86 / Optimize Alignment For High Performance

Hosted by Sean Flaherty & Paul Gebel

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Jonathon Hensley

Emerge

Jonathon Hensley is the co-founder and CEO of Emerge, a digital product consulting firm that works with companies to improve operational agility and customer experience. For more than two decades, Jonathon has helped startups, Fortune 100 brands, technology leaders, large regional health networks, non-profit organizations, and more, transform their businesses by turning strategy, user needs, and new technologies into valuable digital products and services. Jonathon writes and speaks about his experiences and insights from his career, and regularly hosts in-depth interviews with business leaders and industry insiders. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two boys.

Originally from Silicon Valley, Jonathon got into the digital product space inspired by the incredible people developing new technologies all around him and the possibilities they unlocked. This fueled his curiosity to understand how technology transforms the ways in which people live and work.

Today that curiosity continues to drive him, as he works to help businesses harness technology. His work focuses on alignment, helping leaders define the value they want to create in a succinct and tangible way; where to focus, why, and what it will take to achieve that outcome. His favorite part is going beyond the idea but reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes so that a client can succeed.

A staggering 70-90% of digital products fail or underperform, says Jonathon Hensley, co-Founder and CEO of Emerge. That translates to trillions of dollars in unrealized investment. Jonathon points to misalignment as the most common source of product or project failure.

“Most products underperform not because the team didn’t care,” Jonathon explains. “I think what’s really happening is that there are barriers to success that are not that well understood.”

Those barriers manifest in a number of ways, he adds, but a disconnect between Alignment’s four components – Individual, Team, Organization, and Market – can have cascading effects throughout the product lifecycle. Each builds off the others, Jonathon explains; but when there is alignment, these collaborate to instill a high-performance mindset.

Catch the full episode to hear more from Jonathon, including –

  • 5 core elements of strategy
  • Difference between product ownership and product management
  • What investors look for in terms of alignment and value creation
  • What strategy is – and isn’t – Jonathon’s insights may surprise you

Paul [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Project Momentum, where we hope to entertain, educate, and celebrate the amazing product people who are helping to shape our community’s way ahead. My name is Paul Gebel and I’m the Director of Product Innovation at ITX. Along with my co-host, Sean Flaherty, and our amazing production team and occasional guest host, we record and release a conversation with a product thought leader, writer, speaker, or maker who has something to share with the community every two weeks.

Paul [00:00:43] Hey everyone. Today, Sean and I are really excited to bring a conversation that we had with Jonathon Hensley. The conversation that we have centered around language and leadership and most importantly, the alignment that comes from being clear with our language and having a context for the goals that we set for our teams. I really hope you enjoy this conversation.

Paul [00:01:02] Well hello and welcome to the podcast. Today, we are excited to be joined by Jonathon Hensley. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Emerge, a digital product consulting firm that works with companies to improve operational agility and customer experience. For more than two decades, Jonathon has helped startups, Fortune 100 brands, technology leaders, large regional health networks, nonprofit organizations and more transform their businesses by turning strategy, user needs, and new technologies into valuable digital products and services. Jonathon, we’re so excited to have you on the show. Welcome.

Jonathon [00:01:30] Thank you so much for having me.

Paul [00:01:31] Absolutely. You know, obviously, the conversation that we’re going to have today is around this concept of alignment. Can you just start us off in level set? Where do we go with this concept of alignment? Why even talk about it? What is this thing?

Jonathon [00:01:43] So alignment really came out of trying to understand why so many leaders are driving product initiatives that are underperforming. And so, after years of research and really digging into what those high-performing leaders and organizations were doing differently, it boiled down to this concept of alignment. And so when we look at the idea of alignment, you can break it down, I think, into four areas to help understand it in the best way. The first is understanding alignment at an individual level. So this really means understanding how your work contributes and matters, why you’re doing the work that you’re doing. And so alignment at a personal level within a team is essential.

Jonathon [00:02:25] The second level of alignment is around team alignment, which deals with, how do we build alignment with others and integrate our unique disciplines and expertise and experiences to help solve problems collectively? The third is around organizational alignment. How do we organize our people, processes, and resources in order to achieve outcomes? And fourth is around market alignment. How do we actually align our product initiatives around a customer’s needs, evaluating the impact of the problem that we’re solving for that customer, and making sure we’re building the right thing at the right time and delivering in the right way to gain market fit and have a sticky product?

Sean [00:03:06] Yeah. Where do investors fit in that mix? Because you know, if you’ve been in the startup space long enough, like I know you have, you often have to deal with the investor perspective.

