Have you ever thought of business as art? Edgar Papke and Thomas Lockwood, experts in organizational culture and design respectively, wanted to encourage leaders to design their businesses consciously for innovation and collaboration with their book Innovation by Design. And what better way than to write collaboratively? This is a masterclass in writing with a partner, which when done right can create a whole that is so much more than the sum of the parts.
Discover whether you need a ‘writing partner prenuptial’, and why post-its and coffee are central to the collaborative process.
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Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThomsLockwood
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Preorder This Book Means Business: Clever ways to plan and write a book that works harder for your business: https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Book-Means-Business-business/dp/1910056693
Alison Jones: Hello and welcome to the Extraordinary Business Book Club, and this is a bit of a complicated one. I’m speaking to two authors today simultaneously in different places, what could possibly go wrong? I’m really pleased to be here with Edgar Papke who is an author, speaker and globally recognized expert in business alignment leadership and organizational culture. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies, multinational organizations and governments to early stage organizations and individuals. And, along with co-authoring Innovation by Design, which is the book that we’re going to be focusing on today, he’s also the author of the books True Alignment and The Elephant in the Boardroom. Edgar provides coaching and consulting to CEOs and executives, he delivers keynote speeches and presentations, and works with leadership teams to improve their alignment. He’s delivered over 2700 keynote speeches and presentations worldwide, and 20,000 executives and leaders have attended his workshops, which is an astonishing figures. Thomas Lockwood has a PhD in design management and is recognized as a thought leader in integrating design and innovation practise into business, and building great design, UX, and innovative organizations.
Alison Jones: He is also the co-author and editor of Design Thinking, Corporate Creativity, Building Design Strategy, and The Handbook of Design Management. Tom has lectured in workshops in over 20 countries, produced 22 conferences about design leadership, and as a design advisor to countries and companies. His design accomplishments range from creating high tech ski wear used by the U.S. Olympic Nordic ski team … I love that … to corporate design programmes for Fortune 500 organizations He’s a founding partner Lockwood Resource, an international consulting and recruiting firm specialising in design, and innovation leadership. Welcome to the show, both of you.
Edgar Papke: Thank you, it’s a pleasure.
Thomas Lockwood: Thank you very much.
Alison Jones: It’s really good to have you here. Now the book we’re going to be talking about is co-authored by the pair of you of course, Innovation by Design … so let’s start there. Just tell me a little bit about the book and the inspiration behind it.
Thomas Lockwood: This is Tom speaking. I think the inspiration was simply that Edgar and I have different career focuses. We found out that there’s a tremendous amount of overlap and synergy between us … and really kind of the common ground was a shared passion about creativity, and about inspiring other people to be more creative in their work … and find a more … well, more fulfilment in their work, and more contributions to their company. So it was really more about just kind of a passion to turn people on. Then it was to try to sell a lot of books.
Edgar Papke: And I’d like to just piggyback on that a little bit … again, we’ve known each other for quite some time and have had a multitude of conversations about creativity and innovation. And when we set out to do the research it was with a simple idea that if we came up with something of value that would fill our intention that we would pursue that. and pretty much took on the research with an approach that if we did find something of value that was publishable and that we thought would bring value to the world, then we pursue doing it and if not that we wouldn’t. It just turned out that, in all of our findings the idea of publishing it, you know, it’s just reinforced over and over.
Alison Jones: Tell me a little bit about the core idea: what are you saying that design can achieve for businesses?
Thomas Lockwood: We’re actually saying you can design a business, and you can not only design the business but you can design the business culture. What we’re proposing is that you can find ways to, both formally and informally, empower your leadership team, and your executors … but also empower your employees to solve the right problems. To be creative, to be honest about addressing what really is the problem. And to find ways to solve that that are based on solving the true customer needs. Human-centred problem solving, human-centred design. And by leveraging your employee workforce that you’ll solve a whole lot more problems than you would typically solved just by looking at innovation from a scientific point of your technology … you know, vision point of view.
Edgar Papke: And at the end of the day, that’s always what an organization of any type is is looking to do and that’s to create … create change that delivers a value. Whether it’s to a customer, whether it’s a government to a citizen rate … over and over we see that. When you look at different paths to get there, we discovered that in our study group that we used for the book, the organizations in the book, we found over and over how powerful design thinking was as a framework in a process through which to do that. So much so that at the end of the day as Tom mentioned, it’s not just a matter of creating products and services that are innovative … furthermore you can apply design thinking to processes and systems within the organization and how it functions and operates to be more innovative and more collaborative. And at the end of the day being able to actually apply design thinking and creative thinking to more intentionally developing and defining the culture of the organization.
