BOLD 2020 - Safir Bellali and Joseph Young: Futures of Innovation and Intrapreneurship
Hello and welcome i'm robbie knock and i'm the director, of entrepreneurship. And professional, practice. At art center college of design. And thank you for joining us today. As with our webinars, in the past we've had an audience from all over the world and we are very glad you're here with us wherever you might be. Calling in from. Uh and. Today, our our. Goal is to help you understand, the changing, landscape. In corporate innovation, and the unique role that creatives. Are now playing, leading this change. Entrepreneurship. Is widely considered, to be a set of tools and practices. Most frequently, associated, with startups and new ventures. So what does it mean to bring these tools and practices, into an existing, organization. And why are creatives, uniquely, positioned, to lead this type of work. Through our conversation, today we'll share. Personal, strategies. Collaboration. Processes. And leadership, practices. That propel. This type of entrepreneurial. Innovation. And transform. Organizations. Ultimately, our goal is to help you learn ways to apply this to your work wherever you might be in your career. And, i. As with all of these webinars, we're grateful to have the support of our co-chairs. Yvette roman and robert nashuk. Thank you for their ongoing, support. Overall, the bold's mission is is three-fold. To educate artists and designers, with business and entrepreneurship. Skills. Needed to succeed professionally. To enable artists and designers, to articulate, and convey the unique value. That they bring to businesses, and clients. And most importantly. Bold is here to help you start something new. To help you, connect to that next, stage in your career to bring the strategy. Tools and network, to do so. And. To make sure art center is a part of your. Future success. So. With that. Uh uh just, short introduction, of our two guests before they they, share remarks. About their work. We're, very very pleased to have saphir balali, here. He is. Uh, has over 20 years of experience. As an automotive, engineer, and an industrial, designer. He's an alum of our transportation. Program, at art center, and also has an engineering, degree. From muhammadiyah. University, in. Morocco. As the head of innovation for vance saphir, led the brand's digital, transformation. For 13, years, and now oversees, digital creation, and innovation. For vf corporation, overall. And for those of you that are not familiar, that includes, vans, north face. Timberland. Dickeys. And many many others. Safir is a faculty, member at usu. And at art center. And he is an aspen institute, first mover fellow. Joining safir, we are. Really pleased to have joshua, young. Joshua, is also an alum of art center from the photography, program. And has had a remarkable, career. Transforming, digital creation, and product design. Joshua, spent 20 years leading nike's, 3d systems and design operations. And then launched his own firm, and has worked as a consultant, for brands including patagonia. Lululemon. Calvin klein, and many others. Joshua now works with saphir at vf, and together they are leading, cross-disciplinary. Teams and innovation, practices. For the company and brands globally. So. To start us off safir, and joshua, are going to share, a brief introduction, of their work and professional, practice. And. Uh. You can you can choose who starts first, maybe maybe severe, since. Since you're always ready to go. Thanks for, the the introduction, and thanks for the opportunity, to uh. You know to share our, experience, with um. You know alumni. Uh students, and and everyone else, whose interest. Who's, interested, in in this topic. Um. As as you mentioned. You know, my background. My cultural background. Being, between morocco, and germany. But also my my educational, background, between engineering, and um, and design. Has really led me to, position, myself. Squarely, in that space in between, you know this is this is something that that i've. Um. You know really, recognized. As uh as an opportunity, to to make a difference. Um. And um you know with the understanding, that there are. Um, designers. There are engineers, that are much better than, than than i will ever be right, um, but being able to to understand. Both, both sides of the aisles, uh, both sides of the island, and really. You know. Harness. A solid understanding. Of. What makes, each. Each function. Successful. Has, has led me to. To really focus, quite a bit on, empowering. Creators. And this is something you know i i joined, vf as an organization, about 16 years ago. As a designer. I led the design team, that was focused on on designing. Equipment. For action sports. And then navigated, the organization. Ended up. You know leading, uh innovation, for vans, before, transitioning. Into the the global team at vf the global innovation, team at vf.
And. You know i've. I've been involved in. The organization's. Effort. To, transition. Into a more. Digitized. Product creation, process, this is obviously something that. At the scale of one company, is already a big. Big feat. Um, and by the way i wouldn't say that, um. You know the. The, the digital transformation. Of any organization, is something that could that could take uh. You know any amount of time i think it's a it's a work in progress. Um. But um you know together with with joshua, and i'm i'm really excited. Uh not only that joshua, is with me on this on this webinar, but uh, that. He's he's a partner in our. In our journey, um, in bringing, um, digital prior creation, practices. Um to the different brands, at vf, and and this is something that we um. We do obviously with humility, you know this is you know we're not coming in and saying this is how you should do things but you know there's a lot. Um in the process, that involves, listening. Really being, being in tune with the needs, of the, individuals, of the teams and the organizations. And and doing our best to provide. The the environment. And the technology, that will help unlock. Meaningful, outcomes. That's brilliant. And, and joshua. Uh. Over to you, and and. Coming from photography. How have you, found your way into this. Uh world of, products and innovation. Yeah. That's a good question, and. I i guess when i left. Um. Art center a very long time ago, um. Oh and i'll just say it was the it was the late 80s. Um with a photography, degree. You know the focus of what i was trying to accomplish, at that time was communicate. Um. Communicate, using compelling, images, so. Com, communicate, ideas. And, products, using, really compelling, images, as a photographer, that's sort of your job right. And the time, the, the photography. Um. The photography industry was dramatically, changing was going through a change of digital transformation. We didn't call it that back then, it was just hey this cool digital photography, stuff, um but it was digital transformation. Um. And so as we, as, as i began to embrace that um, a lot of other professionals, were embracing, that and. Brands, were embracing that and so one of my early positions, was starting at nike back in the 90s and they were moving from. Pen on paper to design. On into designing, on the computer, and so, that transformation. I think was difficult for a lot of creatives, a lot of people coming out of, of college. That how do you embrace these new technologies, and how do you how do you move forward with them and it how do you embrace innovation. And so that we started working on that in the 90s and really quickly in the early 2000s, started saying. Why are we using you know traditional. Graphic design tools to design, product that is as dimension. And, what is what is something different how can we innovate in this space. And that began, a, journey literally in the year 2000. Of of looking at 3d. Simulation, and design tools for for apparel. Footwear had already been on this path but we were again, embracing, it very early.