Jonathon [00:03:15] Sean, I love the question, because I think investors, it depends on the sophistication of the investor, to be quite honest, where they sometimes fit in it. But most commonly what I see is the investor has got a keen eye on that market alignment. Do you have a problem that’s worth solving? Do you have unique insight on that problem and some sort of new approach, something that is either unique intellectual property, something that gives you a competitive advantage, that enables maybe other innovations or technologies in order to grab market share or customer attention?

Jonathon [00:03:50] And so a lot of time investors are looking for that. In many cases that I see, an investor is looking for, do you have insight into solving a problem that’s happening now, but we have a moving advantage? It’s somewhere maybe 12 to 18 months ahead of that market hitting any level of maturity. Or are you trying to dislodge an incumbent within a market because the mature market player now is ripe for disruption because their innovation cycle has dipped? So usually investors are looking at alignment as it comes to what is the actual lifecycle of the industry and what’s happening right now. And then they’re evaluating, usually, a lot of times, the owners or the executive team to say, “what is your ability to align to that market and then bring this product to fruition in a reasonable manner of risk to reward?” So understanding the organizational team and people piece of alignment becomes an essential building block of your confidence, if you will, and into a founder or an executive team as you invest into them.

Sean [00:04:54] Yeah. I know Steve Bezos’s empty chair concept, right? I think of that. Like always keeping the customer front and center and then aligning everything else around that. Those are the products that end up being most successful is when you can really get the whole team fully focused, customer-centered, making sure that we’re adding value at the endpoint.

Jonathon [00:05:13] Absolutely. Another, I think, interesting facet to it is that when you’re building a new organization, you have the advantage of not falling into old traps or patterns within industries. You have the ability to basically invent effortlessly from an organizational perspective. And one area of alignment that I see happening conversationally in both with venture firms as well as angel investors that are looking at these opportunities, is really looking at, do you understand customer lifetime value?

Jonathon [00:05:42] And so a lot of times there’s an emphasis on, “how much revenue can I make and what’s the margin?” Those are obviously critical business metrics. But what I see a lot of investors looking for is, do you understand how your product actually creates value and where is the reoccurring value and what’s the exchange between the product that you’re proposing and the actual customer, which may or may not be the same as the user, depending on your space, and really understanding that nuance, because that becomes a critical linchpin. And do you have an effective business model to actually scale your business idea, or do you have an idea that there is an inflection point or tipping point that may need to happen in the business once you have proof of that product in market in order to scale where that’s going to have to pivot? And so understanding your customer lifetime value and as that relates to the alignment of the problem you’re solving is also an intricate part.

Paul [00:06:37] And one of the things that you’re getting into is really something I was hoping we could dig into for just a minute because it’s clear throughout the book you’re talking about digital product teams, digital products specifically. And the language that you were just using, you could hear that in any class, in any typical MBA, in any industry. And I think a lot of these principles, while they’re about team building around individual alignment and strategic alignment, creating clarity, and as I was reading, the thoughts that you were expressing really seem transferable outside of the digital product space. Is there a reason that you focused on digital as sort of the core concept? Or is there, you think, maybe a way to transfer this to business at large?

Jonathon [00:07:15] Well, a couple of things. I think, first off, the entire concept is 100% transferable to businesses in any sector in whatever you’re doing, because they’re foundational principles in human behavior and in driving high-performance teams. And so great strategy is not different just based on market. There’s certainly nuances to every industry, but that’s not really an issue here. The foundations of it are certainly universal. Secondarily, I think the more complex the industry you choose to work within and the more you look at the bigger picture, for example, like value chain or supply chain dynamics, the more alignment becomes mission-critical to protecting the relevancy and the competitive advantage of your business. The concept of stakeholders, as an example, takes on an entirely different meaning when you shift from product to value chain because now you’re looking at entirely different economic models and other things. That probably is an entire different conversation at some point.

Paul [00:08:13] Fair enough. Yeah, that’s a great point. I think one of the things too that comes through is just how important leadership is in this role and how this doesn’t happen by accident. I think one of the things that has been so clear over the period of the pandemic has been just how relevant creating this clarity is and how important it is for CPOs and product leaders to gain this traction within their teams. Can you tell us a bit about how do you instill this high-performing mindset, this alignment mindset within teams if it’s something that you’re starting from scratch or you’ve done accidentally to this point? How can you be more deliberate about it going forward?

