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The Clientside Podcast

Creativity and Innovation with Dave Birss

The Clientside Podcast

48 min Dave Birss

Andrew Armitage talks to Dave Birss about creativity and innovation.

We discuss what creativity means and the many misconceptions people have surrounding it. Dave highlights that businesses are needing to innovate more than ever before, due to the pandemic and has some examples of those who have done so successfully.

We discuss the idea of brainstorming and the flaws that are typically found in attempts to be creative, solve problems and generate ideas when under pressure to do so.

Dave leaves us with some tips on how to structure the creative process including figuring out what you want the output of a session to be and working back from there.

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Andrew:
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the Clientside podcast, I'm your host Andrew Armitage, and this is episode number 22 of the Clientside. And if you're here for the first time, welcome and thank you for taking the time to tune in. This is the show for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who are looking to improve their marketing, their brand and their growth. So I hope you're doing well and keeping safe. Delighted you're joining me for today's show, which is going to be a good one for two reasons. First of all, this is the first episode of the client side to be recorded in our brand new podcasting studio here at A Digital, which is the agency I founded. This was a little project we'd hoped to launch earlier in the year. And, of course, lockdown struck and everything was put on hold. But here we are and it's great to be recording in here today. If you're interested in learning more than head across to our website at adigital.agency and check out our blog to see what the studio looks like and some of the kit we've installed. We're also hopeful over the coming weeks and months that social distancing restrictions ease, that we'll be able to hire out the studio for other local businesses. So if you're interested in this and head across to our temporary website at Podpod.co, that's Podpod.co, where you can leave your name and email address and we'll keep you posted as things develop. Now, the second reason and of course, the more important one, because it's the reason you're here is that we've got a great show lined up with a popular speaker who's talking all about creativity and innovation. But before I introduce him, I just wanted to say that if you've recently left as a rating or a review, perhaps even both, then thank you. It really is very much appreciated. And it's wonderful to know that we're providing value and you're enjoying the show.

Andrew:
So what is creativity and innovation? Well, this is actually going to be the first of two podcasts where we're talking about innovation, which as businesses are looking towards 2021 is going to be important not only for success, but maybe even survival. For many, the last six months of the pandemic will have forced businesses into survival mode. We've been hit with that fight or flight reaction. And while some may have successfully pivoted very quickly, others have been forced to innovate and come up with new ideas that aren't just a temporary band aid but will direct future strategy, products and services to support their recovery. Working in survival mode, brings stress, high intensity and pressure. So how can being creative make things better?

Andrew:
Well, here to talk to me today all about innovation and creativity is Dave Birss, who is an author, speaker, broadcaster and consultant who specialises in these areas. Dave has been a creative director of some of the UK's most famous agencies before he quit advertising in 2010 in a bid to solve some of the world's bigger problems. In 2018 Dave published How to Get Great Ideas, A System for Smart, Extraordinary Thinking having also written an earlier book called A User Guide to the Creative Mind. Dave says, we've all got one, we just need to learn how to use it. Dave has appeared on the BBC. He taught at universities and has spoken on stages around the world and always seems happy to talk about creativity so long as you don't call him the creative guy. So, Dave, welcome to the show. It's fantastic to have you on the Clientside.

Dave:
Thank you Andrew. Thank you.

Andrew:
So just before we start talking about ideas and innovation, just give listeners a bit of a background beyond what I've introduced there. And tell me, tell me a bit about how you got to this point.

Dave:
Sure, I mean, I can go all the way back to my childhood, as a as a little kid growing up in Scotland, I remember my my mother took me to a museum which was round the corner from where she grew up in a place called Helensburgh. And in this museum, it was it was terrible, absolutely awful museum. And it was just dreadful. But it was a turning point for me because this was the John Logie Baird Museum, which was in his old house in Helensburgh, because he's the guy who invented television or the television as we knew it and I was absolutely amazed, it's like television was invented by a Scotsman, and then I remember my dad saying, well, actually lots of things were invented by Scottish people. I mean, we've got tarmac, you've got the adhesive on the back of postage stamps. You get logarithms, you've, you've got fax machines. Would you believe it?

Andrew:
Right.

Dave:
Just this list went on and the steam engine and so many engineering things like that all came from Scotland or Scottish people with telephone, and jeez my country people invented the world was the message that I got.

Andrew:
Where would we be without Scotland?

