innovation

Listen to the 1st Ever Ask an Innovator Episode

We’ve been podcasting here at Ask an Innovator for a year now. A year, folks. That’s a long time. We’re pretty thrilled with all the amazing interviews we’ve had. We’re so excited to keep bringing you innovative news and all sorts of ideas on how to keep innovating. Whether it’s innovation culture, new technology or startup interviews – we’ll have you covered.

If there are any episodes you’d like to hear or a topic of innovation you think we’ve missed – drop a comment and let us know!

LEARN MORE

City Innovation Labs
We blog about Innovation, too!

WE’RE SOCIAL HERE AT AAI!

LinkedIn
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter

TIMESTAMPS

Why did we even start Ask an Innovator? – 00:00
An introduction to Josh Barker – 02:05
Innovation Myths – 05:08
How we learned that building the right product is key – 08:13
Innovation projects and what to do with all that data – 13:49
Look at data in a regimented way & an IoT project – 16:43
Innovation is better together – 22:56

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Josh Barker [00:00]: All right, welcome to Ask an innovator. This is a special episode. This is the first one in which we’re going to just kind of describe the goals of why we’re doing Ask an Innovator. So I’m here with Brad Hammond. So he’s my partner at City innovation labs. And so I’m Josh Barker, I’m the host. And today we’re just going to be having an open discussion between the two of us. So Brad, why don’t you just give us a high level of what is Ask an Innovator?

Brad Hammond [00:36]: Yeah, sure. So Ask an Innovator is a podcast that we’re doing. We’re basically talking to a number of senior executives in different industries and really just talking about innovation. So what is innovation to them? What are the innovative things that they see within their industry? And then what are they doing in their company to kind of stay on the cusp of you know, the bleeding edge in innovation? And how are they responding to what their competitors are doing? We’re having a number of conversations, there’s a wide variety of industries. So anywhere, you know, from manufacturing to medical to, transportation and learning from all different industries.

JB [01:23]: It’s interesting what we can learn from when you’re talking about going into different industries. There are so many things that we can learn from each other. You’re talking to someone from manufacturing, who might have some ideas on how to build a culture of innovation, who’s talking to someone in the publishing industry. They’re facing some really rough uphill things with publishing dying and moving towards the digital. So there’s a lot of things that we can learn from each other of how to take old concepts and make them new, and culture. You’re going to hear a wide variety of different things on our podcasts, about topics within innovation.

BH [01:59]:
Sure. And I think your backgrounds kind of, you know, working in a few different industries, right?

JB [02:05]: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s a good point. I mean, I’m my background feels a little schizophrenic because it’s all over the place. So I come from really going back to the travel industry. So I was in there for a while as I started my early beginnings as a software engineer, and really, from there moved on to an employee recognition company where we were doing a lot of cool things with digital. And one of the things that, while I was there, that we did is built a social network around employee recognition.

Essentially, a company will have employees that have long-standing tenure at a company so maybe 1,3, 5 to 10 years, and they would get recognized through being able to select an item from a catalog. A pen or a ring, or some way of recognizing the employee and rewarding them for their years of service in addition to doing good things. That was a really fun project to be able to bring a digital spin to it. When I got there, they’re doing so many innovative things even today.

And it’s cool to see the transition really from a manufacturing company where they started. Manufacturing some of these rings, some of these lapels, some of these different things that are tangible. They’re moving more towards the digital space. Where they’re still doing and embracing their old roots, they’re also embracing this younger generation that really engages on platforms like mobile. On platforms like the computer day-to-day in the office. So it’s cool to see that transition where it’s adopting. Things that they see, like Facebook, for example, right? They can see and they can like they can comment they can. Now you know, in the system, there’s instead of a like, it’s applaud, right? So they can do all these different things and engage in the same way that they’re familiar with. So that’s a cool thing.

BH [03:54]: There’s like, I think there’s like hundreds of companies using this. Yeah, hundreds Yeah. Our users, so a lot easier. It’s worked

JB [03:56]: Yeah, hundreds.

BH [03:57]: With tens of thousands of users.

JB [03:59]: A lot of users.

BH [04:00]: It’s worked out really well for them.

JB [04:02]: Absolutely. They’ve really taken that concept from when I was there and ran with it. And they’re doing some cool things now with mobile. Doing some cool things with performance, like helping measure sales performance, metrics, and things like that. And rewarding their employees and milestones. It’s really cool to see the progression and we’ve stuck around, We’ve stuck with them along the journey. And they’ve just been a skyrocketing company. And it’s really cool to see.

So and then from there, moved on to KPMG. And that’s just a fantastic company. In that, you know, I really learned a lot from working there. So I was an Associate Director of Innovative Solutions. I mean, first and foremost, what I would say is the culture there is something that I really learned a lot about building a culture that supports innovation. And it’s pretty cool because I think that a lot of companies struggle with this. This is almost pivotal and core to building any type of innovative product or thing.

BH [05:07]: There’s a lot of myths surrounding innovation.

JB [05:08]: Absolutely. You’re exactly right. I mean, people think that you’ve got to be the smartest person in the room like a Steve Jobs-esque, right? You’ve got to hire one person to do all the innovation or innovation can’t be systematized. Right. So I mean, that’s such a fallacy, right? of innovation can be systematized and everyone can innovate. And it’s just a matter of putting the right process in place to help support that.

But furthermore, like, as you know, talking about at KPMG is really the right culture. Having a culture that is, you know, I really like someone gave this great definition of failure. It’s a successful way of finding out the wrong way to do something. Which, I really like that a lot because that really shows a culture of being willing to take risks and not afraid of failure, but adopting that failure is part of the process. So to me, I mean, I really like that definition. I think that’s key to a part of a culture. Here at City innovation labs, we actually have a core value that says throwing bad things at the wall.

We try and make that as low barrier because we do believe that, you know, while some people think there are bad ideas, the problem with saying there are bad ideas is then you clam up other people of willing to share what might be a partial good idea or partial bad idea. And so that might drive further good ideas. So being able to have a culture that’s willing to not be afraid to take risks and not be afraid to even share ideas that might not be popular or might not be good ideas in their minds, but might have a hint of a good idea.

So that’s something that KPMG really did well. One of the things that we did there is we built a system internally. And we were building a system to allow developers to build their code more quickly because when you’re building code and you’re building products, a lot of times there are these building blocks that you have to start with on every single project. So things you have to do over and over and over again. So for, for technical folks, they know what I’m talking about setting up servers, setting up continuous integration, etc. I don’t want to get too deep in the lingo.

But effectively, there’s a couple of weeks worth of work sometimes that would have to be set up. And then additionally, there are these different teams, you’d have to engage like security and networking. And what we were looking to do is really automate and scaffold that process to bring in what was a couple of weeks to a months-long process, down to really minutes. Where you could, you know, almost wizard through and select here are the requirements for the project in kind of web interface. You’d be able to auto-scaffold and it would auto-deploy every environment that’s been pre-vetted by security and pre-vetted by the network team. Kind of blessed all the way around.

So that was definitely something that we were looking into and had been bringing to market at KPMG. Then I left KPMG as soon as so my friend called me up. He’s a lifelong friend. His name’s Todd. So he said, “Hey, Josh, I’ve got an opportunity.” He moved to Silicon Valley probably five years before. He said he sat down at breakfast and pitched an idea to one of his friends who he didn’t know was an accredited investor and said, “Hey, this is the idea I’ve got, would you come and consider quitting your job at KPMG and building the startup with me over in Silicon Valley?” KPMG was such a good company that it was a very hard decision for me to make.

JB [08:13]: At first I told him no, actually. I said, “No, I can’t do that.” He’s told me the amount of money and I’m like, well, that’s not very much runway. We’re going to need some more money. So if you really wanted to do this, you’re going to have to basically triple the amount of investment.

Todd, of course, the guy he is, he kicks down doors. And Brad, you know Todd too, you worked with him as well. And he kicked down doors and made it happen and called me back, I think almost a week or two later. He said, “I’ve got the money. Let’s go.” And you know, and so I was sitting there thinking to myself, “Oh, crap, I didn’t think I’d ever actually have to make a decision.” And so brought it back to the wife and thought and prayed about It was like, “Oh, man, I think this is the move we need to make.”

So, left KPMG went to do the Silicon Valley startup. And, man, I learned a lot in building a startup, let me tell you. So startup in Silicon Valley. I mean, I think I was living in a fantasy world before then when I even was at KPMG and even when I was at the employee recognition company, and prior. I was really, really trying to get my bearings on how do you build products the right way? Brad, you’ve said this about products, you’ve said, “It’s easy to build a product, it’s hard to build the right one. “

That’s where I learned that lesson really hard when I was doing this Silicon Valley startup, and really learning a lot about Lean Startup, learning about MVP. So how to do minimum viable product. How to find product-market fit. That actually a lot harder, right? Huge fallacy that you’re going to go out and build a product and tons of users are gonna flock to it like ‘Field of Dreams’ moment, right? So it’s very different than that. And the approach That Lean Startup takes is very, “Hey, let’s test it and run experiments.” And let’s test value propositions.

So rather than going out and building something immediately, like we all want to do, right? I’m a builder at heart. And I know Brad, you’re a builder, too. We like to build things together. And so it’s hard not to get ahead of ourselves and say, let’s build something. So what we ended up doing was, we built something at first. We failed really fast and really hard. We ended up building this live-streaming platform and thought it was going to be a big hit. And it tanked. We ran the numbers on it, looked at the data, and the data showed that no one really wanted to do it. We had 10,000 signups for a single class to watch remotely and to participate. But really, when we looked at the number

BH [10:29]: This is in the fitness space, right?