Jonathon [00:08:47] Well, I think one thing that you have to do to be deliberate about it is you have to be really clear with your intentions, first of all. If you want to engage a team, they’re looking for purpose. And in that purpose, as a leader, you have to provide clarity of, what is the purpose of the company? And not just in the sense of like, here’s our, you know, lofty, ambitious goal and not driven to revenue, but really what’s the impact that you’re trying to have? And so a lot of cultures can get built around solutions. Where I think that is a great starting point that I see a lot of the top-performing leaders doing is they build a culture around people who love solving the problem. And so when you think about that, it’s like, “well, we built a product, but the product doesn’t define the company, what defines us is that we are the most passionate group of people with our different skills and experiences and backgrounds to solve this problem for people.”.

Jonathon [00:09:42] And if we can frame it that way, we start to provide clarity for everyone in how they’re contributing to solving that problem, and we start to then be able to have a structure where we can start to tear down silos between functions of a business. And then we can start to create a common language across those silos so everybody understands when we talk about something like customer experience, that whether you have a product manager or the CEO or somebody on the finance team talking about customer experience, they’re thinking about it and understanding it the same way. And that becomes incredibly powerful when you think about developing high-performance service-based organizations where they can really make sure the product is meeting the needs of the end consumer.

Sean [00:10:22] Yeah, that’s possibly my favorite part of your book is when you stress the importance of this common language to optimize alignment. I think the obvious place that a lot of leaders start is with the goals and you know, where we’re taking the product and customer experience is another good one. But do you have any other examples of where language is important for team optimization?

Jonathon [00:10:40] Well, I think that, you know, you have this issue that many organizations struggle with is just siloed knowledge. So knowledge management and breaking down a common language helps you actually start to create a systematic way of transferring knowledge across teams and it starts to help you elevate performance in the company as well. Because now you’re not spending as much time in meetings or transacting between people saying, “Did you understand this the same way I did? What did we actually mean by this?” And as you start to build that strength or that muscle within your culture, you start to unlock a faster and faster iterative and collaborative cycle. And when you start to do that because you have that base of knowledge, you’re accelerating trust within the organization which allows you to put more energy and time into your area of focus, whether that be solving the problem or supporting the customer in adopting that product or service that you may be offering. And so that pays huge dividends when you think about how you can engage that.

Jonathon [00:11:37] The other challenge is institutionalized knowledge that becomes siloed makes it very difficult for companies to innovate. So when we can break down those silos so that we can create that common language, not only do we open it up culturally and internally to accelerate the innovation lifecycle, what we can also do is we can start to bring in external collaborators, people with other fresh perspectives, strategic partnerships, and others that can come in and now contribute because there’s a foundational baseline of understanding that can be added to the makeup of the company. And so you are able to embrace many, many more opportunities when you start to have that clarity across the org.

Paul [00:12:15] One of the things that I think resonated with me when you were going through that was I had this image in my mind of if all we had was the knowledge management or the language that an organization’s been using, could you rebuild the team or could you rebuild the organization from the ground up? And I had this mental image of like an archeologist or forensic scientist coming through and like looking at the knowledge management that we’ve stored and what would it look like if all we had to go on to build our organization was the language that we’ve saved and the knowledge that we’ve stored? Speaking of language, you used two words that are, I think, really relevant to our audience, product ownership versus product management, and these two kind of concepts. Do you own your product? And you got the sense you didn’t mean sort of in a sort of like a certified scrum product owner sense of the product ownership. Can you differentiate? What do you mean when you use the phrases product ownership versus product management?

Jonathon [00:13:07] Sure. It’s a really important question to clarify, I think, and you’re right, it’s not intended in the way that it is within Scrum. So in the context that I’m using it, the product owner is the actual person responsible for owning the product vision. So sometimes this might be the CEO of a company, especially in a startup environment, or this may be a senior leader within the company. And so they really have a key responsibility to set the vision or strategic direction at the highest level. What’s the destination of this product? How do we measure moving forward to that destination, you know that north star, if you will? So that’s, I think, absolutely important and critical for an organization to make sure that products have clear ownership versus being distributed. Because many times then you start to see organizational conflict that the organizational structures are not in alignment.

Jonathon [00:13:56] From a product management perspective, I use that in the essence of the common definition of product management. I think a product manager is the one responsible for making sure that you understand the scope of the problem, that you understand the impact of that problem, that you’re exploring the solution space and you make sure you’re building the right things at the right time to create the maximum amount of value for both the customer in a sustainable and relevant way for the business. And so I think product management has a huge responsibility and mantle on their shoulders when it comes to taking that on versus the product owner who also carries that is the one who has to set that strategic direction as it aligns to the organization.