Dave:
Yeah. We'd all still be scratching in the dirt with snakes. And it was a revelation to me. And I'm not at all patriotic in any way, but the one thing that I'm proud of is this innovative spirit that was at one point in Scotland, I don't know if it's there to the same extent, but it was once there and that really excited me. So I wanted to get into this realm of ideas. And that's what drew me towards artistic things. And I used to try and invent things as a kid. And then I ended up at university. I did computer programming and advanced mathematics. It did nothing for me.

Andrew:
You must have realised at that point that you're not necessarily that logical, methodical thinking, more that free thinker as a creative person then.

Dave:
You know, I still am quite logical and methodical, which is strange that I don't see these things as being separate. In the same way as DaVinci was a scientist and an artist. I don't see these things being separated. That all happened in the early eighteen hundreds with the romanticism. The period of romanticism was a thing that split science from art because the romanticists believed that science was taking the magic out of nature. And I don't see it that way. I think that I'm very mathematical and logical and to me that's a beautiful thing and being able to understand the structure of universe. And that's what makes it really interesting and exciting for me. But then I came out with that degree and I was told that there would be 10 times as many jobs as there were people to do it as computer programmers. But the degree was like no I couldn't get a job. Plus, it wasn't something I necessarily really wanted to do. And I ended up becoming a musician. So I became a session musician, because I've already been doing stuff as a musician in recording studios, as a students. And then I got offered a job by a record label and I became a session musician for the bands. So I would tour and I would play in the studio. And then from that I was a musician for a band that was this, sort of house band for a BBC comedy show and they were on tour, one night, I was getting drunk with the writers, the guys that wrote Rab C Nesbitt.

Dave:
I started making up these stupid songs and they were, they were drunk and their judgment was impaired. And they said, would you like to close the show next week? And I was drunk and my judgment was impaired. And I said, yes. And I woke up the next morning with a hangover.

Andrew:
What happened?

Dave:
I ended up the following week, never having intended to be a stand up comedian. The following week I was a comedian and I was closing the show and it was done brilliantly. Wow. So I did the rest of the tour with them both as a musician then closing the show.

Andrew:
Right.

Dave:
And it was, they then offered me a part in the TV show they had. So writing a topical song every week. And the same week, I got offered my first job in advertising. And I thought, stand up comedian, sit down comedian, which is what I thought being a copywriter was.

Andrew:
Right.

Dave:
And so I decided to go for sit down comedian and then discovered that, no, no, your job is not to be a sit down comedian. You're not writing Monty Python sketches and 30 seconds for the radio, your job is to shift.

Andrew:
I mean, I was curious when I saw that you quit advertising, I was thinking was that because you found it difficult to be creative on demand. Did you find that that was the environment?

Dave:
No, no. It was the fact that the boxes were too small.

Andrew:
Right.

Dave:
I feel that the, in the 20 years I was in advertising. It'd gone from solving bigger problems and working across multiple media channels to then I was in a big agency at my last job, one of the big ones, and I felt that my job was now so small I was filling in rectangles of media space and it didn't feel as if I was solving a big problem anymore. And I really started to fall out of love with it because I wanted to, I want to use ideas to change the world in a positive way.

Andrew:
Sure. Yeah, and we need plenty of that right now don't we?

Dave:
And it felt as if what I was doing was so inconsequential and I felt it was, it was an insult to the powers of decent minds.

Andrew:
Right.

Dave:
So I just quit and I got more interested in education, so while it was at this agency, I set up an education facility, I guess, and every second Thursday I would do a breakfast session and it was absolutely compulsory for the creative departments to join in, to come along to this because they are just a nightmare. Trying to get creatives coming together. So it was compulsory and all sort of ticked off, and my PA would tick off who was there and then the work started to get run really quickly that I was doing these fortnightly lectures and planners wanted to come and then accounts wanted to come, and of course, they were the ones who were keen enough to come along to try and learn and to creatives were the ones who are coming along with their arms folded.

Andrew:
Thinking why are we here.