JB [10:31]: Fitness space, that’s right. I should explain that. Yeah, it was in the fitness space. Then the concept was, 66% of gym memberships go unused. So how do we make people and encourage their health to get better and increase the number of people that actually follow through on their commitment to workout to get healthy? And that’s a very hard problem to solve.

We first tried doing that by doing a live-streaming product that effectively allows paired up people and instructors that wanted to do a yoga class like in California, for example, with someone in Michigan or all over the world. And again, as I said, that failed pretty bad. So 10,000 signups one class, we thought that was awesome. We’re like, “Oh, we’re onto something big.”

And then we actually looked at the data and there was only 15 to 20 people that actually attended and we thought, “That’s a terrible conversion rate.” . So we’re sitting here baffled, scratching our heads. And we tried a lot of different little things, but we ended up pivoting probably six or seven different times. I won’t go through all the different pivots. Being a software developer, it’s almost, I don’t want to say a guarantee, but a lot of times they’re gamers too. So my background is gaming, right? So when I was younger, particularly, I was a very avid gamer. Talking about video gamer.

So I ended up saying, “What if we gamified the fitness space? What if we made it into a game?” Right? The end result was I ran a test in which we took five people and put them up against another five people. First, we tested it over text, right? And we said, “Let’s do this.” I’ll join both groups as kind of a silent observer. I’ll release 60-second challenges throughout the day. They have to do those challenges and they have to post social credibility that they did it by taking a picture. And then furthermore, they’d actually have to do exercises. There was some trust involved that they’d have to validate it. But they would also post that and get points.

We ended up doing this and it was wildly successful. I didn’t know it at the time until after we ran the data. And wouldn’t you know it out of the 10 participants, nine our of the 10 were avid participators. Where they would actually post 30 to 40 times a day, which is this insane number, right? So I’m saying going maybe this is an anomaly. Let’s, let’s try rerunning this again, with more users. So I told this to the group, we’re all running our own experiments.

And when I told the group, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, let’s each run one of these groups.” So I had two groups of 10. And then everyone else had two groups of 10. We had a small team of about five people. We were running, what, 20 times 5, 100 people through this thing. So we did it, and same results. We said, “Oh, my gosh, we have something truly special here.” And I truly believe to this day that we found product-market fit.

But after that, it was really difficult because we got into the mire of, “Okay, well, now how do we automate that, right?” We found something, how do we automate it? We went down that road of trying to automate it and we just couldn’t pivot fast enough. But really, through this experience, it gave a lot of insight into how to build products and how to build the right products. Not necessarily you know how to build them, because I knew before, but how to find the right products. So that was such an interesting journey.

Even today where you and I kind of partnered up and then created City Innovation Labs and we’ve applied a lot of these concepts to our business. Maybe you can explain a little bit to the audience about City Innovation Labs.

BH [13:49]: Yeah, for sure. So my background is in a number of startups as well. Really, it’s been awesome to kind of use a lot of these principles we’ve learned in kind of startup land. Even things like Google Design Sprints, for instance, design thinking activities in the practice of user experience, or UX and really apply them to enterprises.

So a lot of enterprises today are kind of rethinking their business model. There are terms thrown out there like digital transformation and innovation. How do we embrace digital and how do we innovate? They’re looking at what our competition is doing? Well, they’re like, launching cool new products. So how do we do that too?

We’ve really had the opportunity to go into a lot of these well-established organizations that have been around for a while. They might be in manufacturing or health care or agriculture or transportation or whatever. We can really just think about, well, how do we utilize digital technology and concepts that we’ve learned in startup land to build innovative products within your company? So kind of a startup or a product within a larger company enterprise.

We’ve worked with chemical distribution companies. So any sort of chemicals you can think of like soap at the car wash or the paint on your house or epoxy on your floors. They have this large distribution that works to sell those chemicals to essentially manufacturing companies that might produce like paints. We’re undertaking a really interesting project with them where it’s like, well, how do we increase sales. They have tons and tons of customers and have many opportunities within their data. Someone might order a product and then they might not order it. They might request a sample and they never buy the product.

It’s so hard for a salesperson or a sales team to look at that data and see the key opportunities. What we’re undertaking is actually developing an artificial intelligence system that looks at all that data. It breaks it down into actionable tasks for their sales team. Like, “Hey, there’s an opportunity here, act on it.”

That allows us to take all that data and actually make it useful because organizations today one of the greatest challenges they’re facing is actually having too much data. It’s no longer a question of collecting data. It’s actually making it actionable and making it useful. So you know, we’ve undertaken a number of innovation projects and have to do with data and they’re just really interesting projects.

JB [16:38]: I think one of the things that we’ve said, is [these companies] they’re data-heavy and information poor.

BH [16:43]: Exactly. So most organizations today, someone will sell them on the idea of implementing some sort of analytics system, but it just isn’t set up correctly. It isn’t tracking stuff that’s useful. We even learned if you can create a culture and create a process of experimentation and look at your data in a very regimented way, you’ll develop great products. We’ve set up a number of these systems with startups and in companies. So many of these innovation projects have been was really interesting.

Another example of one we did was an IoT project. So, if you’re not familiar with the term IoT, it’s the Internet of Things. It’s taking a lot of traditional things and connecting them to the internet. So some things that you guys might know about are things like the Nest thermostat or the Alexa. Hopefully, I didn’t just trigger your Alexa here at your house.

We had a company approach us that they build these apple storage facilities. It’s kind of a cool concept. They have these facilities that create perfect atmospheric conditions for the storage of apples. So you can store apples for I think up to years, they said, you know, testing the outer limits of it. They’re just like a fresh apple pick from the tree sort in these warehouses that they’ve built.

One of the problems they’re facing is they collect a lot of data, on perfect storage conditions and they do monitoring, but it was all localized. They’d have to have somebody drive around to each of those cities and look at the day’s data and tweaks. So what we’re able to do is bring all that data kind of into the cloud and create a system in which someone can log on anywhere in the world and look at all their facilities and tweak settings and look at how the apples were doing. So this is another example of an innovation project we did.

JB [18:48]: One of the things that’s cool about that one if you’re just playing off your data. Even take that example alone. Well, now that they’re aggregating all this data in the cloud, from all these geographically dispersed locations and customers. Now they can actually mask their data so you don’t know where it’s coming from, but you can aggregate it and look at trends across your customers. Which is really kind of cool, right?

BH [19:10]: Yeah, exactly. So like a big thing for us and any project that we do is we always think about what is the ROI? So a lot of times we’ve seen organizations just go into projects because I think it’s a good idea or I feel like we should do this. But we always go into it thinking and putting our little business hats on and thinking, what kind of return are we going to get for this?

And it’s absolutely critical to have good data and to do tracking and analytics to then see it like, “Okay, did this project meet ROI expectations?” It’s very important. A lot of technology people just think about like, “Oh, what would be cool to build or what would be fun?” We kind of think of ourselves as technologists and business people. So we want to speak to the stakeholders of the company. What is the ROI here and what would we do if we’re in their shoes?

Another example of an interesting project was we worked with a company and they manufacturer cleaning and inspection equipment for municipalities sewer systems. Cities have been facing this problem for a while now is they have so many sewer lines. They have just thousands of miles of them. Especially in big cities like New York, Chicago, and LA. Typically the cities will have one crew that kind of does an inspection of the systems. If they’re to take that crew and just do all the lines of the whole system, it would take an average of like 30 to 40 years to inspect all the systems. It’s crazy.

A lot of times what will happen is these problems will crop up before they’ve inspected it and we’ve all heard the term an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So it’s much more beneficial to the city if they see a problem like a tree root growing through the line while it’s small before it’s huge and there’s a big huge crater in the middle of the road or something.

This company we’ve kind of worked on with them, which is a really innovative concept is they have built kind of a preliminary inspection camera that goes on the end of the cleaning equipment. So cities will have 10,15, 20 times as many cleaning crews as inspection crews. So now they’ve enabled the cleaning crews to do a preliminary inspection. As you can imagine, you have 10,15, 20 times the amount of people will you took that 30 or 40 year inspection time down to like one or two. So you can inspect it so much more often.

We’re kind of working on a platform with them, that allows them to kind of pull in all these videos from the preliminary inspection. Because remember, these are cleaning people are not necessarily inspection people. This pulls them into a system that allows people to then review and flag an area. If they flag an area then the actual inspection crew will go out there and take a look at it.

This system has saved the city so much money because instead of waiting until there’s a big crater in the road or something, they’ll catch it early on and get the maintenance crew out here to kind of fix it once and for all. So this is a really interesting project in which we’ve combined traditional manufacturing and equipment with digital in order to realize a lot of ROI for everyone involved.

JB [ 22:56]: Yeah. We could probably go on and on and on right about all these cool projects. And it’s pretty neat to see how cross-industry they are too. Because it’s not just one industry, we’re seeing it in manufacturing, or we’re seeing it in the employee recognition space.

Bringing it back home to Ask an Innovator, honestly, that’s a huge part of the reason why we’re doing this podcast. We’re trying to learn something from every single industry and we think it’s so important that we learn from each other. We build relationships with each other so that we can learn all these concepts about their culture. Whether they’re using cool new technology as you talked about, like IoT. We’ve talked to many customers, about their use of AR/VR, and that’s a cool thing. So, being able to learn from each other and apply these concepts is really at the root of Ask an Innovator.

BH [23:48]: Exactly. So every company in every industry can be innovative. It’s very systematizable. There’s a number of exercises you can go through and then a number of areas you can look at. You can look at it from a business standpoint or an ROI standpoint. No matter who you are, you can be innovative

JB [24:11]: That’s right. Cool. Well, Brad, I mean, this is a great first episode, we just wanted to introduce ourselves again and talk a little bit about innovation. And I hope you’re looking forward to the next podcasts that we’re about to do. They’re going to be really cool. They’re going to from all different industries. So watch for those and look forward to them. So, thank you all for listening. And this is the first episode of Ask an Innovator.

