. I’m actually more passionate about helping other people get to the point where they can get out and build those products which is why I flourish in facilitative environments.
Stewart Noyce: [00:01:59] Excellent. So, let’s look at that from the perspective of your focus on ideas. What solution do you bring to help those people facilitate those ideas?
Ethan Bagley: [00:02:11] It really depends on the maturity in terms of somebody’s knowledge of working in Innovation. For some people just the very basics like; how do you define that your idea, what’s the what’s the passion that’s behind it, what’s the goal that you have for this thing, and then who are the customers and what’s the value proposition, you know? – Basic canvas work. So sometimes it starts there, other times you’ve running into people who are on their third business or you know, they’re working in a non-profit that they’re very passionate about they have some backgrounds. But for me bringing lean practices has always been a part of a part of my growth as a professional and so I try to focus people on lean methods to bring their ideas to life bring the passions to life.
All the way back to my first job out of college is an aerospace engineer working in a very strict environment on lean Six Sigma and then quality engineering and then getting into facilitation of design thinking.
Stewart Noyce: [00:03:12] Okay. How do you get paid for your work these days?
Ethan Bagley: [00:03:15] I’m a salaried employee at what is historically been a publishing company and is now going through the same digital transformation that a lot of disrupted Industries are going through today.
Stewart Noyce: [00:03:28] Okay, and what special capabilities do you bring to your work?
Ethan Bagley: [00:03:32] So I have this this hybrid mix, you know, I started out as an aerospace engineer and worked in engineering for quite some time. So I have this analytical spatial thinking mind that I take and I combined with this design thinking facilitative collaborative mindset that I’ve been developing as I move through my career from engineer to innovator.
Stewart Noyce: [00:03:55] Okay, and what upcoming initiatives have you particularly excited?
Ethan Bagley: [00:04:00] I’m very excited about some of the emerging Technologies. So artificial intelligence is an area of particular interest to me and then building other Technologies on top of that. So, how do we use blockchain in combination with artificial intelligence?
How do we look at IOT devices in combination with artificial intelligence and of course. The you know, the big future development of artificial intelligence combining with Quantum Computing and the emergence of a general artificial intelligence, you know at some point in the far future.
Stewart Noyce: [00:04:34] Yeah, that’s going to be really interesting to hear what we come to come to see and know from artificial intelligence is going to be quite a driver for the entire community. Let’s call that a pretty powerful Trend Ethan. Thank you for taking you know, taking us through these first five questions and answering them from your perspective. And from who you are. We’re really hoping to learn more about you through this interview, and I’m going to let Dennis take over for now and I’ll be back on in a little bit.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:05:06] Thank you Stewart. Ethan considering your initial path as an aerospace engineer. Would you care to elaborate on how you experience the transition from that profession entering your Innovation role?
Ethan Bagley: [00:05:22] So I am transitioning from aerospace engineering and Innovation at also. In college, I became enamored with mechanical work eventually focusing on aerospace engineering. I started working at a company that builds sensors for aircraft engines and it was a very challenging position because of the way that it was structured and the you know, the different tiers that you would have to go through for safety. So, while I enjoyed the design aspects of it and the testing aspect of it. I wanted something that allowed me more flexibility. So, when an opportunity came to go to a consumer-packaged goods company working in robotics. I thought that that would be a great Next Step. So, I move next to iRobot. I got to focus on their military robots. I get to work on the packbot system.
I’m actually not sure what they call it today – It’s part of endeavor robotics at this point, but these military robots – I got to destroy them that. My job was to be a quality engineer. And so it was it was interesting to go from a position where I’m trying to create something that’s very robust for very difficult environments to then go to a company that’s already developed those things and that I get to try to break them by testing them in different environments. And I got I started to get more into the deconstruction I think of things from that perspective, right? I encountered a less complete idea that needed to be tested, you know in pieces before it could come to life as a whole. So eventually I moved from the government robotics into the consumer Robotics and I got to work on their wet floor care robotics that iRobot which is a really interesting challenge because you’re taking water and electricity and putting some them together in a mobile platform and trying to make it work which of course is very difficult.