Dave:
But I discovered that that made such a huge difference. So as a creative director, it went from people coming to me with ideas and me going, right, that's shit. That's shit. There's something in that could you develop this a bit. And it's kind of like pushing them in a direction. I guess that's your job, creative director. Giving them direction. Yeah. So instead, what I was doing, was I was doing these lectures and it would be like on Internet things, or here's social movements that are happening in society right now, or here's new approaches to media. And I would do these talks on them and then give people five points to take away and they would get a PDF cheat sheet afterwards that would summarise that. So you end up with this little stack of sheets in the bottom drawer that they could rely on. But the one thing that I found was that people started to come to me with ideas that I was going, nailed it. That's it. That's what I'm looking for. And that's what I hadn't been getting that previously. And so I was seeing that by showing people where the good stuff was before they start coming up with ideas rather than trying to push them towards the ones that come up with ideas was much more effective. So I got this bug for education. So I thought that what I would do is I would take this education stuff that I was doing and I'd offer it to other agencies. And I would do I'd start an education business to try and help the whole industry come up with better ideas. OK. And it was at exactly the time that the financial crisis truly hit the advertising industry and I had all these agencies that, yes, that's brilliant, we really want that that'd be great. But then going, no budget our budget has been cut.

Andrew:
Right.

Andrew:
Yeah. So that was not the best time to try and go out and start an education thing. So for the last 10 years, I've kind of been pivoting and just doing stuff that interests me.

Andrew:
We're here once so you can do something that interest you and that you've got a fire in your belly for.

Dave:
So life's a journey. And I really enjoyed doing lots of different things. So it's I guess that is a really long winded answer to your question about my journey into creativity.

Andrew:
It's interesting, but I mean, you talk about your journey into creativity, but it's not a word you like is if I'm correct. So what is wrong with the word creativity?

Dave:
And it is that it's so poorly misunderstood, right. Or is that it's really well misunderstood. It's poorly understood.

Andrew:
Double negatives in the right way.

Dave:
So it's when you ask people what it means to be creative. You get like people going, well, you know, I like folding doilies, and so there's a craft side of it and I'm not saying that in any way that's disparaging. That's actually a really important thing. That's a beautiful thing to be making stuff, to be creating.

Andrew:
It comes back to art and music and things that you're talking about earlier as well doesn't it?.

Dave:
And then from the industry I come from, I realised that advertising's view of creativity was actually really small and the way that they judged it was so small and very often inconsequential that kind of frustrated me. So there was always next understanding's and I did a study to see what people's understanding of creativity was, so I set up, this web page saying, what is creativity? And then there was a text box saying.

Andrew:
Big question.

Dave:
Don't look it up in a dictionary, just start typing. And my goodness, the crap that I got through from that was unreal. So, so many people believe that creativity is a gift that some people have and other people don't. And that angers me because of the arrogance of that is just crippling and it encourages a lot of people just to go, oh, not not me, I'm not creative. And I think that that is really harmful because it means that these people are not sharing the potential of their mind with others. And I think if we want to solve problems, it's really important that we all use our brains. And I think there's a real lack of brain use in general and in business.

Andrew:
And I guess if people are pigeonholing themselves in those categories, they're almost adopting a mindset that says, I can't do the creative stuff, I can't problem-solve and creativity, a lot of people, I guess they they'll, they'll jump to someone who can draw, someone who can be artistic. But actually it can be as much about that methodical problem-solving that you were touching on earlier as well.

Dave:
Absolutely. It's solving a problem does not require a eureka moment. And it's one of these things that we've got this myth again, that it's something that requires this ooh boom I've got it.

Dave:
Yeah. I mean, it exists. I've experienced that well, I experience it regularly, but that's because I'm constantly trying to solve problems. But it doesn't come to you without putting in the work.

Andrew:
Sure, and those Eureka moments. I'm well, yeah, I've experienced the same, but they're very much a version one aren't they? Yeah, they need refining. It's rare that you would necessarily have that eureka moment and suddenly the magic happens. There's there's obviously a methodical process that needs to follow and see it through.

Dave:
Yeah, absolutely. So, so there's all these all these misunderstandings, and the thing that really, really frustrates me is somebody who is quite firmly an atheist, is when we start to get these pseudo spiritual things coming in. And, you know, even there's one TED talk that I absolutely detest by the woman who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. And she talks about creativity and how, you know, it's just important sometimes to just wait for your muse. It's like F off. No, no, no, absolutely not.

Andrew:
You'll be waiting a long time.