BH [24:31]: Thanks, everyone!

How is Hallmark Emerging as an Innovation Company?

SUMMARY

Jennifer Garbos is on the show today. She is the Design Engineering Manager at Hallmark. We dig into the intersection of work and entrepreneurship and how that inspires change and growth. We also get into Hallmark as an innovation company: the process, what technology they’re looking at next, and what human-centered design means to their organization.

Jennifer charms us with her insatiable curiosity, her contagious laugh and her brilliance on how to move a company, like Hallmark, forward in the innovation arena.

Connect with Ask an Innovator.

LEARN MORE

The Power of Play
Loonshots by Safi Bahcall
How to Guide Innovation

CONNECT WITH JENNIFER

LinkedIn
City Bitty Farm
Four Season Tools


TIMESTAMPS

Jennifer’s background at Hallmark & entrepreneurial ventures: City Bitty Farms & Four Season Tools – 01:00
What are the strengths you can capitalize on? – 05:11
Using human-centered design to develop products – 07:08
The innovation exercises Jennifer uses at Hallmark – 11:40
How is Hallmark reaching new consumers? – 15:19
How Hallmark figures out what products will work – 22:09
Innovation Hotseat with Jennifer – 24:31

Jennifer’s take on “What is Innovation?” – 39:18
How Hallmark defines innovation – 40:55

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Erin Srebinski [00:00]: Today we have Jennifer Garbos, a leader of future strategy at Hallmark cards. She’s taking 100 plus years of awesome at Hallmark and aligning it with the technology and behavioral trends of the future to ensure consistent growth. Hallmark is not Jennifer’s only role. She’s an entrepreneur with her husband, a mom to two imaginative kids, a mascot and an inventor with nine patents to her name. She joins us today to talk a little bit about her journey and the future of Hallmark.

Josh Barker [00:24]: Good so you’re going to unveil all of Hallmark’s secrets is what I’m hearing you say.

Jennifer Garbos [00:42]: I do have something and it’s public that I can talk about that I’m pretty excited about. I’d be happy to share that.

JB [00:50]: Cool. Cool. Well, Jennifer, I’d love to, kicking it off. I’d love to learn a little bit more about your background. And a little bit more about you if you wouldn’t mind just sharing with that with us.

JG [01:00]:
I’d be happy to. My background, my job at Hallmark is I am the Design Engineering Manager for greeting cards as well as gift wrap, as well as an innovation leader for our company. My background is really interesting. I’ve always been in consumer products. Consumer products are my passion. I have worked as a product engineer at Ford before moving to Hallmark. And then my husband and I own three companies in the agriculture space that we’ve started from the ground up. Two of those are over 10 years old now. And so we live both the innovator and entrepreneur lifestyle.

JB [01:39]: That’s awesome. That really probably helps you both ways, right? I mean, seeing both sides of it, where you’re working at a large company like Hallmark and then being an entrepreneur as well?

JG [01:49]: It definitely does and the experiences I have on either side of that fence both influenced the other in a very positive way, the successes and the failures.

JB [01:58]: You’ve got to give a plug for your entrepreneurial businesses, what are they called?

JG [02:03]: Yes, the oldest company is called Four Season Tools. And with that we build custom greenhouse solutions for smaller-scale sustainable farms, especially specializing in movable greenhouses. So a greenhouse you can move from plot of land a plot of land, extend your season, or rotate your crops growing in different soil. And then, in order to do that well, we had to launch a farm because we are both engineers by degree and working in the agriculture space needed more experience in farming as well as it needed an R&D lab to test out the solutions we were developing for farmers across the country. So we launched City Bitty Farm, and it’s in Kansas City. It’s one of the largest urban farms in Kansas City and we grow microgreens year-round on a couple of acres in the urban area.

JB [02:53]: Looking at the website right now, City Bitty Farm, that’s awesome.

JG [02:55]: We’ve learned a lot through the years in launching those companies. One with a company that actually builds structures and, you know, physical objects and another that has a living, breathing thing that we have to nurture and take care of throughout all the holidays.

JB [03:12]: Very cool. Awesome. It looks like a lot of fun. And how does that help you with things at Hallmark?

JG [03:22]: Yeah. So when you start your own business as I’m sure some of your listeners have done themselves or have done multiple times. Serial entrepreneurs as we are. You have to do things with what you have. You have to work from your integral foundation, what do you have? Or what do you know that you can do better than anyone else? Or how can you spin it in a way or apply it in a way that gives you an advantage over other companies that may already be in that space?

As an entrepreneur, if you can’t do that you can’t thrive. Three years making it three years is the success of a homegrown business or any sort of entrepreneurial endeavor. And you can’t really get there if you can’t do something better or have your claim to fame. How do you offer value and uniqueness beyond what your competitors have, and being really, really great at assessing, honestly, what those strengths are that you have? That’s what we had to do as entrepreneurs to start Four Season Tools and City Biddy Farms way to apply the knowledge and the resources we had differently than anyone else who might be in that industry.

Bringing that forward to Hallmark, that’s definitely what we do as a part of the innovation process there. What’s great about is it makes us super lean, fast and strong. It lowers the risk of the ideas that we come forward with because we’ve already assessed the strengths that we have, and we’re applying those in a way that no one else can match in that even initial launch phase.

JB [04:50]: Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, it makes you almost think as an entrepreneur. You know, if you’ve seen the matrix where he says there is no spoon, right? It’s just kind of, there is no box outside your comfort zone, like expand the boundaries. So that’s I imagine that’s probably a lot of overlap there with helping you on Hallmark with innovation.

JG [05:11]: Definitely, definitely, I love doing puzzles. I love solving problems and connecting dots. When you can assess, here’s what all of my strengths are. And you lay them all out and even, you know, get as tactical as drawing them on post-its or writing it down on a piece of paper or typing it on your screen, you can start to see the connections between those and that’s where so much of the value lies. Look at what you can do really, really well. And then from that, what could you build from there? Like if you think about every single one of those strengths as a carbon atom, what are the bonds that you can create between those strengths? And do you end up with graphite? Do you end up with a diamond? What do you want in the end anyway? Would you rather have graphite?

JB [05:54]: Yes, exactly. Now you’ve got, it looks like the whole gamut. I mean, you’ve from an innovation director standpoint, so almost like working directly with from a consumer end standpoint to now, on the design side with probably some Human Centered Design focus. Sounds like it really affords you a really wide breadth of knowledge across, hey, starting with the customer, what do they see? What do they need? Or what Don’t they know they need yet? To all the way to engineering. Is that is that what I’m seeing too?

JG [06:31]: Yes, that’s exactly right. So you can see there that I started out as an engineer, a product engineer, and realized very quickly that a lot of times my client’s internal or external clients would be asking for a solution that wasn’t exactly what the customer or their consumer was looking for. And it led to a passion and a breadth of experience in the human center design or design for experience. So instead of developing the technology that was requested. It’s really about developing the experience with the correct Applied Technology.

JB [07:03]: Sure. Can you give some examples of some of the things you guys have worked or you’ve worked on at Hallmark?

JG [07:08]: Sure. One of my favorite examples and this is a few years ago, what I really love about it, it was launched before Siri was on your iPhone, probably even before iPhones were out. We were working on stuffed animals. I actually started at Hallmark making singing and dancing snowman, I was hired in to do the animatronics of the technical electromechanical modules inside those. And we were working on stuffed animals and stuffed toys for kids and realized that the maturity of voice recognition technology was really improving. It was becoming a lot more accessible and accessible in lower-cost devices.

And so we invented a toy that would respond to your voice. A stuffed animal. Specifically would respond to your voice as you read a book aloud. So Hallmark is very much interested in helping people make connections and build relationships with those people important to them in their lives. And making plush products or stuffed animals was a part of that it was helping provide either a representation for you when you’re not there or just giving a little, you know, a bit of love in a kid’s life. And we realized that stuffed animals are so important in a developing child’s life. They’re more than just a toy, they can be a companion, they can offer comfort. They, the role-play their part of the imaginative play world.

So what we did was we applied voice recognition technology to that, so that as parents were sitting down and reading to their kids, not only could they read to their kids, but the stuffed animals would listen along also, and the stuffed animals would interject in the way a four-year-old might do when you’re reading a storybook aloud at night with add-ons to the story or cute little moments. The first one we launched was called Jingle. He was a husky pup at Christmas time. You would say something in Jingle would just burst out into a howling song version of a Christmas tune. And so kids just they loved that. Not only did it make reading time more fun for kids who maybe didn’t want to sit still so much, but they had a friend who was listening along with them.

So we ran through those for a few years. And that really sparked my passion and development around the human-centered design process because we didn’t start with voice recognition technology and say, what can we do with this? What we started with, when that actually developed was the understanding that stuffed animals played a key role in the lives of kids and their families. And that reading time was a time that was important for that bonding between kids and either parents or caregivers or grandparents. That’s the moment we really wanted to help build-out. How can that be an even more emotional or fun moment?

JB [09:58]: That’s awesome. Yeah, that I think that’s so key with starting with the end consumer versus a technology and trying to shoehorn it into certain situations of how can we use this? I think that’s key. That’s key. I think you’re right on there. And how did you guys go about doing your research? I’m assuming there was a research phase before you just went ahead and built this plush animal of trying to figure out the need and trying to address and need that wasn’t being addressed.

JG [10:32]: Yeah, that’s a great question. We have a great fortune at Hallmark of working with some amazing creative talent. Hallmark’s one of the largest employers of creative professionals in the world. And that group, that incredibly creative group is constantly on the cusp of emerging technologies. So we really lean on everyone in the company to bring forward things that they’re noticing in the marketplace.