The really interesting part about that transition, I think is that in my previous two positions. When I wanted to test something I was given one or two shots to test it think it was so difficult to build whatever that thing was, but it moving it over to these mass-produced devices I can get myself a hundred of these subsystems are systems to test out anytime I wanted and so see the difference in testability from going from 1 to 2 samples all the way up to a hundred samples. It changes your mindset and the way that you approach the concept that the subsystem to think the thing that you want to improve out, you know, it doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged thing.
When you start to test it can just be a piece of that thing. So, move from there to Keurig worked on coffee makers again. They’re kind of a hybrid role between design and quality engineering. Again consumer packaged Goods you get a lot of things to test out all at once if you wanted to so I had a lot of fun coming up with new pieces and testing those out there as well. But the real transition for me it started when I moved to Constant Contact. I moved from a designing quality engineering role into an innovation catalyst role. So, in the interim, I had been doing some Consulting out in the out in the world and one of those – one of those Consulting engagements. I guess I would call it was the facilitator. An organization of startup weekend events. I really enjoyed getting a bunch of random people from around Boston who had great ideas together helping them form teams and then getting out over the course of a weekend to test and validate those ideas.
And I took that I took that forward into my professional career, right? So, from the facilitation and organization of these ad hoc events in Boston working with a team to collaborate on the organization and helping teams within those events to collaborate and test their ideas as well. It was a lot of fun and again it really, I think helped me identify in a sense that I’m passionate about helping people with their ideas.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:09:37] So what would you say are some of the key knowledge or skills or qualities that you’re bringing from your past engineering into your approach now in driving Innovation and like building your products and organizing these events and facilitating?
Ethan Bagley: [00:09:51] Sure. Well, so, you know in the engineering context you have rigor, you have to have metrics, you have to be able to measure or things don’t work the way that they’re supposed to – and I think that that analytical rigor really helps in the Innovation Concepts because it’s great to be passionate about an idea but if no one likes it you shouldn’t build a product around it. So, you know determining the right experiments to figure out whether or not it’s a good thing to spend your time and resources on as well as how do you measure those experiments
I think that’s really the most important part of my engineering that’s come with me aside from you know, the lean thinking and trying to reduce waste in the process.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:10:36] And as an advocate and obviously a practitioner of the tools and methodologies used when your work with clients, to what extent do you find yourself educating others about what you do and how? Also, for other innovators for that matter?
Ethan Bagley: [00:10:51] So there’s there are different levels to the amount of knowledge that people are asking for when you have an engagement. I remember facilitating an event in Bermuda with first-time entrepreneurs in having no idea on how to progress their ideas. So, we started out rather than facilitating more broadly we started out with some education sessions here. Here’s what a Candace looks like when we say value proposition. Here’s what we mean. So, in some cases, it can be very high level like that. In other cases, people have some of the knowledge or they’ve been through sessions and some other context.
So, you know building train-the-trainer models around specific design thinking exercises, usually in the context of whatever that company our client gets.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:11:41] So for these students, entrepreneurs and corporate interpreters out there. What are some concrete steps that you would like for them to follow to become a quote-unquote innovator?
Ethan Bagley: [00:11:52] I’m a huge fan of the jobs to be done framework really only over the last couple of years have, you know been in engaged with it myself, but I’ve always loved positioning things as jobs. So this framework I think is super helpful to help you get out of the way of thinking about your solution and get more in the mindset of thinking about the space around the concept that you’re exploring.
So most of the projects that I kick off – I tell my team, you know, we have ideas about how we think this will end up but that’s not really important the important part of this that we’re helping the customer get a job done in a way that they can’t get it done today. So I try to facilitate as many conversations as early on as I can with customers and structured way that helps us helps us ensure that we’re spending our time at the right place and they’re really that really Starts with the jobs to be.
Framework another method that I’m very fond of is questions storming determining the right questions to ask in order to validate that the job you’re trying to help them get done is the right job to do. So, I like to spend time collaborating with different stakeholders across an organization saying, you know, here’s the customer segment that we’re we think we’re going after here’s the job that we think we’re going to help them do. How do we how do we ask the right how might we ask the right questions in some? You know appropriate order to make sure that we’re approaching it in the right way.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:13:27] Precisely and on this Innovation Journey for someone who’s starting out of for someone who’s been on this journey for a long time, what are some common pitfalls that we should look out for?