Paul [00:14:37] Yeah. First of all, just to clarify one thing, do you believe that they should be two different people or can they be the same person?

Jonathon [00:14:43] I think they can be the same people, but I think as an organization grows and scales, it’s beneficial to have it separate over time.

Paul [00:14:50] Yeah. So what I heard you say, then, is the product owner is the one who’s sort of the keeper of the vision, the one who is motivating the team through understanding the why. And the product manager is the one sort of laying the roadmap and helping keep things on track and prioritized in order to achieve that vision over time.

Jonathon [00:15:06] Yep.

Paul [00:15:07] Awesome.

Sean [00:15:08] Cool. Well, you alluded to this a little bit. The opposite of alignment would be some form of sabotage, which you spend a lot of time talking about in the book. So I think it would not be appropriate for us to not touch on that subject. So your belief is that this internal sabotage is probably the most common source of product or project failure. And what I captured from the reading was that it’s not necessarily that people have bad intent. What are your thoughts on what causes that misalignment?

Jonathon [00:15:33] I think that the vast majority of internal sabotage is unconsciously done and there is very little, if ever, ill intent. I’ve seen a couple of outlying cases, but in truth, most products that fail or are underperforming are not because the team didn’t care, was working super hard with the best of intentions in trying to achieve the task that was set in front of them. I think what’s really happening is that there are barriers to success that are just either not that well understood. Maybe that’s based on lack of personal experience. It can be a cultural issue within the organization.

Jonathon [00:16:12] But most often failure is attributed to lack of market fit or not understanding the user. And I think that there’s a lot of truth to that, but when you peel that back, what it does is it takes away a certain level of responsibility that an organization has to own in order to create effective products. And so, depending on what research you look at, there’s anywhere from 70 percent to 90 plus percent of digital products or initiatives are failing or underperforming, which is a staggering amount. I mean, we’re talking trillions of dollars in lost capital and opportunity globally. So there’s more to it. It’s not just market dynamics that are an issue.

Jonathon [00:16:53] And so really peeling that back, I think it’s helpful to sometimes look at some things that are just fundamental no matter whether you’ve been in business for 30 years or you’ve just come into the workforce and it’s your first year in. There are just some fundamental aspects of developing great products that leaders have proven need to be addressed again and again. And if you address it once and forget it, it’s going to come back to bite you. So this is a discipline. It’s like building a muscle. And so a couple of those examples I think are around something as simple as managing expectation. So often there’s a mismanagement of expectations. I think design is a really easy one for most people to understand where design is many times left in the eye of the beholder versus grounded in such a way where you can take an approach to design that it’s accountable to driving outcomes for users, which can lead to sometimes, “well, that’s going to take too much time, or that’s going to cost us too much.” Well, what’s the cost of the product failing?

Jonathon [00:17:52] And so with good intention to save money and time, not realizing the potentially catastrophic impacts of skipping those necessary steps and managing expectations appropriately. So we fall into another common trap, which is skipping steps. Now we skipped fundamental steps in engaging customers, if we take a customer-centric approach into the design process. I think some people also misinterpret those types of steps when they say, “Oh, well, now my customer is designing my product,” and they go back to quotes or anecdotal stories. “Well, you know, if somebody had asked Henry Ford what they wanted, it would have been faster horses instead of a car.” It’s like, “no, that’s not it, it’s about how do you involve them in the process in a thoughtful way that helps you understand their behaviors and motivations?” You might still have something that’s completely innovative and groundbreaking, but you still need to see, what’s the engagement to it? How does it respond? Does it empower the user or does it make them feel uncomfortable? If so, why? What are you asking of them in that process? Is it in the right order or not?

Jonathon [00:18:55] And so those types of things are just issues of misalignment that are root causes of failure that end up having cascading effects through the entire product lifecycle. And there’s many more of them. And one of them, we talked about siloed knowledge already, but these types of things are somewhat cancerous. And if they happen systematically, again and again within an organization, they become extremely crippling.

Paul [00:19:17] Yeah. That’s hard to hear at times but I think it’s really necessary to take a pause and reflect on what things have gone on, perhaps with the best of intentions, but just unexamined. So the place that we’ve kind of been going is, how do we take control? How do you instill the sense of autonomy to actually be a cause for this alignment that you want to exact in the organization? When you have a culture that needs a correction, what are some ways that people can get unstuck, that organizations can create this change agent mindset?