Dave:
If you want to solve a problem, the way it works is input, process, output. And if you don't have the right input going in, the process does involve certain periods of quiet, certain periods of letting things rest because your brain is good at that. Your your back brain, where your consciousness doesn't extend to, your back brain's really powerful and manages to make connections that your front brain probably won't. So that's when you get that projection screen of the Eureka moment throwing the unconscious thought to the consciousness. And it to me, I'm I get hugely frustrated with these misunderstandings. So I go into companies a lot, not these days, obviously not for the last six months. The misunderstandings that people have are holding them back and they're holding the company back, but the worst place for the misunderstandings to be is at the leadership level. And it's that that's where it absolutely cripples an organisation, where they think that creativity is something that's siloed within a department like the marketing department.

Andrew:
I was going to say, the marketing department, the colouring in department sometimes. So, OK, so there's some mixed views around creativity, but creativity is needed for innovation. We've got to innovate and there's no time to wait now is there? We've all we've all been through this topsy turvy six months. I guess we can in some cases, we're starting to see what the lay of the land might be for the next six months, maybe even the next 12 months. And we've been for a lot of business, I suspect, in this survival mode, fight or flight. And that can't last forever. It's a high intensity. It's very reactionary. It's not necessarily looking forward. It's not necessarily solving the problem. It's a sticking plaster in some respects, isn't it? So so how are leaders now going to look at this world and think we've got to be more creative? And how can they create that culture and that drive for creativity and innovation in the in their organisations?

Dave:
Yeah, you know, it's really interesting. There was a study done after the 2007 financial crisis and it was done by Harvard Business School. And they wanted to look at how companies had reacted when it came to innovation during the crisis. And they split companies into four categories, the first category were those who cut costs. And they cut costs more than average in their industry. Then the second category was people who tried to spend their way out. So they invested in marketing, they invested in innovation and new business ideas, new avenues. Then the third group were those who did both they cut costs and they invested. And then the fourth group were those who cut costs, invested, but didn't lay off their staff. They held on to as many staff as possible. Now you go from the first group was about 20 percent. They had a 20 percent chance of coming out of it better than they went into it. But the companies that cut costs and spend on new projects and held onto their staff had about a 40 percent chance of coming out, double the chance of coming out better at the end of it than they were going in. So it's really obvious when you look at that what the tactics are, but that's all very well saying that because what we're doing there is we're looking at the companies that survive. We're not looking at the companies that didn't survive. And right now, there's a lot of companies, particularly small companies and SME's who are struggling to survive. Because I mean, we just need to look at the high streets, the high street is probably going to be a thing of the past.

Andrew:
Yeah, it's almost decimated in some towns, isn't it?

Dave:
And yeah, I mean, we're seeing the Pret A Manger because there's not enough people in the high street. They've closed down about two hundred of their stores. You're finding that there is there's lots of, we've already seen the effects on the High Street very slowly already with Jamie Oliver's restaurants closing down in the last year and things like that. What's happened is that the pandemic it's not done anything that wasn't going to happen anyway.

Andrew:
It just accelerated it.

Dave:
What it's done is a seismic shift where you get the jolt of the seismic of the plates, the tectonic plates, and it just created this mass acceleration, mass adoption of new technologies that already existed, there is nothing new about what's happening with the pandemic. But your question about innovation and what companies can do. So those companies that have got through the first part. And they probably cut costs they've rationalised. They now, should go, right, OK, that's done. Now, we need to look at what the future is. We've worked out how to sort the way into this. Hopefully months ago, we should already be looking at the way out of this and looking at the opportunities within it as well.

Andrew:
So in other words, they're in that processing phase aren't they? The inputs have gone in, the processing is now ongoing in terms of how do we come out of this? What's the output look like?

Dave:
Yeah, and one of the biggest things when it comes to creativity, innovation, making ideas happen is openness, openness is important, as somebody coming up with ideas it's really important that you're open to new input, open to new perspectives, as somebody judging ideas if you're not open to new possibilities and new perspectives, you're going to shut down an idea. And that's what happens with the leadership, of a lot of them aren't open to that. And we just need to look at the old story about Polaroid and how Polaroid thought that they were in the chemical business. In fact, the marketing department had it right and they were talking about Kodak moments. They were it was about those capturing those human moments that are important to the to the history of your family, these lovely milestones. But no, business wise, they were a chemical company and they could look beyond that, even though they were the ones who invented the first digital camera. So you've got, no it was Kodak that invented the first digital camera, they had the same problem. Polaroid and Kodak had the same problems.

