Episode #6 – Interview with Ernest Hughes – CINO and Educator
Date: February 14, 2020
In this episode we interview Ernest Hughes, a Chief Innovation Officer and educator.
Join us as he talks about:
The elements of successful collaboration
How to deal with innovation resistance at work
Creating innovation synthesis and momentum
Why the innovation process needed ISO standards
Techniques for getting innovation contributors on the same page
About Ernest Hughes:
HughesGlobal, LLC, and Chief Innovation Officer of HughesGlobal Network, his consulting and education network focused on helping individuals, teams, organizations and value chains realize their potential and flourish through innovation and change management utilizing systems approaches. He is also an Associate Professor in Transportation & Logistics Management with American Public University, and Lecturer (part-time) in Strategic Management and Human Resource Management with Seattle University.
Prior to launching his consulting and education practice network, Hughes enjoyed broad leadership responsibility in a range of organizations for more than thirty years. He was most recently Director of Technical Services for Recreational Equipment, Incorporated (REI). Before joining REI, Hughes was co-founder and Chief Information Officer for Cascadia Community College after a fifteen-year technology career with Boeing. At Boeing, he managed business applications, systems engineering, software process improvement, software cost management, software engineering education, and merger integration function and change programs. He also held systems analysis and software development positions with Tenneco and Getty Oil.
Hughes earned an MS in Global Supply Chain Management from the University of Alaska Anchorage, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a Masters in Software Engineering from Seattle University, and an MBA in Organizational Behavior at California State University, Bakersfield. He has training and certifications in a number of specialties, including Behavioral Economics; Removing Cultural Barriers to Innovation; Crowdsourcing and Innovation Management Best Practices; Change Management Processes, Methodologies, and Tools; Managing Quality & Operational Excellence; Entrepreneurship, Transformational Diversity; Competency Development; and Precision & Risk Communication.
In 2016, Dr. Hughes was selected by ASQ as an expert to join the United States American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Technical Advisory Group (U.S. TAG 279) to the International Standards Organization (ISO) developing standards for Innovation Management. In April of 2017, he was elected Chairperson of U.S. TAG 279. He was also a member of ISO TC 279 Working Group 4 that developed a technical report for guidance on Innovation Management System Assessment published in 2019 (ISO/TR 56004). Currently he is a member of ISO TC/279 Working Group 3 developing a new standard for Idea Management (ISO 56007).
Below, we’ve shared the full transcript of our interview with Ernest Hughes:
Stewart Noyce: [00:00:00] The edison365 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 edison365 the company that enables idea management from idea to business impact.
Dennis Hoel: [00:00:21] Today we will be talking about innovation, logistics, and synthesis.
Precise tools and methodologies we can use to innovate in any business as well as getting some real insight from our guests experience. Hello
Stewart Noyce: [00:00:33] everyone, and welcome to the edison365 podcast. My name is Stuart Noyce and I’m here with my partner Dennis Hall. Our guest today is Ernest Hughes, an emerging leader in collaborative innovation.
Ernest, thank you very much for taking this interview with us today.
Ernest Hughes: [00:00:48] My pleasure.
Stewart Noyce: [00:00:49] Yeah. So, uh, before we get started, I want to just to, um, give you a brief chance to introduce yourself and then we’re going to go into our five profile questions and, uh,
Ernest Hughes: [00:00:59] why don’t you kick it off? Okay. Happy to do so. I’m a Seattle based consultant and educator.
In the innovation and change management space. I have a sort of a checkered organizational history that we’ll talk about shortly that has led me to some new ideas and approaches in working with thought leaders around the world or how to improve innovation in organizations.
Stewart Noyce: [00:01:29] Okay. Excellent. Um, what is the unmet need that you feel compelled to address.
Ernest Hughes: [00:01:35] It’s a actually two pronged. One is simply how to help people answer this question in a better way than they might be doing. So what do you do with an idea? And then secondly, cause that’s not always easy in organizations to help them and their organizations itself deal with the friction in their organizational innovation processes.
Stewart Noyce: [00:02:01] Okay. And what special abilities do you bring to address this need?