Technologies that are becoming more accessible news articles, things, they’re starting to make it into consumer’s homes, things that we find people are just feeling more comfortable with than they were in the past. And that timing is super, super important, especially when you do have a large creative group thinking of off the wall brilliant ideas, figuring out when they really start to intersect most people’s homes is a critical point. Yeah.

JB [11:22]: And I see that everyone’s kind of responsible for that. It looks like as an innovation director, you were leading innovation exercises and team activities to help fill your pipeline. How did you go about doing that? And what does that look like when we say innovation exercises?

JG [11:40]: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I’m sure that everyone has a different answer to it. There are so many different tools available. Personally, I have a strong belief in being insatiably curious, and therefore I might not ever lean on the same tool. I think that the job that we’re doing is going to dictate the tool that we need or that’s required. One of my more recent favorite examples of determining what kind of technology or what innovation to proceed with, really starts with an interview process or a gathering of carbon atoms.

So understanding not only what are the needs, that your consumers or that your customers have, but also in the strength that you have as a company, but also, who else is working on something even in the same company that has a passion project they want to move forward? That is just as important a factor in launching innovation at Hallmark as either of the other two.

The consumer needs to demand that the technology has to be right, but we also need people in the building who are willing to work on it or champion it or intersects the work that they’re already trying to do or the initiatives that they have in place. So my favorite exercise is to gather all of those pieces and parts together, and then look at who the person is we’re trying to solve for. So we knew a number of different needs.

Now let’s apply it to a human-centered persona. And maybe that’s not an actual person, but a person who embodies characteristics of the market that we’re trying to solve for at any given moment. And now understand this person, what are these things that would interest them? What would help them? What would work for them? and using that to map out a longer-term strategy? Because we want every single person to be satisfied with the results that we’re offering or the products or solutions?

JB [13:35]: So how do you guys take, you know, something that was a person in a persona so this, you know, this fake profile of a, it simulates a person right? It simulates a target market. How do you validate that with the true target market? How do you guys do that at Hallmark?

JG [13:50]: What we love about our industry is that everyone loves to get a card. Our founder has said, “No one ever sends a card in anger.” And so it’s really, really fun to work on a product that we know people are going to love to give. And so many different types of people are going to love to give those. So when we do than come up with a solution and we want to validate our target market. Depending on the type of product we’re talking about, we’ll use any number of different consumer testing techniques that our insights and analytics partners will recommend. Everything from focus groups, to quantitative consumer research surveys to ethnographic surveys, depending on what we really need to learn from that.

As I mentioned, I’m insatiably curious. What we really need to learn is going to drive the methodology that we choose. It’s not always about learning is the solution, the exact thing that this consumer is looking for? A lot of times it’s learning about the insight behind it or the implementation of it, or, as you mentioned, even earlier, the technology that’s used in it. Because it’s not about the technology, it’s about the need that it’s solving.

JB [15:03]: Right, Very cool. Now, let’s switch gears for just a second. I want to know a little bit about some of the cool things that are going on at Hallmark. What are some of the cool things going on that you can talk about? The stuff you can’t, we won’t we won’t talk about that stuff, but this stuff you can.

JG [15:19]: Sure, I love it that you ask what are the cool things going on at Hallmark as we talk on an innovation podcast because you can define cool or innovation in so many different ways. I think there are approaches that Hallmark is taking to reaching out to new consumers, as approaches to new products, to being in new places where you can access our product. One of the things that’s cool just from a ‘when do you think about Hallmark’ lens is we have a line of cards, today, called Just Because and those cards are really focused on realizing that people want to connect with other people and build their relationships in a positive way outside of it’s my birthday or it’s Valentine’s Day I have to get a card for my spouse or partner.

People have needs beyond that to be a good friend or be a good partner or be a good daughter or son. And so this line of Just Because cards really recognizes that. One of my favorite ones is just the ‘You’re a Great Parent’ card and it says, “Parenting is tough but you’re tougher.” On the inside, it says, “Even if dishes go undone or laundry piles up, you will all survive because the essential ingredient is there, love. Don’t worry, you’re doing great.” I know quite a few moms and dads in my circle I could give that to on any day and I think they’d start crying.

JB [16:43]: Right. I definitely see that as more of a trend because I see these cards, and I definitely resonate with being more specific and being outside of these, these events like Valentine’s Day, for example of giving cards. And seeing those cards that are pertinent to a lot more situations that are occurring more daily. So that makes perfect sense.

JG [17:04]: Right, and it’s really interesting. My husband and I because we talk about innovation at the dinner table, he calls Hallmark and emotional transfer company. I’m like, oh, gosh, that’s so so mechanical. Then other people you talk to will view Hallmark is a communication company that we’re about a communication method if you think analogous to letters. And then the question that naturally comes up is well with digital communication, you know, what’s the role? Why are there greeting cards?

What we found is that greeting cards carry a completely different value than digital communication does. They play a different role in your life. And as I said, no one sends a greeting card in anger. That’s not to be said for a lot of other digital communication. So we, we really are focused on helping people build up those relationships. And that makes for a completely different area of innovation that needs to bridge from digital to tangible. So you asked, what are some other things you know, that we have going on right now that are really interesting? And I think how we’re addressing that digital space is really, really cool.

We just launched a week ago, an app that’s available in the iPhone app store right now called Hallmark Digital Postage. And what’s so cool about that is that in that app, you are able to activate postage pre-printed postage on a Hallmark envelope if you decide you want to mail that card. So you never have to get stamps anymore. You don’t need to go to the post office, you can just activate through your app, the postage, it’s already printed on your envelope, and then toss it in the mail.

JB [18:47]: That makes it a lot more streamlined. That’s, that’s great. I’m looking at it right now. I might have to download this.

JG [18:53]: Yeah. And it’s, it’s super, super fun. And if you have a stamp, and you, you would rather just use you know, the special stamp that you walked to the post office and got, you can just stick that right over that code and you’re not losing any money, because you haven’t paid for it yet. So it’s a really great thing that we’re using to help people get those awesome tangible, beautiful cards in the mail to people they care about, but not require that they go through so many extra steps.

JB [19:20]: Yeah, that’s great. Decreasing the amount, the barrier to entry because I feel like cards add so much more weight when you receive one, right? Like when I physically take the time and write something out to someone that’s unusual, right? Because in our society today, it’s very digital. Sending an email, that’s a lot easier. Well, it takes effort for me to actually go select a card, get a card, handwrite it, get the postage, put it on there, put it in the mail. And so I think it carries a lot more weight when you receive a card.

JG [19:53]: Yeah, and we want to focus on those steps that are the important pieces of that process, the signing it or writing your message or, you know, whatever it is you do if you put stickers on your envelope or on your card. Putting stamps on the card is not the thing people always look forward to the most about sending their loved one a greeting card.

JB [20:40]: Right. Right, removing the barriers to entry. I love it. That’s good. I’ve seen a piece of software that was online that allowed me to type in digital cards. Like I’ve used it before to actually hand write like I type the message, and then they’ll have a system where its hand writes it and then put it in the mail for me and send it to the recipient. Do you guys have anything like that at Hallmark?

JG [20:37]: We have tested in some product offerings on Amazon.com that you can have your card signed and handwritten for you. So you never actually have to physically touch the card, but it will have a handwritten message that’s custom to the sentiment you want to deliver or what you want to say to the recipient. We’ve also done that on Hallmark.com, and either I think it’s for a low cost, someone will handwrite a message for you, and then we’ll send it along with the postage and you know, we’ll pay the postage to send it to the recipient directly. It’s something we’re definitely exploring. Hallmark also has a patent issued on handwriting digitization. And so it’s definitely a technology that is important to our business because of the importance it has to our consumers, that personal touch.

JB [21:29]: That’s cool that I mean, I like you that you use the word experiments. So you guys are probably always rapidly running these experiments and trying to figure out what your end market, your end consumers really need.

JG [22:09]: Yes, yes, we’re always running experiments, figuring out what works, what doesn’t work. I think that when you’re talking about an innovation program that’s built on your corporate strengths, yet you know where you want to go, let’s say you’ve done that persona development work, you understand the perfect solution that would engage that consumer down the road, but you’re not there yet.

You’re still over here at corporate strengths. You have to figure out how can I get to point B, and it’s usually not instantaneous. Usually what your consumers are looking for is so far beyond where you are today, just because of the exponential rate of change of technology that you have to figure out how can you build your way there? How can you connect those atoms? How can you build the bonds between the solutions that you can offer today? And we have to run experiments to build up those additional capabilities.

So in the digital postage example that I shared with you, there is so much to get to a place where people are never going to have to put stamps on envelopes to send a greeting card anymore. And this experiment that we’re launching is really helping us figure out, what is our consumer looking for? Doing experiments in a tangible realm is completely different, though, then doing them in digital space. Building a beta test app, and launching it and that app having to work with a physical tangible thing is just, it’s a really exciting space to play.

That physical-digital interaction and the interface between those things. We have to learn and experiment as we go because that side of innovation is not mature at all. Digital Innovation is really starting, you know, there are agile methodologies, and there are processes in place for how to do that. But when we’re talking about how digital influences the tangible product, or in reverse, how does tangible product interaction influence your digital development or experience? There’s that’s a pretty nascent field right now.

JB [23:39]: Yeah it’s what a lot of people call almost a sleepy field. It’s cool to hear all the innovation that is occurring at Hallmark. In a market that’s seeming, I don’t want to say dormant, but it’s definitely more sleepy. Yet, there’s still an incredible amount of merit in a physical greeting card and when what can be done to reduce barriers to entry and how to how to make it easier and simpler to send cards and, and to have more options of cards it sounds like.