Andrew:
Misunderstood what their core purpose or their core proposition was, really.

Dave:
So we're finding that right now. So British Airways are an airline company. Or are they? So if we understood that actually their job, are quality interactions, because that is the outcome, because if you go on a plane, it's so that you can be one to one with people from a different, that live far away from you.

Andrew:
It's making human connections, isn't it?

Dave:
Yeah. So so there's that. And then there's the other thing that they offer is experience. So if you were to look at that in the way that Airbnb looked at it, so Airbnb, yes, you could look at it that their job is, they've created this community of people who offer space for other people to stay and then a community of people looking for places to stay and they match them together. So you could look at it that that is their job. But no, their job is about experiences. And you go to an Airbnb, you get more of an experience than you would in a hotel, you get an experience of a new area, you've got business experience, whatever it is. And they took their Airbnb host and they asked them, what is it that you can teach people, what is it that you can share, what experiences can you share?

Andrew:
They know it best, don't they? It provides that more personal experience that you just never going to find in a hotel.

Dave:
So they very, very quickly pivoted and started to offer these experiences. And there was one guy who would take you on a plague tour of Prague live, so he'd have someone following them with a camera. And you could join these tours, round Prague on. This guy was dressed in like the death mask with a long nose and, you know, like that. And he would take you around just showing you these things. And it would be explained to you what these different parts of the city were. Blooming heck, that is amazing. And it's amazing because it is live, because it is personal. You could see something pretty much the same on YouTube, but it's not the same.

Andrew:
You're not in the experience are you.

Dave:
Exactly, you may not be physically there, but you are in an experience. Now, that to me was brilliant. That was Airbnb understanding their place, pivoting in a brilliant way that was a benefit to all of their communities. British Airways?

Andrew:
They're still trying to find it aren't they?

Dave:
British Airways call me, I'm here!

Andrew:
I'm waiting. OK, so, all of this has to come from leadership. It's got to be led. It's got to filter down through the organisation. But there's another word that you dislike and that's brainstorming because it's not about just getting people in a room and saying, right, come up with ideas. I want you to brainstorm around this. What's the problem with brainstorming?

Dave:
I mean, brainstorming has been around, it's been around for about 75 years. And it was invented, it was good at the the time it was invented by a guy called Alex Osborn, who was the founder of the BBDO Marketing Advertising Agency. The problem is that brainstormes, the idea behind them isn't bad, the idea of getting lots of different people together to use their different perspectives and their different ideas to solve a problem is absolutely right. But the way that it is done is painfully wrong, so the way that it tends to be done is that you get somebody in an office who before people finish their first coffee, they're bouncing around and going anyone free? Anyone free? Anyone free? Are you free? Brainstorm, brainstorm in the boardroom. Ten minutes. I've got biscuits.

Andrew:
The only incentive there is the biscuits, surely.

Dave:
And immediately what you've done is you've got the slackers. You've got the people who are just going I don't want to do the bloody spreadsheet anyway. I'm better than sitting here doing that.

Dave:
So you've got these people into the boardroom and then they're sitting there waiting. And then then the person says in front of a flip chart says, OK, this is our problem. This is the problem we've got. So ideas, ideas, who's got an idea who's got an idea, ideas.

Andrew:
The expectation that can be turned on.

Dave:
Yeah. And so what you get is first thoughts. Nobody's got any time to actually let anything sink in. You're getting these first thoughts. And then as this person, you've then got the the people who don't like silence. A lot of people feel very uncomfortable with silence and then these people.

Andrew:
That just can't help but speak.

Dave:
Yeah. So you've got low quality and obvious at that point. So you're getting that. Oh, I saw that well nike did fuel brand, why don't we do a fuel brand of the retail and just honestly. And so that goes on the board. So you've also got something that we call production blocking because only one person can be talking at a time. And it means that if the conversation goes down that tangent, as people start exploring that, the people who have ideas in their heads that it doesn't fit in here, it doesn't work now. And these ideas that lost. So you lose all of that stuff. One of the things you very often find is you've got people who are in the creative industries. Who are the creatives, in the brainstorm is that they will have their arms folded and they won't say anything, and there's a reason for that is the people whose job is to come up with ideas, know that ideas take time. And they know that this kind of obvious crap is of low value. So they want to think about things more.

