Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 98: Corporate Explorers with Andy Binns

May 10, 2022 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 2 Episode 98
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 98: Corporate Explorers with Andy Binns
Show Notes Transcript

 Andrew Binns is a co-founder of Change Logic, a Boston-based strategic advisory firm. He works with CEOs, boards, and senior teams as they lead significant business change. His goal is to help organizations liberate their potential to excite the world with innovation. Andy has 25 years of consulting experience as both an external and internal consultant for McKinsey & Co., the IBM Corporation, and Change Logic. At IBM, Andy was deeply involved in the Emerging Business Opportunity program, for which he received an award from IBM’s vice chairman.

Andy is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer at companies and business schools. His article, “Three Disciplines of Innovation,” co-authored with Professor Charles O’Reilly, was named Best Article in the California Management Review for 2020. He also co-authored the “Ambidextrous CEO” in the Harvard Business Review, “The Art of Strategic Renewal” in the MIT Sloan Management Review, and a book chapter on “Getting Started with Ambidexterity.” He is an executive fellow at the Center for Future Organization at the Drucker School of Management and a member of the Fast Company Executive Board. Andy attended the University of Sussex, New York University, and the Quinlan Business School at Loyola University Chicago. He holds degrees in political science, marketing, and organizational development. 

https://twitter.com/AJMBinns
https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewjmbinns/
https://www.thecorporateexplorer.com/book

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We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

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Andrew Binns:

And oh, by the way, ideas are addictive. Human beings just we love it. We love it. I'm gonna let you and I jam down on how we can solve HR, you're gonna come up with a ton of ideas and we're gonna love what we do. Right? It's

Kyle Roed:

gonna feel good. It's gonna really feel so good. This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe, favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review revelon HR rebels welcome revel HR listeners. Thank you for joining us for another week. This one is going to be fun. With us today we have Andy bins, he is co founder of change logic, a Boston based strategic advisory firm. He works with CEOs board, senior teams, and tries to help navigate all of the complexities of change. His goal is to help organizations liberate their potential to excite the world with innovation. He has a guidebook called the corporate explorer, that helps with practices that enable managers to go from idea into action, and demonstrates how success is not only possible, but may offer entrenched companies better odds than venture venture cap, venture capital backed startups. Thanks for joining us, Sandy.

Andrew Binns:

Hi, they call it very nice to be with you. Thank you for inviting me on your show.

Kyle Roed:

We're extremely excited. And you know, it's it's one of those things that this topic for me, just just spoke to me. And when I when I got the request to speak with you and I saw some of the work you were doing. I said yes, we we need to talk on the on the on the podcast. So appreciate you joining us today. And we are going to start by talking about change. So what got you interested in helping organizations understand how to innovate?

Andrew Binns:

Well, you know, I think what what got me really interested in this was, I really am a bad employee. I just hate being inside organizations at some level. And and so, you know, I, I think that I wrestled with that that issue. And the one place that things seem to click for me was when I was with IBM, this was 20 years ago. So you know, that means I'd already had, you know, 1015 years of being a bad employee before I got this one. And, and I and I got assigned to work with IBM had these emerging business opportunities. And these were like new businesses, the idea was to, to create from the assets of the company had some new places that it could explore, right? And I was like, Okay, I've not, I've not, I've read stuff about innovation, I had done some stuff in my previous consulting career around innovation. But this was the moment which my imagination fired, because I saw a place where the the rebel's to use your term could actually live in an organization, that there is a role for those who want to push the boundaries, and to take organizations in different ways. I just thought it was a neat combination of innovation in large organizations.

Kyle Roed:

I love that. And, you know, it's really interesting about that. First of all, I love that you're like, Yeah, I'm just not a good employee. But I would, I might, you know, flip that a little bit and say, you know, maybe you're not a good employee in an organization that doesn't let you be creative and innovative. Is that fair?