Ethan Bagley: [00:13:40] Common pitfalls for people for people starting out? For people starting out on the on the Innovation Journey it falls to look out for. Total optimism I would say is a pitfall right you’re going to you should in fact be doing a lot of things in the vast majority of those things are going to fail. If you are a total Optimist and you expect everything to work out the way that you think it is, you’re going to be met with a lot of disappointment. So, tempering your expectations. I think it’s a very important thing for first-time entrepreneurs to do.
Also, Not the right way to say this making sure that you’re flexing your network as much as possible. You know, I’m a voracious networker. And when I have a thing that I want to work on I can go and I can look at my LinkedIn and say here cure eight companies who might be able to help me explore this or ten experts in a field that might be able to help me put this together who can I reach out to and I find that the more perspective you can get the earlier in the process. Again, the more successful you can be.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:14:49] That makes a lot of sense. And those was Rock Solid advice for people like me who just got out of business school and for people that are trying to start an innovation Journey inside of large organizations as well. So, I’m going to say thank you for that and Stewart Noyce if you would like to ask a few more questions, go ahead.
Stewart Noyce: [00:15:08] Of course, I’m going to ask a few more questions. So, I’ve really enjoyed the answer to the last question there, which was I can summarize as Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Ethan Bagley: [00:15:20] Yeah.
Stewart Noyce: [00:15:22] So we all get a pretty excited about solving our problems or at least, you know, getting Innovative and doing something new and creating something new.
The challenge is really within that framework of doing something new. It also needs to add value and that’s that ends up being a real challenge, isn’t it?
So, let’s get into a couple of things that that I’m most interested in. In about particularly about your current situation. You mentioned that you are joining a company in a disrupted industry.
Could you describe what you mean by that exactly?
Ethan Bagley: [00:15:56] Sure. So disrupted industry. I think there are a few different dimensions to that one is that the core business model is being confronted by new technology. So, if. Yeah, as if for instance, I currently work at a what has traditionally been a publishing company and it just like any newspaper sure, you know people have been exposed to the fact that it’s difficult to maintain your position when you are pure Publishing Company you need to be able to adapt which is why we’ve seen the emergence of things like eBooks and audible so finding new ways to present the same content is one of those pieces of disruption that I think is very interesting the other aspect that that I’m thinking of at the moment is startups there. It’s a lot easier for a small Nimble startup with ambiguous funding shall we say to move quickly to disrupt an incumbent and field – so finding ways to leverage what those startups are doing or partner with some of those startups or really just to keep track of what they’re up to can help give insight into what disruption is coming and how you can best prepare for it and mitigate the outcomes from that disruption.
Stewart Noyce: [00:17:12] So if you look internally at this company that’s being our companies in the industry that is being disrupted. Are there specific challenges that? The companies specifically face as opposed to say the you know, when a start-up comes in and starts to disrupt an industry that a lot of people get pushed around and their world changes, but if you look inside the company and particularly that you’re joining a company in an industry, that’s facing this.
Do you see specific challenges for the company?
Ethan Bagley: [00:17:44] I think some of the specific challenges for the company. I’ll say inertia. It’s very difficult. When you’re when you’re used to doing a thing a certain way and your you know, your inertia is in the direction of a specific business model. It can be very difficult to shift the mindset the culture the product things take longer than they do for non-incompetence.
And so, redirecting that inertia and helping to move more quickly when it comes to finding new Concepts developing those Concepts and commercializing them. I think those are very difficult challenges and there’s so much and it’s the Innovation moves so quickly that it can be very difficult just to keep a beat on what’s happening in the world. So that that also can cause some trouble.
Stewart Noyce: [00:18:44] Right. So, there’s some specific challenges in here and we want to get this company on track to thrive again. Do you have any specific ideas of how you’re going to get them to thrive?
Ethan Bagley: [00:18:59] So in terms of specific ways to mitigate those challenges, obviously one of the things that you need is leadership when you have a leadership who is bought in and is pushing for those kinds of efforts to succeed.