Um And so the through the mid-2000s. I started working in an innovation, team um which we'll have we'll talk about a little bit more over the course of the the conversation. Um about how do you build out a, process, where you can bring. A product to market from concept, to consumer, all the way through the process in a fully digital. Fully digital go to market process. Um. Where you're communicating, digitally, rather than through through. Pure, physical, products. Um and then in the late 2000s, started implementing those those tools within nike and then later on as you mentioned. Um some of these other other brands, and um, i'm really happy to be, to be working with saphir now at uh, at vf we we met in 2015. Shortly after, i met i i left nike, and um. At a trade show when i was speaking for the first time i was a newbie. Um, in the in the conference. World and he helped me uh kind of understand, kind of how what does excellence in that in that area look like. And we've been partners, in in sort of collaboration, innovation, ever since and it's been it's been a great journey. Fantastic. So. Uh, to to start off, i guess. From the, really, broadest, perspective. What does, innovation, mean, to you today. In, the work that you're doing, at. Vf. I think that's a that's an excellent that's an excellent question, so, i think if, if we look at, where innovation, has been. Um i've mentioned, uh you know, starting within, innovation, in the, uh mid 2000s. Here was this guy showing up into an innovation team at nike which was which was largely focused around, um as, many innovation teams in large brands especially product brands are, around construction, and material innovation. And here was this guy showing up, with with digital, innovation. And at the time and believe it or not that so it seems. Weird saying it now, is that a lot of people. Didn't know what digital innovation, meant what did it mean to, use digital tools within, within.
The, Product process. Within, uh. To express, creativity. Um, and to, push the, needle forward, and, that was, it was it was hard for me to. Um. To see that that you still have people who you would have thought be really innovative. Um, be be scared by what was basically, something that was a new idea. And so i think that. Innovation, isn't necessarily, just about what tool you use or something, that's, that's new. Um i think the idea of, innovation, really evolves. Um, over time and and. You have to i think really focus on. On, are you doing something, substantively. Different. Are you. Literally jumping to the next curve so in the words are you if, innovation, isn't just, about. Evolving, slowly. Doing something incrementally, better. It's about, taking. Large, leaps it's about reinventing, the way you're doing something. And i don't want to oversell, the the work that we did early years with with digital. Digital. Innovation, as being, you know, a large. Jump but again, i think if you look where we are today, where, most. Commerce, happens digitally where most. Um. Most design, happens digitally where a lot of, our world around us is, simply digitally focused i mean. Here we are, um. That uh. That, that, that was a leap i think, at that time, um even though it wasn't recognized, as being traditional innovation, so i think i think people need to keep their eye. On the world, for things that they might be, nervous, about or. That they might think are unfamiliar. Or. And and, recognize. Sometimes that innovation isn't what they necessarily, expect it to be. So, um. I, absolutely, i totally agree with with what you're saying um joshua. Um. In my perspective. Like like all good things in in life, um. You know i, feel that there's a textbook, answer, to this question, and then there's a real life. Practical. Answer based on your own experience so, um i'll, take i'll take a minute to to maybe give give both answers if that's okay. Um. So the textbook, answer. In my opinion, is that innovation, is is less about creating new products, that, satisfy, a specific, need, you know um. There's that quote, uh that is often attributed to henry ford although. It doesn't sound like he actually, said it. That says if i had asked, people what they wanted they would have said faster horses. Right. So innovation, is less about. Finding these solutions. To specific, needs but instead, finding new ways to frame a challenge. And solve. Really for the underlying, cause that creates this need. And and so. In this case i think you know it's it's uh. It's fair to quote our friends at apple, um in saying that it's it's about thinking differently. Right. Um. So the practical, answer. Um, is is a bit more complicated, of course right. Uh and it takes me back to um, to the time i think this was about six years ago when i was asked to uh to um start, um. A uh, an innovation, team advance. Um, and um it was obviously, you know it, was, uh. An amazing opportunity, a very humbling, opportunity, because you know, you had this um. Uh this brand this amazing brand with this amazing, heritage. You know and this amazing history. And the challenge was really to understand, what innovation, means, for for a brand like vance. Right, which which had been around for almost 50 years with, with uh with uh this amazing legacy. And so, i spent quite a bit of time. Really trying to understand. First where we came from. You know, and and. Also what really mattered to the followers.
What Mattered to. The people, who, considered, themselves, part of the vance family. And where would we could take that in the future. Um. And so what we landed was. Um. In deciding, to commit, to fueling, the creation, of innovative, products, and experiences. So it was not about just about product it was it was also about experiences. Uh that ultimately, enable. And inspire creative self-expression. That that part about creative self-expression. Is the commitment, um the mission of the brand itself. Um so it was more about empowering. You know enabling, and empowering. Um. Those instead, inside of the the company. That. Would, ultimately. Help. The the vance family, at large. Um. You know, express themselves, creatively. Um, so this in my opinion. Was a pretty big shift in my understanding. Of what, um. What innovation, could do, um, shifting, from. Um, creating. Amazing, products, and amazing. Um, experiences. To creating, platforms. That would enable, the co-creation. Of these these amazing products and amazing, experiences. And this is what led us um. You know about about, five years ago. Uh to pitch, to the the vf, uh innovation, fund. Uh the creation. Of a new type of um. Of customs. Um. Experience, for for vance, you know one that was more interactive. That was, that enabled, a lot more than the the previous, um. Uh platform ever ever did. Um, and it was really about. Understanding. How we as a brand. Could put, put forth a, platform. That enabled that co-creation. And that really empowered. People out there to to create themselves, and be part of that creation effort, so that was, for me there was a. Major shift in my understanding, about what innovation, could do. Right, and and that, process, of co-creation. And that, process of looking at, the, changing, landscape, of, tools, and, technologies. Really requires. You, to work in between. Those existing. Pieces, of. The corporate infrastructure. The teams. The the silos. The departments. Joshua, how has, how has, your work. Over the years. Been in that space in between. And how have you helped people. Bring tech new technology. Into that. Space. Yeah that's a great that's a great question. Um, i think, when. You know over the years when i when i started out um. Especially, looking at some of the new ideas that we were coming up with at, the time. I think a lot i think there's a temptation, from people to think that. If i have a good idea, it's just it's simply going to sell itself. Um, and that if i can present, a, neat idea and if i can just walk people through it, um, people will get it and we'll we'll be on board. Um. And i think especially within, a, within a professional, setting. You really have to stop and understand. A lot of different things, about. About how you how you get your innovate how you get an innovation, project started. How you build support. And how you move forward and how you express your innovation, so.