Andrew Binns:

Well, it's it's so so. So that that may be but but the the interesting thing that that's embedded in your question about let you be right now is that it's the organization's job to enable us, and I don't think that's very often the recipe of success, right. And so that's part of the thinking behind this book, corporate explorer, how corporations beat startups at the innovation game, is that when we look at examples of really successful innovation in large corporations, it has at the center, a rebel, somebody who is going to seize an opportunity sees a problem in the world they want to solve, and it's them who take bring the energy to bring the purpose, bring the passion to convert that into a business, and they're very rarely given the opportunity. Most of them take it right. And that for me is a little bit of the same stories. You got to take this opportunity Unity's and yes, organizations can enable I don't, we can talk about how you do that. But I just think that's an important sort of marker for the way I think about organizations and innovation.

Kyle Roed:

I think that's such an interesting point. And I had, I don't know that I've ever really thought about it that way. But you are kind of bursting all of our bubbles in HR, where we think like, it's up to us to build the, you know, the platform for innovation. But what it sounds like to me in, in what you just described is, it's more about us getting the right people empowered to do the work. And then and then getting out of their way. Am I on the right track? There?

Andrew Binns:

I think I think you are. I mean, I think that there's a little bit more we can say, but but the the the notion is that within most organizations, and after a while, this isn't true. They can get to the point where you have a hard time with this. Most organizations, there are explorers, there are people whose bias is towards how do I create, create, create? How do I do new, new new, right? And then there are people who are much more How do I optimize? How do I bring stability? How do I bring regimentation? And what you need to do is figure out how you set some number of those explorers free, not all of them, because then you just create a zoo, right? But allow some of these people to really drive give them a license to explore, if you will, and and that that is what will secure the sort of innovation outcomes that many organizations are looking for. And, and that, that that impulse that they have is very similar to an entrepreneur. So some of what they do is different. And some of what they do is very, is is the same, it's a matter of understanding the difference between the two. There's one other thing one other bubble, I want to burst Carl, if I may, which, which I think is important. So I'm afraid I'm gonna, I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna blame HR for this one. Just just just just for that good. Work there again, go ahead. Yeah, you asked me on your show. So here's what happened. And I will generalize this point in sec. I'm in Germany in an unnamed large financial services company. And I'm with the head of global talent. And we're discussing the work we've done with them to think about how to create an innovation unit to explore some opportunities that they see to go after. And this is maybe my third or fourth visit. And I say to her, so you know, leadership of this unit is really important. What progress have you made? Our Yes, Andy, we have come to a solution to this, we've decided we'll hire from outside. Because that way, if we fail, the consequences are less. Right. In other words, it won't do any harm to our talent succession if somebody fails, and we have to eject them from the system, right? outsiders have a really hard time leading innovation inside corporations, because they have no social capital. They have no track record of performance, they don't have any favors they can call on from other people. And so what we find is that ones who are really successful at this, have a track record people know them. And when they fail, because we can get onto this innovation is often about you know, this notion of rapid, failing, learn, learn by testing and so on. That you don't know, is it the person? Or is it the idea? Did they learn something? Or is it just because they're not very good. But if they're an old timer, that there's somebody who has that track record, then you know, to trust them, you say, Oh, this is somebody who we they are doing something new and we know they've done well in the past, therefore, we can trust them. And so part of getting this formula right is actually trusting the people you have already it's not about always recruiting in the Premier and entrepreneurial talent, or even entrepreneurs in residence is very much in vogue at the moment. This can get you some part of the way and it's not it's not irrelevant is part of the formula. But you've got to the corporate explorers are often Hi, social capital been in the company a while but just exploratory build relationships know how to get things done. And you get the job is how do you set them free?