JG [24:07]: Yeah, that’s definitely true. I think that as the technology and trend of smart homes grows, that that need for that digital tangible interaction, and how do you enable a positive consumer experience with physical things that are in your home is going to grow. It’s not quite there yet, but we definitely are on the forefront of exploring that space with experiments like the ones I’ve mentioned.

JB [24:31]: Awesome. Well, Jennifer, there’s a segment that we normally would do. I’m going to switch gears here unless you had something else you wanted to, to say about anything we’ve said so far before I switch gears.

JG [24:40]: Now let’s go. Let’s go, love it.

JB [24:42]: So this is something called the Innovator Hot Seat. So I’m going to ask you a series of questions that are unrelated to what we’ve been talking about. They’re very random. I’ll give you a sample of them. So like, they’re going to be things like, what podcasts do you subscribe to, one person you’d invite to dinner. I’m going to go through these and then we’ll unveil your answers. So this is the Innovators Hot Seat here. So first question, what podcasts do you subscribe to?

JG [25:12]: Oh boy, the Ask an Innovator podcast. I subscribe to that one. Number one right there. I listen to a lot of TED Talks as well. I have to admit that I prefer going to a lot of things in person over listening to podcasts. So when we have TEDx KC events here locally, I really enjoy that face to face interaction. It might be the human component to my job and understanding human interaction. I just love to get in front of people.

JB [25:42]: Good. Okay, one person you would invite to dinner? huh

JG [25:45]: Hm, my husband. Serial innovators don’t get a whole lot of time together.

JB [25:52]: Is his number one podcast Ask an Innovator, too? That was for him.

JG [25:58]: Yeah, no. Oh, gosh, I think if I had to invite someone to dinner outside of my own family, it would probably be Jeff Bezos. I’m just curious because what I’m really fascinated by is the way that he built up Amazon from a company that sold books online. And I know that There’s plenty of research out there that does that tell that story and describe that story.

But I would just love to get in his head and have a conversation about that vision and how much of that was predetermined and how much of that was accidental. And what he did with those happy accidents and the failures that when it came along the way. I think 15 years ago, 20 years ago, no one would have predicted it. And it’s just a fascinating journey. So I’d love to get behind into the process behind that.

JB [26:45]: Sure. Well, the good news is Jeff Bezos’s favorite podcast is Ask an Innovator so he’s listening. I’m sure he’ll, he’ll reach out so cool. Number three, one thing you’d bring with you on a desert island and it can’t be a person, so no husband.

JG [27:01]: All right. All right. One thing I’d bring with me on a desert island? Oh, I’m pretty resourceful, I’d use a lot of things off the desert island I already have. That’s a great question. I think I’d bring a pen. I think that would come in handy or just keep me sane. It would be a hard thing to recreate. And very frustrating. I’d like to think I could already make fire that’s, boy that’s kind of an ambitious goal.

JB [27:34]: Now would you want paper to go with it? Or would you? Where would you write?

JG [28:28]: That’s a funny thing. I think you can write on a lot of things. But the writing, maybe a Sharpie, a nice Sharpie marker. That might be more practical.

Yeah, I think you can solve so many problems, but I’m a really visual person in case you haven’t guessed that already. And it might be really frustrating and difficult to do without being able to make thoughts visual.

JB [28:04]: Good point. Very good point. What about the last book you read?

JG [28:08]: The last book I completed was Life of Pi. I’m in the middle of reading Loonshots now and that is a really fascinating innovation business book. The subtitle is how to nurture the crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries. For people with a science background like mine, it’s especially fascinating because it connects physics principles to innovation process. I’ve had a few innovation colleagues actually recommend it to me because they feel like it’s been, it illuminates some of the practices behind their successful innovation programs as well.

JB [28:45]: Loonshots, I’m going to look that up. I have not read that book.

JG [28:49]: Yeah, it’s by Safi Bacall.

JB [28:51]: Okay, I wrote it down. In fact I’ve got it up on my Amazon right now. So I’m gonna check it out.

JG [28:58]: Yeah, it’s a well-written book too, fun to read. I like those.

JB [29:06]: It looks like it. What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? Huh? So That’s the subtitle. Interesting. I’m going to take a look at that. Interesting. Okay, your favorite place you’ve traveled and why?

JG [29:15]: My favorite place I’ve traveled. I lived in Istanbul for seven months. And there is a city in Turkey called Cappadocia. And it has I off the top of my head. That is my favorite place I’ve traveled. And the reason is that it is just an ancient city that’s built into the stones and carved into the stone mountains.

And not only are you able to visit and look at that, but they actually will tour you down through the stones into the depths of the ground it go, we went down at least seven stories into the ground into these apartments and cities that were all built into this softer rock and I think that the opportunity just to dig into [literally] another culture, an ancient culture like that and see a different way of living and imagine what it was like to be in that environment and to walk the paths that those people walked was just just a fabulous, fascinating experience.

JB [30:18]: I think that fits probably in line with your, your innovation background where you’re almost like acting like an anthropologist, right? How do they live and how do they interact? And so that’s good.

JG [30:30]: Yeah, my new favorite topic to study for technology trends for our team is all around neuroscience. There’s so much happening and understanding how the brain works. I just love to understand what we’re learning about how healthy relationships are developed, or how people feel good, and how that connects to the activities and the chemicals and the structure of the brain.

There’s so much there that I think is going to drive future developments for products down the road when you think about the future and as the design engineering manager at Hallmark and an innovation leader, we have to think years ahead, three, four or five years ahead. And as those technologies begin to converge and neuroscience develops understandings of the science, at the same time, nanotechnology is developing new ways to release or create products and or even have different interfaces to products, along with robotics converging in with that, so that you can have different responses to the interaction with products.

I think that there’s so much that’s happening in that technology space and as it all comes to light together, what that makes possible is just really fascinating. It’s giving us a playbook that the pages aren’t even available yet. Much less are you able to write in it? And just seeing, how can you foretell? How can you see what that future looks like? What are the clues that are going to make it evident to what will we need to develop down the road? And as I mentioned earlier, where do we start building strength? What is the strength I’m going to need three years from now if we understand that the brain functions differently and a different type of interaction between people is needed?

JB [32:19]: Yeah, when is Hallmark going to develop a neurotransmitter that automatically knows when I need to send a card and write it all for me and send it in? Just by thought, right?

JG [32:29]: Yeah, we have no interest in being on the creepy side of things.

JB [32:36]: Yeah that would be a little bit creepy, I would admit that.

JG [32:38]: Yeah, yeah, we do have a patent on helping you determine though your own appearance through augmented reality. It’s kind of a cool one to look into as Halloween approaches. If you were able to pre-program, what you looked like to anyone viewing you through a smart device, what would that be? And how could that change our interactions with other human beings?

JB [33:03]: To elaborate on that? That’s interesting. Give me a little bit more details behind that.

JG [33:06]: Well, gosh, I’m not really sure.

JB [33:11]: Is it like software? That’s what I’m trying to envision in my mind. With AR VR like, what does this look like?

JG [34:21]: Yeah. So last year, we launched some VR cards. Speaking to developing capabilities, we have some people in our building who watch the virtual reality and augmented reality landscape very, very carefully. And we saw that the interest in virtual reality was peaking and it was becoming more accessible to consumers. And we launched a greeting card with really wonderful full pop-up paper mechanism built in the card that you could just tear out of the inside. Binding there, the card, pop up, slide your phone and then give someone a virtual reality experience.

We didn’t take anyone to Cappadocia, I’m kind of sad about that. But we did take people surfing or scuba diving or skiing or there was another one we did with a hot air balloon ride. And you could just pop your phone in your this virtual reality viewer that came in your card in an envelope in the mail and experience one of those really great destinations.

So thinking about that, we thought, well, what are what is the future of augmented reality or virtual reality? And what would it look like to play in that space in a strong way? And understanding that the interactions between people is so important, that’s where our team did apply for this patent and get granted this augmented reality patent around modifying your personal appearance to others. So the long answer to what you asked is we don’t really know yet. We’re building our way there.

JB [34:50]: Sure. Alright, next question. First thing you do in the morning?

JG [34:56]: First thing I do in the morning, gosh, I wake up and open my eyes and I check my phone. I’m a total dork, a very lame dork.

JB [35:02]: Hey, if you didn’t say that you checked your phone. I think at this point I’ve asked that question of four or five different people and they’ve said the same thing. Check my phone. So it almost becomes unusual if, “Oh, you don’t check your phone. Oh my goodness. Wow.” It’s impressive.

[JG 36:28]: Yeah. And it differs. You know, depending on my mood, what I’m checking. Sometimes I’m honestly just checking into a little Candy Crush. Maybe I’ll try and open my eyes if I can be incentivized with a little dopamine release through some game win.

JB [35:35]: Oh, nice. And what about what do you do to unwind?

JG [35:37]: Gosh, you know what I do to unwind? I get out of my building. I actually go hang out with my kids. My kids are five and seven, Tess and Orion and I would love to go to their school. I love to see what they’re doing. I love to hang out with them and their classmates. And we love to do a lot of science fair projects, I guess just exploring technology at a really, really early age and sharing that with other kids. I love to play. If you asked me like, what is my personal life passion, it’s around play. I’ll play games when I wake up in the morning. And if I’m unwinding, I can play games with my kids. I think that just any form of play brings me such joy and I use it so broadly,

JB [36:19]: That’s good. Too many people overwork and don’t have that balance. It sounds like that’s a that’s not a problem with you. That’s a very good skill to have.

JG [36:27]: Well, you might have heard that it’s also all research at the same time? human interactions are really, your insight into human interaction is pretty poor if you don’t spend time with humans.