Ernest Hughes: [00:02:06] Well, uh, I’ve been there, done that. Uh, I’ll tell you a couple of the stories, uh, around that in, uh, my experience. Uh, I have worked for three fortune 500 companies and award-winning cooperative, then a couple of startups myself. And in that I’ve, I’ve kind of found that even for myself, it’s hard to do unless you design and structure, you know, or organization in your processes to be successful.
From the beginning, when I used to work for a large Northwest aerospace company, on the first day of work manager would take you around, introduce you to people, show you where the. Coffee machine was when they had those, show you where the printer and copier were when they had those, and then bring you back to your desk and say, uh, one last thing.
If I went your idea about something, I’ll give it to you. Uh, along the way, I also built a community college on the other end of the spectrum, which. Today would be what we would say is an exemplar in open innovation. We started with no faculty, no staff, no curriculum, but because my president had made innovation as part of her dissertation, we launched with a lot of great ideas and an innovation fund.
Even when we didn’t have money, it served us well from the start.
Stewart Noyce: [00:03:32] Okay, excellent. Uh, what solutions have you created to address this need.
Ernest Hughes: [00:03:37] Uh, a couple of one, uh, just in my consulting practice, uh, organizing and preparing to deliver value along a spectrum of innovation from idea to solution. And then I have over the last, uh, since 2014 been developing a knowledge base of best practices that have collected from thought leaders and researchers around the world.
Uh, my first one, which I have a. Uh, copyright us copyright for, it’s called change plus. And then I’ve worked on other elements related to that that, uh, are necessary. And organizations know, those include ended up what I call innovation plus. And then knowledge plus logistics. Plus, uh, I was name one of my children, plus my partners said that wasn’t such a good idea.
And then, uh, leadership and design as well as, so that’s led by the collection of best practices to what we would call, uh, uh, executive education and corporate curriculum. Program that’s been pretty successful.
Stewart Noyce: [00:04:47] Uh, and so do you get paid for your time, uh, in the way of selling product or services? How do you get paid.
Ernest Hughes: [00:04:55] Yeah, I do actually my, uh, my sort of the design for my practice and work includes education services, consulting services, and then I’m working on that product development, what I call innovation box that, uh, will be a subscription based model.
Stewart Noyce: [00:05:16] Excellent. So what initiatives are you particularly excited about this year?
Ernest Hughes: [00:05:21] Well, what I’ve been working on along the way is , uh, uh, collaboration with, uh, innovation experts around the world in developing ISO standards. I was the chair of teen USA when that first launch. It took me to a couple of great places in the world to interact with those experts. And, uh, I started weaving that into my practice and my offerings.
And so that initially for me was, uh, sort of a leadership responsibility. And then I focused on innovation management assessment, which has been recently published as a technical report from ISO. And currently I’m working on the team that that’s developing standards for idea management. So those I’m pretty excited about.
So the first one and innovation management assessment and leaving into my offerings. And then the second one, idea management sites being a contributor and thought leader, those, uh, those pieces I’m putting into my practice and my product. Okay.
Stewart Noyce: [00:06:26] That’s excellent. Ernest, thank you for letting us take you through the first five profile questions and you know, now I’m going to turn the mic over to Dennis Hall and Dennis, why don’t you, uh, take it away.
Dennis Hoel: [00:06:38] Thank you very much, Stewart. I’ve been very excited to, to ask you these questions. Uh, earnest cause you see I’m in business school, so I graduated, uh, this March. We mainly differentiated innovation as a process and innovation as an outcome. Now I know that you’re a user of the term of innovation logistics and I would love for you to take us through what that means and what you can tell us about it.
Ernest Hughes: [00:07:03] Okay. Excellent. I haven’t, I have actually quite a elaborate, uh, definition structure that leads to a simple explanation. So I’ll, I’ll read you my, uh, specific. Definition, and then trace back to where it comes from. A, I call innovation logistics, the management of the flow of ideas and innovations across the boundaries of a unit.
Uh, an organization itself or a value chain. And that’s derived from the OEC D definition of business process innovation, which they call a new or improved business process for one or more business functions. Uh, that differs significantly from the previous business processes. So essentially I’m trying to innovate the way organizations innovate.