That’s. That’s probably the number one thing if you look at different governance models of innovation at corporations, I think you’ll find that that’s always something that’s very significant and the success of those models beyond that. Typically, the more successful Enterprises have a separate group that works specifically on Innovation.
So, you know performing a team. Typically of a mix of people that have worked at the company and outside of the company allowing that team so autonomy to work on the things regardless of whether they cannibalize a current product or not allowing that team to spend time failing again. Most things are not going to work out.
It’s important to give people space to try those things. And then also, you know from resources perspective a budget assent budget. That allows again for that autonomy in that space without necessarily needing to take away from some other some other part of the organization. You don’t want to be running an innovation program where you have to beg borrow and steal.
It’s not going to work out. You don’t want to be in a in a in an innovation system where your you’ve got halftime resources. It doesn’t work. So, there are a lot of really excellent best practices when it comes to governance and resourcing and counting for Innovation that I think helped. Again, metrics, right, how do you how do you measure your success when it comes to ideation engagement, output revenue, or potential Revenue typically in the case of innovation. So being able to track those things accurately to ensure that you’re able to justify why you’re doing these things can be incredibly valuable.
Stewart Noyce: [00:21:07] Okay, sure. So, you talked a little bit about how this group that innovates might need to be somewhat separate from the mainstream of the business. That’s pretty typical, I think. Does that mean that the approach that you take will be separate from existing company processes or is there actually an interface where you do need to connect into the company and its and its operations.
Ethan Bagley: [00:21:35] You know, it’s typically a hybrid. The Innovation team needs to be able to move on its own but in both cases, you’re going to be beholden in some way shape or form to the company to the core business of the company and in some cases that. If you’re more affected by the core less affected by the core, it’s a spectrum. So part of that is, you know, when looking at an innovation portfolio, your incremental Innovations are likely to be more focused on the core business while your adjacent or your breakthrough ideas are going to be far outside of the typical competencies or the typical core business practices. And so therefore you have to be able to explore those things. Without going through the typical process. So, you necessarily have to have a hybrid approach between the two in order to be successful.
Stewart Noyce: [00:22:31] Okay, tell us a little bit more than about the process that you take people through. You mentioned that in some cases you have to do some training right?
You actually have to go and talk about things like what is a value proposition which – does seem to be pretty Baseline but I can untie can imagine that if you have a number of people who haven’t done this work before they could get kind of off track from the very beginning, but let’s say you take them through that process you get them into a baseline.
What is the process that gets them from that place to actually delivering on the ideas that they have?
Ethan Bagley: [00:23:13] So from what I like to do with ideas when I have the folks you have that baseline understanding is to go through as series typically a series of design thinking exercises – so moving from the Java sea down framework to the value proposition canvas to the lean canvas to the business model canvas.
Once you get to the end of that then you’re sort of in a space where your you’ve validated the different pieces of a potential business and you can you can move forward but there are different points of Education along the way. When you walk into a design sprint and you’ve never done a design Sprint before let’s say it can be daunting. cause you don’t understand why you’re doing all these posted out exercises. Why are we Plastering the wall with these things? Why are we drawing funny pictures about these concepts of these problems that we have and it’s it can be disconcerting for somebody to say trust the process just walk through it with us and you’ll understand it at the end.
So, I find that it can be beneficial. If you provide people some education about the activities that you’re going to be walking through as you as you move through the process and I would say that that’s consistently valuable regardless of which days you are you’re walking through in this process. So, you know, if you if you see points where there may be confusion with some of your participants, you know, whether they be collaborating on projects the entire time or just collaborating on a certain part of it.
It’s important to be able to describe clearly why it is that you’re doing what it is that you’re doing
Stewart Noyce: [00:24:52] Okay, you talked about the lean methodology that’s something that you’ve embraced, and you take into to apply to these companies. Can you give us a little feedback on your impression of this lean methodology?
We know what’s good about it. And what’s been you know, what’s maybe not so good. Let’s not we won’t use the bad word, but we’ll just say it’s, you know, maybe it’s sort of it has some gaps and things you would improve on
Ethan Bagley: [00:25:20] The positives for the for the lean methodology. You know, obviously the speed at which you can get things done the experimental side of it being able to structure experiments in way that objectively allow you to say whether or not something is if it’s good or not.
