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The Clientside Podcast

Product Innovation with Bryce Davies

The Clientside Podcast

44 min Bryce Davies

In this episode of the Clientside podcast Andrew speaks with Bryce Davies from workforce.com about innovation and what it really means.

Bryce highlights the importance of not innovating for the sake of innovation and that during uncertain times re-engaging with customers and understanding their problems can be a great driving force for innovation. Bryce believes that building a relationship with customers is the key to innovation.

Bryce suggests rather than allocating time to innovate, allocate time to talk to your customers as innovation doesn't have to be coming up with the next big idea.

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Andrew:
Hi, everyone, and thank you for joining me again today on the Clientside podcast. This is episode number 23. I'm your host, Andrew Armitage, and this is the show for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who are looking for actionable steps to apply in their businesses that will support their brand, their marketing and ultimately their growth. I hope you've been having a good week wherever you're listening to us. I'm back in our brand new podcast studio here at A Digital HQ, which is very exciting. A Digital is the agency I founded and of course, sits behind our podcast and setting up our own studio was a project we planned before the pandemic put things on pause for us here, but we're up and running with it now. So if you're based in the north west of England, do check it out. Head across to our website, which is podpod.co, because as social distancing restrictions are lifted we'll be hiring out the studio for businesses who might be wanting to start their own podcast. Or perhaps you already have your own podcast and are looking to step up the production. So leave your details and we'll keep you posted with timings for opening up the studio. So just head across to podpod.co and leave your details.

Andrew:
Also, over the last few weeks, we've had some great reviews left on the various platforms we released the show on. So if you're one of those that's left us a review then thank you. It really is very much appreciated. And if you haven't, then shame on you. What are you waiting for? Honestly, we'd love to hear your feedback. So if you have any questions or want to share something, then do drop me an email. Just send it through to hello@theclientside.show it really would be great to hear from you.

Andrew:
Right onto today's show, and we're continuing our theme on innovation. If you tuned in to our last show, Episode 22, you'll remember that I interviewed Dave Birss, who's a specialist consultant who makes programs in creativity and innovation. He's also written about the subject widely and we spoke about what creativity meant and why many companies struggle with innovating. So today we're jumping across the other side of the fence to speak with someone within a SaaS product business, so that's software as a service. And we're going to talk about their experience of innovation and how they've built a culture of innovation across their marketing team. Bryce Davies is the general manager at workforce.com, which is an employee management app for businesses, especially those in the retail and hospitality sectors. His team is spread across four countries, but he joins me today from the London office. So welcome to the Clientside Bryce.

Andrew:
Good to meet you. Just tell our listeners a little bit about you. Give us a little bit of an introduction about what you do at workforce.com.

Bryce:
Yeah no worries. So as you mentioned, I head up the team here at workforce.com in the U.K. So we're essentially a HR workforce management product over here and essentially what we do is, we just we go into a lot of these businesses that may pay staff sort of by the hour. If you think about, you know, restaurants, hotels. And what we find working with a lot of them is they're still using paper for managing a lot of those boring things in the, in the workforce management space. So time sheeting, putting rotas together, leave management. We get rid of all those paper forms. We sort of bring them into the 21st century with a really cutting edge SaaS product. And then we help them, I think, with a lot of really important things as well, like, you know, getting employees paid correctly and on time. And I guess really just being that sort of trusted figure in the middle that builds trust between the employees and the employer so that we've seen enough of that being eroded in the, in the media with people getting underpaid and all those scandals that we want to keep people out of that and building really profitable businesses into the future.

Andrew:
It sounds good. And how long was workforce.com been going? Is it, is it fairly new? Would you class it as a startup or has it been fairly well established?

Bryce:
Yeah, funnily enough, we've always kind of straddled this idea between, you know, are we a startup? When are you still a startup? When I joined the company back in 2016, we were still very much a startup, there was probably 12 of us, over I guess the two years from there we grew to about 150 strong across the world. So, yeah, very much so. You know, by headcount moved out of that. But we still kept a lot of the same culture that I think a lot of startups have, which is move quickly, be really the product focus and customer focused. And we sort of kept that moving forward.