Okay. And again, to touch on how could they can better realize the ideas and also how they can deal with the friction that shows up. The friction is known famously in the management research as either the innovation prevention department. Which typically is invisible, you know, it’s not in the org chart, but is staffed maybe from top to bottom in the organization.
And sometimes it includes the innovator herself as a factor in the prevention of moving things through. And then also a concept which is pretty well researched and understood called the not invented here syndrome. And so what I’m trying to add, sort of my extra sauce or value is to deal with that some people say natural resistance or occurring resistance, and.
And understand the theories and concepts and practices that we might need to accelerate innovation. And then the inherent change might just come up to play. One of those includes the concept of called path dependence. Where you are today is where you were yesterday, and you may not be able to deviate far from that.
So getting innovation off to the right start in the organization is designed is kind of important. And then also how you pull together. The different innovations that might be facing you. Because often, you know, when you have an idea, somebody else has a similar idea or a problem for which your idea might be useful.
So how can you get an organization to better, what did I call pool or pull together the different elements of several ideas. And you create a synthesis, combining those ideas into a new and better one that can have more momentum in the organization because they should know. Often the return of an innovation is uncertain.
When we first look at the idea, we go, Hmm. Kind of puzzling like my cats. You know, they tilt their head and they’re not quite sure what you’re saying to them. Now in a time that we currently find ourselves, we’re lucky to have a set of guidelines and rules and standards such as the ISO standards and having those mean that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time that we want to create something new that is generally accepted as good, but in the realm of innovation where often enough, our goal is to create something new.
What should our relationship to such standards look like in your opinion? Oh, excellent question. I didn’t know you were going to ask me like the final exam, you know, final, Jeff, I hope I get a lot of extra points for, for this. Um, here’s, it’s simply that the motto for ISO, I think reflects itself actually the benefit, which is great things happen when people agree.
In an organization, there’s a lot of competing ideas. And a lot of people who think they have votes about what resources are assigned, you’re committed to move those ideas ahead. If any or not, again, could be that innovation prevention department, it’d be yourself. And, um, the idea isn’t responsible for the people that believe in it.
So you have to create structures that allow the idea. To get evaluated, assessed resources committed, like moved ahead, combined with others, as I said, pooling to, to anticipate creating value at the same time, while you are delivering the value that the organization is creating now, right? It’s existing products and services that it offers.
So what the ISO standards help you do is not fight and struggle about the process. You still going to need to put your energies into figuring out if this is the right thing, to do. The best thing to do a good enough to move ahead, but you don’t have to spend your time and effort in eliminate and in dealing with the process.
That eliminates a lot of friction. Does that make sense? That makes a lot of sense, and I will give you a few bonus points for, for that answer. Oh, okay. Great. Good. Another category then, please.
Dennis Hoel: [00:12:27] So if we then decide to move back to the innovation process, you, you mentioned the word synthesis. Would you be able to explain what that means and perhaps give an example.
Ernest Hughes: [00:12:38] Sure. So combining a census is itself, is a definition, is combining several ideas to create a new idea, theory, or a system. That’s the general definition. And the example that I’ll use comes out of my current effort. I’ve been running at kind of a corporate university from Graham, uh, with some colleagues for a fortune.
Fortune 100 company, I think they fall somewhere in there. And with plans to get bigger. As part of that, we’ve been running an innovation program, so the program itself is helping technology people figure out how to do a better job. Being in the business and the innovation project that they do creates a good portfolio.
Of ideas that might create more value for the organization, if that makes sense. And, um, as often is the case, when you look at a portfolio, you see that sometimes several of the ideas are, uh, two sides of the same. Funny, somebody looks at it from this way. You know, there are one place in an organization, somebody in another place, in an organization looks at this way now without the ability to synthesize.
Those move ahead and get evaluated as independent projects. If we could combine them together, much likely that we would be able to create more value and more value faster in the organization, but there’s more people would be behind it. It turns out that that’s not an easy thing to do. It sounds like if you’re, um, you know, synthesizing is bringing a lot of potentially weird stuff together so that you, you will have a stronger basis for continuous innovation.