Let's Start with. With, framing up your idea first of all and we'll i think we'll talk a lot more about this there's the aspect, of storytelling. It can't just be, the, product speaks for itself. You have to be able to think of for whatever your innovation, is how am i going to tell the story about this how am i going to how am i how am i going to get people excited. How am i going to build a coalition, especially if you're internal. Um that speaks to people that solves their problem. Um. You know depending upon what that innovation, is a lot of times, these you know a new innovation, solves a particular, problem. And, people want that right people want to have. Problems that they have solved and so you really have to understand. Um, you know how can i express, to them, how this is going to make my life easier how this is going to, solve problems for me, um i think a lot of people and this is this was my actually my problem with early vr. Um, projects. Is that. People thought wow vr is really cool, let's uh you know let's make a dragon pop out of a out of a you know out of the floor or something like that and, that wasn't really solving a problem right it was just it was neat but, um it wasn't helping, anyone, actually do their their job different and i think. I i personally didn't see true innovation, at least in the corporate, sense. Around, things like ar and vr, until. Uh ikea, started putting together their you know i forget exactly what it's called but, that ability, to, have an ar, view of your home and be able to see how a, furniture, would actually fit inside your house which, if you think about it for ikea. Solves a massive problem how can people. You know in a store that, you have to go to to shop in, how can they. Bring home a, a giant, set of couches, and, see what they're going to look like in their house. And that's that's not an easy problem to solve and it was a problem that was, that was wholly, solved by by ar, that really could not be solved by any other method.
So, That was i think a really exciting. I think people were starting to understand. This is the way that that these that this really cool innovation. Which didn't kind of. You know previously, have. A really. Good place within a lot of different, um corporate, environments. Now can start solving problems, for businesses. And so, problem solving is number, is number one. Um, storytelling. Again. Being number two um, and then i think, the other thing that that we we have to be aware of whenever you're in a corporate environment. Is is the politics. Side of things so. You you have to be able to navigate, people's, um. Uh, people's personalities. There will always, be people who. You know either. Um, you know if you're coming up with something new, they immediately have to start thinking, how is this going to change, the way, my my this might change my job, or the things that i do or, um even my position. And you know that's not that's not a bad thing people. Um people always want to be thinking about you know how their, you know their comfort, or how they're going to do their job and so, it's not the politics, isn't necessarily, a negative thing, it's just a natural human, reaction, and so you have to be aware of, that you're not just. In the sense of a corporate environment, where you're bringing, innovation, forward. You're not just doing it for yourself, you're not just, trying to you know create, something new and shiny, um to burnish your personal image, you're having to bring, an entire, group of people to together, with you forward, and bring the organization, forward. Um. They say a lot of times that, you know a leader, really should, um. Give solely credit to their team. Because that is really what empowers you to continue doing innovation, and i think, that a lot of times that if you're innovation, innovating in a corporate environment. Even if you're the one so quote unquote with the big idea. You really need to release, that to the people around you so that you can all succeed together. Right and that's. One fundamental, difference, with, the the role. Internal, at a corporation, versus, developing, a new product, or service outside, as an entrepreneur.
So So sofia, the um. The context. Is, so important. Right, and the evolving, context. Of your conversations. With different teams. In different stages, of the process. So, tell us a little bit more about. Who you're working with how those. Cross-functional. Partnerships, have developed. What is it really like to be in a meeting room. Prior, to launching the customs, platform. Who is who is there, and how do you work with them. So, first of all meetings, um. You know had a completely, different feel. Back then, uh, there was no screen in between, in between, you and your your partners. Um, but, that is we've been doing this, we've been doing this forever now it seems like it's fair it seemed like it. Um. But i think one of the um, one of the big learnings, from from that experience, specifically, was that. Um i realized, that, innovation. Uh could not happen in asylum, i think there was a there was a comment in the chat that, touched upon that. You know within an organization. If you're trying to innovate. You have, to. Uh involve. Um. You know your key stakeholders. Uh but also people, champions, within the organization. Um, because. Um as an entrepreneur. And a. Leader of change. You will make people uncomfortable. Right if you're asking. Uh people to do things differently if you're innovating, in terms of process, internal, process, or, um, or approaches. Um. You know certain certain people and it's absolutely, understandable. You know have been. Doing their, their job, really well. A certain way, and i'm not comfortable. Changing, just because someone came and said you know i have a good idea. So it's important to. Find the champions, within the organization. But also. Really understand. What what ultimately, drives, people. Right what's the underlying, it goes back to uh to to the essence of of, design and innovation, understanding. The underlying. Um. Motivation. Uh that that that brings, people. Uh to work every day and then then. That makes them. Commit. Uh, to the success, of a a specific, endeavor. So. So in terms of the the, the practical, example of the. The customs, project that advanced, we had 14, different work streams, that each involved, um. You know, representatives. Of pretty much every single. Department. Uh in the organization. You know. If you think about, innovating. As an entrepreneur. By yourself. It might be easier in the sense that you don't have to bring so many people along you don't have to convince, everyone, that, you know, that there's. No. No real, um. Constraints, and obstacles. Uh structural. And and fundamental. Obstacles. To uh to overcome. Um. But you're solely dependent, on your own capabilities. And, your own, abilities. Um. And and what i learned through uh through that project specifically. Was that. We um, we had. To. We had to rely on the strengths. And the skills, and the experience, of many people to to make this a, successful, project. And so i i think i learned. I learned. Probably. A lot more during the time. Uh that i was involved in that in that project than i did over over my my whole experience. Right. Yeah that's that's a really, it's a really interesting, point to fear i think. One of the things that that. That at certain at a certain point has become, almost second nature to me but was very difficult, at the very beginning. Of working in a, in a brand is that you know i guess when i was really, early in my career. Um. You know i really i really wanted to take all of the credit. Um and i and i you know i know it because you know you want to kind of puff yourself up and move forward in your in your career. Um. And you're not you don't really want to listen. To, what other people have to say about an idea that you have because you know you. You've worked a lot hard on this thing and it's a great idea and why why isn't everyone just gonna love it. Um but there's a lot of different opinions, and, and a lot of them very very good and people have been doing things oftentimes, a lot longer than you have. Um, in these in these corporations. And and companies and even if you're just working outside a corporation, working as someone mentioned in the chat, you know if you're just working with a collaborative, team you know you're you're dealing with people from all sorts of backgrounds, and. If there's one thing that uh that is, really important, to teach people in especially, in a in a collaborative, environment, is that, you have to be easy, you have to be ready. To listen to what other people, say, that sort of yes.