Jonathon [00:19:50] For me, I think one of the biggest foundational pieces is to reevaluate your strategy, and I think that it’s really important for a couple of reasons. One is, do you actually have a good strategy? And so this is a really subjective thing to discuss, but it’s an interesting one that I find is always really important to bring up, is how do you actually evaluate whether your strategy is good enough? And there’s a lot of frameworks out there. You know, you’ve got a framework that you’ve filled out that’s been marketed and promoted as strategy since the mid-to-late eighties when large management consulting companies started to systematize the idea of strategy to support their consulting practices, where they have brilliant people doing really great strategy work, but those frameworks have been misunderstood. Sometimes even in the academic circles and in MBA programs, you don’t see the differences being broken down systematically. It usually comes into either practice and industry or some sort of continuing education where you have a subject matter expert really tear down what is strategy.

Jonathon [00:20:54] So in this particular case, when it comes to product, and again, there are, I think, variations to this based on what markets. So a lot of this is agnostic across industries, but specifically to product, you have to have an understanding of first off, what isn’t strategy? Goals are not strategy. Ambition is not strategy. Planning is not strategy, which is probably most commonly thought of as strategy. And many times that’s happening out of order. We have an idea of what the solution is. We’re going to commit to an outcome, but we haven’t actually taken the time yet to understand the scope of the problem or the impact it has on both the business and the customer. But what it does is planning gives businesses a false sense of security. It’s why so often so many of those initiatives are over budget and don’t hit their timelines.

Jonathon [00:21:40] So we have to step back and say, “okay, if that’s not strategy, what is the foundation of strategy?” And what really we anchor to is five core elements that can now help inform everything else. And the first one I talked a little bit about already, which is what is the vision for the product? It’s not something that’s just ambitious, but it actually should be something that’s near term, meaning 3 to 5 years. So it’s easy to project out and it’s also quantifiably measured in some form, and you have to have a way to measure that destination.

Jonathon [00:22:09] The second piece is understanding the true scope of the problem space that you’re taking on. What’s the scope of the problem? How does it impact your users? What stakeholders are involved in or impacted by that? What are the symptoms of that problem? Are you addressing a symptomatic issue or a root cause? What’s the switching cost? Is that worth the transition for them? Now there’s so many pieces to understanding the problem that drive effective strategy that have to be grounded in your work going forward.

Jonathon [00:22:37] The second piece, I would say, is outcomes. And usually in a customer-centric model, a lot of times it’s looked at as, “let’s just look at what the customer outcome needs to be.” In a business-centric focus, it’s like, “well, what’s the business need to get out of it?” I would argue, well, you should look at both. And are those two things in alignment? And if you’re going to let them live in misalignment, it’s a strategic choice. Potentially you’re building or enabling a future through that next iteration or that evolution of a product or your ecosystem to support that.

Jonathon [00:23:06] The fourth one is, what’s your approach? You have a certain amount of constraints and resources based on your organization. This is really extremely relevant at any size, but especially a startup. You only have so much money and so many skills and experiences. What can you do to solve the problem in the most effective way where it’s something that customers are, users want to buy or use, and will give you an exchange in some form or fashion, whether that be time or something else in order to make sure that you are addressing the problem effectively.

Jonathon [00:23:36] And then fifth is, how are you going to measure forward progress? And not forward progress on the vision, but forward progress towards the outcomes? Because I think you need to know and the team needs to understand how their work matters. We can go back to that first level of alignment, how is their work contributing to moving the ball forward so that we’re actually fulfilling on the strategic aim and knowing that we’re actually making progress towards the longer tail vision of the company?

Jonathon [00:24:01] So this foundational piece, I just put a lot out there all at once, but there’s this just foundation of understanding. If that’s effectively done, you can have confidence in the fact that you have a good, sound strategy that then you can go test with your market and then that becomes part of that iterative approach from there to really validate and continue to fine-tune everything that happens.

Jonathon [00:24:25] I’ll say one other really quick thing before I forget about it, but I think a lot of times what happens is strategy is looked at as this one big-time thing you do up front and then you go to work. And I really want to stress the importance to anybody listening to this that strategy is episodic. It needs to happen as often in as fast as possible to support the lifecycle of your product. So if your product is only doing a release every 2 to 3 years, your strategic cycle is going to be a lot slower than somebody who’s releasing updates on a monthly basis. So we really have to understand that this flywheel that we’re on is going to be at a different pace for every business in every industry.