Dennis Hoel: [00:14:25] And, uh, there, there’s a funny example that pops into, into my head. Um, there’s a park in, uh, here in Oslo, in Norway called the vegan on park or the film the park, um, where we have a lot of. And statues, like nude statues, plays all over the place. And if you would have one statute just placed by itself in one location and they would kind of leave a weird impression for most people.
Um, but when you enter the park and you see all of all of this nakedness and all of this craziness, um, you’re struck by a sense of wow, like this wow effect. Like, what is this? I’m very curious and this is pretty awesome if I might say that. Do you know the part that I’m referring to. I do.
Ernest Hughes: [00:15:08] Dennis, that’s a great example that I, because you’re not, so you get to visit out.
Uh, quite often. I imagine. I have been there myself and that’s actually one of my examples that I use that I know that when people are familiar with that, the synthesis actually is what creates art, right? We can think about those individual parts as something that you can’t figure out what, what they are and what you’re going to do with, but when you combine them and when you combine them, again.
Then you get something quite fabulous, don’t you? I think last time I looked, maybe I half a million visitors a year come to see that that’s what can happen. More value is created as the way that I say that.
Dennis Hoel: [00:15:49] But, uh, in, I believe that the process of reaching the point of making the decision, like we’re going to place a lot of naked statues all over at this park.
Uh, uh, I’m sure there were quite a few ideas before they arrived. The, you know, the final good idea. And so I wanted to bring us into pooling, which is essentially the filtering process where we go from many ideas to a few and then finally end up with the best ones. How do we go about sorting those good ideas out?
Ernest Hughes: [00:16:19] Oh, that’s excellent too. Let’s go back to the park first. You know, a lot of the originals. Placements for the statues weren’t in the park. They were, you know, over here, over there, different public buildings in places they would have stood alone. So the grouping together of the ideas and therefore the resources has to come from a perspective of weakness versus
I did that. If the organization culture itself has to work towards. Creating collections, pools of ideas. When we start from, Oh, everybody’s going to create an independent idea and thought, which is, is actually quite American. Uh, we. We will run into, I need to defend my idea. So firstly begins with the idea, we are going to create a collection of ideas.
We’re going to pool them together and we’re going to move the collection head. We’re signing, you see that are around the world in in many disciplines and particularly in social media where the idea that we have a curator role, right? Somebody who sits above or sits with the people that are doing that.
I use the term innovation facilitator is part of the team to work to the spirit of pulling it together. That’s the first step. The second step is we have to figure out how to share the rewards. That’s again, pretty hard because in most places in organizations where we’re rewarded for individual contribution, not as often for our collective contribution.
So collaboration needs those elements to be successful. now I can imagine it’s not in a, it’s not an easy process for most companies to, to really manage this entire innovation journey. Um, so my final question for you is actually, um, in your opinion, how is the innovation journey supported by tools or mechanisms such as the edison365 software.
Well, it turns out if you want to scale, they’re essential. You know, you can, you can do, like I’m doing now, try to introduce a innovation process in an education context and that’ll move things along. I have a nice portfolio over two years of good ideas, but the organization itself hasn’t caught the spark of.
How to bring those into the, to itself and move them into their own current internal processes. So, uh, tools help in a couple of different ways. First of all, it helps you manage the portfolio of innovation proposals that you might have the ideas themselves, and then it helps you evaluate. Then by providing a way to organize the judges.
They don’t all have to be in the same time in place. The evaluators can share their thoughts quickly and easily and work with the individual components and platforms that they already have in an organization. For instance, Office 365 and Microsoft technologies. That’s one. The second is that if it is a good idea, then you’re going to want to apply some of your own particular.
A project management approaches. And a lot of organizations use Microsoft Project for that. So that second component can help you with that. And then I just saw an announcement today from, uh, edison365 that they have added a new open innovation. Component as part of their offering, and I think that’s like really it’s going to move things ahead.
I think that deals with those boundary problems I was talking about and should help reduce the friction, assuming we get the initial conditions correct.
Dennis Hoel: [00:20:12] These are some fabulous. Advice and some fabulous answers. Thank you very much, earnest. And I’m pretty sure that Stuart is sitting there burning with a few more questions.