JB [36:40]: That’s right. Very accurate. Alright, what about what area of innovation interests you the most? And outside of work?

JG [38:05]: Outside of work what area of innovation interests me the most? I would say the intersection of emerging behaviors and emerging technologies. And where those two paths cross. When technology is accessible, how it impacts someone’s life? How it’s used by people? The unintentional behaviors and uses. I think that everything in my life could be answered with an action verb. And so understanding the actions of people based on their surroundings and their environment.

So the area of technology is really about emerging behaviors, emerging technologies, how they influence each other when technologies are ready, when people are ready. And then those unanticipated things. I just love it when we don’t know how someone’s going to respond to something or what they’ll do or demand that we had no idea was going to be important. Had an example yesterday, I’m trying to think of it. I was just talking with someone about I think we’re talking about shopping. And how yes, it makes sense that when you’re shopping in an aisle now you price check. Or maybe you order it online because it’s cheaper there and you don’t need it for a few days. But you saw in the store, what I’m really excited about with that space is what’s that going to look like in the future?

Well, what we understand now about omnichannel and mobile shopping. Is that is so it’s so base-level functional. Price, save money, get it in time. And of course, showcasing you know, showcasing an object there in the brick and mortar stores is so understood, so well understood. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what that’s going to look like in the future. And I think there’s a lot of theories out there and a lot of hypotheses I’ve read and listen to. But I don’t think anyone really fully knows how technology is going to change that yet.

JB [38:48]: Very good point. Yeah, that is a fascinating area. Talking about Jeff Bezos is definitely, they’re definitely disrupting a lot of different industries. So it’s very interesting to see some of those changes that you’re talking about and how the disruptors in the industry are shaking things up and what the future might hold.

JG [39:03]: Yeah, definitely. And being in consumer goods in the consumer goods industry, of course, that’s very, very important.

JB [39:10]: Well, that was it that was the Ask an Innovator Hot Seat. So any other topics that you that we didn’t hit on, Jennifer? That were on your list? That you thought might be interesting?

JG [39:18]: Oh, there is one thing. We touched on it a bit about when you asked you know, what kind of cool things do we have coming down the pipeline or what’s new and different? And I think that’s something I’ve heard mentioned briefly on some of the other Ask an Innovator podcasts and that I would reiterate is, it is really important to understand what you mean by innovation. Especially if you’re the person in your organization that’s charged with delivering innovation, or even if you’re the Chief Innovation Officer.

Understanding from your leadership, what they actually mean by that, and you all ask it very, very well, when you get innovators on this podcast. But defining that internally to your company. I think a lot of times we just operate under the with the understanding that we need to deliver innovation. And we don’t even check back in to make sure that the innovation definition is correct. And that’s just something that I’ve seen in our experience at Hallmark. It changes and as it changes over time, we can be more or less successful with it.

JB [41:50]: Well, how do you define innovation then?

JG [40:27]: Of course you’d asked that right on the heels of that monologue! I would define innovation as either reaching new people, new consumers, or as a new product or having something in a new place or at a new time. I think it’s really easy if you do think kind of scientifically, it’s about space, time, people, or product. Iwould say that is space, time, people or things. One of those at least needs to be new.

JB [40:51]: That makes perfect sense. And do you feel like that Hallmark has a different definition?

JG [40:55]: I think that Hallmark defines innovation differently by the person who’s asking for it. And then you know, by the team responsible for delivering it. As I mentioned, with such a large creative workforce, so many people are delivering innovation at Hallmark, and that definition is definitely different for each team. Completely different.

We have innovation, just side by side on the card rack today you’ll see a greeting card that folds out into an elaborate paper structure that could be, it could be a cactus garden or Noah’s Ark. Next to, you know, four feet away will have a greeting card that when you open it pops up into the shape of a toilet with flushing and fart sounds. And those, those two things are so very, very different with such different enabling technologies and different skills that were needed to create them that they’re both innovation. And they’re both necessary. There isn’t a right answer. The only answer that wouldn’t be right is something that your company or your consumers not looking for it all

JB [42:04]: Right. You don’t want to build something that no one uses or wants.

JG [42:07]: Yeah, if you build it, they don’t necessarily come, do they?

JB [42:10]: Exactly. That is not innovation. Yep. Awesome. Jennifer, I really appreciate you coming on and chatting about innovation. It’s been a great chat and conversation.

JG [42:22]: Thank you. It’s been wonderful talking with you and I appreciate the opportunity.

DHL’s Innovation Center is the Future of Logistics

SUMMARY

Gina Chung is the Vice President and Head of Innovation Americas at DHL. Gina leads the research and innovation activities of DHL and is in charge of the DHL Americas Innovation Center: a state-of-the-art platform to engage startups and industries on the future of logistics. Since 2012, she has shaped DHL’s global innovation agenda by driving a portfolio of projects focused on the rapid testing and adoption of technologies such as collaborative robotics and artificial intelligence across DHL’s operations.

Brad and Gina discuss DHL’s new Innovation Center and how it creates a unique customer-centric approach to logistics innovation. They cover everything from how DHL is predicting trends to why startups are important to DHL’s innovation process.

Connect with Ask an Innovator.

Brad Hammond & Gina Chung at DHL Innovation Center

LEARN MORE

The DHL Innovation Center
The DHL Innovation Center Media Release
Request a Visit!

TIMESTAMPS

Gina talks about the DHL Innovation Center – 01:10
The future of innovation in logistics – 06:35
Gina walks us through DHL’s wearables innovation – 07:40
Predictive analytics and how they affect logistics– 09:10
How & Why DHL works with startups – 10:21
Innovation Hotseat with Gina Chung– 11:39
Innovation is not technology – 15:06

How can you measure innovation and success? – 17:31
DHL’s Trend Radar – 18:54

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Brad Hammond [00:13]: Welcome to Ask an Innovator. My name is Brad Hammond. I’m your host this week. Josh, your normal host is out at CES Las Vegas, checking out some neat things with some clients and customers. Today we have Gina Chung. And she is at DHL in Innovation. And I’ll let her kind of take it from here and introduce herself.

Gina Chung [00:34]: All right. Hi, everyone, I’m very happy to be on the podcast. So I’m Gina Chung. I’m Vice President and Head of Innovation Americas for DHL and I’ve been with the company for seven years. My role primarily is to engage with our customers, partners, as well as internal operations to leverage new technologies to improve logistics processes.

BH [00:59]: Awesome. Well, it’s nice to have you Gina. We’re here in one of DHL’s Innovation Centers. So if you could, maybe tell me a bit about where we’re at and yourself, I’d love to hear it.

GC [01:10]: Okay, great. Maybe I’ll start a bit with DHL because I know that not everyone is familiar with who we are and what we do. So DHL, it’s the world’s largest and leading logistics company headquartered in Germany. We operate in over 220 countries and territories with over 550,000 employees.

So we operate at a very, very large scale. And what we want to do is we want to be not just the leading logistics provider, but also the leading innovator in the industry. And one of the ways that we do this is through our Innovation Center approach. We use these Innovation Centers, we’re actually at one of our most recent Innovation Centers here in Chicago.

Innovation Centers they are built to put, they’re actually purpose-built to engage with our customers on the future of their supply chain, to engage with our customers on challenges that they’re facing in their industry, and then to come to a joint roadmap, with our customers on potential innovations that we could pursue together.

BH [02:11]: Excellent. So could you tell me a bit about the space we’re in? So when I walked in, I saw this amazing space. It’s hard to even describe but it’s, kind of, you have different stations, all sorts of things set up. It’s really neat. So could you tell me a bit about where we’re at and where we’re sitting in right now?

GC [02:29]: Sure. So the Innovation Center here in Chicago, we just launched it in September 2019. So it’s a brand new facility. It’s 28,000 square feet. And it’s purpose-built. In terms of the showroom that we’re actually sitting in right now, it showcases many of the different trends that we see impacting the industry, as well as also some of the tangible solutions that we’re beginning to pilot or have already started to implement across our business.

So you’ll see many robotics and automation solutions at the Innovation Center. We don’t just showcase the robots. We also share some of the tangible insights that we’ve gathered from our robotics projects, as well as some of the challenges. There is also a variety of different demos that we’re able to give off some of the platform solutions that we’re developing together with partners, for example, surrounding visibility or temperature control.

So I always say it’s we’ve got, probably almost all logistics innovations here under one roof. And depending on who you are, depending on the customer’s industry, we’re able to customize the content in the innovation center so that we only present the most relevant topics and solutions.

BH [03:37]: So what would that look like then? So if I’m one of your customers, I think you said you have 10,000 people or so that kind of walk through these centers, what does that process look like to kind of come out to DHL and visit one of these innovation centers?

GC [03:53]: So globally with our Innovation Center in Germany, as well as in Singapore, now in Chicago, we have around 15,000 visitors. And what a visit typically looks like is there’s a lot of pre-alignment that goes on and that’s because we apply a customer-centric approach to innovation at DHL.

We really want to first understand what are our customer’s pain points, what are their challenges? And from that, we then tailor the experience. So a couple of calls, a couple of meetings even upfront, without customers to really understand what are the topics they want to focus on? Is it innovations pertinent to distribution, to transportation, last mile? Do they want to focus more on visibility? Do they want to focus on their industry so you know, pharmaceutical supply chain versus an automotive supply chain?

So there’s a lot of pre-alignment that happens. We then set the date for the visit here. We also make sure that for their visit, we have the right people around the table. So we have the right kind of executive-level decision makers joining these visits with our customers. We have partners joining these visits sometimes as well to present as an expert so that when they come to the Innovation Center we’re able to they’re able to leave with decisions and commitment as well.