And. Concept. Be ready to listen to what people say and and, really, um, analyze. Is what they're saying. Better. Than. Or is what they're not said better, what they're saying, um. Valuable. Um and can it really add and partic, and change, this idea and actually make it better. Um and and i think that's, that's um. That's it's sometimes it's hard to let go of something that you know that you um, that you've, brought to the table. And let it let it change and morph, and but i think, in a lot of ways that's the whole purpose of collaboration, is to just really make something, fine-tuned. I used to work with a gentleman. Who, initially we did not like each other. But became one of my best friends in one of my previous roles, and, he had the capacity. To. This was what was really annoying about him. He could he would play he would immediately switch the devil's advocate. And find every single flaw in a concept. Which you can imagine that might be rather annoying. But it i under i be it, i realize, it was one of the most valuable, attributes, that i could possibly, find in a person. Because, they would help me refine, my idea. Or refine the group's, idea. Um to the point where. You literally could not, poke a hole in it you could not find a flaw with it, um and it allowed us to go into meetings that allowed us to go into presentations. And to be extremely, confident, with what we were trying to say, and, and know that we had, but we've fully thought through this this idea, and, again it was the sort of idea that would it would, also lead us to new destinations. Where we would take what was a what was a good idea, and actually make it into, a fantastic. Idea, far beyond what it could have been, simply because we started asking casting, questions about it which is i think a great. Great part of the collaborative, process. I think the, the idea, of, of humility, is really important, right when you when you work when you're trying to push. Um, innovative, ideas, through an organization. Or through society. You know, um, you have to have. Quite a quite a dose of humility. Um to really understand. Um. At every point at every. Uh decision, that needs to be made whether. The decision, you're making, is the is the best one and and you know pressure test that against, against people who are, a subject matter expert, in that specific, field. We're lucky because, you know, we. Work for an organization. That that, you know, that. Makes. Product. You know apparel, footwear. Equipment, accessories. Um. So. Failure. Is not necessarily, going to, result. In, death you know it's not like like we're designing, for the medical. Industry where innovating. Comes with um a level of risk. That for many uh would not be excess um. Acceptable. However, there's business. There that business considerations. That need to be taken into account, you know when we, and there was a, very healthy tug of war happening. At the very early stages, of our conversations. About the, the customs, platform. Which was, you know we want to push the technology, as much as possible. But at the same time we want to be careful not to disrupt, the business we don't want to exclude. People. Because. Of, the the technology, that was involved that was required, to drive, some of the more. Advanced. Aspects, of this this experience. And it was, i mean it made a lot of sense you know, um. As an innovator, i. I would love to push, uh, and make this this um. Experience, amazing. Um, for everyone but the reality, is that we need to make, some concessions, because. Um, there are there are people out there who might, you know have for instance mobile devices that are three generations, old or you know computers, that that cannot, handle. Technologies. Like webgl, for instance. Um. So. So this is the kind of discourse, and this is also another one that was really, uh to me eye opening was. The idea that as an organization. Um. Bringing. The tools of co-creation. To the public. And allowing, people to upload. Their own artwork. And put it on. Shoes that have the vans brand. Was a decision that we need to make because as an organization. We were, giving up on the creative control. And, creative control, of the of the brand you know the the people who wear, your shoes are the ambassadors, to your brand. You know whether you want it or not, so if you let anything. Um, go on, on the shoes, you know, under, the um the understanding, that those are custom, those are custom products with user user generated, content. Are we as an organization. Um, committed. Enough. To. Uh enabling, and inspiring, creative self-expression. To the point that we're willing to give up on, on that creative control, and those were very healthy conversations. And it's, it's um, you know those are not conversations, that you can you can have with yourself.
It's A it's a great example though because, while. I think it was a very risky thing in some ways i think in in in, the i don't think there's many brands. That would have made that decision, to allow consumers to put anything they want. Um on their shoes but it resulted, in such. Honestly, amazing. Um. Stories. The story of eric repair who uh. Who, put anthony bourdain's. Portrait, on his shoes. Is a legendary. Legendary, story. Um and it's you know it's a van story and it's because of that that wouldn't have happened unless. Um. You know that that they'd had taken that risk and so, i think uh i think sometimes. You have to take risks, as a brand in, order to succeed, and those those risks, i think. Um. Are are great someone just mentioned nike id, yeah i think, at. First, nike, was not, altogether, very sure about this idea, of, of letting, um. The average person. You know create colorways. Uh and put them on their shoes. But. What, was interesting, was that, once this was, you know and because it they were concerned it was going to result in the ugliest, shoes you could possibly, imagine. And it did, but the thing is is that, those shoes, became, almost icons. Um. Within, a lot of different, um a lot of different, you know cultures, because. You could be completely, expressive, and it was fun the fact that nike has now let me be completely, expressive. Obviously, this is not something that they're going to create, but it's something obvious that i did i'm expressing, myself and it's cool and everyone loved it no matter how, how ugly those shoes, those shoes weren't so, it's i think it's that, that, idea that, nike was willing to give up and vans was willing to give up. That, uh control, and let the consumer, express themselves. I think was really the beginning of where, we've headed now with, the full consumer, expression, of product and i think it's great. And i think. That's the other, side of of the story, is that. Is that, a lot of times. People. I think, i would say this as a warning to folks. A lot of students and i i know i was this way. Um, they want whatever, they're trying to create to be perfect. And and they want perfection. Out of what they're doing, um that's. I mean that's this art center as you can get right, um. Uh, and i know that a lot of brands, want perfection, right out of the box everything, has to be perfect, um, they have to know and they have to have complete control over it, um there's a there's a saying that i've adopted like, i don't have no idea who the original. Author of it was but it's it's something that i enjoy, which is. Perfection, is the enemy of good. Which sounds sort of horrible but which is to say that, you will never get anything, off the ground and moving, and moving forward unless you at least. Unless you're you're willing to start to let it go at the point of it being good. Um. If you try to, search for perfection. You'll never. You'll never achieve it because that's not achievable, right, at least in a lot of cases. And so the work that we've done over the years with 3d product design. The original, tools were laughable, they're horrible. But they solved very specific, solutions, and so if we, and and they were useful for the just those solutions, um. And so if we'd said no this doesn't, do everything i can't you know i can't show glow-in-the-dark. Patches on my 3d design tools. Um we would have we never would have gone anywhere we wouldn't be where we are now and so. It's a it's a um. It's always obviously perfection, is always wonderful to strive for but don't let it allow you don't let it stop a good idea that's ready that's, that has its time or ready to have its time.