So I’m just going to give the microphone back to him. Go ahead. Start.
Stewart Noyce: [00:20:25] Thank you very much, Dennis. Uh, I am, uh, actually quite interested in examples now. So, uh, Ernest, you’ve taken us through quite the masterclass in innovation and particularly with respect to the logistics of innovation. And I’m very interested in that.
But first I’d like to understand. Maybe the origin story of this. Is there a case study or someplace, some particular situation where you really started to learn the value of these techniques that you’ve developed.
Ernest Hughes: [00:20:56] As to it. Hi. Yes, it is. Uh, I spoke, uh, briefly, initially about my experience building a community college, and I’d like to use that as my primary example for our discussion, uh, to your point.
So the community college that I was one of the cofounders for is known as Cascadia college, and it’s the 34th community college built in the state of Washington. And, uh, it was founded in 1994. I joined in 1999 as employee number 11. Shortly after the new president will be coming. And her mission was to create the most innovative education.
It’s the community college level in the state of Washington, actually a nationally. That was her ambition. And, uh, we’ve set up right about it because she came in with a collection of ideas as part of her doctoral work at the university of California. She researched and collected in the organize a long list of.
Innovations from other places. So it was essentially open innovation, even though we hadn’t called it to that term. And my first day of work, she handed me her dissertation and said, here, read this, do this. And so I got started with that. And, and, uh, I think that gave us a huge jumpstart that we would have not normally done.
Uh, additionally, that campus is co located with a. A branch of the university of Washington, university of Washington Bothell. So we had to learn how to pool ideas and to send it the size, the best practices collectively. That wasn’t always easy, but both sides of the campus have actually thrived. And, uh, one of the things that we did right from the start, even though we had, again, no faculty, no staff, no students, and know that’s a key part because the students are where the money comes from, right?
You don’t have money. How do you do things? Well, we’ve got some initial startup funding from the state and my precedent allocated. Money from that, then money was scarce to create an innovation fund. So we began with an innovation process and innovation fund before we had any customers. We got off to a really good start.
Stewart Noyce: [00:23:28] Okay. Uh. I want to get into this a little bit more around the, um, the subject of, of what’s working here and what was, what was actually the, maybe the thing that, uh, uh. That changed the way you, you thought about innovation and that innovation logistics. And I was struck by a point that you made earlier around the area of standards.
So I have a complete aversion to standards. Uh, I work in innovation. I was always in a disruptive place, uh, as an innovator, um, particularly back in the 90s. Um, you know, working in these really fast moving startups and. One of the things that came out of that was you can’t put a structure around this. You just have to come up with something creative.
You got to make stuff right. I break stuff and, uh, my, you know, my sense is that that wasn’t exactly the right way, but maybe people didn’t know what the right way was to do so. Breaking at first was necessary, but could you take us through then. Uh, this idea of friction, cause I think I pulled away from, from what you said, that it was, the standards were there to address the issue of friction.
Is that true?
Ernest Hughes: [00:24:41] Well, the standards themselves don’t address friction. You have to use the standards to help the best friction.
Stewart Noyce: [00:24:49] Okay. Maybe you could take us through an example of how that works.
Ernest Hughes: [00:24:52] Yeah. Good. So in my work and a lot of places I either by nature or assignment or just because I was the one person who didn’t step back when everybody else stepped back.
Right. To be volunteer. I’ve introduced a lot of new technology and they’ve got the new methods and practices and I’ll share one particularly that I had done. I was, uh, working on a project. To collect information across a large global company. And I went to the medical staff where some of that information was collected and I talked to them about our approach.
So the innovation was to use a a particular method and software development and information management. And after listening politely. Uh, medical staff kind of nodded their head, but you know, didn’t really see as sensitive agreement. A lot of times the, you know, lack of commitment and support just shows up with, you know, a nodding of heads.
But one of the doctors racist fan, and he says, um, uh, okay, uh, I don’t understand why you need to do all of this. And I looked at him and I said, well. What, uh, what standards do you have in medicine? Uh, that I need to depend upon. We all actually have standards by which we do our professional work. And for most of us, when we’re trained professionally, they come from the academic institutions.