That kind of objective validation is important because when you’re working on a project, it’s easy enough to answer the why question. Why are we doing a thing but with the lean methodology I find that you can answer the here’s how we know question, right? So how do you know you’re doing the right thing?
Well, here’s my objective evidence. Here’s the experiment that Iran. Here’s the here’s the background process that I ran through and you know, I find it that again will be methodology is incredibly helpful for a structure so that you can get to the point of being able to say here’s how we know – and that can be applied to any part of the of any of the canvases that we’ve discussed thus far.
In terms of cons or let’s say Deltas or things that could be improved about the lean methodology. I would say that I guess the flip side of the experimentation is that it can be difficult for people to understand how to structure experiments particularly if they’re new to the process. So, learning curve I guess might be one of those things that could be improved. It’s I think it can come naturally to some people particularly if they have some background in entrepreneurship or working in Innovation processes, but, again If you see somebody who’s confused about the way to use a process such as a lean canvas, it can be helpful to walk through and teach, you know used it as an opportunity for education. So, the how to the ability to pick it up quickly. I guess I would say is a place where there could be some improvements.
Stewart Noyce: [00:27:27] Okay, are there other tools that are, excuse me, let’s start with methodologies. Right. So sometimes tools can be thought of as methodologies. But when I want to ask you about tools, I’m actually going to ask you about specific software or you know, things like that that you might be using. But before that are there additional methodologies that you think are very important for development of innovative ideas.
Ethan Bagley: [00:27:52] So yeah, design thinking methodology obviously, design thinking is it’s a toolbox. It’s a great toolbox of different ways to get to the right answer and not maybe your answer the one that you were looking for – but the right answer. You know helps you get to the point where you’re designing the right thing before you try to design thing, right?
Making sure that the customer need is there I frequently, you know as we’re walking through design Sprint. I’ll go back to a book like game storming and try to find some fun new tool that I haven’t ever used in that tool kit or push up pull up pull something out that I haven’t used in a while like a pre-mortem to bring into a situation where you know, there’s a higher risk where you know bringing questions forming or back to the Google design Sprint book to look for insights. I have a whole briefcase of stuff that I bring to any design Sprint that I’m facilitating. It has post-it notes of markers and a Bluetooth speaker and all of the different video cables that you can think of and Sharpies and you know all that stuff that you might potentially need so that you’re prepared. You know like a Boy Scout I guess so that I am prepared for any eventuality that come up in a design Sprint.
Stewart Noyce: [00:29:19] Yeah. How about software any particular software that you’re using today?
Ethan Bagley: [00:29:23] Yeah, so I’m a big proponent of having some kind of task management system that you can kind of integrate with design thinking methods. So right now, I use Jira to help with task management. And I also adapted it quite a bit since it’s a technically a software management tool, but I found it by using tasks and subtasks. It’s fairly easy to build a build a list of appropriate design thinking methodologies or stage gates. If you will in a design thinking process for developing a concept where you go from step to step two step you have parallel paths.
So as a for instance when we get to a certain point with the project, we know that we have to do some technical development, but in concert with that we can be doing some customer development so that when we have the concept ready for test, we also have this customers ready to test it. So not trying to do it in a waterfall way.
Aside from that I’m a big fan of the idea management platforms. I think that tools like edison365 name drop. It’s a good plan view any of these platforms that are out there. They can be really useful. I think you have a good plan for how to use them and you have to have a really good plan for how to engage your group and how to use them and again obvious need for education as you’re walking through using something like that, but found a potential particularly as you move through the maturity curve and you can start to do things like open Innovation or setting up Innovation challenges with customers.
Stewart Noyce: [00:31:05] Excellent. Thank you very much Ethan the good answers to those questions. Dennis do you have anything else that you’ve been you’ve been listening carefully, and I saw that you wrote a few notes down. So, do you have something you want to jump in and ask a now?
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:31:21] I do indeed. I have two questions. Actually. The first one is with all the disruptive and emerging Technologies surfacing left and right companies might feel immobilized by the opportunities that are in them.