Kyle Roed:

It's really that's really interesting. And it does go counter to what so many organizations do, right it's the well we need new ideas or we need to come up with you know, a new go to market strategy or whatever the innovation need is. And it's like the immediate default choices. Well, we better go hire from the outside, because we probably don't have that person inside the organization. That's the assumption, right? Like, that's like the base case assumption. But it what you just described, it's really interesting. I'm reflecting on innovation in the HR space, which is, obviously one of my favorite things to do. Sure. But a great example, in my current organization, I have been here for just about four years now. I didn't really start making any traction until about two and a half years in. And and a lot of that had to do with exactly what you described, I didn't necessarily have any social capital, I was an unproven resource. People were like, I don't know if I want to give this guy any any headcount or invest, because I don't know if the direction that we're going here is worth. Right. It's like there was like that. And so I didn't have really didn't have many resources. And and, you know, fortunately, now we're making progress. But it's it's slow. It takes a long time. But it's, it's a really interesting point.

Andrew Binns:

And it's, I've seen that in HR as well, that one of my clients has had a succession of HR leaders, they're about to get another one. And unfortunately, the the initial reaction to the person coming in, will likely be Well, is it worth me spending my time? Right, with this person? Because, you know, the last two didn't, didn't, didn't last? Either. And it's the same phenomenon? Yeah. And, you know, we just have to respect social networks, even in, you know, modestly sized organizations, right? Maybe, especially in modestly sized organizations, because they look, and often are very, you know, friendly and affiliative. But that that isn't people may like you, but that doesn't mean that they're going to help you or that they're willing to put what they have now at risk. That's the challenge.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. So I think it's, you know, I think one of the really interesting points you made as we think about, you know, things like organ design and talent selection, and where, you know, where's the right seat on the bus for this person was, was the point that you made about, you know, that balance, like the, the optimizers, and the explorers, and you know, yeah, if you have too many explorers, and it, it is a zoo, it's like a bunch of monkey monkeys swinging from tree to tree, and you're like, Well, wait a minute, Where's, where's the entrance to the zoo? Again? Like, Oh, yeah. And so so as you, as you were, you know, writing this guidebook and kind of doing your research and just in your, you know, your, your vast experience with organizations, what tactics? Have you seen that work as it relates to, you know, how do I structure an organization to, to empower the right people and optimize the right roles?

Andrew Binns:

Good, good. Yeah. So So first, we think about innovation as being about three disciplines, ideation, incubation, and scaling. And, and they're each you know, they're obviously related and, and in real life, they're not quite as separate as that makes it sound, you're often working on scaling, even as you're doing ideation, but but for the purposes of understanding that think about them as three separate disciplines. And an ideation is about really understanding, unsolved customer problems, what are the jobs that they want to do that if you were to solve for them, you know, you could develop your strong customer loyalty and attraction. Incubation is about experimenting, using data to tell you which ideas to invest in, and avoiding the trap of investing ahead of your learning is one of those great big corporate things, just spend money on it. Right, rather than let's move slowly, incrementally, incrementally testament. And then scaling is about converting successful experiment into revenue. And it's a place where most corporations or startups for that matter really struggle, right corporations have particular struggles, which is unfortunate because they have most of the assets to do the scaling but we can talk about that. One of the things that so if you've got that sense of IDEA incubate scale, you're going to treat each of these differently. Right? Ida is about engaging many people, it inside the company outside the company, deep customer insight, it's an opportunity to turn the company outside so that you drive as much outside in innovation not inside out. It's not a matter of what you know, what technologies processes products you have. It's a matter of what problems you solve. So that that's a big piece of why ideation I think also why CEOs often bring us back to ideation. because they see that opportunity to connect as more with customers. So it's okay to make that a mass involvement opportunity in a company. But you've got to select. Not everything you decide on is something that you're going to progress. At some point, you got to say, Okay, there's a downselect to a set of opportunities that you're going to, then incubate right now, in the book, we talk more about how do you set up ideation so that that's easier. And we, we talk about, you're even in ideation, narrowing around areas that have the most opportunity and things like that. But at some point, you're gonna make a hard decision. And then you incubate. And at this point, there's stuff, you start to think about, well, we're ready to invest. So I'm going to take some of Kyle's time, and I'm going to focus him on this innovation, right? So you start to, we often set up a sort of a sprint team and like an Agile process. And for the first 90 days, we've got people sequestered to a team for maybe half of their time to do this. And they're going to go through that first level of validation of the business. And then after that first 90 days, you get to decide are you going to pony up the investment to put people on 100%. And at that point, you're creating a venture that you're going to separate away from the core business, right, you've got a separate and explore unit from the core business doesn't have to be off in a different building, some people do put it in a different building or a different city. And but even if it's just a different floor, or if there's a corner of the building that you can give it to, because often when you're exploring into new areas, it needs to work in a different way of a different culture, different working practices, because you might be addressing a different customer set or business model or whatever. And then the scaling story, you're definitely into this as a separate organization with its own routines and so on. And so that that's that sort of it changes as the innovation matures. Essentially. It's like getting it what you're thinking. Yeah, that,

