Mark Kuznicki on Innovation

Mark Kuznicki,  Innovation Designer & Co-Founder, The Moment, speaks on the innovation journey at a recent #EDGEtalks event. 

About Mark Kuznicki

Mr. Kuznicki is an innovation strategist and facilitator who helps organizations and advises CEOs and senior leaders who lead change, innovation and business transformation programs. Mark’s passion is the development and coaching of teams that can lead change by employing a strategic and human-centred approach to innovation. Mark has worked with leaders from large enterprises to entrepreneurial startups, including: Dream Unlimited, Klick Inc, Elections Ontario, St Joseph’s Health Centre, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto.

“Basically, what we are seeing is that there is a really important piece of being strategic and knowing what spaces are we going to innovate in. We might be innovating our service offering, simultaneously we might need to innovate our process, structures, tools and technologies. We are going to enable our enhanced service offering and it’s going to be delivered through multiple channels, possibly. It may impact how we talk about our brand and it’s going to shift how we engage with our customers. We may be talking about specific types of customers that we don’t currently focus on. All of this is underpinned by our vision of who we are, and why we exist. We have a strategy. We have a business model around how we are going to do that work.

We like presenting it in this sort of stack, (points to the screen) that is how a service designer would look at a business. The value proposition is the stage, the engagement branded channels is your front of house, the process structure tools tell the culture and are back of house, and all that work together as a system to create value for customers and to create value for the company.

Knowing what spaces we are going to work in means we are going to have a different kind of team depending on which of those spaces we are going to be operating in. So, we need to cast a team.

We cast the team. The thing that we are advocating very strongly for is this model (points to the screen). You have a business lead. Yes, absolutely. Somebody who knows the viability of this thing, they are aligned and how they are going to have to deliver. But their co-lead with someone who we call a design lead. When we say design, we don’t mean look and feel and it looks pretty. We mean, bring a designer’s mindset into how you create value for people and also understanding customer needs really, really deeply, at an insight level. Also, helping people through a process that’s going to allow this team to actually deliver quickly and iteratively.

You’ll notice that the support team includes senior leaders. Senior leaders have an important role to play – that is not to come up with the idea, in my humble opinion. They have ideas, and it’s great. But the really important thing is that they are supporting these teams who are actually enabled to make decisions within their project to be successful.

They will need to have some sort of process. Everybody has their favourite process. This is ours. It’s based on design principles, lean startup and a bit of agile mixed in because, why not? But really, what we are trying to do is say the processes and frameworks like this really give the teams an easy way to how we are going to work together. We are going to step into a really ambiguous thing that we have never done before. How are we going to step? How are we going to do that?

I don’t want to go into all the details. We talked about MVP, absolutely. We are strong believers in minimum viable product, and that build, measure [and] learn [the] cadence of really bringing something new; build it, measure it.

Meanwhile, your people. Your people are going to go through a shift in mindset from what we call a traditional mindset to an innovator’s mindset. Really, this is a big challenge. This is not easy. This is challenging many of the conventions and norms that you have in your organization every day. Embracing ambiguity, being very transparent, empowering, doing lots of feedback and testing, learning refinement – challenging assumptions that people have and carry with them every day.

Ultimately, we believe that it’s thorough individuals working on teams, then spinning out and doing other things that you start to build the culture. How do these things add up? Now we have an organizational culture with a whole bunch of different cross-functional teams that have been through a process, understand how to listen to customers better; how to (audio muted) with customers even, which would be amazing. How to design quickly and test quickly in order to get feedback.”