So how would you suggest that we go about making a deliberate choice on a path to start walking?
Ethan Bagley: [00:31:43] So doing good in choosing how to prioritize all the different opportunities. There are different ways to come at it. I think it really depends on the type of business that you’re in. If you were if you were an Enterprise, you know, you’re going to want to make sure that something goes along with your strategic Vision, right?
Try your best to elect night with a strategic vision of the company. It may not always be a perfect fit. But you know, typically there’s some way to show some Synergy with what’s going on at the corporate level. For just starting out or you know, first off start with the desirability factor of it right? I find it again. Like if you can’t find an if you can’t find a market for a thing. There’s really no reason and trying to figure out if you can do it and the first lesson and you know, but there’s typically good instincts about whether or not I think can be done. I find that there’s less so Instinct on whether things should be done.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:32:46] Yeah, and my next one you and Stewart touch this already when talking about the lean methodology itself, but you mentioned that allowing an internal Innovation team to try and fail is kind of a best practice when it comes to successful Innovation. Now, not every corporate culture is accepting to this. So how did it go by creating the right environment for Innovative exploration?
Like what if they’re resistant to the education that you’re talking about?
Ethan Bagley: [00:33:16] You know a lot of it can be can be Behavior change and have it and as with most habit-forming you have to start with small things small changes tend to work better than large ones. Just like if you were a smoker and you want to quit cold turkey tends to be one of the more difficult ways to do it.
But if you take small steps over time, eventually, you’ll find it a thing becomes a habit – you replace a bad habit with a good habit say and so I think one of the ways. To bring this kind of attitude and behavior in is to start with small failures, right? So if you want to impress upon people that failure is okay start with a small failure look for smaller opportunities where the resource requirements or the budget isn’t so large at the time commitment to be able to go forward and say, you know, we tried ABC experiment and it failed but it only took us like three weeks.
To go from concept all the way out to testing this idea with the customer and if you can show that repeatedly like oh, you know, we did 10 things in one of them succeeded but that one thing was great. And in the meantime, these nine things that failed they really didn’t take as much effort and they certainly didn’t take as much effort as if we had moved forward with them.
Like we would have with any other products previously. So, you know, it can be very difficult to demonstrate the value of the things that. Don’t do. But if you can show them in show the things that you didn’t do in the context of either the way that you would have done them otherwise, we’re in a previous process that again can help justify an attitude of positivity around failure.
Another way to another way to address this is to try to remove the word failure from your Lexicon all together. So, you know, I’ve been to some great conferences recently and I keep hearing this and I really like it. You don’t use the word failure. There is no failure. There’s just learning. So if you can instill that kind of attitude with people from again from leadership down to say, yeah, we didn’t fail at this project we learn something that gave us insight into the future about what will or won’t work or different ways to test the concept even and you can get very granular sometimes with those things. I think the more resolved you can be about the outcomes that you’re talking about when it comes to learning that more justified those learnings become.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:35:53] And do you think that approach applies to both disruptive and sustaining innovation?
Ethan Bagley: [00:35:59] Yeah, well while the Horizon for incremental or disruptive innovation is significantly different. I would say that regardless of that the speed at which you can test things is also much shorter. So you might not be able to take a blue sky Innovation to market for two or five or ten years, but if you can test it out in the first six months and demonstrate that your first iteration of that idea wouldn’t work even in 10 years for whatever reason because there is a market because technology is not going to be there because the technology you would have used will be outmoded all the better and ditto for the incremental, right?
So again, if you want to. Make a device smart. Well, great. How do you how do you do that? How do you test it? You can’t if you can’t show quickly given the technology that we have today if you can’t show quickly that that’s not possible. It’s probably not worth proceeding with that at the moment. At least.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:37:04] Thank you. Well though bait for my two final questions. Stewart?
Stewart Noyce: [00:37:10] Yeah, thanks Dennis. So, Ethan listening to your last set of answers is really been very helpful. I think to me and in our conversation to give some more context to the techniques the processes that you’re going to be brought to bear on this disrupted industry.