Alison Jones: Yes I think that’s a really important point, so many people when they hear the word innovation, think about new products … but actually I think sometimes the most transformative innovation company is how it organizes itself. How does what it does, rather than what it produces at the end of the day. That’s interesting. Now I can see how that is a really powerful framework for big businesses, and obviously you work and with huge businesses … you know global brands … how do you think that translates across to small micro businesses? Is the same principle, does it differently?
Edgar Papke: The basic principle that it begins with, is the idea of isn’t business a human art form? We create products and services that respond to the needs and motivations of a customer. And very often, even at the outset a small business or an the early stage business or organization can struggle with that … in other words there is a tendency sometimes to very quickly begin to focus inward on how does it that we’re creating a product or service and not thinking enough about the customer. So here’s the opportunity for any size organization to begin with that single idea in mind, is that we’re talking about something you know very human centred and so solving a problem for the customer and to be innovative through that lens, becomes a primary focus and one that lends itself well to success. And so it is end of the day … really when we talk about regardless of size of the organization and what stage it’s in … that kind of thinking is always going to be helpful and very often powerful in terms of the innovations that come from it.
Alison Jones: I love the idea of business as an art form as well, it’s beautiful.
Edgar Papke: It is. When you think of art, you think about the creative expression of human emotion … of want, desire, need, and what we do in business … and we’ve created a global business society, we’re all customers 24 hours a day, and what we’re doing is very creatively responding to, and fulfilling human desire and need. That’s what we’re doing. So it is and if we look at through the lens that all art sooner or later winds up showing up in some form of business, that holds itself to be very true.
Alison Jones: The two of you wrote this book together and I’m always fascinated by collaboration because … you know writing a book on your own is hard, writing a book with someone else … it could be half as complex, but it always seems to be twice as complex. How did it work and what processes and sort of systems that you developed between you two, to divvy up the work and to work together rather than simply writing separate bits and just putting it together in a finished book?
Edgar Papke: Oh now I’m very curious to hear what you have to say Tom.
Thomas Lockwood: Well to the latter point, writing different points and then mashing it together, this book couldn’t be more opposite than that. I mean, truly this was a beautiful experience. I think Edgar and I are very, very similar in our passion for creativity, and our passion to understand people, and our passion to understand problems … but we’re also very different in how we approach problem solving. I tend to dig down into details and dig into research, and just get fired up about you know, finding out you know information and getting into research. And I’ll come back, and I’ll sit down with Edgar and say, “Wow, look at what I learned.” And then he’ll be thinking like at the sixty-thousand foot, about what this means in the context of how people behave, or how decisions are made, or how cultures are shaped. And it just it was just really an interesting sort of flow back and forth between those two perspectives. And we very much approached it like a design thinking project. We asked open-ended questions, we didn’t go into this with some pre-assumptions about a solution that we were trying to prove.
Thomas Lockwood: We just went out into the marketplace and tried to discover what we could learn, and then look to see how we could synthesize that. And I think two of the principles we found in the 10 attributes of design thinking organizations really apply to our process also. One is something we called curious confrontation, which you know a nutshell means … empowering people to be curious to explore and discover things, and also empowering the pleasure of being different … or confronting people about that in challenge and that and asking why. And the other principle is just co-creation. You know leveraging off of one another. I think there was synergy that happened that’s for sure.
Alison Jones: The medium was the message.
Edgar Papke: Yes I agree, and I think at the end of the day is … when I step back from it and look at our relationship and how it translates into the creation of the book, and what we did … two immediate thoughts come to mind. One is that a significant amount of trust in each other, and the trust there is not just in capability, it has more to do with being able to be honest and open with one another. And I don’t think that was ever sticking point throughout this process with us and our relationship. And that trust actually grew through the process. Which led to a just tremendous level of openness, and the openness is not just that we can be open with one another, it’s the same that holds true … and what really elevates this idea of curious confrontation is an openness to listen to one another and really inquire with one another into our thinking. And kind of peel away to look at the depth of our thinking and trying to bring that to the forefront, and make that useful.
Edgar Papke: Just like in a lot of organizations, you see that there’s a tendency to not be open perhaps, we want to be … not use brutal honesty, which is I think a real danger because it doesn’t represent an openness to hear from one another. Where curious confrontation does. And so our shared curiosity and our shared trust in the end being open with one another for me is a vital part of our collaboration. And in the success of that through which we looked at the research, and were able to put it in on into words in the book.
Alison Jones: And of course you’re coming from two rather different perspectives, I mean, that’s the power of the book, isn’t it? You’re applying one lens that’s not usually used to look at a particular situation. I’m guessing that was a rewarding personal process as well, or have you worked together for so long that you didn’t really learn anything new in the process?