Andrew:
Yeah. And we're going to be talking a little bit more about innovation today. And I guess that startup culture is is is really key, because when you when you are a startup, innovation is essentially what's getting you off the ground, isn't it? So be interesting to learn a little bit more about how you sort of manage innovation across the team. And I guess you're a remote team by and large. I mean, you're you're you're based in an office, but you mentioned working across the world. So I guess you're a remote team as well.

Bryce:
Yeah, that's right. I think that's one of the power that, you know, cloud products can really bring to a lot of that. So, yeah, we've always been, you know, a company that's sort of fairly rooted, sort of in an office. We built a really strong office culture. But as we've sort of expanded around the world, our tools that we use internally have really naturally allowed us to build teams remotely and in Croatia and South Africa and particularly for the U.K. market, but then also into the US and all those other places. So, yeah, it's been, it's been just kind of like a natural extension of what we do.

Andrew:
Mm hmm. And and obviously, as a SaaS product, you know, we use SaaS products and I guess just workforce.com being one of those products, they're obviously a common model now, even Microsoft with Office 365 is a SaaS product. So you've got people who are paying you a monthly subscription and there must be this consistent pressure to innovate and roll out new features. I mean, that's one of the great benefits of a SaaS product. You know, back in the day where I don't know, I think I think the first version of Word that I bought was Word 6. You'd have to wait for that two year release cycle before the next round of updates came out. And one thing I've noticed this week, as I've been using Adobe products, which, again, their creative cloud is a SaaS model, they've been constant updates. Every time I've gone into another app, there's been an update to run, and you must feel that pressure as a SaaS product to be constantly innovating, rolling out new features for customers.

Bryce:
Yes, I mean, on a busy day, we might make multiple releases into the product each day. And the SaaS model is really interesting because it is really good for the software company and the vendor like us, because it means that we we have very, very low numbers, which means that people, you know, very rarely cancel their subscriptions with us. And that's great from an accounting perspective, because it means we know in six, 12 months time, you know, all of our customers aren't going to leave and we're not going to have to do something drastic to try to.

Andrew:
It gives you run up doesn't it.

Bryce:
Yeah, but you're right. And interestingly, you know, we've got people who have purchased our software even back in 2014 that are still basically paying the same price today as what they paid then. So that essentially had, you know, six years of developer time and effort being put into making this software. And, you know, we've never sort of grandfathered out. So, yeah, it's very interesting. It can be really good for for your customers over the long period of time when they see a product that they're using actually every day just getting better and better.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. So let's go back to basics. What does innovation mean to you? What do you understand by innovation? What does innovation mean to workforce.com? Is it, is it purely coming up with new ideas that go into the software? Does it revolve around the way you work, the way you collaborate? Just give us a little bit of a feel for what innovation means to you.

Bryce:
Yeah, I think without giving some sort of textbook definition, the way I really think about it is getting as close as you can to the problem and I'll just sort of frame this maybe in terms of internally so you know what this looks like internal for you as a business and externally what it looks like with your customers. So we spend a huge amount of time talking to customers every day, talking to them, you know, what are they what are their fears? What keeps them up at night? What's working really well in their business? I think it's through having that dialogue with them and really getting to know them that you actually understand, OK, what is actually preventing them from getting their business to the next level and then really, you know, not accepting that as a status quo, you how can we help? How can we actually build something around that or even, not even just from a product perspective? How can we sort of reorganize the way that they work, or the way that they're actually approaching a problem and thinking of new ways to do that? And I guess also what it really involves is creating a culture where, you know, you can actually take risks in order to put new products on the table, knowing that, you know, not everything we ever do will work out well. If everything was certain, then it wouldn't be very exciting and they would be much value in creating it. So I really think about that for our for our customers really trying to help them push the status quo. And in the same way, for us internally, if we run a tighter ship internally and we're willing to create that culture internally to to to innovate, that means we can just be more agile towards our customers, offer our service at a better price, all those sorts of things. So it's really just starting with the problem and getting a great understanding of it and then willing to take risks and willing to actually continue chipping away at it internally and creating a culture of it.

Andrew:
So one of the things you mentioned there is, is talking to your customers. What's your approach to go around, go about talking to customers? Is that sort of through email, through social media, through other touch points? Because it's one of the things that, you know, for, for our work, if we're looking at planning a website or that type of thing, we will always say, what are your customers saying? What's the feedback from your customers? And that can sometimes be a sticking block. It's funny, people are quite happy to pick up the phone and say, oh, we've got a new widget. But sometimes they're less keen to pick up the phone and say, you know, we really want your feedback. Tell us tell us what you think of our service. Is there any particular approach that you've taken there that you found has worked for you?