Kyle Roed:

yeah, that's very helpful. And I think just, you know, just the, you know, kind of the systematic way to how innovation works. You know, it's interesting, because a lot of times we hear you hear these stories, right, like the lightbulb moments and somebody you know, somebody was trying to they were doing something, you know, at 3am and stumbled across scotch tape. Right. And it was because someone was trying to do some other random project that absolutely didn't work. But, you know, they stumbled into it. And, and you hear about these, but I mean, so often we're kind of we're almost like, paralyzed like, Okay, well, how do I how do I actually make that happen in my organization? Right, like, like, how do we how do we figure out scotch tape on accident?

Andrew Binns:

And, and, and Kyle, I think it's maybe where you're going, my reaction is we're solving the wrong problem. That we're solving the how do I get lots of ideas, problem, and, and oh, by the way, ideas are addictive. Human beings, just, we love it, we love it, I'm gonna let you and I jam down on how we can solve HR, we're gonna come up with a ton of ideas, and we're gonna love what we do,

Kyle Roed:

right? It's gonna feel good, it's gonna really feel

Andrew Binns:

so good. But but but the problem is about is all about incubation and scaling. And, and it's not about creativity, as I've got nothing gets creativity, I've got to think about generating lots of ideas. But really, we're focused in the wrong place. And this is one of the challenges that corporations get into. So that's why we ended up with with innovation schemes that just have t shirts, or mugs or, or big, large scale events, or, you know, jam berries of ideas, rather than doing the the that that committed stuff of actually innovating. And the energy can't come from the organizational own, it's got to come from these corporate explorers. That's why they're so important because that that is what works externally, you know, venture capitalists rely on great entrepreneurs, and they look for serial entrepreneurs, right? People who know how to do this, that it's in their bones to be an explorer. And, and that is what what you see in corporate explorers as well, is people who just have that passion commitment. And also, this may be different to many entrepreneurs, selflessness, they have to be ready to let other people make them successful. And so that means sometimes they're less showy, less. It's all about me than then then then we're looking for, right. So you might have explorers in your organization, you haven't realized it, because they don't make as much noise. But actually, their capacity to lead and opacity toward identifying opportunities may be outstanding. And that's certainly the case that we see in some of these stories in our book.

Kyle Roed:

That's a really interesting point. And I'm reflecting so my organization where we make equipment manufacturing equipment, you know, capital, big grinders and things like that, you know? And so we have a lot of engineers, and it's, you know, mechanical minded engineers, people who are just trying to figure out, okay, how do I make this? How do I make this work a little bit better? How do I help out a customer? And some of our best innovators, as you describe that, you know, I'm thinking through some of the like, we're talking like, literally industry changing innovators. They're super introverted. They're not show they would never take credit for anything, despite all the publications that proved them wrong. Yeah, and, and but, but they are just they are churning out that work. And to the point that, you know, the the industry looks at them as innovators, not just the organization, and you know, and, and if we don't incubate those those folks and allow them the opportunity to scale. Anybody in the industry would hire them, sight unseen, at whatever salary they asked for, which would not be much because they're humble and selfless. And, you know, and it's, it's a really interesting point, you know, a lot of times we think about these flashy, you know, Tesla driving entrepreneurs, maybe that's not the right profile.