BH [05:05]: So maybe you could tell me a bit about how the Innovation Center ties into your overall innovation strategy at DHL and how that’s evolved over the last few years as well?

GC [05:16]: I think evolves the right word, because it has evolved a lot since I joined over seven years ago. So I would say, seven years ago innovation, it’s part of our DNA, but it was nowhere near as where it is today, which is at the height of our corporate agenda.

So when we first started seven years ago, with this new customer-centric innovation approach, I think innovation was a lot more about how can we leverage these new technologies directly with our customers and their operations? But it has since evolved into how can we leverage innovation across our entire network across our entire operations?

And if you follow DHL, we actually released our new corporate strategy in September last year, which outlined our vision for 2025. And that is to deliver excellence in a digitalized world. So our new corporate strategy, it centers itself around digitalization. We see it as the next turning point. And our company’s evolution of if I can put it like that.

So we’re investing over $2 billion in the next five years, just on digitalization. And the Innovation Centers are a key part of that transformation, a part of that investment as well to accelerate change, essentially, in the company.

BH [06:28]: Now, what are some key areas of innovation you see within logistics, you know, the next 5, 10, 20, even 50 years?

GC [06:35]: That’s a big time-frame. I would say just in the next five to 10 years. Again, it depends on the market. But in my regional role, if I look at here in North America, for example, the biggest topics I see are robotics and automation, especially in our warehousing business.

Just the speed at which, you know, new solutions are being developed and coming to market and the results it’s delivering, I can just see the tipping point. We’re approaching it very soon for autonomous forklifts, you know, spreading across our operations, all sorts of different autonomous mobile robots being leveraged.

Analytics is another big topic and has been for many years now in the company. I think that’s one that’s relevant to all regions. There’s so much that companies can do from you know, tapping into the data. It’s no secret. But we still have so much more to go. Even though we started the journey many years ago.

BH [07:26]: I think you’re even showing me just some innovations you guys were working on. You know, the analytics platform and then even some safety and equipment stuff that you’re working on in warehouse, could you go into a little more detail and kind of a couple of those projects?

GC [07:40]: Sure. So maybe I’ll pick the wearables one that we touched on briefly. So we’re, we’ve been also looking at digitalization, not just from a pure, you know, how can we make things move faster? But also how can we leverage technology to improve the lives of our workforce and health and safety in our workforce?

One of the projects that we started last year, here in the US, was the use of wearables to improve movements in our operations. So it’s a wearable device that you can attach to your belt, and it can detect whether you are bending, twisting, reaching correctly. That really is determined by: if you’re using your knees or if you’re, you know, balanced properly.

The wearable device, it’s incredible how much you can pick up just from, one location on your body. We started the pilot in the US, saw tremendously positive results from our first pilot, expanded that to a longer pilot end of last year with over 500 devices being used.

We’ve seen that by using these devices, not only do we significantly reduce the number of wrong movements in our operations, we can also reduce the number of back injuries as well as also serious workplace injuries. This translates into a healthier workforce, obviously, but also, you know, reduced sick days for the employer as well. So I think that’s just one great example of how you can leverage technology in a very positive way and in a way that also helps your workforce.

BH [09:02]: That’s awesome. And you’re showing me too, the predictive analytics platform as well? That was really neat. Could you tell me a bit more about that?

GC [09:10]: Going back to the Innovation Center in Germany, one of the big asks of our customers around, now six years ago, was DHL with your global footprint and expertise in logistics, how can you, help me predict some of the risks that are going to happen to my supply chain?

This was around about the time that they were those natural disasters happening in Japan with the earthquake and the tsunami, with Iceland and the volcano. That actually started the journey for us as a company to develop Resilience 360, which is now one of the industry’s leading platforms to predict risks and to manage supply chain risks. What it does is it leverages data from a variety of different internal as well as external sources to predict any type of risks, whether it’s weather-related, whether it might be supplier-related, social-political risks, and alert our customers in near real-time, 24 seven of disruptions to their supply chain.

BH [10:06]: That’s awesome. So shifting gears a little bit here you’re showing me how DHL involves the startup community within your innovation approach. Can you tell me a little bit more about how startups are involved and how you engage them in innovation?

GC [10:21]: Sure. I think startups for us, they are a key source of innovation for DHL. So we partner, I would say the vast majority of our innovation projects we partner with startups in robotics and analytics and wearables. And what we do is we have a team at DHL that scouts startups based on the challenges and needs of our business and of our customers. And then we engage through a proof of concept.

If it’s a very brand new use case that we haven’t explored yet or a pilot, if it’s something we’re more familiar with, we do this in a very agile way so that we can very quickly test if something works or if it doesn’t work. And if it works, we then move it further along and our final to industrialize it, to then scale it across all operations. We will really do this in a very close, tight-knit partnership approach.

BH [11:09]: Why did you decide to go kind of the startup route instead of doing all the innovation internally at DHL?

GC [11:14]: Sure, I think that has changed as well over time. Maybe in the past, we did a lot more of the innovation work in house, you know developing our own sensors, developing hardware ourselves. We just realized with the speed of technology that we can’t be the ones developing everything. And that’s what really drove us to partner with startups early on, to almost see them as an extended development arm of our innovation activities.

BH [11:39]: Hey Gina, let’s take a break and you’re in the Innovation Hot Seat now. So I want to hear a little bit more about you. And I want to hear some answers to some of these questions that I’m going to kind of throw your way. So, first question is, what podcasts do you subscribe to?

GC [11:57]: This is probably going to be very controversial, but I don’t actually subscribe to any podcasts.

BH [12:03]: Really? Okay, well, maybe one now. Okay. Are there any other people you follow or blogs you read? Anything as a replacement for that?

GC [12:16]: I’m a huge reader. So maybe that’s why I don’t listen to podcasts so much. I love reading articles and reading books. And I just finished Superintelligence, which I thought was excellent. I also love watching YouTube videos, probably How It’s Made is one of my favorite channels since I was a kid. So just yeah, those are probably the ways that I read and follow up on things.

BH [12:37]: So if you were able to invite one person to dinner that’s alive today, who would it be and why?

GC [19:39]: Oh, my God. One person, that’s alive and invite to dinner? I would probably invite Stephen Hawking. Huge fan of his work. And I also have a little bit of an interest in astrophysics as well.

BH [13:03]: Awesome. What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to? And why?

GC [13:08]: Favorite place that I’ve traveled to, I think probably the place that I’ve enjoyed the most. Now I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this one. So let me just think, I was gonna say New Zealand. I’m like, that’s where I’m from. Yeah, I think probably the favorite place that I’ve traveled to is Cambodia. I really enjoyed the people and the culture there.

BH [13:28]: Awesome. So what’s the first thing you do every morning?

GC [13:31]: First thing that I do every morning is I read messages so I’m from New Zealand mentioned this now a couple of times so it’s not that interesting but because I, you know, move around a lot, I travel a lot and I still try to keep in touch with my friends and family back home in New Zealand. With the timezone difference, it’s typical that when I wake up there’s a lot of leftover messages from them. So I usually use the time in the morning to talk to them or to catch up on messages.

BH [13:57]: So outside of work, what aspect of innovation is most interesting to you?

GC [14:02]: So I love innovation in my private life as well. So always interested in what are the latest, you know, apps and products on the market. Always eager to test new things. In my apartment, recently, I have started wiring everything so that I can have a truly smart home. Which is easier said than done funnily enough.

BH [14:21]: As you’re putting together your Smart Home what’s a surprise or something that you really enjoyed or found yourself using a lot more than you thought?

GC [14:21]: I think you have to be very specific with I think a lot of the smart home technology, it’s voice-enabled and I didn’t realize you have to be very specific with you know, different commands. So you know, Alexa, turn off the lamp. You have to specify which lamp and you can’t say it’s a light, it has to be the lamp. So I think the technology still has a few more steps to go. But that’s been one of the small surprises from my smart home experiment.

BH [14:59]: Awesome. Well, that’s it for that segment. Is there anything else we want to discuss?

GC [15:06]: I think one part that I always like to stress with customers and people that I come across when we talk about innovation is that innovation is not technology. And I know I say this, as we talk about, we’re sitting here at the Innovation Center. It’s full of robots and other technologies being exhibited here. But for us, you know, the Innovation Center, it’s really about a platform to change people’s mindsets. To change our company culture, which is oftentimes overlooked.

You can take a robot put it into a warehouse. But at the end of the day, it’s people doing that, people signing off on enabling that. So we also focus a lot on that kind of cultural change and change management. And I always ask our customers and our management to not overlook that part in the process.

BH [15:48]: What have you found to be a successful approach to that? And are there any things you’ve learned as you’ve done change management? And I know you’re showing me the user persona map as well?

GC [16:00]: I mentioned this actually at another panel recently, but when you do these cutting edge innovation projects, I always say, you know, try to get the right people on board. And by that, I don’t mean you know, the management and the CEOs. I mean, also the people that are going to be at the ground level using the technology.

When we do you know, the robotics projects, it’s not with management only It’s also with the guys down on the shop floor. You know, we get their opinion. We have many groups of operations managers and general managers coming through the innovation centers as well.

We make it a very inclusive process and do not have just the top-level aligned to our innovation objectives. But also people on the front line, feeling comfortable with the technology that we’re presenting. And at the end of the day, trying to get them to adopt.

BH [16:48]: Do you ever find that there’s resistance to innovation? And how do you kind of work through that?

GC [16:52]: I think there’s always resistance to the unknown. It’s uncomfortable, right? But what I’ve found actually quite remarkable in the last seven years is there hasn’t been a single innovation project that we’ve brought or introduced to our operations where the people have said they don’t want it.