Bryce:
Yeah, I mean, it kind of goes from lower bandwidth up to high bandwidth. So there's everyone's more or less familiar now with sort of NPS or net promoter score software. And there's obviously a lot of stuff that's coming through support, so in email and phone. But the thing that's always surprised me is just how receptive people are to just picking up the phone and calling them. Our business model is fairly conducive to that because we're sort of B2B and we're working with, with clients that support us in that way. But I always think about it from myself. You know, if someone from the bank called me or someone from, like, my telephone provider called me, I'm never very keen to talk to these people just because it's kind of like a boring transactional service. But every time we call our customers they're like oh, great, great to hear from you. What's been going on? Like, they're excited to hear about it. They're excited, I guess, to tell me that new batch of problems they've been having.

Andrew:
So I guess if they're feeling more than just a number, then at that point, aren't they? I guess, yeah.

Bryce:
And building that relationship with them, you know, if you have a way to build a relationship with your customers, which is really the best way to be, they'll pick up the phone for you. And that's really and probably for your best tool for digging down if you if you want to get really granular feedback.

Andrew:
The other thing that you've touched on, around that definition of innovation was culture. You know, you talked about a culture and being able to work in an agile way that just just tell us a little bit more about what you feel that culture is, you've talked about particularly around SaaS apps, there's this terms like minimal viable product, fail fast, fail quickly. All those sorts of things get banded around. And as you said, not everything is necessarily going to make it through to sort of final production. So what is the culture that enables this sort of openness, this sort of problem solving, customer centric, collaborative approach that ultimately drives the innovation?

Bryce:
Yeah, if I can give you maybe just an example, like a really extreme example of it. I have a friend who works in the aviation industry and he is really working as an agent for change in there. So if you think about innovation in the aviation industry, a lot of people actually have the wrong idea about it because it's actually so highly regulated. You know, you don't want someone coming to work tomorrow and be like, you know what, like, let's just swap the the engine out of the of the aircraft and just see what happens, because.

Andrew:
Not going to fill you with confidence.

Bryce:
You know, the regulator is going to be pretty upset about that.

Andrew:
And the passengers.

Bryce:
But there's other stuff that you can do in there, as it turns out, that actually does move the needle. And the reason why I gave you that example is sometimes it's good thinking about like ok what, what are the processes in the business that are like absolutely. Yeah, we cannot fail at thinking about it from that lens, like the day to day, I have to get this right mission critical stuff, you know, I think you'll find it's probably only a handful of those things and everything else that's like not there you know, coming it from a frame where we actually are able to fail a little bit. We actually able to, to test out things and and maybe even work out a way to do it in a way that doesn't disrupt everything. I think once you kind of look at it from a top down perspective like that, what is actually the risk here? You can start giving your team permission to think about new ways, like maybe not think about new engines to put in the aircraft, but think about new ways that they can actually bring change into the business and give them the authority and the permission to actually go and test that.

Andrew:
Mm hmm. I guess almost giving them that viewpoint that if there was no impact from attempting this, you know, is it something that we'd pursue? Does it feel like it's the right direction, the right thing to try and address the problem to address or the right challenge to try and fix which allows you then to feel that, well, actually, if we fail, it didn't matter because no one's going to get hurt.

Bryce:
Yeah. And, you know, at the end of the day, a lot of this, particularly in my world, is software like if we make a mistake, we can fix it in code within the next couple of hours. Yeah, obviously, you know, if you're you know, maybe in the electronics industry where you've got these big lead times or you're manufacturing something else, you to think about what is the appropriate level to to do this at. But, yeah, I mean, it's definitely something that I think is a culture first because we see it all the time with our customers. There's not to make it any sort of demographic thing, but quite often they'll be one person or a team inside a large company that comes to us and say, hey, you know, this is like a really cool new thing we wanna, we want to bring this into our organization. And they find a very long uphill battle internally to convince everyone, you know, that even in 2020 that the cloud is something that is worthwhile adopting. So, yeah, it's just about supporting those people that that are on the cutting edge there.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. So obviously, you've talked about ideas coming from customers. You're engaging with customers. I guess they're planting the seeds. You've probably got some ideas of your own and you're really looking for validation sometimes when you when you're engaging with customers, what happens next is, is the one person that is allocated responsibility to oversee that particular sort of idea or innovation, or are you getting together as a group? How wide across the organisation is that group? Does it cover different functions or is it people who are perhaps initially quite closely related in type of the work, in terms of the work they do? Just just talk us through how ideas then develop based on that seed from from your customer feedback.