Andrew:
It's about understanding the problem, isn't it? Because if you got that reaction review, because this is something to come and day come and sit in this room, I can enjoy the biscuits right throw the problems out. It's not giving that time to actually really understand the problem might be obvious, but there's a there's another layer deeper that you need to get to, to really understand that problem and then identify a way out of it.

Dave:
Absolutely. So. I very much believe that it's good to get people together, but I've got different ways of doing it. And one of the most important things is to give people the time to get their minds around the problem before you ever bring them together, so individually, what I do is, I recommend that everyone who you've got coming along to a session, you can call a brainstorm if you want, i'll roll my eyes at you. That everyone is coming along to this group ideas session, they need to have a brief 48 hours in advance and they need to be coming to that session with at least three ideas.

Andrew:
Fully armed and prepared to explore those in more detail.

Dave:
And then the job of bringing people together is exactly that it's to explore them. It's to expand those, it is to take the idea and see what happens when you mash it up with that idea. And so, it then becomes a far more productive session, plus you get far more diverse input because you've got people who are coming at it from different angles using their own personal experience and all the stuff that they've seen. And at that point, rather than everything being limited within the confining circle of the company's culture and expectations, you've got much bigger input and perspectives from people thinking beyond that to come with interesting ideas. And that will absolutely just that one thing will absolutely revolutionise the way that you come up with ideas and the kind of ideas that you get. So that would be one change. There's lots of stuff on top of that that I do, but that would be the biggest thing that would improve people's, companies ability to buy ideas.

Andrew:
And given that, I mean, you talk about coming together, given that that's not necessarily possible at the moment. You know, a lot of companies like Google and Facebook, I think they've both said that they're not going to ask people to return to the workplace until some point next year. And yet these companies thrive on innovation. They've got this very open, collaborative culture. How can, how are they going to react to have been able to hold these kind of, dare I say, brainstorming sessions, but keep this open culture thriving around creativity and innovation if their people are at home, because there'll be lots of other companies well away from the Googles and Facebooks to this world who aren't going to be working from home or at least changing that routine. I think the work from home, it's going to become much more of a hybrid. I think we've already seen some companies just throw it out and say, right, we're all going to be working from home. We've ditched the office, or the studio, I believe that hybrid is better. I like having that face to face contact, being able to come together with other people to talk about these things. So how will that affect things around creativity going forwards if people aren't necessarily all in the same place?

Dave:
Well, over this over this time, I've been running lots of remote workshops and I've created, I've done experiments and I've created systems that are working really, really well, and I created a, I did a LinkedIn learning course on this, how to do remote workshops. I'm finding that you have to think about it slightly differently. So what very often happens is that when people are together in the one place, it's very often not that well planned and it's a bit more free form. When I'm trying to get ideas out of people when it's online. I give it more structure and what I do is I work out what the output is, what's the output that I want out of this session that's a realistic output. So it might be to explore a landscape of ideas and opportunities. And then I work out, ok, if that output, if I was to put that in a document, how would I put that into a document at the end of it to sum it up.

Dave:
And I basically create that document first with the gaps for the ideas to go in, and then I turn that into a set of exercises through the session. If I'm using zoom, I'll put people into breakout groups and I've found it's actually in some ways it's better. So I've been really surprised at how well it works online when you do it properly. I've seen it done terribly online as well, but that comes from this lack of preparation and the other things that a lot of people like. The problem that I mentioned there with brainstorming, where you've got people who are, there's no preparation and you expect all the ideas to come up, right? We've got we've got one hour in the boardroom between 10 and 11, and that's the only bit that matters. And it's like, no, it's the bit if the preparation in advance is so important and if you haven't done that, do not expect anything to happen during your session. So I prepare people for digital stuff as well. So I give them pre work and they come to the session. Then it's structured, and then I've got the post work as well to apply judgment to the ideas, maybe develop them slightly, and then I've got the output. So it's all about having a structure.

Andrew:
Yeah. And there's wider lessons there isn't just from meetings generally, you know, the amount of time that has been lost. One thing I've noticed, having worked from home, my time, I've had a little bit more time, but it's still been precious to me. And I've seen more of my kids, more of a family. So, you know, I'm now having come back to work and I drive to work. I've got half an hour drive each way. So I'm thinking even more about the time because my days just got an hour shorter basically having just come back, we've just come back to the studio. So that preparation for meetings and making sure that there's an established outcome that we're going to achieve and making sure there's adequate preparation time and structure to make that, so you're not wasting time. We've haven't got that time to waste have we? And I think we've all appreciated that more over lockdown. So I think there's some wider lessons there just for meetings in general.