I think that’s because if you go to operations, a lot of it can be so paper-based. A lot of it can be so manual. You know, it’s very repetitive tasks that these innovations that we’re introducing it makes their lives easier. And hopefully, they see that as well. And I think that’s been the case so far.

BH [17:25]: How do you define success within the innovation projects that you’re working in?

GC [17:31]: I think success is measured in a number of different ways. So one part is, of course, you know, the productivity metrics. At the end of the day, we’re still a logistics company. We need to make sure that we’re delivering on the numbers. One part is BCA, the ROI and all of that, but it’s also a success in terms of other measures.

Can it help us to recruit more effectively? Is it also helping us to retain talent and our workforce more effectively? Is it also generating a change in culture in the operations or within a business unit? So I think, success in terms of innovation is measured quite broadly at DHL.

BH [18:08]: Have you developed any sort of frameworks for defining that or standard processes in which you kind of go through for defining success?

GC [18:17]: Yeah I mean, with the projects and operations there are the standard metrics. Because we are very results-oriented. But then at a higher level, we will talk about the impact of the Innovation Center for the company. We have, you know, our customer satisfaction scores, we have feedback from our customers being measured here. That all ties into one report that our management can see.

BH [18:40]: Now, you mentioned to me a trends report and that sort of thing that you publish. Can you tell me a bit more about reports and things that you guys create and how you stay at the forefront of leading this industry?

GC [18:54]: So the trend reports and our Trend Radar here, I showed it to you briefly. That’s also one thing that we share back to the industry. So I always say one of the big privileges of having these Innovation Centers is that we get to listen to over 15,000 opinions from logistics professionals and from technology professionals. And we distill that into our Logistics Trend Radar, which is actually the second most downloaded document on DHL’s website.

The Trend Radar captures 28 or so different trends that we think will be most relevant to the industry in the next five to 10 years. From the Trend Radar, we take a topic, for example, robotics and automation and produce a trend report. The reason why we do these reports is that being in the logistics industry, you know, you look at our workforce, we’re not full of, technologists, not many of us are developers, we have an engineering background.

For us to get up to speed and digest these new technologies and concepts, these trend reports they’re very kind of bite-sized. It explains you know, what is robotics? What’s happening on the market? How do other companies use robotics? And then what does it really mean for the logistics industry? What are some of the concrete use cases that we can see for robotics and distribution and sorting and last mile?

It’s kind of ideas on paper that gets the discussion going. And we publish these reports publicly for all and our customers really enjoy them. They can read it on a flight home, they get a much better understanding about the topic. They get what it means for their supply chain for the industry. And then they usually use that to have a further discussion with us on one or two use cases that they thought were really interesting and relevant for their operations.

BH [20:34]: So is there anything else you’d like to say to any of your customers, listeners, others and logistics, things we haven’t talked about mentioned?

GC [20:44]: I think yeah, maybe one final point is a lot of the times, you know, customers or even internally at DHL people look to us or look to me and ask me to come up with ideas. And it really takes a kind of partnership approach. And it’s a two-way street, or maybe it’s a multi street with more partners involved, but it really takes a multitude of parties to drive action. So my main message is always you know, it takes two to tango. So, you know, we’re always ready to engage. And I hope that you know, others listening will also like to engage with us.

BH [21:15]: Thanks so much, Gina, this is a pleasure getting to come here to the Innovation Center and talk with you and really talk about innovation within DHL.

GC [21:27]: Pleasure, thank you.

Driving Innovation with Data | EP. 029

This week we interview Jochen (Joe) Renz, the Managing Director at New Mobility Studio. Josh and Joe jump right into considering innovation in big data, moreover how data will be as essential as oxygen. They talk about smart products and a human-centric system of systems.

The system of systems diagram mentioned in the beginning can be found below.

Human-Centric System of Systems shows innovation in big data.

A big theme throughout this episode is the interconnectivity between products. How products will talk to and charge each other for services or data. This is definitely applicable in the mobility space, but will also become pertinent to many other industries.

Joe presents how products will be their own economic agents and how objects will trade data information in the future. He brings up a tangible example of the lights charging both he and Josh for the amount of time they used the conference room.

In conclusion, the conversation turns to how consumers will trust innovation in big data, who that data will belong to and obviously the genius of Elon Musk.

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator
LinkedIn
Facebook 
Instagram

Learn More about Rocket Wagon Venture Studios
Connect with Rocket Wagon Venture Studios on Twitter

Listen to our Latest Episodes:

Innovation In Food | Ep. 028

Episode Notes:

What’s up? Aram Karapetian is on Ask an Innovator today. Aram is the President at Woodland Foods. Woodland Foods is a company dedicated to helping people experience the world through culinary exploration. You can learn more about them here. Today the topic is innovation in food, so let’s get after it.

Aram impresses that innovation is imagination. He teaches us how Woodland Foods empowers every team member to be an innovator and why that’s valuable. Furthermore, he tells us why companies need to be diligent about providing education for their employees so they have every resource at their disposal.

Obviously, food is also a huge part of the discussion. How is Aram driving innovation in food?

First and foremost, sourcing new ingredients is key. Supporting that with a sound supply chain infrastructure is also essential.

Secondly, Aram talks about how the mindset around food and health is changing. He and Josh discuss how consumers are becoming more conscious. Not only of their impact on the world but also the impact that food has on their bodies. Furthermore, they chat about how getting the consumer to experience the world through food is the end goal.

Finally, Aram divulges his secret on how to avoid salad fatigue and where he believes the future of food is headed.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and we’ll catch you next week!

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator
LinkedIn
Facebook 
Instagram

Learn More about Woodland Foods
Connect with Woodland Foods on LinkedIn
Connect with Aram on LinkedIn

Listen to our Latest Episodes:

Innovation is Learning | EP. 027
INNOVATION IN COLLABORATION | EP. 026
Innovation Through Entrepreneurship | EP. 025

Innovation is Learning | Ep. 027

Episode Notes:

Josh interviews Tim Kelley this week. He’s the CEO of Nautilus Medical and we sit down with him to discuss why innovation is learning. Tim has spent his career in the healthcare world and developed Nautilus because of things he learned and pain points he saw along the way.

In this one, Tim and Josh talk about how innovation is learning, why it needs to create an impact and why you need to prioritize the customer. However, Tim explains, the customer is not always right, but listening carefully to them is essential for any business.

Furthermore, Tim digs into how the same business model won’t work for everyone. Similarly, we talk about why pivoting and adapting your business is essential to make sure you’re solving the right problem. Also, Tim talks about how they’ve continued to pivot at Nautilus Medical and what that has looked like.

Finally, we talk about the future of healthcare. We discuss how patients will want to control their data, how everything will become digital and why telehealth is growing at a rapid rate.

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator
LinkedIn
Facebook 
Instagram

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn

Listen to our Latest Episodes:

INNOVATION IN COLLABORATION | EP. 026
Innovation Through Entrepreneurship | EP. 025
Innovation through Transparency in Healthcare | EP. 024
Innovation Starts With Empathy | EP. 023
Innovation Through Relationships | EP. 022

Innovation in Collaboration | EP. 026

Episode Notes:

The intersection between the enterprise and start-up worlds can seem vast. Matt Kammerait, the Director of Digital and Emerging Technology at AAR sits down with Josh this week to discuss innovation in collaboration. Matt has spent his career split between the riskier, more agile start-up environment and the slower moving enterprise world.

In this one, Matt and Josh talk about how innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For this reason, it takes multiple people with different skills and different talents to create change. In addition, they discuss the aviation industry and the beginning of the digital journey for AAR.

Matt relays the would-be benefits of more collaboration between the start-up and enterprise world. Moreover, the opportunities it would create could be endless and it would provide huge value to each side.

To finish, we delve into the creation of process and how much that can change depending on the organization you work for. Matt also shares his 4-step guide for the greatest chance of innovation. Listen in to learn more!

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator
LinkedIn
Facebook 
Instagram

Discover more about AAR

Connect with Matt @kammerait

Listen to our Latest Episodes:

Innovation Through Entrepreneurship | EP. 025

Finding the perfect work-life balance can be hard and throwing in a side hustle in the mix can make it even more challenging. Melissa Byrn is on AAI today teaching us about innovation through entrepreneurship.

Melissa is the founder of FORESEEaBILL and the Director of Innovation Programs at the Polsky Center. Not an entrepreneur by nature, she discusses the balance between teaching entrepreneurship to others and learning how to be an entrepreneur herself.

Josh and Melissa discuss why she believes that innovation is pushing through barriers and she opens up about the beginning of her venture, FORESEEaBILL.

Tune in to learn why customer discovery was the most important part when starting her company. Stay to learn why building a network is important and why talking about what we’re doing helps us find people that share our passion.

Thanks so much, Melissa!

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator on Facebook and LinkedIn

Discover more about FORESEEaBILL

Learn more about the Polsky Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Connect with the Polsky Center on LinkedIn & Twitter

Say Hi to Melissa on LinkedIn

Innovation through Transparency in Healthcare | EP. 024

Alex Rozenbaum joins us this week. He is the Director of Product Management at the American Hospital Association. Josh sits down with Alex and talks about all things healthcare. They dive into why the medical field needs to be more transparent.

Alex and Josh discuss the use of data and how it will affect patient care, they discuss the next major technology players in the industry and what other innovative ideas the medical field could see in the next few years.

They talk about empathy for a patient or a customer and how companies need to constantly hear the voice of the consumer to gain new perspectives.

What’s on your mind?

Are you interested in being interviewed or know someone innovative perfect for this podcast? Leave a comment below.

If you enjoyed #askaninnovator – before you leave – post a review ✩✩✩✩✩ or share AAI with your friends. Innovation is more fun together!

Connect with Ask an Innovator on Facebook and LinkedIn

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn