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Ross Chapman
Ross ChapmanRoss Chapman is the Head of Design Thinking in Etch Horizon

We recently spoke with Elvin Turner, an award-winning innovation expert and associate professor of innovation, entrepreneurship and marketing for MBA and executive education programmes.

His book, "Be Less Zombie: How great organisations create dynamic innovation, fearless leadership and passionate people" came out in 2020, and in it, Elvin distills ten years of field research amongst some of the world’s leading innovators into a pragmatic, actionable toolkit. We invited him on to the Etch Podcast to talk about the "Innovation Particle", leading by experiment and what needs to be true for innovative products to fly through an organisation.

Learn how Etch Horizon can help your business address disruption and transform.

(Edited for brevity and clarity)

Ross Chapman

Elvin, thanks for coming onto the podcast.

Elvin Turner

Thank you for having me. It's a delight to be here on a chilly Monday morning.

Ross Chapman

What were your highlights of 2020?

Elvin Turner

The book coming out inevitably, it was a labour of love, and to see the feedback that it's getting has been gratifying and great to see that it's been helpful to people. Lots of good family highs with kids going through transitioning into different stages of life, which has been fun. I've just started a project, which is ticking all the boxes for me, working with an organisation that is highly purpose-led, really trying to change the world, they want to build out innovation infrastructure, and they asked me to help. So yes, lots to be thankful for.

Ross Chapman

I'm also joined by Seth Campbell, Head of Innovation at Etch. Seth, what have your highlights of 2020 been?

Seth Campbell

Turbulent doesn't even get 1% there. I think that this shock that has cut across the world, everyone's personal lives, and business lives has really put into focus how dealing with change is important. It was always important, but it's really brought it into the foreground. And all the conversations that we've been having at work and personally have been illuminating if you can get a silver lining out of something so difficult. So a lot of constructive conversations about change, partly from this forced experiment we've all been in. That's definitely been a highlight.

Also, seeing traction in some organisations of new approaches to innovation. Having clients that are really looking for new ways to innovate, new ways to experiment and be bold, in a challenging business environment has been definitely a highlight. Looking into the light of the future and what the next decade is going to bring. Some of these changes are exciting.

Ross Chapman

I think so too. So, Be Less Zombie. It's been described as an excellent and practical guide for any leader trying to turn on higher levels of innovation in their organisation. What led you to write this book?

Elvin Turner

I never intended to write a book and it was born out of necessity really, as innovation often is. I found myself going into lots of assignments inside organisations. We would do some work, it might be design sprints, it might be training or some leadership development.

I always felt that I wanted to leave something behind that would be a helpful field manual for people to have a point of reference to go back to. I go in for a limited amount of time. My aim is always to try and build capability so that people can do more and better on their own. However, there's a limit to what you can do, there are going to be bumps in the road ahead where you you're not able to help. There are stacks of great innovation books out there, but I never felt there was one that was quite what I wanted. So it ended up being a combination of my experience, which is in innovation, change management, and leadership and communication. I found that a blend of those things was the thing that people were really needing to help them get through the innovation journey. So it was born out of a desire to want to be able to keep helping beyond the assignment.

Seth Campbell

Your point about communication speaks to the cultural part, and how an organisation can go on maturing. I love the book and trying to resist the temptation to geek out, you do caveat that the book isn't for innovation geeks. We have found that lots of innovation attempts and even the word itself can be a bit caustic. Attempts in organisations have often fallen short in terms of expectations, and if not done the right way, or with the right traction, there can be a lack of respect for the past initiatives of an innovation team. Could you talk about how there are sometimes negative associations around innovation? What do you think are some of the ways to address that, to tackle it head-on and help?

Elvin Turner

I think often the negative associations have come from negative experiences where someone with good intentions has tried to move the needle on innovation inside the organisation. The motivations can be a starting point on whether it's going to succeed or not. If it's a personal agenda to get the spotlight, that's not always a great place to start. More often than not though, it's a genuine need to see bigger ideas in the organisation that can help the organisation to buy more time, dig deeper moats of competitive advantage, or just improve effectiveness and efficiency.

I think what tends to happen is there's 'dating innovation', and then there's 'settling down and getting serious with innovation'. When we fall into the dating camp, we're just running campaigns, trying to do things on a very tactical level. We think we can run an innovation competition to come up with ideas, and then they will magically turn into action. And of course, anyone who's worked in innovation will know that it's the execution that's the really hard bit. The fun bit, the sizzle upfront and coming up with the ideas - so long as they're born out of good insights - is usually not so difficult. It's turning them on that tends to be where it breaks down. We're trying to drop big, still ill-formed ideas, we're trying to work out the problem space to operate in, trying to work out the assumptions. We drop them into a very fast-moving, highly efficient, honed status quo environment, and of course, they're dead on arrival. It's very hard for them to survive because there's no team, no budget, no one's got time. No one's prepared to line manage them, and so they die a quick death.

Often you can see the carnage of former innovation programmes. It was the right motivation, but there needs to be a little bit more thought into what it takes to create an environment where bigger, more uncertain ideas can really show up. That's about calibrating the environment. I think that's the starting point - what's the outcome we're looking for? And working back from 'what's the context that the idea is going to need in order to survive?'

The further we wander from today, the more we need to be more deliberate about what metrics, what processes, what rewards, what people, what timeframes, all of the other things that are required, that don't match with today.

Ross Chapman

I welcome the death of the vanity hackathon! That's a more practical way to approach it.

Seth Campbell

Sometimes there is motivation, there are lots of new ideas, at the very front end of the funnel or cycle, and there is a lot of excitement, and sometimes that can trigger a kind of knee jerk "let's go and build it" attitude. And almost ironically, sometimes you need to slow down in those phases in between. There's an infrastructure of innovation that needs to go alongside, to really encourage sustainable value creation. That can be really challenging because you're saying "maybe we should go slightly less fast?" How do you get around that?

Elvin Turner

It can be helpful to point to organisations that do this well, and particularly if the task at hand is to find more disruptive ideas, more transformational ideas, we have to deal in reality. That is, dealing in the reality that most of these big ideas will end up failing. Organisations like Amazon and Google who have industrialised the approach to discovering more disruptive ideas are very vocal about the fact that 99% of their ideas end up in the bin. That's not that they were wasted, they will learn things from them. It's that 1%.

Just getting into that mindset, to find bigger ideas that can have a bigger impact on our future and our stakeholders, we have to accept the fact that failure is coming. Therefore, let's become really great at failing fast, but let's actually do it.

There's a mindset shift for leaders to say, okay, you have to let go of certainty and control and allow the natural course of exploration. Exploring whether this idea even makes sense. We're not going to run a few tests now to prove that we should do this, we're running to discover whether we should do it. In that process, we may find that many of the ideas are wrong. The idea of Lean Startup and running small, fast experiments, design sprints, all of those things are great techniques, but I find they are all parts of helping a leader go through the reality check. Like taking the red or the blue pill in the Matrix; if we're going to go here, we need to be prepared for the fact that there will be failure. This is one of the issues that I have around the word failure because it's very zero-sum. I would much rather recommend organisations talk about learning. We're trying to learn whether this idea makes sense. Then when you run an experiment, whatever happens, you've succeeded because you've learned either it was the right thing, it was somewhere in the middle or it's the wrong thing. So everything is success.

We need to get real about a mindset shift that if we're going to go for bigger ideas, we can find them, but we've got to generate tonnes more ideas because it's all about volume. You'll find the gems amongst the rough, but many of those ideas will fail.

Everything starts with leadership, as they define what gets rewarded.

Seth Campbell

Humans like things to be binary, but reframing as a learning journey can change your attitude to change itself.

Elvin Turner

One of the added things is the speed that we run at. The certainty that we expect in the status quo tends to get transferred into the exploration mode. 

It becomes 'show me the ideas'. Show me the money effectively. Why are we hanging around? We talk about desire for 'cordon bleu ideas in microwave times'!

We have to be real about how creativity takes time. You have to balance that with the commercial realities that you need to get things to market - and you can do things at pace. But the keyword is collaboration. If you're looking for bigger, bolder, more uncertain ideas, you have to give them space. For example, look at Pixar. They allow time for incubation to happen, for ideas to grow, to mature and to go in different directions. So we're not going with the first idea that we come up with. We are trying to validate that we're actually coming up with something truly original, that actually is much more difficult to copy by the competition and not something that we can just spin out in 30 days. 

Ross Chapman

The companies we are talking to say every time that they want to be different.

Elvin Turner

Look at the names that always get cited as great innovators. Amazon, and Airbnb, you've had some of these guys on your show. They invest in culture, because they know that's so hard to copy. You can buy all of the how-to books and the case studies of Netflix and 3M and Toyota. They show you so much, but they often don't really show you what's going on that really drives the culture. That's the secret sauce that's hard to copy. It's IP effectively.

Seth Campbell

You have a term in the book called the Innovation Particle. Would you mind giving an overview of that?

Elvin Turner

I was listening to your interview with Greg Larkin recently and he talks a lot about not going for ideas, but for outcomes. That's really what I'm talking about here. It's based around the Jobs To Be Done methodology. It's trying not to get carried away with ideas, but to look at any context in which your products or services get used, and to try and understand 'what is the deep underlying progress that a customer is trying to make in that context?' and break it down. Get very specific about what's happening in that process, what progress underlies the process, and which progress matters most. Where are the biggest constraints in that progress?

We give the example of a kid trying to learn how to skateboard and a skateboard manufacturer is selling skateboards. At one level, they are selling a piece of wood or some clever plastic and some wheels. But in the teenager's mind, they are thinking ahead to the skate park where there's this cute girl that they want to date. The only way they are going to get there is if they can buy credibility by learning how to do a few tricks, earn the right to wear the right clothes, hang out in the skate park and get closer, otherwise, they've got no chance. So they are not necessarily thinking about "I want to buy a skateboard". The progress they are trying to make is 'speed to the first date'. The skateboard is a vehicle to help them get there faster. From a skateboard manufacturer's point of view, sure, they are still going to make skateboards, but the thing that might set you apart from other manufacturers is your ability to deeply understand what's going on in that kid's context. Of course, this is one of many contexts. But how can I help that kid learn three cool tricks in two weeks instead of two months so that they can get closer to that girl faster? 

It's about trying to understand what progress our customers are trying to make. What the innovation particle is. Then how can we help them make 10x the progress that they're making at the moment? It's that trajectory you're trying to follow. The more we follow incremental ideas based on obvious extrapolations from where we are today, the more vulnerable we become to industry shifts. If you look at the music industry over time, over 100 years, we've gone from wax cylinders to vinyl, to tape to CDs, to downloads. The underlying progress for most music consumers is 'I want access', and 'I want to be able to manage my music anytime any place.' That hasn't changed for 100 years. What has changed is the technology and fundamental shifts.

As an organisation, it's really useful to focus your innovation on what isn't changing, or what's really changing much slower. That is an underlying progress by which we we try and help customers achieve that stuff better.

One example that I really like is at Netflix. They are thinking about how can we stream videos better. But when they started out, it was about how can we help consumers find great movies? There's no technology mentioned. Netflix jumped from DVD to streaming in some respects without a heartbeat, because actually, they realised that we can help our consumers find movies better if we move to an online model. I would be really surprised if the leadership team aren't already thinking about how can we help them do it even better? What happens when streaming dies? What will we replace it with? That's a much healthier way to be running experiments, through that lens so our innovation is always aligned to strategy and the future.

Seth Campbell

I've seen some organisations struggle with experimentation and actually releasing something to the public. It can be scary for organisations looking at brand reputation, or IP or something that they're testing, but they don't want to let it loose just yet. How do you think businesses should go around that? Is it okay to get something away very early on with a landing page or a piece of media to test a quick proposition, and how do you address the concerns that the internal team might have about confidentiality and brand image etc.?

Elvin Turner

It's wrapped up in old ways of thinking that cause us to make assumptions about what might play out. I've got a few different thoughts on this. The first one is that you don't have to build it all yourself. One strategy is acquisition. That's a legitimate approach. When you're working inside an organisation and you're thinking particularly about brand and marketing, I think the world has moved on so much in the last 10 years that people are more used to scrappier first iterations. User-generated content has helped. I'm happy to sit and watch quite badly produced YouTube videos which get crazy views. Our expectations of quality I think are flexible.

Look at the companies that do this well. Google is doing this all the time. They recently put something out on Gmail, a beta, so people don't care if it doesn't work 100%. So some of it is the framing with customers, the expectation that you're setting so that we're all on the same page. It's going to be a bit bumpy, but we're here to learn. The people who are interested in signing up are the geeks anyway, they want to see what's going on, they'll give you all the feedback you want, they'll tell you it warts and all, which is what you want, right upfront, to help you flush out some of the assumptions.

I always say to organisations that are nervous about this, that there is a percentage of your customer base that's desperate to play. They're bored out of their minds, and they want to play with new stuff, or they're just right at the front of the innovation curve. They want companies to come to them and say let's develop this together. Create a small community where you can launch stuff to them first. Gaming companies have been doing this for years, movies do it with pre-screening, you can find a community to do this safely. And as you learn whether it's something that's actually going to make sense at scale, then you can put something out there that's shinier. But I think there's a lot of unnecessary nervousness around it. Because we think it's all or nothing. It's this binary thing. We're going to put it on our homepage, and people are going to download it, and it's going to break and oh, my goodness, you know, we're going to be in the newspapers the next day, because our server crashes. Well, you could do it that way if you wanted to. But why would you? What's the smallest possible experiment you could run with? With who, to learn what, so that we can be informed about what we should do next?

Seth Campbell

Google Glass didn't really hurt Google in a significant way for example. Another consideration is how to reposition as an organisation to a platform so that you can convincingly deliver completely new, more diverse types of multi-sided business model propositions, that might not immediately seem like a natural evolution, but are actually building out an ecosystem of different options. How about renewing business models, and the rate of renewal that businesses should go through and getting through the process and into the market at scale?

Elvin Turner

It's no bad thing to be thinking about how we innovate our innovation.

There are several tricky phases through the innovation journey. Once you get a new idea and you're getting some traction, often there is this cliff where there is nervousness at an executive level, to really pull the trigger on investment that's going to make it scale. Do we really know enough yet? Maybe we could run another test? Let's just put that on hold for six months, because we've got this fire that just landed on our desk. I'm not going to pretend that it's easy to make these decisions. But the organisations that I see do it well, they've thought through handovers really effectively at different stages of the process. You've usually got a team that's in the business, but separate from the business, that's out there playing with new ideas. Even at that early stage, when you're starting to get signals that something is probably going to work, you start to bring in people from the core business and say, this could be coming, what would need to be true for this to work at different stages of the business. Let's work back from the future to understand what would need to be true for this thing to fly through the organisation. That's the part where we talk about driving with the handbrake on. It's usually a lack of good process or cultural nervousness that is causing the roadblocks so that when you get to the decision point, the executives often genuinely don't know how to make the right decision. It's about designing a process where we all know what needs to be true to act on a scale decision as a starting point.

And then there's the whole "Crossing the Chasm". The premise behind it is that you've got this curve of growth, and your idea can suddenly start to spike in growth with early adopters and innovators. When you go to the mass market, suddenly the growth disappears. The thing that the innovators wanted isn't the thing that the mass market wanted. And you can believe your own experiments are going to validate your growth when actually it's like two different markets you're working with. So how do you know what the mass market wants? Well, you keep experimenting. You don't fall into the assumption that just because we've made it with the innovators, we're going to make it with the mass market. So you start running experiments with them earlier on as well.

As soon as you can, bring in some of your more open, but conservative customers to say, 'we think the future might start to look like this. Tell us how this might show up for you, or what nervousness would you have about this?' You're helping them give you the data that would give you the confidence to make a decision around scaling. Let's include them in our journey to understanding what would need to be true for growth to show up. Sometimes products can't cross the chasm because there isn't a mass-market for them - but better to find that out now and not back another innovation experience that no one wants to go near again.

Seth Campbell

I wanted to talk about culture. There is a lot of innovation theatre out there, but there is an educational aspect here too, about how to play constructively in an organisation. Where should organisations start? What are the guard rails needed? To get the balance right between getting people educated and feeling comfortable, and really trying to realise some value?

Elvin Turner

In an ideal world, you want to start strategically. You want the Board on board. You want them to be understanding what this is going to take so that we can move into a new way of delivering innovation, at scale and effectively. That isn't always a luxury that you have, depending on who is trying to initiate more innovation inside the organisation. Quite often, it's someone buried down in the middle of the organisation who has said, come on, we need this. We're going to die otherwise. You've got people who are passionate about the business or the organisation, but they don't really have a platform to do it. So in an ideal world, it's starting at senior level and they're backing the journey. That's not always where it begins. So what I always advocate is to find the most senior person you can who has a problem that they really need to solve soon. They have some level of motivation to want to sponsor innovation, and then just start running experiments.

When I read The Lean Startup, it changed so much for me, as I think it has for so many people. The mindset shift to "oh my goodness, we don't have to build the whole thing, we just run some experiments to determine whether we're even asking the right question. It's like, duh!" But still, ten years later I can stand in front of a room running leadership training and hold up that book, which I think is one of the most important business books written in the last 50 years. I don't think I'm exaggerating in that, because of the impact that I see that it has. But you hold it up and you say, 'Who's ever heard of this book?' You might get two out of 30. "Okay, who's read the book?" Some more awkward shuffling. 'Well, you know, I read the first chapter, but I was just too busy." Most people have still not heard of experimentation. You might find it in IT. You might find it in product development. But in the mainstream organisation, for most people, it is a brand new idea still. I found that when you take that idea of running small, fast experiments, that gives you permission and lowers the stakes. It lowers the risks, it lowers the fear, and suddenly everybody's happier to step into it.

I did some work with Pernod Ricard, the global drinks company, a few years ago. I was doing the training with the board and there was a guy at the time, who was the marketing director. I genuinely thought he was asleep at the back of the room and I was quite cross with him. I nearly wanted to embarrass him and wake him up, but it turned out as I was explaining Lean Startup and the process behind it, suddenly he snapped to life and said: "Oh, so what you're saying is instead of spending 50k building something, we should spend 50 quid learning something!?" It's such a neat way of thinking about the first step as a tiny experiment. No one gets fired. All we're doing is learning. And to complete the cycle on that story, their performance went through the roof. It wasn't just starting to do more innovation, they had other things going on in the business. But the CEO ended up saying don't bring me ideas. Ideas are 10 a penny. Bring me an experiment where you've run one or 2-3 cycles. You've got some data. You've got some evidence and can come to me with a recommendation. Not with a hunch or a pet idea. That changed everything in their ability to make high-quality decisions around what to back and how to invest in their own portfolio. So if you could do nothing else, I would say train your team in how to run experiments. Learn how to do that well, and start to show up around the organisation with some options for people, because this is really what it's about. It's creating optionality for people at low risk.

When I did this on a program with Sony Music a few years ago, it was fascinating to watch. We ran a four-year leadership development program. A new intake every year, 60 or 70 people. On the first year, it was completely under the radar really, at 60 people running experiments and at the end of the year there was a shark tank/dragon's den to pitch back to their local CEOs around the world.

I wasn't at the event in the U. S, where the CEO of the whole of Sony Music got up onto the stage, snatched the mic and said, "Oh my goodness, this is the stuff I've been waiting for my whole career." He was so energised because he witnessed the power of running experiments, great ideas, taken a little way forward, and no one's actually spent any money. They had Britney Spears launching a single only available on Uber. Some of it really never worked. But it was the calibre of ideas that they would never have otherwise tried. So I often think about this as stealth work. Start in a small team. I would often see people looking over the dividers, what are you working on over there? What's that? Well, it's just an experiment. Okay, could you show me how you did that? And it spreads organically, but it also attracts leadership attention, to say, hang on, we could be doing this much more broadly at scale. Let's train up everybody to be able to do this, what does it cost to train people in how to run experiments? I've also found it starts to bleed away from working on ideas that are uncertain and trying to flush out assumptions. The idea of minimum viable X shows up everywhere. So what's the minimum viable meeting? How could we destroy meetings, or how can we find a better way of making that kind of decision that doesn't need a three-hour meeting? So minimum viable process, meeting, emails. Suddenly, everyone starts to use minimum viable as a way of rethinking the bloat that suddenly cropped up in our organisations and a way to make us more effective and efficient in what we do. So I always say start with experiments because it just makes so much sense.

Seth Campbell

You also mentioned the performance space versus the rehearsal space. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Elvin Turner

This wasn't my idea. I was interviewing a voice coach on the X factor. She is the person who after the second chorus there's a choir. She made this differentiation. There is the performance space. You're on stage. You have to hit every note. You need to know every word, you need to sway at the right time, so it looks awesome. You cannot fail. There's no space for failure. However, you don't learn or grow or improve or innovate in that space because there's no scope. The stakes are too high. You don't start trying out new stuff live on X factor. Similarly in business, you don't want to do that. Often we complain about the fact there's not much innovation going on in the business. But actually, sometimes that's the right thing for the status quo because you don't want to interrupt the thing that's keeping the wheels moving today and making money. You want to do it in a space for a while, where you're learning, you're making it fluid and then can ultimately fit it back into the core business. So there's the rehearsal space, where we're trying out new stuff. It's safe. Everybody knows that if this goes wrong, it doesn't matter. We're just here to play, to learn. And it's in that playful state, that safe, playful state where people feel like they can take risks. There's the now-famous research that Google did a few years back. Project Aristotle. Psychological safety is the number one lever of influence that causes people to show up and do their best work. So I really like that differentiation, of performance space and rehearsal space. The encouragement in the book is to say, what would rehearsal space look like inside your organisation? It doesn't necessarily need to be a physical space. It's more of a mindset. The rules around this experiment we are going to run are not "it has to work". It's "we have to learn". How are we going to work with one another to build trust?