Thomas Lockwood: Oh no, I thought … I found that part very rewarding. I think that’s one of the things about both of us, is we’re very curious people and both really committed in a lifelong learning. I think we both learned a lot from each other from it and that was probably one of the best things about the whole process.
Alison Jones: So it’s a great reason to write a book, isn’t it? Just because you learn so much in the process.
Thomas Lockwood: Exactly.
Alison Jones: And of course bringing two things together to create a new framework is in itself a form of innovation, so you know I love the way that the process that you followed resonates so much with what you actually talking about. Tell us a bit more about the nuts and bolts of it there as well. I mean, could you meet in person frequently, or did you do it long distance … what systems of processes did you use to actually make the thing happen?
Thomas Lockwood: Edgar, do you want me to …
Edgar Papke: I-
Thomas Lockwood: … well go ahead.
Edgar Papke: Well I’m just going to go back to … one aspect of it is we actually used forms of design thinking in creating the book. And we turned part of Tom’s home into a workshop, more or less, where we started framing the book and laying it out and identifying the ten attributes. And so I think a lot of it was that visual context that we created and an ability to do that. And then of course we also relied on other tools.
Thomas Lockwood: No but we did, we met a lot at my place and we went through an awful lot of post-it notes.
Alison Jones: I love post-it notes.
Thomas Lockwood: Literally post-it noted the whole book in outline form and then would write that in those structured outlines and then we both would go off and write sections based on those outlines and then pass them back and forth. One thing that was real simple to do is … We could have used many different authoring tools but we simply just had a code system for version control, so we always knew what was the most recent version of any chapter that we were working on, or any section we were working on, so believe it or not I don’t think we ever were working on down level information. That process worked really well and in addition to meeting in the house when we needed to, you know, have visual space to set things up, we literally met in coffee shops like hundreds of times.
Edgar Papke: Drank a lot of coffee.
Alison Jones: Yeah books are largely fuelled by coffee in my experience.
Thomas Lockwood: The whole thing started in a coffee shop and ended in a coffee shop and you just do it, whatever. And you know, it just happened.
Edgar Papke: And the remarkable part of that it was when the book went to editing, the minimal amount of editing that took place on the publisher’s end, and the amount of feedback there we were … I think less than a dozen inquiries from the publisher’s editors in terms of clarity. And they were not just minor changes, a word here and a word there. So I think it worked really well that what Tom just described, the versions that we went through we just kept refining the language, and working through that, and I think it worked very well.
Alison Jones: That’s interesting, every time you pass it back and forth, you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. So yeah, interesting.
Edgar Papke: Yes.
Alison Jones: And of course your collaboration doesn’t end with the book, because you also work together delivering solutions based on the principles in the book. I want to know which came first, have you been working together and the book came out of that, or did you as you wrote the book say, “Hey, we can deliver the courses.” How did the two fit together?
Thomas Lockwood: No, we did not have business collaborations beforehand. We had worked together about 20 years ago in the same company for a short period of time. And then just maintained a personal friendship. But the writing of the book was really our primary collaboration and business consulting … I guess that happened … started happening during the writing process but it wasn’t before it. And it wasn’t like we did the book to form a business or something like that, we just want to do the book, and then see what happened and what has happened as some businesses are saying, “Gee, this is great, come in here and you know, tell us more about it.”
Edgar Papke: Yeah there’s just something very unique about the work as it evolved, so direct application also lent itself well to understanding it even better. There’s just a lot of different models on what makes an culture or an organization innovative, and one of the elements that came out of this was the understanding that every culture is unique and there’s different patterns and different applications of processes … so one size doesn’t fit all. And it really allows for a great deal of uniqueness and a much deeper understanding. And so what we also discovered, was that as we went to apply the work, there’s a great deal of … strength that comes from … for any organization, a great degree of strength and power that comes from understanding their own culture. And how to apply design thinking in a way that fits the culture and aligns to it, to make to increase its success … as well as then opening the doors to the conversation of exploring, and more intentionally designing its culture.
Alison Jones: It’s a lovely example of how the book changes you personally and professionally, isn’t it? And how opportunities and connections come out of … even as you say, before the books published, while you’re talking to people. There’s opportunities that arise. It’s really interesting. There will be people listening to this, who are considering, or who are engaged in co-authoring. And of course of there’ll be lots of people listening who are slogging through on their own. I always ask my guests, what would you best tip be to someone who’s listening, is still mired in the pit of ploughing through writing that business book. What would you say to them?
Edgar Papke: I would begin with the idea of having a conversation about your personal relationship. And put that front and centre, just like in any business context or any partnership … even a marriage, if you’re not having a conversation about what you expect from one another and what you’d like the relationship, and the communication to look like, and various aspects of the relationship, I think that’s going to be problematic. One of the aspects of what I found to be so fulfilling working with Tom is that simple idea that we were able to have that level of conversation with one another. What we really expected, if something did go low sideways, we were very quick address it and fortunately not much went sideways at all. And when it did, we stepped right into it, and that made for a very, very, very both fulfilling and useful form of relationship.