They work. We work with the professional associations where part of our practice. So my counter argument to yours is you are always working to some standard. The question, the hard part is when it comes from somebody else. How do you deal with that? That sort of friction, you know, somebody says, this is the way we want you to do it.
I think this is the best way. Your way is sucks, right? So that’s part of the part of the issue that we’re dealing with. Even an open innovation, you have to be open to that. Others have some thought and experience that might be valuable to me. So. That would be my question.
Stewart Noyce: [00:27:13] Yeah. So the, yeah, so the pushback is, uh, is really around the area of logistics and the value of logistics in this case is that we agree at some point on how we are going to make, uh, an eventual decisions about what choices to make an innovation.
Um, I’m going to give you a, and maybe an example of some of the projects that I’ve worked on. They were, um, uh, can imagine. Uh, a team of, uh, led by a really brilliant engineer, uh, a set of, uh. Programmers and other engineers around that person. Uh, marketing people, salespeople, uh, an entrepreneur who was leading the whole thing, and then investors who had their opinions and they’re all coming in with opinions, right?
They’re all saying, this is what I think this product should be. Um, do you have any advice for those kinds of teams? Cause there’s, that goes on in Silicon Valley here every day.
Ernest Hughes: [00:28:11] Yeah, I do. We want that diversity right. Number one, we’re very, very clear and understanding the research is quite compelling that diversity, uh, particularly diversity of thought leads to better ideas.
We want multiple stakeholders. What an ISO. We call it interested parties to be involved and share their stakes. What we need is a better way to manage it. And, uh, this is where. Uh, the idea management process and innovation, or in edison365 can help with this innovation. You can actually use that to decide how you are going to innovate.
Does that make sense? Every time you start up a project, you can begin it with a contest on the methods by which you’re going to innovate. And I would put in the innovation standards.
Stewart Noyce: [00:29:02] Okay. Yeah. So I listened to podcasts, and one of the other podcasts I’ve been listening to is, uh. Uh, the producer’s guide by Todd garner.
Uh, and it’s a long story for why I’m listening to that. But, uh, I will say that, uh, it’s been very helpful to hear from the, uh, the point of view of people who make movies. Um, I’m hearing some of the techniques they’re using that address many of the same challenges. So when they go to make a movie, uh, people come, come into the room and they’re all thinking they’re making a different movie.
Uh, you need to get everyone on the same page. Are there techniques for getting people on the same page? In your process.
Ernest Hughes: [00:29:40] Yeah, there are. There I have a number of what are called small group and large group techniques, but to use yours still making industry is, is particularly good at dealing with this problem.
I was going to use a little bit later. The TV moving a TV episode. Method, which is just script reading. And of course they do that for movies as well. You know, where people sit down and they go through the script and they’re open to ideas and contributions for that. So when the small group and large group techniques, we open the space for people to share what they know.
They can be visual techniques like cat. So it’s one of the ones I use an innovator and a UK. Came up with her approach on, on how to deal with that when people didn’t even want to speak. What they do is write their ideas and place them. Innovation will display a lot of visual techniques are being used for that reason.
And, uh, and then multivoting of different sorts or what are one of the ways that you. Actually make decisions.
Stewart Noyce: [00:30:50] Excellent. So visual techniques, voting techniques. Um, take me back into this script. What do you think, uh, for a new product, um, represents the script.
Ernest Hughes: [00:31:01] Oh, excellent question. Yeah, very, very good.
Well, we ha we have quite a bit of a gift. Different ideas now that we didn’t have before. That, uh, so design thinking will lead you to some sort of a prototype or example or experiment. I liked the approach that Adobe pioneered, uh, the Adobe Kickbox that they developed as a process by which you developed a process.
You’ve got it funded. Initially, thousand dollars was given you to go out and make something. And then show it, right. What I like to say is most innovators are from Missouri. The show me state right.
Stewart Noyce: [00:31:46] That’s right. So they, so let’s take it maybe as a, it’s not a requirements document, right? You didn’t get a 200 page requirements document and read from that around the table, but what do you have?
And maybe a summary, a, a positioning statement, how, how, where, where’s the line here and how much you’re trying to put down on paper and put down in words to share with the group.