Um, Not make it into, the public just because. Not every single detail can be perfected. Well and and the. Ability to make compromises. At the right time in the right place, with the teams you're working with. Is, critical, so, sophia, how. When when you've run into, some. Um. Maybe some, some, tension, or some abrasion. Between. What what might be a new idea. Bringing into the the. Corporate environment. And a group of people that might be somewhat opposed to that. How have you made the case how have you. Shifted, your your storytelling. To. Non-artists. And designers, to the teams that, really need to be on board. For this type of massive, transformational. Work. Yeah that's a good question, um i think it come this is where, storytelling. Comes in, um. And also. Um, this is where. We as designers. Have an ability. Uh that maybe, other. Um. Other, people with different backgrounds. Um, you know might not be as as versed in. Which is the ability to speak to the heart. You know as designers, we have. The the capacity. To. Tell a story, you know by the way all creators, all creatives, are storytellers. You know whether you choose. Words. Or images. Um. Or. You know 3d objects. Um. You know any types of visuals, i think, we're all storytellers, to a certain degree. And. So using, that storytelling. Ability. To. Really. Um. Start. From. The the the. Reason. Why. We believe, as individuals. As human beings. That this, idea, is worth considering, you know going back to that, and taking into account, your audience. So that story needs to be adapted to to to the audience, uh by the way otherwise, it's uh you know it's, it's likely going to fail. But understanding. Again going back to the idea of of understanding, what what drives, people. You know what drives the person that you're, you're explaining, to. Making, sure that, they know they realize that you understand, where they're coming from. Um, but inviting, them to be open, to, considering, where you are coming from. Um. And so. Speaking, to the to the, heart. Um. I think. Uh. You know makes things a lot a lot easier. You know i think there's um. There's a saying and i'm probably going to butcher it but. Speaking to the mind. Will get you approval. And speaking to the heart, will drive action. Um and i think. You know, as a as a business leader. As as. You know. Very logical. Um. Maybe, you know scientists. Um. You know might might come to you and and give you, uh the facts and and the logical, reasoning, why this is, uh. This. Uh ultimately. This this. Solution, or this this approach. Should be considered. Um. But you won't get people to to, to. Buy into your idea until you really speak to the heart and and so that's that's i think a skill that that is worth. Working on and developing, as as, uh as designers, and and you know it, it happens through, storytelling. And just to follow up on that do you feel like you're telling a different story. A radically different story or is it is it versions, of the same story with slightly different. Narrative, arcs. Tell us a little bit more about that. Storytelling, for the different audiences, within, within your teams in your collaborative, process. Yeah, fundamentally, it has to be the same message right um, this is not about, uh telling people what they want to hear it's you know you have a, um, you have a. Message to communicate. Um, and by the way as a, as a. Change, agent. You're putting yourself out there, you know you're asking people. Um, you know to to go into a place of um. Discomfort. Um. And, but you, yourself, are putting yourself out there because.
Um You know if things, if things fail. The fingers are pointed at you right. Um so you have to to have a profound, prediction. They shouldn't be i mean that you know, that you should be i mean i'm sorry to interrupt. You know brands should be encouraging, innovation, and failure but that's a whole different topic. And the good brands, and this is a good point the good brands will understand, that, and and um you know yeah we'll will prevent that from happening and, we're we're, fortunate to be, uh to be part of such an organization. Um. But again, you know. In uh even indirectly. You know you're you're putting yourself out there. Um, so. It's important, to. To have that own. That. Conviction, that internal, conviction, about what your idea is. And have a strong. Fundamental. Message, to share. But as you're sharing it with specific. With your specific, audiences. Acknowledge. Where they come from acknowledge, what matters to them, um, and just maybe modulate. The message but fundamentally, it needs to be the same message. Yeah yeah, and. To your point. The, this whole idea, of speaking to your to your audience. You you will run into, that in so many different ways in in organizations. So. This was one thing that that was very difficult especially if you have a an idea that's related to technology. Or that crosses, over, between, technology, and design. Um, because. Those, two, audiences. Are pretty much about as different as you can possibly, get. Um, so, you know if you're if you've got if you're pitching an idea you're going to need to be speaking to creatives. You're going to need to be speaking to. Your you know your information, technology. I.t, staff. You're going to need to be talking to, financial, teams. Um, you're probably going to be need to be speaking to merchandisers. Um who are you know who have to and sales people. All of those people, are. Even and then your product developers. People who actually have to put that product, into, into into production. All of those audiences. Need dramatically. Different, approaches. You need to sell the the to the designers, you need to speak the language of design which is probably.
Very Easy for the most people on this call, you know the expressiveness. The aesthetic. Um, you know the passion behind what you're doing. You, sit down and you tell this. Bring that story to your information, technology, team. And they will lock you out of the room. You need to be you you know and so maybe that's bringing in someone to help support you with that story because. They will need to understand the technology, it's infrastructure. You know it's, um you know how it's going to integrate, i mean all of these really kind of dull things that, that a lot of creatives just aren't used to and then. The finance, people which will be your one of your toughest, jobs because, you have to go and build, an roi, which used to be my least favorite, um acronym. Uh tla, three-dollar, acronym. Um. That uh you know your return, on investment. Uh you have to put the numbers behind it how will this. Bring a return for the company, and one of the things that that. That you can do. And i've done in the past is. Um. You have to think about how do you how do you justify. What you're what this innovation. A lot of times that can be. Um. You do it through, hard metrics. You do it through, presumptive, messages the hard metrics are the things that you can prove. The presumptive, metrics which if it's successful. Should return, but you can't necessarily, prove it, and then the soft metrics, which is you know this is going to be more efficient or people are going to you know like working, on it and that kind of thing or it's you know it's going to make people happy that kind of stuff. But although all those are important. But they're different but if you're talking to someone in finance. You know there will be different components, of that that. That they'll want to hear and then, you know your sales team. How how is this going to, how, am i going to sell this how am i going to get people excited. So. Um, how am i going to sell it to the consumer, and you know what is this what is, what is the story not just the story now that i'm selling it internally. But for the sales person what's my story going to be for the consumer. And how i'm going to get the consumer excited because again, if i can't get the consumer excited you might as well go back to the drawing board so. There's so many layers of it's it's people say great, storytelling. Check we'll get on that, it's not just one type of storytelling. It's, multiple, types of storytelling. And what happens when it goes wrong like tell us. It and it can be any kind of anecdote, of like. A, presentation. Internal. That failed, that really didn't go well, and what what happened. Well i i'll tell you one of the uh, i was actually presenting, to um. To mark parker the ceo, of nike, and, charlie denson who was at the time the co-brand. President. And. We got to this really great presentation. Of. Of, these, digital tools, um. And. Mark parker, who's a designer he comes from a design background. Super excited, fully engaged, asking all sorts of little itty bitty questions. About you know what does this do what does that do what does this function work you know it's not that you would never expect to see a ceo. Um and charlie denson who's very analytical, comes from the finance side was just sitting there, nodding his head, and not not saying a word, and so we got all the way through the presentation, and everyone was super excited. And then charlie looked straight straight, looked at both of us who were doing this presentation, straight in the eye and said okay.
So What's the ask. And no, neither of us, had any idea what we were actually asking for. We didn't we didn't know we didn't have any idea how much money this was going to cost how much it would take to implement it what was gonna, and, it wasn't that they, you know ran us out of the room um or anything, but. You know it was um, it was it was that yeah you, we weren't, prepared, for all of the audiences, and so one of the things the fear does this that, a lot of times, that when he and i are having a discussion. Around, a particular. Um. A particular, presentation, that we're going to be doing. We always ask each other the question okay who's our audience who are we going to be speaking to what are they going to what do they want to know from us. Before, you you walk into that room because if you don't. Um, you're going to have charlie denson sitting there going you know what's the ask, and, look like you've got egg on your face so. So robbie to answer your question, first of all i've never failed. Of course, which shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. I've i've had my my share of failures, and. You know it's. Let me put it this way. If. When you're presenting, something when you're pitching something. Um. There's a debate. And your audience says you know what we don't agree with this you know we don't see the the benefit. You know we we're not getting it. Um, at least you're learning something from the process, you're getting feedback. You know to me. The biggest, failures, are the silent ones. The ones where, you think. You've made. Um you've made your point you think you've made an impact. But nothing happens. Right. Because. Not only does nothing happen but you haven't learned anything from the process you don't know what went, wrong. You don't know. So you have to to dig for that but but i think um. It's important, if you're going to fail it's important for for you to know, why why that is what is it that did not land. Um and ideally, have a um. Um, have a conversation, about about it you know whether it's with your audience if that's still possible. Um. Or with with someone else that you can run the presentation. By, and um. You know, i've, had, i've had a number of these, um, of these instances, where. Um unfortunately. Um. You know i i realized, i had the sense that my, you know my my pitch did not land, but i didn't know i didn't, not know why. Well and that is actually one. Huge difference, between. Doing this work internally, and doing it externally. Is that. There's always another, fund. To go, pitch for money there's always going to be another potential. Audience, or customer, or group of collaborators. And entrepreneurs, always talk about. Hundreds, or 200. Pitches, and all these no's and all these notes, in a company. You don't get to have 200, no's. There's just simply not enough. Time on the calendar, so. How how have those. Limited, opportunities. Have you prepared, and joshua you can. Maybe respond to this one is how have you, learned from that initial. Challenging, presentation, where you didn't have the ask, to. Now being. As prepared, as you need to be, for these types of. Questions. I i think it's it it's really, it really comes down to. Understanding. All of the components. And. I i don't want to get i'm trying to think of how to answer this in, in a. Way that's not going to put everyone, to sleep. Because it's it's quite honestly it's about it's just about being prepared, um. There's. One. There's one thing that uh, that we, that again i used to hate, but now i totally understand the value of it's something called a, charter. Um. That you create, for your product, and it basically, goes through.