Andrew Binns:

That's right. And, and many of these innovation programs involves setting up, you know, high profile innovation labs, and so on, which I think instantly have a role. But they they're not the same as what you just talked about, you know, but none of these people had an innovation lab.

Kyle Roed:

They had an office with a, with a couple of greasy parts and some and an idea.

Andrew Binns:

Thanks, exactly. Now, sometimes you need to think about how can I do a dynamic duo, right? So maybe they're so introverted, they can't commercialize, or they're not very customer connected. And actually, if you look at many successful startups, like Yahoo, or Google, you actually see a dynamic duo, there's an insider and an outsider. And sometimes you have to look at that kind of combination to get the right sort of corporate explorer effect that you're looking for.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And, you know, I think it's, this is just really kind of interesting. I think the thing that is, is probably my favorite thing about this conversation is it's, it's turning so many things on their head that we kind of just assumed about innovation. And I think a lot of times we're really reading like some of the it's, it's almost like, you're reading the headline without reading the article about innovation. And you just assume like, oh, this person's this person's a genius. Nobody else could ever figure this out, you know, and, or this this, this organization has, you know, has this figured out because they just, they hired the smartest people. But you know, there's more to it than that. So, as you were, you know, putting this guidebook together, I've got to believe that you probably learned quite a bit and through some of the research process, what were some of the things that actually surprised you, as you were putting together this, this resource?

Andrew Binns:

So, so one of the things that surprised me, in a way is just how many examples of corporate explorers are out there. I just, you know, we started with the premise from our own experience, but then the more we looked at, the more we found, and it's interesting, it's kind of like the, it's because it makes the the statement, you know, big company innovates in a new area, it's, it's just not a headline, right. And so we don't see it, and therefore we believe the notion that it doesn't exist, right. And so we were it was, it was extraordinary, how many and how many have actually turned up since we wrote the book. You know, people who reach out to me one of the ones I've enjoyed most of all is this lady Yoky Matsuoka at Panasonic. And Yoky was on the founding team for nest, the, you know, the thermostat now owned by, by by Google. So she's a serial entrepreneur, crazy smarts, AI person, MIT, PhD, and so on. And now, she works for Panasonic. She's been she lived in America for many years, I think, to instance, a teenage years. So she's got Japanese and American. But now she set up this thing called yo labs, working for Panasonic and executive officer of the company, creating new ventures for them. And, and, and, and I and I was like, wow, that I had no idea that a Japanese a big Japanese company was making those kinds of steps. And we've seen it many other places as well. That sort of says just the surprise of the of the amount that's out there.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it is. It is fun. Because I started my organization or my career in an organization with, with 300,000 employees, and everything was a best practice, right? Like, you literally had a guidebook on, oh, how do I What binder in my office goes on what shelf? Right? And it was, it was all about control. You know, don't You're a cog in the wheel don't step outside of it, or you get smashed, you know? And so yeah, to me hearing the term play in a large organization and innovation, it's kind of like, you know, it's, it's okay, that's a buzzword, right, it sounds good. You put it on a recruiting flyer, but what does it actually like? Like to work there? Right, so. So at those organizations that have have kind of figured this out? Do you consider it a? Is it an art? Is it the ability to spot that talent as they're hiring people? Or do you consider it more of an ability to develop people that just kind of have this natural inclination? Or any insights there?