Dave:
But there also is, driving can be really important as well for the creative process because it is part of that downtime thing. And there's a lot of people find ideas come to them when they're driving and one of the reasons for that is that driving takes up a portion of your attention, but not all of it.

Andrew:
Sure.

Dave:
So it's what we'd say is once you learn to drive and it becomes pretty much an act, is a low cognitive task and there's something amazing that happens when you're doing a low cognitive task, driving or ironing or having a shower or washing dishes. Is that actually frees up your mind to be able to come up with ideas? And a lot of people find that that's when the ideas come to them, when they're relaxed and they're doing a low cognitive task like that. So from a neuroscience point of view that can, your new found trip to the office can actually be a valuable thin.

Andrew:
Productive time. Yeah, it's interesting you mention ironing, I don't do that very often, but when I do, I do find that really therapeutic in many ways.

Dave:
I was going to say Andrew, you're on camera.

Andrew:
Listen Dave, we're pretty much coming up to time, but I've really enjoyed that. It's fascinating. And I just think that, you know, we've got to be creative. We've got to be keeping these innovative ideas. And innovation is not it's not the necessarily the world's next iPhone, is it? We're not necessarily talking about these huge global changing ideas. Well, yes, they'd would be nice. And obviously, we want some of those to come along as well. Sometimes it might just be a new tool. It could be a new process that we follow that actually makes things better for people.

Dave:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that this is one of the problems with innovation. You know McKinsey did a study a few years ago, about four or five years ago, and was talking to CEOs. And asking them how they felt about innovation. So they found that about eighty four percent of them, I think it was, believed that innovation was vital to the future of their business. OK, we're not just saying important was vital to the future of their business. And then six percent of them said that they were happy with their innovation efforts. Ninety four percent of them said they were unhappy with their innovation efforts, so sure that something has gone badly wrong.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dave:
So one of the one of the things there is this misunderstanding about innovation where you're right, a lot of people are thinking innovation is that we want to be the next Airbnb of this. We want to be the Uber of this week. And, yeah, that's a good thing to it's a good exercise to do. And people talk about disruptive innovation and disruption is an absolute red herring. You don't want to aim to be disruptive. You want to be the best at what you offer. You want to be offering consumers a better experience than your competitors emotionally as well as rationally. And so many companies misunderstand that. They think that what we need to aim to be disruptive because we want to be a disruptive company. No, no, you don't. No, you don't want to be better. And once you're better, then that's when people will go to you.

Andrew:
I think I think the disruption is something that you look back on then isn't it. To say, wow, well, that was that was something that we did that really disrupted things, but not set out with that from the outset. But you can look back on it as having been successful, disruptive, etc..

Dave:
Yeah, the guy who wrote The Innovator's Dilemma, he said in that book, that a Disruption, a disruptive technology was one that came out of nowhere and changed the market. Now, that means that you can only use the term disruptive in the past, the past tense, you can't aim to be disruptive. You can say that was disruptive. It makes no sense saying that I'm aiming to be disruptive. So it's an adjective that you can use in retrospect. And I think this is one of the problems. And you're right that people think it has to be something that's huge. When in fact, it's this what was his name, Brelford. The guy did the British cycling team.

Andrew:
Dave Brelford.

Dave:
Yeah, and it was all about.

Andrew:
Marginal gains, wasn't it?

Dave:
Yes. The adding up of those marginal gains. And that is the thing that a lot more companies should be looking at that. They should be looking at the fact that, the way that they need to treat their employees is to liberate, not to stifle them, because I'm hoping that this is something that the pandemic is fixing, is that people are have we don't have the presenteeism. You don't have that constant low level stress of somebody looking over your shoulder to see what you're doing. You just get to get on with stuff.

Dave:
People have got the freedom to explore and try things out. Yeah.

Dave:
And if that means that actually you've done your job in four hours, that would normally take eight and you can pretend you've done it in eight and take some time to yourself. Actually, that's no bad thing because it means that that time you get to yourself actually helps you recharge, you get rid of the stress, helps you be better at what you do. So I'm hoping that with a hybrid way of working in the future that this will actually help the way that people work, there will actually be an improvement in the way people work and hopefully improve the attitude that a lot of managerial people have that they want to see bums on seats.