All Of, those, things, that you think. That you need to be prepared for you know your goal. Um. The of of the project, you know the or of the of this innovation. Um, the benefit, of the innovation, the, you know the all president ever present roi. Uh for, the the, um for the innovation. Um, but even the risks. So what's the risk of of. What are the risks that you that you're going to be presented with that you have to you have to be aware of, and, and and for a brand the other point the flip side of it what's the risk for not doing this, we don't do it what's going to happen. Um sometimes, those, those questions, um of, what, what's going to happen if we don't do this, uh is just as important, of what's our risk to doing it, um, and it's something that actually is fair i can't get into the details of it but it's something that sophia and i, are dealing with right now is we've got a really cool thing that we're trying to do, and, we're having, we're you know and the legal team is saying oh there's. A lot of risk if you guys you know don't get all of this right and we're have to saying, we we're having to come back and say, listen. But what's the risk to the brand if we, if we don't get this innovation, in front, of our teams we're not going to be able to do x y and z and this will. Lead to less revenue so while, we understand. You know the potential, legal risks. Um. Of, you know if if ip, is, lost or you know if we. But. We actually think the risk to not doing it is, is more, than the risk. Of, of of doing it and maybe having something, uh fail and so. It's it's it's a it's that preparation. And again back to my my friend and i'm gonna name his name vince radisson, thanks vince, who was the guy who was always, poking holes in in my um, in my in my problems, or in my in the in, and driving me crazy. Uh. Someone, who can put together, that list of things that you have to think about. Is is. Is is gold. And and and uh something someone that you should always be close to and curate, in. Whatever you're working on. Yeah i agree the the, the topic of risk, that you're bringing up is really essential, to the conversation. Because there's, no innovation. Without. Without risk, you know if you're not taking any risk you're not innovating. So, very often in organizations. But also personally. Um. Innovation. Comes down to the amount, of risk, how innovative. You are. Often comes down to the amount of risk you're you're willing to take, to bring this idea to to life. And so this is where. You have to be really convincing. Convincing, for. For. You know towards, people who will ultimately, be, uh writing their checks. Or dealing with uh the consequences. Of. Failure, right. So. You know i think. Um. Having. Doing your homework. And showing. That you understand. Both the risk. That the organization. Is taking. In, supporting, your idea. But also understanding, the risk. That, the organization, is taking, if it doesn't. Uh is is is really helpful. You know and again joshua mentioned. The the the case, which we. Uh cannot speak of but. Um. The um. You know very often. Those are those are the conversations. That, that um. You know that this, comes down to. Um. You know in our case. As i said before, risk, is most probably going to be financial. Uh there might be some impact, to uh, you know to brand image. Uh, yes possibly. Um. But you know if you're working in the medical industry if you're working in some of the industries, where where life is at stake. Risk takes on a completely, different. Different, uh. Shape. But i would say i totally agree, uh saphir. I would say that that. Unfortunately. I believe, that. The. That, the specter, of risk. Has, has really held. Industries. Um, back, uh immensely. Because. A lot of large brands, and you you look at, some of these large brands who have you know, a. 20 billion dollar, market, capital, cap, for instance. And, their response, is, am i willing to risk. My 20 billion dollar. Company. On something that is only going to push us forward. You know incrementally. And a lot of times the answer is no, um. And but i don't think you get to be. A large. You know. 10. 20 billion dollar brand. Unless, you are willing to accept some risk along the way. Um and i think, my favorite, example, which don't worry, i'm not going to i'm not going to get back up on my soapbox.
Um Is the world of e-commerce. And. We have a an e-commerce, environment. Which is. Largely, undifferentiated. From from web ecommerce, website to e-commerce, website. And it's because it was built on one single original. Idea, from from amazon for selling books. We haven't moved away from that i think my personal opinion, is because. There's been lots of innovation, out there there's been lots of ideas there's been really cool. Interesting, things but i don't, many of the brands that could really change the way that we do business, have not been willing to accept the risk to try something wholly new. And put their, e-commerce, website. On the line. Um. For something that would either a embarrass, them, or be potentially. You know um. Uh well, a, comparison, b, damage their brand or c, uh reduce their their their revenue, so it's. Um. But but we're definitely, at the tipping point i think, um in the world right now especially with with our current world situation, where, if you're really going to you you can't just say oh it's just ecommerce, i can focus on my brick and mortar, and, and and my expression, of my brand can be through brick and mortar. Um. We're going to have to see innovation. On. An e-commerce, to be different to differentiate, going forward so. For me fingers crossed. Yeah to a certain degree i would say this current period this current crisis. Is, forcing. Many organizations. Across. Many, different industries. To. To assume, a. Larger. Risk, because the risk of not acting, is is even more more considerable. You know, and i i i like um. I wanted to bring up this uh. This example, advance we used to have a a few years ago we um. Uh, we initiated, this award we created this award that that initial was called the wipeout, award, i think it has changed name since but, um. Which celebrated, failure. You know, but not just gratuitous, failure. Not, not gratuitous. Failure but uh failure that we as an organization. Learn from, and turn into a success. And so, you know that in my opinion, is, um, is the first step, in, you know in. Acknowledging. Um. That failure, is good. You know failure is not bad intrinsically. Unless you don't learn from it, um. And and celebrating, it when you actually, uh are able to learn from it and turn it into success. Yeah, there's that idea of dark data, which. People have been, been, brought up um. And that's not necessarily, new. But people been talking about it with the end of this i think came from the pharmaceutical, industry where they've had. Failures. In, you know pharmaceutical. Drugs. Um, they started going back and saying okay what are these failure what can these failures, tell us, what is the data behind, things that didn't work, maybe can they solve. Um if we do some analysis, can they solve, problems in other areas where. We had never, you know we never thought this we weren't testing it for this particular purpose, but based on the data we think we can solve problems in other areas and i think, i think that brands, should, probably. Use some of their failures, and start analyzing, that dark data for. You know if if, it wasn't if this isn't going to work to. You know sell shoes. Um maybe it would be great for, selling backpacks, or you know so there's some interesting ones. The grey water on business. Yeah. Well, and it's abundantly, clear from history, that, you know you don't want to be like kodak. Right, that's that's not you don't want to invent. The digital, camera. And then not invest in it, right, and and see your, company, fail because you couldn't. Imagine, that future. So. We're going to transition, oh go on, but apparently you do want to be like polaroid, who, died a horrible death and now has had a rebirth, um in the digital world so you know, it's it's, shocking. How. How exciting. Having an actual physical, photograph. Is. For into in the world of people who have, people who have grown up only having digital photographs. I i don't know sorry for that aside i just. No i mean the. Number of weddings that i've been to that have had. You know polaroid, cameras, all all over the the. You know the space and people picking them up and taking home, pictures, is just it's so. Innovative. Shockingly. Who would have thought who would have thought you know paper pictures. Right, right, so, um, so so, we're going to move into the q a here and, i know there was maybe some questions raised in the chat. Uh please bring them into the q a and be as succinct, as possible, so try to to ask the questions in a way that's, going to be.