Bryce:
So we've always truly tried to practice decentralisation in this area. Interestingly, I saw the other day there was a company in London that was hiring for a VP of innovation. And I just, I mean, that that may have merits. I always found it so strange that you need to have almost like a head person that you're reporting for, for innovation, like, hey, I'm going to be doing something innovative today. Let's run this up the chain. And I make sure that it's innovative enough. What we've always tried to do is instill a culture that whoever is closest to the problem should have the most power to fix it. And I guess the conduit by which a lot of this stuff happens. So, you know, it may be that someone from our support team has found an issue. It may be from someone from the development team, maybe someone in sales who just happens to know, who has a really good relationship with this particular customer where this thing has come up. So it can really originate from anyone in the business. And the other, I guess, thing that we try to practice a lot is building really strong links across the business. So, you know, we don't silo off anyone, you're not off over there in the developer room or over there in the sales floor or anything like that. Because physically soloing and I know that you have to do this with large companies, but physically siloing people, you know, it starts to have a psychological impact on them as well. So thinking about a way that you can actually build those bridges across, so information can flow and then you've given people both the authority you've given them both the power and you've given them the relationships and the team to do. And then at that point, things just flow naturally as long as they have permission.

Andrew:
Yeah. So as long as they feel they've got that freedom that they're almost not left to get on with it so much. But they're able to find their own way and sort of introduce relevant people they feel are necessary to try and address that particular challenge.

Bryce:
Yeah, and maybe the point you're getting is how do we allocate resources to to do these things? And I think everyone is actually just really sensible with this stuff because everyone has fairly clear goals around it. And they really, they had a day job, you know, for instance, the salespeople, they're selling, developers they have deadlines to get product out. But, you know, it's kind of one of those things where it's like if there's if there's a problem and you have to find it and it's burning enough for you, you will naturally allocate resources to it as long as you give them permission to do that.

Andrew:
Yeah. So interesting. You don't necessarily allocate time to innovate, but you allocate time to listen to your customers. Is that fair to say?

Bryce:
Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it naturally comes up, you know, I think I said people will naturally kind of step in here, even if what it is is, they're going in, they're going in, they're fully understanding the problem, fully documenting it, and then, you know, even bringing that to to the wider team because you need a buy in from from them. I think as long as you're developing a culture where a lot of these teams are close together conversations between salespeople and developers and product people will just naturally spring out.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. You're you're a company of a hundred and fifty people. Do you think innovation scales as companies grow? Do you think as companies get bigger, it becomes harder to innovate or are they able to allocate more resource? I mean, you mentioned this this role, a VP of innovation. I wonder if if putting too much pressure on people to innovate becomes problematic. If if there is if you've got that leadership role, I think leadership probably plays an important part in innovation and creating that culture. But does it, does it almost place an expectation on because presumably people report into that role. So does it place a bit too much of a burden on, on individuals in terms of we have to innovate? We've got to come up with ideas. Does that put on a bit too much pressure, do you think?

Bryce:
Yeah, it can do. And I guess you just have to think about how the how the structure of the organisation changes as you scale. So I think for us, we're distributed throughout the world, so we have offices in Australia, the United States, here in London and some satellite teams. And I think what I find is there's kind of this natural tendency to start wanting to centralise certain things because their business critical, they're the, they're the airplane or whatever that know.

Andrew:
I guess somebody feels there needs to be an element of control or management over a given function.

Bryce:
Yeah. So we kind of always in this, yeah. We kind of ebb and flow between where we want to centralise some things, we want to decentralise other things. And I find oftentimes the centralisation it takes a lot of power away. It takes a lot of agency away from people who are kind of on the ground who are closest to the problem. So I think, yes, you need to centralise things and maybe less from it, for example, where we distribute around the world. But even a few of us based in one country, there's going to be things like finance that are centralised. Going to things like payroll of that sort of stuff. But I think it's just getting that balance right. What do you centralise? Because you want it to work at scale and you want to be more efficient, effective. And what are you happy to decentralised where if they break it doesn't necessarily matter. I think that is, there's a real skill there in working out what actually needs to kind of be rolled up and what do we give permission to people to work on, given that they are closest to the problem and they understand it the best.