Andrew:
Yeah, brilliant Dave. Well, I've really enjoyed that conversation. And before we wrap up, tell people where they can find out more details about your online, where tell us where we can find all these these LinkedIn courses,

Dave:
Interpol. But you can find my courses on on LinkedIn learning. You can just go along there, search for my ridiculous name, be careful not to misspell my surname, because if you swap a couple of letters around, you get the Jewish term for circumcision and don't want to do an image search in the office for that. And so so, yeah, just if you just Google me, generally, you'll find lots of stuff. There's my website, I've got a whole bunch of free resources on my website, as well like digital tools to help come up with ideas. And of course, there is my book, my last book that I wrote How to Get Great Ideas on Amazon, because your bookshop probably isn't where you want to be right now. And I fear for the future of bookshops because I love them.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah. Super. Well, thanks very much, Dave. Really appreciate you joining us today and great to chat with you.

Dave:
You're welcome. Thank you so much and thank you anyone that's bothered to listen to the end of this you're a special person

Andrew:
Yeah, it's always a bonus if they get this far.

Dave:
Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew:
So thanks, Dave. What a great conversation. I always love it when there's so many examples and Dave talked about loads of examples and he quoted loads of different research that we talked our British Airways, Kodak, Polaroid, Airbnb and McKinsey, all sorts of different places where he got his research. So, yeah, I think those that have succeeded have done so because they had a really deep understanding of the problems that their customers or their audience needed to solve. And in some cases, that's not always the obvious. So taking that step back and really thinking hard about what it is the customer needs, what your audience is looking to do and achieve is going to be one way to really foster that spirit of innovation and creativity. And obviously collaboration and working openly is key to innovation, having the view of the common goal where everyone's ideas can be heard and challenged. It's not something that you can just turn on in front of a flip on that 10 o'clock Monday morning meeting. It takes time to think through, plan and structure and making time for that is just as important. Even if it doesn't always feel like you're being productive. Tasks done away from a screen or in a different environment can be great for coming up with new ways to solve problems.

Andrew:
So if you head across to our website, you'll be able to find show notes and the transcript for this episode. Just go to adigital.agency/podcast. We'll link up Dave's learning courses on LinkedIn. His documentaries, he's got books and all sorts of things. And just to avoid any unfortunate confusion, Dave surname is spelled Birss. So head across to his website at davebirss.com and you'll find the resources they talked about in the show. Now, as I said earlier, this is the first of two episodes where we're talking about innovation. And in the next episode, in a couple of weeks time, we'll be hearing from somebody on the other side of the fence where my guests will be joining us from a SaaS product. They'll be able to give their view of innovation from within a team where subscribers and customers expect that continual rollout of new features and benefits. So they're never off the hook. There's always that pressure to innovate. So he'll be sharing some of the things that they do and his experience working in a SaaS product environment. Thanks for listening this far. It's really appreciated. I hope you've enjoyed the show. I'll be back in a couple of weeks, so I hope you can join me then.

Andrew:
Thank you again for checking out today's episode on the Clientside podcast. I really hope you found a useful conversation with some actionable steps that you can apply in your business, if you can spare just a few minutes of your time. And please do look us up Apple podcasts, search for the Clientside podcast by A Digital and leave us a five star rating. And if you can leave us a quick review, I'd love to hear your feedback and would really appreciate your support. If you're interested in learning more about A Digital and how we might be able to work together, head across to our website at adigital.agency and complete our online scorecard so you can benchmark your own digital performance. You'll get a free personalised report sent you by email, and I can learn more about you and your business and the particular challenges you're facing. We can then follow this up with a free code to map out your priorities, either on the phone or over Zoom with absolutely no obligation. Thank you so much, everybody. I'm really grateful for you tuning in. If you have any comments about this episode or any previous episodes of the Clientside podcast and drop me a line to Andrew@adigital.co.uk or head across to our website at adigital.agency/clientside. See you on the next show. Cheers.

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If you want to solve a problem, the way it works is input, process, output. I very much believe that it's good to get people together, but I've got different ways of doing it. And one of the most important things is to give people the time to get their minds around the problem before you even bring them together.

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