What led you into working with Innovation?
My background is both in business and technology management. I have a passion for transitioning supply chains to more sustainable materials and technologies and evolving our material management systems to fit the circular economy. Over the last ten years, I have found that they are blockages that hinder innovation across value chains that cannot be solved by the individual companies. From previous work with innovation, I got inspired that design thinking and collaboration could help to solve this.
Bringing people together from different parts of a value chain is typically a no-go, and so our approach has been unique. With the exponential growth of the ocean plastic crisis, we do not have time to wait for everyone to drag their feet and follow old processes – curating this workshop we felt compelled to create an impact now and do it in a lean way.
The Nosco platform has enabled us to create a simple and lean process for collaboration while giving that look of professionalism that is necessary for us to establish a strong position. It has allowed us to be flexible and open while giving structure to a process that might otherwise be quite chaotic.
What does a typical day look like?
My typical day includes work related to developing new materials and sustainable packaging products with partners. That includes having calls with brand owners, R&D directors and manufacturing operators to follow up on how things are going. A continuous dialogue with suppliers is also a key part of my job - making sure that they have the technical specifications et al.
I also spend a lot of time helping to educate brands and industry organizations about sustainable materials, and the challenges of our current material management systems. I find myself spending a lot of time on marketing and communications, as I believe it is critical for our success that people understand the importance of what we are doing and that they feel inspired to engage.
Since we are engaging with a range of stakeholders with many different interests and motivations, we must succeed at creating a space where people find it safe to share.
Which challenges in relation to innovation challenges do you face at your company?
Since we are engaging with a range of stakeholders with many different interests and motivations, we must succeed at creating a space where people find it safe to share. First and foremost, we did a lot of work to carefully select the right people to join our community and help us solve the challenge. Secondly, it was important to set clear intentions for what we were doing. We made sure the guidelines and rules of engagement were clear from the beginning. For instance, we communicated that we were not asking people to share anything considered a trade secret, but instead, invited people to bring forward their zone of genius and expertise within their fields. Our aim has always been to create a trusting community, where people feel safe to share, but without asking them to sign a confidentiality agreement to participate.
Another challenge that we had to manage was time. The participants in our workshop are executive-level professionals that have many responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. Our task was to create an effective experience while asking for a minimum amount of time. We do a lot of work on the backend to streamline and process the experience to ensure we created a valuable output.
Can you share a recent success story?
As part of our effort to create a safe space and create some excitement within the group, we offered up a ton of valuable knowledge and insights; throughout the workshop, we hosted panels with top-notch experts and thought leaders. It was very well received and created a motivation for people to engage and collaborate.
What is one thing about Innovation that you think is important?
I would say that having the right people is very critical. For us, it was more important to build a community that manages a large crowd. We made sure to have conversations with people very early on (before launch) to set clear expectations and to make sure people understood what we were doing and why.
When executing the process, having online ideations or workshops, we make sure to specify the purpose and what we will accomplish in these sessions. We make sure that there are visibility and transparency all the way through to establish that feeling of trust in the process.