I haven't worked inside Spotify, but reading about them at the beginning of each project, the team starts up. It's cross-functional, so they can make decisions fast and have the expertise built into the team. But what they also do is have a conversation about culture. If we need to reach this outcome in this time frame, what will need to be true about how we show up for one another? How will we make decisions? How can we build trust for one another? What a healthy conversation that is. If we want this kind of work, let's co-design and collaborate around what we need to be true in terms of process, resources, culture, behaviours, trust so that we can do our best work.

Seth Campbell

There's a bit of divided opinion. There's theory about dual-core processes. Alex Osterwalder talks about how there should be a CEO and a Chief Entrepreneur. The execution part versus the new disruptive thing that will put the existing business out of business someday, which is one way. Another is a more blended approach where people can cultivate working on new ideas at the same time as working on the existing business. But that could be a tension for people. One minute you're doing executional reports on margin and performance, and the next, you're trying to blow something up and learn something. What do you think are the best ways for those different modes of thinking to be managed?

Elvin Turner

I'm not sure there is a perfect answer. It depends on the organisation itself. What's in your DNA? How do work? How do you go to market? What do you value? In the book, I share a model from Robert Wolcott and Michael J Lippitz that can be a helpful navigation aid to explore the right approach for your organisation and its initiatives.

Four Models

Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, October 2017

The thing I'm most concerned about is how deliberate are you being about any one of those approaches and how are you building an organisation where performance in one of those quadrants that can be optimised. What I see happening many organisations is we're making it up as we go along - we're hoping ideas will show up, and there might be some people who are dedicated to new idea development in product or in marketing, but actually in the rest of the organisation, it's very informal. It's often a needs basis. There's been a crisis, and we're now responding. You look at what's going on in COVID right now and no one necessarily could have predicted it to the level that it's played out. I hear lots of organisations saying that they haven't got anything in the cupboard ready for this. We're just not deliberate enough about pursuing high performing innovation. We're too busy trying to do today within an inch of its life, trying to shave all of the margins off so that we can do it for maximum stakeholder return. We've only got ourselves to blame when the future shows up, like the Star Wars hyperspace jump. Suddenly the Empire is right in front of us. Where did they come from? Well, you probably could have figured that out if you thought more from the future about what was showing up.

I think that one of the biggest shifts that one organisation could make is to convince its Executive Team that it needs to do less operational stuff, spend more time thinking about the future and strategy, on what would need to be true for more innovation to show up. That moves so many levers inside the organisation. Or at least it has the potential to do that. What decisions does the future need us to make now?

Seth Campbell

Jeff Bezos apparently spends 3-4 days a week just thinking about the future. That's probably not normal. But you see the most innovative companies actually enabling that kind of culture through the business. So for people that are on the journey but not there yet, what do you think is the right nutrition for an innovator in a business, to keep them going, and to keep their head up?

Elvin Turner

I love that idea. I think it does depend on your environment. It depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to do anything that is too far beyond what you're doing today, I would say two or three things. The first, keep the stakes low as long as you can. The longer you can keep the feeling of risk low, it's going to be easier to make progress faster because it's easier for people to make decisions. Linked to that,

Don't ever go into progress meetings with stakeholders with tonnes of PowerPoint. Just take your progress. Show them what you've done. No one really cares about the slides.

In most organisations this is hard yards, you're banging your head against the table. I think the key to staying encouraged is two things.

  1. Keep reminding yourself why this matters, because it's very easy to lose sight and lose heart halfway through.
  2. Choose your friends. Find some people who get what you're trying to do and you can check in with, and they can say "It's all right. It's okay. I understand."

It sounds silly but you need a lot of encouragement when you're being told no a lot or when you're failing a lot. If you're in one of these labs where you're trading in 99% failure, deep down, that could be quite a disheartening place to be. So I talk about, how people say don't fall in love with your ideas. I flip it and say, well, you should fall in love with your ideas. When you think about what love really is, love knows when to say no, and when to let go. You're being a responsible citizen at the same time as having some sort of emotional attachment to it. We have to be real around the emotion of this because you wouldn't be trying to do this thing as an innovator if you didn't care.

When people say no to something that you care about or something that you've worked your backside off in the evenings that people don't see, you need some encouragement. You might not get that from inside your organisation, so find friends who understand the journey you're trying to go on and who can help you pick yourself back up and go again, definitely.

Learn how Etch Horizon can help your business address disruption and transform.

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