Ernest Hughes: [00:32:10] Yeah. That’s an excellent question. I like the coast CoStar method, a consulting firm. They’re in the Bay area to develop that.
It’s short and the shorter, the better that the concepts of good enough or best so far, in my opinion, are the ones that you use to shape because you don’t want to get over invested. What you want to do is do enough to hook people in terms of their interest and their curiosity. That encourages you or gives you feedback for you to change which direction you want to head.
So I use these kind of, I actually call it a learning. It’s a type of learning, and I have a doctorate in education, so I know quite a bit about learning. So it’s think creatively, critically, and reflectively. Notice those are some of the elements, things actually for a but my own personal strengths. Learn actively.
Interact and complex and diverse environments and communicate with clarity and originality. Those are the, those are the pieces to make that work. Okay.
Stewart Noyce: [00:33:22] Excellent. Uh, I wanted to say, Ernest, that I really, uh, had a great time listening to you. Um, expand on some of the subjects you have here around logistics and the value of those logistics.
And I want to take us to a place here where we can, um, maybe start to talk about that value in a . In a project that’s tangential to this one. So I’ve, I have another podcast, a product storyteller podcast that I did. I have, um, kicked off just in the last couple of months here in, uh, in San Francisco Bay area.
And my focus is on this idea of that there’s a durable edge of capitalism. And in that process I found I, I had an opportunity to meet a Danish man Saren Gunson, who’s out here in Palo Alto working on. A responsible digital leadership workshop. So they have this idea that, uh, that moving fast and breaking things is maybe not the best way to, uh, to create products that have global impact.
So in this case, you know, we, as I was. Kind of making the connection between what you are doing and what he’s, you know, he’s doing and his needs. It seems like there’s an opportunity for synthesis here so that because if you’re trying to build digital responsibility into innovation, you really have to understand what that means.
Um, perhaps you could take us through what that example might be. If you were to come into his workshop, what would you, what would
Ernest Hughes: [00:34:49] you do first. Oh, I, I really like that. That’s really terrific. Of course, we’re all about digital transformation these days. And, and I would perhaps suggest a future interview, but a conversation together with my digital twin so that you could get his perspective on that.
But, um, here’s what I, here’s what I say simply that innovation is really leadership, communication and learning. And what you described are at least two of the three elements, right? They do the leadership communication virtually. I couldn’t say that learning is occurring, but it strikes me that it is just by the nature of the fact that the hosts for that podcast is relocated.
One of the things that we know about innovation is that. Innovation travels, and when it travels, it sparks more innovation. So it strikes me you have a, an innovation community there that it represents exactly what I’ve been talking about. It’s a place where ideas travel and they get evaluated and improved, and that’s what you actually need.
It’s a form of synthesis and reflection.
Stewart Noyce: [00:36:20] So they did. They took, uh, an opportunity to work for four days, uh, to listen to various leaders and, uh, from around the world. So some of them in banking, some of them in investments, some of them in technology. And I’m, I’m assuming though, that in this case, there is a need to understand the impact of the future and build it into the product.
Um, are there techniques for. For that kind. When you say there was a reflection and thinking and, and, um, interaction and communication, um, what are you doing along the way to capture that so that that gets into the products that are being built because the engineers, right. The engineers are just saying, you’ve got to tell me what to build here.
Ernest Hughes: [00:37:00] Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Oh, all the time. I particularly see it again, like my cats, they tilt their heads and they say, I need better requirements. Right? I need better requirements. So here’s what I tell them to do, and I’ve done this in my programs. I did this a couple of years ago, an ASQ conference.
We were doing design thinking. I had them do a small experiment, and then I said, go outside. You’re on the street corner. Show your stuff. What in the conference? I said, yeah, the escalators over there. You’re sticking it down two flights and get out there. What we know is this, is that, um, snow melts on the edges.
I think it’s great to talk to smart people and experts and share their perspectives, but you have to get in and mingle with the real people are going to involve. Themselves with your product or service and and get their thoughts, get their experiences. So go out and interact with the world. That’s what I say about that.
I say that all the time. So go find somebody who’s a potential customer or potential collaborator. You help improve your ideas.