Andrew:
How important is innovation when it comes to recruiting people? Is that one of the, is it an important as a, as a USP for people who might be looking for a role? Are you looking for certain characteristics that individuals might have if they if they come for a job? Is there anything around that that can help shape innovation across the business?

Bryce:
Yeah, I mean, I think my age biases me slightly in this, and that also, you know, our organisation is quite a young one. I know if I did speak to, quote unquote, millennials first, which is a big, a big topic for people, and how do we keep this next generation sort of engaged? That is the number one thing that we see over and over again, is that people they may be coming to us from an organisation where they were kind of put in a box and they felt that although they were seeing quite obvious issues around them, they weren't able to actually do anything about it. When they come to an organisation like ours, it kind of unleashes this whole something inside them where they think, oh, I can actually do something here, like something. I want to get this feeling where I'm actually able to do stuff that makes a difference and that moves both the organisation forward and my own career, and that that gives them this massive sense of urgency. I find, you know, that's for them, for the millennials. But I think even at any at any age when we're working on something, we want to feel like we can actually make a difference. And even if your, might be a seasoned veteran in a role, being able to impart your wisdom to a team that's able to actually affect change on the front line is really important for you as well. I mean, we've all seen this as stepping into roles where you're a VP. You're exec. You don't necessarily have the the budget or the agency to change much. You're still kind of ring fenced by even that can be really frustrating from a high level.

Andrew:
Yeah. So it's about giving people that opportunity and it all comes back to the culture and the fit, doesn't it, to make sure that they have sort of the freedom, they've got the space to come up with ideas. And, you know, I think it's interesting that you very much take the view of, well, we're a customer centric. It's probably fair to say you're very customer centric based on what you've said. And you're using that as, that's fundamentally the driver for innovation. But I guess there must be, there must be other innovations like internal innovations, because, of course, it's not all about necessarily rolling out the next feature. You can be innovative internally as a business and look about look at how you might refine processes and things like that. Do your innovations that you sort of manage on the product side, do they flow across into the sort of the process side, the business side on an internal basis as well? Or do you have different processes around that? Just tell me a little bit about how that might work.

Bryce:
Yeah, I think you can use the same framework, like, say, from my position personally as a general manager, as the name suggests, I'm fairly generalising across a lot of things. I have sales and product, customer success all those sorts of things are kind of reporting up to me. And the way that I can, I look at it in a very similar way, so that the sales team are a customer of mine in that the same in the same way that our customers are having issues they have frustrations about the way that they they work or things they have to do or, you know, not not hitting certain targets, that sort of thing, or hitting them, but not knowing how to sustain that over a long period of time. So you can you can do exactly the same thing. You can look at your internal teams and say, OK, you know, what's what's the struggle here? Can we build something? Can we reorganise the way that we work? Can we get resources from over here? And I think as long as you have someone that's in the well, one, has I think, the respect and trust and can speak the language across all of those teams. You do have the ability to affect change because what often happens is everyone speak in their own language. Everyone has their own KPIs, everyone's siloed. And maybe to that point around a VP of innovation, maybe it should be less around how you have to innovate. Everyone come up with an idea and we're going to work on it. It should just be a person that actually goes around the organisation, takes the time to learn the language and the mindset of everyone in there and then, you know, actually think, well, you know what one thing I realise is developers and salespeople actually aren't that far apart. They're natural optimisers, they think basically the same way, except one is at a computer terminal and the other one's on the phone. So once you start to realise these things like, OK, we can actually do something here, but you have to kind of build that shared language and that shared trust between between everyone.