Sean [00:25:05] All right. If I could rephrase all of that, there was a lot in there. Strategy is having a clear vision that really articulates well who you’re serving, what problems you’re solving so that you can get both business outcomes and customer outcomes. It also includes the approach. So some sense of how you’re going to actually execute with the resources that you have, and a way to systematically measure progress. Which leads me to my very last question for you today. Before we get into wrapping up, and that is this distinction you made in the book about transactional data versus behavioral data. And I’m fascinated by that difference and I want to hear your thoughts on it.

Jonathon [00:25:40] Sure. I think one of the key things about the difference is transactional data is looking at what people are doing, where behavioral data is focused on and why people are doing it. And so we want to understand, what are the underpinning emotions? And so when we look at developing insight into behavioral data, we typically start with empathy. We start with empathy at the leadership level and we try to understand, what are they trying to accomplish? Why are they trying to accomplish it? What is influencing the things that they’re trying to do, whether it be the environment around them, people, circumstantial situations? We really try to get into their shoes to understand the motivation.

Jonathon [00:26:22] And that really starts to provide context. So when we look at somebody and what they’re doing, we understand, well, what’s driving the motivation and what’s the intended outcome of that? And so one of the things that I love to do is to look at a product and look at the different flows in the product, or features, if you will. You know, I’m registering for the product. I’m now using the product for the first time, et cetera, and understanding, “well, what’s the outcome we want and then how do we start to measure the motivation through that process?”.

Jonathon [00:26:52] And there’s a great actual case study for Box around this. When they started to shift from the transactional data to starting to look at behavioral data, they started to realize there was an opportunity to evolve their model and they shifted into a product-led growth bottom-up strategy for their product, which allowed them to say, “you know what, let’s take away the paywall altogether, let’s give away the product for free and we’re not going to charge people until they hit critical mass,” a certain level of collaboration. But they couldn’t have gotten that insight if they didn’t understand the behaviors that were driving the actual use of the product. And so that was game-changing because all of a sudden now you have a team of three or four people who had adopted the platform. And because of that insight, all the friction was removed, and then the switching costs were too high to move away. It was like, okay, “well, we’ve got this phenomenal tool, the value has been proven to us, paying for it is now a no-brainer.” And so that’s just a really quick, small example of when you really understand this behavior and what motivates people, it’s just incredibly powerful.

Jonathon [00:28:01] I think another good example these days, especially going through the pandemic for leaders, is to understand the power of empathy and that that empathetic approach can be completely transformational in the way that we communicate and design and engage. And one of the things that I’ve really loved to see over the last two years is I’ve seen leaders adopt this approach, not just using it as a tool to engage their customers, but to actually use as a leadership tool internally and start doing empathy mapping for their employees and doing discussions with a framework of empathy mapping to drive employee engagement. And they’ve been using that as a tool now for building alignment. And that’s been an incredibly powerful thing. What they’re knowing is they’re tapping in through empathy into the behavioral data to understand the people that they are working with and that they’re there to support. And that’s been one of the coolest things I’ve seen in the last two years around behavioral data.

Paul [00:29:07] That’s amazing. I think that’s a beautiful note to end on. It’s all about the people. When you start with their needs and look at their values first, I think that it’s the leaders first job. The book we’ve been talking about is Alignment: Overcoming Internal Sabotage and Digital Product Failure by the author Jonathon Hensley. Jonathon, before we let you go, we do have one question that we ask all of our guests. How would you define innovation in your own words?

Jonathon [00:29:28] Oh, boy, that’s a great question. For me, I think what innovation comes down to is unlocking untapped potential. I think it’s really about understanding the untapped potential because I think what’s innovative for one person or one industry, it’s going to happen at a different time than another. And so respecting when people are ready to take on change and drive the value creation and unlocking that potential is just, I think, an incredible thing to watch. And you can see it happening at different paces in different industries every day. And so I think innovation is directly tied to unlocking that untapped potential.

Paul [00:30:05] Great answer. I don’t think that we’ve ever had quite that perspective on the timing and the need of when the readiness is available to occur. That’s a great thought and I appreciate that. Well, it’s been a blast talking to you, Jonathon. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.

Jonathon [00:30:17] Paul, Sean, thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Sean [00:30:20] You’re welcome.

Paul [00:30:21] Cheers.

Paul [00:30:24] Well, that’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get so please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world, just like you’re doing. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next episode.

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