Productive, For us to answer. Rather than very very specific. And we'll try to get through them all i have a first question here, from, zara. And. Her question is. How would you foresee, the effects of the financial, crisis. That many, companies, are facing right now. On innovation. With within those companies, and in in those industries. Well question i happen to know zara, maybe i'll just i'll just take the, initial stab at this. Um. So as i mentioned before. You know in terms of taking risks, a lot of organizations. Are understanding. That, um. The crisis that we're facing, is forcing, us to. To consider, new ways of doing business, you know we have to innovate. And, now is the time. To really double down, on innovation, and not necessarily just invest in innovation, but. Really make sure that in innovation. Has, a. Has a place, inside. Um, inside the process, you know not as an external. Body that tries to, to sell ideas, to the rest of the organization, but really embedded, in the. Um. In the process, of bringing, product. And experiences, to uh, to life. Um. And. You know when you think about, you know joshua you're mentioning e-commerce. When you're thinking about. The impact. That, not being able to go into a brick-and-mortar. Store, right now is having, on on revenue. And what that's doing to e-commerce. Sales. I see opportunity, there and i think a lot of a lot of organizations, see it too i see an opportunity, to completely, rethink, the way. We create, meaningful, shopping, experiences. For people. Online. You know to me that's uh that's the biggest opportunity, right there. How do i do a zoom high five, on that one. That's that's. Totally with you, on that on that regard. Um. Yeah i i. Totally agree, with with uh with safir. The. I think it was intel, who, originally came up with this idea, that. Um. When you have. Uh an economic, downturn. Um. You, you, you need to take what. The goal during those times is to switch. All of the. All of the the resources, which you have been using for scale. And turn them to innovation. So that. When you come out of the economic, crisis, you are, generations. Literally. Ahead, of, your competitors. Um and so if you think about it i mean it makes total sense right if, if you're. If you're in an, economic, boom. You're probably, spending as a company, all of your efforts, in. In scaling, your business, and expanding. And scaling, and and just trying to grow. When. You go into that economic, downturn. Some companies especially companies that don't have, like a large what they call war chest of of. Of, of money. Um you know, they think oh we've got to tighten the belts and so they start laying off people and and and uh you know and scaling back there. I, have my fedex delivery. Right now, this time of day. So anyhow if you can still hear me with the truck rolling by. So, the idea then is that for companies that do have the war chest, is that you take all of those efforts that you've had. Um, around scale. And you move them to innovation. And then you again take that time to as, you know until has done the past. Leapfrog, your your competitors, and and. Doubly focus on innovation, i think i think it's i think it's a very important, lesson, i, i have a.
And It you know it's, it's not just for, sentimental, reasons i have an aversion, to. Um. To. Thinking that innovations. This is actually it's a really this is something that. I think is a really good point to bring up in this particular. Environment. Is that a lot of times. When you will bring an innovation. To, a leadership, team. One of their especially, if it has the potential. To. Make things far more efficient. One of their first, lines of thinking, will be. Wow great we can use this to reduce costs and reduce head count, and thus, you know, lay people off or or. You know have a reduction in force. To me. Layoffs, and, and. Using an innovation. To, reduce, head count, is the enemy. Of innovation. If you if you use an innovation. To reduce head count you will never get innovation in your organization, ever again, because everyone will realize, that. The innovation, means reduction in head count i don't want to be part of that, and i've seen that happen at companies and. It makes an extremely. Difficult. Um, environment, for anything positive, and to move to prove happening because everyone, just wants to keep doing their job the way it is, and so you really have to make. I, my my, my rule of thumb is that. Innovation, especially, in innovation. That that produces. Massive, efficiencies. Should be used to take that same, group of people. Move them into this new, innovative, way of doing things because innovation doesn't just need to be that can this isn't just necessarily a process i mean. This is just a product it can also be a process, right. Um. Move them into this new way of doing things and use, that, efficiency, now to massively, grow your business. And i think that's the mistake, that especially. On the cfo, side. Many companies, make around, around innovation especially efficiency, innovations. Does this i think it's warren buffett, that, that said, um. It's when the tide goes out that you see who's uh who's been swimming naked. Um, and so, you know, one could argue and i i i've, been mentioning, this. Quite a bit, um, but i think it's it's telling of the time, where, we're living right now, right. The crisis, is real the crisis, is is here. Um, and organizations. That are not. That are just on the brink. Of um, of stability. Unfortunately. Are not going to survive. You know that's that's the reality. Um we see we've seen. Huge companies. You know going to bankruptcy. Um, because, they had not, taken the appropriate, steps, to uh to position themselves. For. You know for agility. And i think. A lot of. A lot of what, will contribute. To. Making, organizations. Able to survive. This, crisis. Is, their ability. To pivot. Their ability, to. Rethink, the way they they do things. More efficiently. And that doesn't i totally agree with joshua it does not, um. Mean. That. It does not mean. Laying, laying off necessarily, obviously, there are. Circumstances. That that call for that but.
Um It's about rethinking. How how we do things, and, being prepared. Um to make changes, to make changes, and, um. And and really. Get to a point, where. The. The changing. Economic, environment. Um. Can. Is is something that that the organization, can respond, to, um. And, and respond, to in a in a specific, way in terms of products, in terms of experiences. In terms of the ways the product is brought, to to the market and to the consumer. Um but also in terms of. Um, the strong ties that that you could that you create with your consumer. You know those are the the ties that that you need to invest in, um, and, you know the consumers, don't. Don't care if your, your companies, are. You know going through uh through financial, hardships, you know, they, they have a certain, expectation. From, the brand they expect the brands to be there, for them to be there with them, um, and the brands owed to them to uh to make sure they do. Great. So uh we have a few more coming in here so, going to try to get through them so. From ian. And his question, is, multi-part, so i'll try to, read it and then summarize. What is the process, and conversation. Around the following. Going from a pure creative. Potential, technology, solution. That is emerging. To, an operational. Executional. Idea. That starts to gain momentum. As an actual. Piece of business, piece of the business. How does this play out for you, uh, in terms of your work, short medium, and long-term, goals. Disappear. Yeah. I was thinking i was thinking advanced customs would probably be a good, i mean that was something that you guys had to take from a concept to an opera i mean a full operational, now rather large. Process. Yeah this is where, i think this is where my biggest learnings, came from be