Andrew:
Yeah. I mean, inevitably, some people are going to be sort of integrators and they will pull those teams together, and others are much quicker thinking, I guess, with coming up with the the ideas and and opportunities, because ultimately your innovation is about opportunities. It's about furthering the capabilities within the business, obviously providing an enhanced service to the customers, keeping them on board. But it's a growth opportunity. How do you, how do, the how does the company consider innovation as an upfront cost? What's their attitude towards perhaps spending time? I guess it comes back to is it a mission critical? What level of benefit will it, will it provide to our customers or perhaps to our team if it's an internal thing? Do they do they have a fear that while this is going to cost and it's going to be measured as a cost, or is it measured as a long term benefit? Because some some companies can be very, very specific in terms of their accounting processes and they see all this extra time as a cost and there's no corresponding profit. Of course, innovation, good ideas will we'll sort of run for the longer term and the profit the benefit might come later on. Do you have any sort of struggles around convincing finance teams that actually this innovation is worthwhile, it's going to deliver X in the future? How do you handle the sort of cost benefit discussion from finance perspective?

Bryce:
Yes, I'll say right out of the bat. Innovation for the sake of innovation is not what we're looking at doing here like we're not we're not necessarily splitting out a separate line for for innovation, just thinking about how this kind of fairly naturally happens in our business. We've followed McKenzies Three Horizons model internally for for some time. And those who are not aware of it. Essentially what it does is it allows you to think about your business over multiple time horizons. So Horizon one is basically protect your day to day business, you know, basically protect and grow what you do today. So, you know, if the main thing is you're selling widgets and that's what you do today, then that's what for Horizon one goals and thinking is about. Horizon three, which is the third the third horizon, the most sort of far out in terms of like thinking this might be months or years into the future. That is a reality where we realize if we continue to make widgets today, we're going to get disrupted by someone in the future. The value of what we do today is going to become less and less over time. So we need to think about, OK, what what does that business going to look like 10 years in the future and start working on things that will move us into that future today and then horizon two really bridges that gap. So it basically says Horizon three is more or less theoretical, horizon one to that which is today, which is basically very operational. Horizon two is really where I see a lot of this innovation happening, which is where you say you're capturing that opportunity. So opportunities coming in and you say, hey, you know, we want to be this type of company in 10 years. And actually there's an opportunity right now to move just a little bit towards that. Let's capture that and actually start working on that today so that we can move that into an operational bit and operationalise it. So you actually kind of have three curves and people not sort of seeing this, the video. So but if you imagine, you just have sort of three waves and they're all kind of offset against each other. And you can look at the McKinsey model on on Google, but essentially it just means you have a constant state of innovation over a forward time horizon. So you don't necessarily need to put it as a separate budget line or anything. You just think about that as a framework for making sure you're working towards the company you want to be in, say, 10 or 20 years.

Andrew:
I like that. It's not a model I've come across, to be honest. But that that makes a lot of sense, because if you if you're stuck in horizon one, nothing's going to change, is it? Nothing. You're not enforcing change. There'll be plenty of change around you. And and inevitably, at some point you're going to get left behind. So you've got to be thinking out of that box, out of that horizon one box to advance anyway, because without that, you will just get left behind and the disruptors will come along and and take things away from you, I guess, won't they.

Bryce:
Yes. I think as well is it's, that's all great conceptually. But I think what it what it actually feels like someone who, you know, may not. I have put this into practice is you're in horizon one, profits are great, I mean, this is the innovator's dilemma. You can go and get that book and read it, which is probably if you do take anything away from this, that's that's one really good takeaway to get your mind around that.

Andrew:
Well, we'll we'll link that up in the show notes and and the Horizons model that you mentioned as well.

Bryce:
Yeah. So there's obviously some active disincentives for it. But what it looks like is Horizon one's working great profits, great. You're getting ROI in everything you're doing. You look like a genius, right. You continue to work on that and it works for a long period of time until it doesn't. And then all of a sudden because change and more and more increasingly is is becoming discontinuous, basically means something comes into existence that changes a significant part of your business. And now you're now you're on the back foot and you basically have two attitudes towards that. Like, do I work out how to adapt in there and bring that into my into the business and ride that horizon two horizon three wave through it. Or am I going to let that completely disrupt what I do and now we're less profitable and less attractive company. So, yes, I think staying ahead of it, not for the sake of innovating, but for the sake of moving your business to a point where you want it to be in 10, 20, 30 years and having that long time horizon.