And one thing I want to, before we get into my last question. I really want to say that. The idea that there are no mistakes is really important right that you are you there is opportunities to learn but we don’t make mistakes if you can you know, it’s use the word Delta before which I love the way of avoiding the word bad.
Yeah, right or things that are cons or whatever but this idea that we don’t want to sort of whitewash everything but at the same time. We need to keep it positive don’t we need to keep people focused on the benefits and the future and sort of less on getting everything right? Because what is right?
Those rules are kind of what got you into this position in the first place because someone came in and disrupted you and basically created a new set of rules and your rules were no longer as effective. So, my last question really comes down to. Do you when you come into this company that is in an industry that was disrupted.
Do you try to encourage them to turn around and disrupt back? Is it really that dramatic a change that needs to be made inside that company or can they do it through their own sustaining model and make improvements that make them more successful? I mean I’ve really comes down to maybe that that comment about rules.
Ethan Bagley: [00:38:59] I mean, I would say that if a company that’s being disrupted is trying to combat that with sustaining the best they’re ever going to do is come up to parody. They’re not going to be able to push forward from their competition and their competition is thinking the same things. You know, how do we how do we innovate?
How do we get Beyond sustaining? So you have to be aggressive you must – it’s an imperative for survival to be aggressive and to think Beyond parity, you know looking at what your cousin your competition is doing today trying to see what they’re going to be doing tomorrow and then determining what the thing beyond that.
And then how do you get there faster than they will and then compete continuing to keep that competitive edge through the same methods right? What now that you’re beyond you know, how close is the competition to catching up? What are they? What are they doing? That’s going to put them forward of us.
Who are they working with? One of the really interesting trends that I think I’ve seen over the last. Three to five years is just an explosion in Partnerships, right, Partnerships with between different Industries looking for ways to leverage one another, Partnerships between Enterprises and startups lots of Partnerships with universities.
You know, I think that’s one of the most important mechanisms that will see more and more of as time progresses in terms of companies trying to push beyond parity.
Stewart Noyce: [00:40:24] Okay, excellent. We’ve covered quite a bit of ground Ethan and I have to say this has been an excellent conversation. Thank you very much.
Is there anything else that you want to add to this conversation may be an answer to a question that you didn’t hear from us today.
Ethan Bagley: [00:40:39] You know, it’s funny you say that that’s my favorite interview question any time I’ve ever been on an interview that the thing I love to ask last is what else should I have asked you that I didn’t ask you in this interview, gosh.
Guess I would say, you know from working with entrepreneurs from grade schools to in their 60s. There’s no one out there who can’t come across a passion at any time in their life and you know while I would not, I would not tell them to be total optimists. I would say, you know, take the time to validate take the time to think.
And if you can if you find that it’s a good opportunity than be passionate about it and spend your time and resources trying to push it Forward because it computer even if you fail it can be a very rewarding and even if you learn a lot of things I should say rewarding process to walk through. And other than that, I want to say thanks for giving me the opportunity to chat with you.
I really appreciate it, and I really enjoyed our conversation. So, thank you.
Stewart Noyce: [00:41:46] Yeah, thank you Ethan. I think what you did for me right in that moment was to help me understand the difference in in a way between the sustaining and disruptive and the part where the lean methodology which is often been associated with sustaining Innovation can actually be applied to those ideas and concepts that you can test that are truly going to be disruptive ideas. And once you find something you feel comfortable with it, then it’s okay to just put the pedal down and get going on it what you’re going to have to do. Anyway, if you’re going to survive, right you’ve got to compete well. Thank you very much.
This has been awesome, and I’m looking forward to seeing further conversations with you.
Ethan Bagley: [00:42:29] Great. Thanks very much.
Dennis Høier Hoel: [00:42:32] Thank you for joining us on today’s episode of the Edison 365 podcast. We certainly enjoy the conversation and hope that you’re left with more knowledge of the Innovation space. We have more exciting guests coming up.
So, make sure to like to subscribe and share this podcast with your network. Also, if there’s anyone you would like for us to interview next make sure to leave that in a comment or send us an email to the email address in the description. Thanks again to our guests and we’re. Forward to seeing you in the next one.