Stewart Noyce: [00:38:16] So we’re going to go out in the world and listen. And, uh, w after listening, then we can do a better job of synthesis and, uh, and, and create better products. Well, I hope that’s, yeah, I hope that’s the case.
Uh, earnest, uh, because we certainly could stand to have, um, products that serve the community. Well. Um, I thank you very much, by the way, for this time with you. Um, this has been. Absolutely. Fantastic. I’m really appreciate, uh, learning about logistics of innovation because of the, the value it brings to the reducing friction.
Um, do you have any other thoughts you want to share with us before we, uh, we adjourn today?
Ernest Hughes: [00:38:55] Well, uh, one would be just simply this, that uh, as I mentioned just briefly, an idea is not responsible for the people that believe in it. So the part about logistics is to move the idea around until it finds people that believe in it.
Okay. Right. So that’s what we’re not very good at. We can think of our corporations as big stockpiles of, you know, patents. IBM is pretty good at monetizing their patents. Uh, their innovation that they offer through their products and services, but they’re not very good at moving around the ideas that are trapped inside.
That’s it’s a problem to really address how can we get those moving around in and out and back around, and we have to move to address kind of some of the global issues you hinted at. We have to move from just evaluating those. From an economic basis to one that has a noneconomic basis that helps open up the ideas.
You can look at some of the fun hippos, new work on free innovation as it’s called, follow the ideas. That’s where I would say.
Stewart Noyce: [00:40:17] Okay. You prompted one more. One more question from me.
Ernest Hughes: [00:40:21] Oh, we’re not done yet. Okay.
Stewart Noyce: [00:40:23] Exactly.
All right. Freddy kruger just, uh, just popped up. Um, yes. So I, one of the things you just, you just prompted me that this all requires exceptional leadership.
Companies need leaders who believe that innovation matters, and, and not just give lip service to it, but actually put their energy to it and the energy of their company. Uh, and or organization. Maybe it’s an, you know, might not just be a business. It might be some other form of organization, but they have some goal that they need to reach that requires that they do some things that are different and they have to give that culture up to the, uh.
Uh, you know, or they have to build that into their community. How do you see that happening? And this is what you do, a way to get to that place
Ernest Hughes: [00:41:15] . Yeah. Excellent. You are a spot on spot. Absolutely. Spot on to that story. Um, the way that our organizations work today. Yes, rational, it makes sense from the way that they were farm.
So it’s actually really a design problem. If we an organizational design problem, if we don’t see the behaviors that we want to see from a systems perspective, what we try to do is just push on people and get them to change. When we have to do instead is change the structure. And most of the elements of that structure in organizations are the organizational design itself.
What are the boundaries? How do things flow? You know, I’m in this department, therefore I don’t talk and share things with you. So we have to change the structure. So part of my methodology that I’m working on includes what I call design plus. What are the best ideas? And thinking about how to do that.
That’s our big thought leaders around the world who’ve been thinking through that. Jake Galbreath particularly was one where the idea of the boundaries extend forward all the way to your customers’ customers and maybe even future customers that you haven’t thought about and all the way back to your supplier suppliers, including where the resources has come out of the earth.
So our boundaries need to expand. Essentially border if we’re going to move forward on this.
Okay. Excellent. Thank you so much for that. Um, Dennis, do you have anything else? Uh, if not, uh, I’m ready to adjourn.
Dennis Hoel: [00:42:51] I think that, uh, I need some, uh, some time to process all of this incredible knowledge, so I will keep my mouth shut as of now.
Um, this has been such a fun conversation to listen to, so, uh. Yeah.
Stewart Noyce: [00:43:03] Yeah, that’s true. Ernest. Ernest, I’m so, I’m so ready to do a project with you at some point. This is, this is really cool. Good stuff.
Ernest Hughes: [00:43:11] I would enjoy collaboration with both of you. Look forward to future conversations. Thank you. Excellent.
Dennis Hoel: [00:43:16] Yeah. Pleasure chatting with you today. Thank you for joining us on today’s episode of the edison365 podcast. We certainly enjoyed 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 subscribe and share this podcast with our network.
Also, if there’s anyone you’d 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 looking forward to seeing you in the next one.