Andrew:
I think that's that's the key that you're not innovating for the sake of innovating. Otherwise, the innovations are likely to be of questionable quality. Obviously, some not in every case. You know, there have been some incredible inventions that no doubt somebody was setting out to to achieve quite specifically. But if you think of all the innovation that take F1, for example, you know, highly innovative sport where marginal gains can be so small, but all the innovations that go out and then spread further beyond that sector, I guess, you know, they're they're not necessarily thinking of alternative applications. They're not necessarily thinking of changing the world with those refinements. They're thinking of how can we get another tenth of a second out of our cars as it goes round the circuit. So I yeah, I think it makes sense to to have a problem to focus on. And you can be much more intentional about how you then go about and address that with with innovation without just doing it for the sake of it. And it certainly is going to add more value into the product at the end of the day as well.

Bryce:
Yeah. And, you know, I think like Silicon Valley has really distorted people's idea of what innovation means. I mean, when I think when you think of Silicon Valley, you think of, you know, a guy or a couple of guys, you know, men, I guess, like in a garage or something. And they've had this idea and they had the forethought to know that this thing that they're inventing is going to be the next, you know, Uber or whatever or Tesla like that. That's just like such a rare and strange like way to think about all this. And that's really not what we're all doing. I mean, from Silicon Valley's perspective, like, you know, there's there's this idea that gets thrown around investing where they'll go and find 10 companies and one's going to be the next unicorn, where it's going to be a billion dollar company and then nine fail. But the the question that no one asks is like, do the other nine fail? Because we had these completely unrealistic expectations on the growth trajectory of these companies and how innovative they are.

Andrew:
The reality is they might not fail, they may still be doing very successfully. They're just not the billion dollar company that somebody thought they might have been.

Bryce:
Yeah, so I think it's just, you know, bringing it back to, OK, what are the problems in front of us and what are the one of the things we can actually do and how can we affect the culture and change inside of our organisation? We don't need to build the next Uber or Facebook or whatever, like that comes with its own challenges and its own problems. And we're already running good, profitable businesses. We just we just want them to be sustaining over a long period of time.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah, that internal view of of why you're innovating is vital at that point, isn't it? Focuses the resources and the effort on the right challenge for the right reasons.

Andrew:
So we're coming up on time, Bryce. Are there any sort of quick, actionable steps and takeaways that people can apply? You know, perhaps they're thinking, oh, we've got to come up with the next big idea. Innovation doesn't have to be that. But what might your tips be to sort of be thinking on a more innovative, innovative level, particularly now? You know, the world has accelerated a fair amount, I think, over the last few months with the global pandemic, particularly when it comes to digital. But there's a I think there's been a bit of a flight or fright reaction over the last few months. The lay of the land is probably starting to become a little bit clearer as business is going back to work. And OK, we still got a few lockdown's which are popping up here and there. But a lot of companies will have trimmed costs and they'll perhaps clarified their strategy going forwards. But they're going to have to be innovative. They're going to have to look at new ideas is either they pivot or they refine the products and services that they're offering. So what would your recommendations be? What sort of takeaways should they be thinking of to to make sure they are thinking more innovative, innovatively as time goes forwards and what are no doubt uncertain times?

Bryce:
Yeah, I mean, we've said it a million times, but getting as close to your customers as you can. And the reason why I bring that up in the context of covid is because what are essentially all businesses have done is we've all kind of gone into our shells a little bit. We've kind of all in our eyes have come off the market a lot. And we've all now internally facing like we're all kind of looking at our own backyard about how can I fix these sorts of things. And what that means is, we're talking to our customers less and things are changing rapidly and dramatically inside their businesses, which we're not tracking. So working out some way, you know, whether it is just calls to check in, we've been very proactive about this, know, really trying to re-engage our customers and be like, what's change? What's happening? Where are you at? You know, how can we help, all those sorts of things? It sounds obvious, but really, that's that's kind of your north star there because the market has moved. Like we know that. We've seen that in financial markets. We've seen that in hospitality that we sell into. This industry may never be the same. It may look very different when its final form kind of comes out of all of this in a couple of years. So re-engage them and then look at your mission critical processes. And, you know, you can take that three horizons model of it where you want to get to. But even if you just basically work out, okay, you know what? What can we kind of do around the margins? What we can we experiment with? And who can we empower internally to do that? I think you'll find once you actually start empowering people internally to start even just thinking about it, their engagement is going to skyrocket. And I think, one thing and I say this to sort of protect businesses as well, to protect your, you know, what is your greatest asset, which is your team, because, yes, there's a lot of redundancies going through now. But, you know, there's a lot of people who there's a lot of angst out there. I think people thinking, well, I wasn't treated very well during the lockdown period or, you know, the business has been a bit stagnant. I think we got to see a massive uptake next year of people looking at changing roles. And if you can be having those conversations with them now, they're saying, well, you know, stick around because this is where we're going and this is how we're changing our culture to meet these new needs. You combine those two things and you're putting the right person in the right place to solve the problem. And that's I think that's a good sort of actionable thing they can they can think about right now.