Alison Jones: So sort of a prenuptial for collaborators, that’s what we’re talking about here. You have to have that conversation.
Edgar Papke: Actually you’re not you’re not far off with that, not at all.
Alison Jones: That’s an awesome tip actually for collaborators.
Edgar Papke: I don’t know Tom, what do you think?
Thomas Lockwood: I think too about collaboration, but also it’s kind of like one of the premises of design thinking is to involve the users. And so I think it’s a premise for some people who are co-creating a book, or somebody who’s doing it by themselves … would be to talk to the users of the book it, while the work is in process. As opposed to … because I think you can get so wrapped up in your own ideas … but to sort of just find out you know, get some market feedback about what’s happening out there. How does that affect you know this book, or parts of the book? Just this whole co-creation idea. And understanding other people’s points of view.
Alison Jones: Yes, so bring the reader in right at the start of that co-creative process.
Thomas Lockwood: Yes exactly, because all of the people in our study sample who we researched, really would become potential readers. And so by learning their story and then re-articulating it and then sharing it back with them for their review … I think was very, very helpful and helped shape the content.
Edgar Papke: Yeah. Very much so.
Alison Jones: Yeah, I love that. And I also always ask people to recommend another guest on to the show, so someone with something interesting to say about the business of business books. Could I … I’m going to get two nominations here, this is great. Because you’ve got to ask people who you think would make a good guest on Extraordinary Business Book Club.
Thomas Lockwood: Well, go ahead Edgar, you go ahead. Because I love your recommendation, you already told me what it is.
Edgar Papke: Mine is the author of Design the Life You Love, which is about deconstructing and actually designing your own life, by . And it’s a pretty much a how to work book … a little handbook and work book, and it’s very creatively focused with a lot of space for activities and free thinking. I’m not sure if it’s going to fit everyone’s style in terms of planning, but certainly it’s also a wonderful representation of the design thinking in practise. It’s a great book that.
Alison Jones: Love it, and I don’t know it at all so thank you, that’s a great recommendation. Tom what about you?
Thomas Lockwood: You’re really pressing me down to the last second on this, because I have two and not really thinking about making a last minute change.
Alison Jones: Why don’t you say them both? We’ll see what we can do.
Thomas Lockwood: One is a gentleman named Hugh Culver and he has a workbook called Hero Habits. And Hugh kind of specializes in entrepreneurs and authors and speakers, and helps them build their business. So it’s kind of about personal focus and personal motivation, sort of finding your swim lane for your messaging and how to present yourself as a speaker.
Alison Jones: Okay.
Thomas Lockwood: So for a small entrepreneur that’s been extremely helpful for me. But a second book that is very similar to the one that Edgar recommended is called Designing Your Life. It’s by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans and they are both instructors at the Stanford D School, which teaches design thinking. So this book is about using design thinking methods to create your life, to focus the focus of your personal and professional career. And that’s really a fascinating book too.
Alison Jones: So because they are co-authors, and because you had two, and because there are two of you, I now have actually four recommendations for guests on the show. Which is more than I bargained for, so yeah, thank you for that.
Edgar Papke: Well I was going to suggest Peter Drucker, but he’s gone.
Alison Jones: Oh yes… Right that’s absolutely brilliant, thank you. And I love people suggest books and people that I haven’t heard of. This is one of the great reasons for asking people … because when you start a podcast, you have a good network and you ask the people you know in and you get to your own sort of networks and circles. And then suddenly had this, “Well, what if I go beyond that? You know maybe I don’t know all the people who’d be good for this podcast.” And it’s been an absolute joy having people recommend other people that I’ve never heard of and bring them in, so it’s a very expansive process, I love it.
Thomas Lockwood: That’s great.
Alison Jones: Yeah, it’s good fun. Now if people want to find out more about the both of you, and more about Innovation by Design, where should they go?
Thomas Lockwood: Our website is called innoalignment … I-N-N-O alignment.com. You can find information about us there, about our consulting services … we both have our separate websites also for our businesses and we both have strong presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. So just sort of conventional media.
Edgar Papke: The book itself, as you suspect, is available. For most both booksellers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. So it’s easy to find, as we are.
Alison Jones: Fantastic and I should put those links up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com so if anybody wants to go and click through rather than Googling, they can find you there. Thank you both so much for your time today, it’s been absolutely fascinating.
Thomas Lockwood: Well thank you, you’re delightful. Thank you very much for allowing us to join you, thank you.