Andrew:
Sounds great advice. Well, look, Bryce, we're out of time. So that's been some really good insight shared there. Tell listeners where they might be able to find a little bit more out about you online, where do you hang out. Where might they be able to get in touch?

Bryce:
Absolutely. So you can find me on Twitter. This is where I'm sort of most active. You can also find LinkedIn and our website as well. Bryce-davies.com, our website's workforce.com as well. And you can link all that in the shownotes if people want to find me. And yeah, if anyone's got any bits and pieces around this, they just want to bounce around. Happy to be a sounding board. But yeah, it sounds like you guys over there are really putting your clients, I guess, in the best position to kind of weather a lot of these storms.

Andrew:
We're certainly trying. Yeah, we've yeah, we've it's been and we've been forced to innovate, you know, naturally we found clients in different circumstances, some very reactionary, some to a certain extent anticipated. But like I say think the big thing that we've identified is just a lot of the plans were probably on paper to begin with. But the lead time to trying to implement those plans has just shrunk massively. And like I say, I think around a lot of digital transformation, digital activities, it's the pandemic is really accelerated the need for people to think, actually, we've got to have this and we've got to have it fairly quick, because it could be to react to a second wave or clearly some industry, some markets are going to change forever. You know, they're never going to go back to the way they were, which I think in some cases is probably a good thing. It's a reset button that refreshes the approach for certain things. So, you know, now is the time, I think, to innovate. And now is absolutely the time to sort of instill that innovative and creative culture that isn't just about, you know, drawing or doing design. It might be designing a product or designing a process. It might be enhancing a product or a process as well, of course, that ultimately introduces efficiencies and makes things better for the business.

Bryce:
Yeah, absolutely. And someone much smarter than me has said something to the effect of, you know, if you give a task a certain amount of time, that's how, that's how long it will take. The time experience for the actual amount that you give it. So, yeah, it might just be that the contraction a lot of these timelines actually kicks people into gear and realise that actually have to start, you know, making some change today as opposed to 18 months time when the next, you know, board review is or the next accounting cycle is.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Great. Well, we've put all the links that you've talked about in the show notes which you'll be able to find at adigital.agency/podcast. Bryce, thanks very much for your time. Really appreciated it and enjoyed the conversation.

Bryce:
Yeah, thanks for having me on the show. It's been great.

Andrew:
So thank you, Bryce, for taking time out of your day at workforce.com. I really enjoyed that episode and I think some really interesting points to take away. I think the main one that really stands out, of course, is that customer centricity, the importance of being customer centric and listening to your customers issues, what's keeping them up at night, what are their pain points and what's going to make their lives better. And so long as the environment to collaborate and explore new ideas and be creative is available. And there isn't this fear of failure that everything has to be a game changing innovation. You know, things will fall by the wayside and that's OK. But if you focus on those customer pain points, then that is ultimately what is going to drive innovation, drive better solutions or better processes, whatever it might be that ultimately makes people's lives better. And everybody can benefit from that. So really great episode. We will, as always, add the transcription and the show notes to our website at adigital.agency/podcast. So do check out some of the links that the Bryce referred to during the episode that will make sure all of that on the website. So that's it for today's show. I hope you've enjoyed it. I've certainly taken a few things away. I've not come across the horizon model that he mentioned by McKinsey, so I should definitely check that out. And we'll be back with the next episode in a couple of weeks time. So I do hope you'll be able to join me then. Take care.

Andrew:
Thank you again for checking out today's episode of the Clientside podcast. I really hope you found it 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, then please do look us up on 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 to 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 call 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, then drop me a line to Andrew@adigital.co.uk or head across to our website at adigital.agency/clientsite. See you on the next show. Cheers.

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I think staying ahead of it, not for the sake of innovating, but for the sake of moving your business to a point where you want it to be in 10, 20, 30 years and having that long time horizon.

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