Andrew Binns:

Yeah, I think I think we do need to make this identification of of talent, probably when they've been recruited, I don't know that you you bake it into a recruitment process, necessarily. But certainly, when you've recruited people into the company, are these explorers, how many explorers have you got? And in your talent management system, you know, tag them be aware of who they are. And there are good, you know, tools that will will tell you this. So there's one bifocal human insight in the Netherlands, that does a great profile actually have a whole team that says, Are they exploratory, or are they more stability oriented, and so on. We talk a lot about that. But it's so good to also use something like that there are there are others out there that will do something similar. And and and then I think the other thing you need to do is create these opportunities where they feel they have the license to explore. And so in one of our clients, it was a particular project, they set up for the, the Internet of Things, it's a technology firm, they wanted to figure out how they could connect more of their devices to to the cloud and use AI to add value added services. And so they just invited people to join a series of teams to go explore those opportunities, and set up processes like that. But processes that have a clear decision making. Approach tied to them, so you don't get into the zoo with ideas that never end. And so you're you're going to do identification of the explorers, and we're going to do, I'm gonna have a license to explore. And I'm going to have some way of picking the winners out of that process, and then separating them out because as you say, this core business or exploit business operating system will kill them, unless they've got a separate explore business system, we need to have some separation. And this is this is the, you know, one of the two or three biggest things that the organization can do to make this work is is create that separation, and allow them to operate in a different way be measured differently, not on, you know, the lag outcome results of revenue and customer adoption, but on, you know, how many milestones have they hit? What are they learned? How close are they to, to this sort of indicators that they're being successful? And if you can do that piece, right, then then you'll be a long way forward to empowering your explorers.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, I think that's really interesting. You know, what's interesting about that is it's the, it's the same idea as the large organization who is very structured has, but it's putting that structure in into a format that actually fosters the exploratory, you know, success. Right. It's, you know, we always talk, we talk about KPIs all the time, right. And it's always, you know, quality delivery on time, you know, etc. And, you know, but when you're talking about innovation, you know, yeah, I can't remember the organization now. But, you know, I know, the organization that that actually tracks, how much failure Do you have? I think it's, I think it's, it gets Mars, or they actually track, you know, yeah, you have to have so many failures this month, or you're not successful.

Andrew Binns:

Well, you must be sandbagging. Right. If right? If you have a file, right, it's because you're safe. Yeah.

Kyle Roed:

Right. Yeah. So really, really fascinating. And, and I think, you know, from my standpoint, I'm just thinking, geez, I don't know, I don't know that we do a good enough job with that. Right? You know, we're still trying to fit our explorers into the same box as everybody else. You know, one of the things that I think through is you know, compensation and incentive programs. And so we're trying to figure out right now what what what is an incentive program that makes sense that is controllable, that makes sense, but also allows for the, you know, the kind of the entrepreneurial flexibility that we need to innovate. So what what are your thoughts there on,

Andrew Binns:

so this, this is a chapter in our book is around rewards and incentives. And, and, and so there's, there's, there's an assumption, again, that the best way to get corporate explorers in your organization is to figure out how to play pay them in a way that reflects what an entrepreneur might get. Right. And, and, you know, in some cases, that's led to companies actually spinning out a company with employees in it, and then buying them back again, and having them operate in the company. All that meant is that suddenly you're sitting next to a millionaire. And that didn't really help employee engagement or

Kyle Roed:

could be more reducing.

Andrew Binns:

Right. And, you know, the funny thing is that all of the really successful explorers that we talked about in the book like Jim peck at LexisNexis, right, which is an Ohio Company, right, and they built this LexisNexis Risk Solutions, or we talked about Christine curtisha, una Cara insurance in Hungary are now Austria, or Kevin Carlin at Analog Devices, creating this condition based monitoring business. They didn't have any special incentives. Yes, they benefit it personally. And Jim has now in his third gig as a CEO, right. So, you know, their careers grew, they've done well, you know, hopefully financially as well. But there was no special incentive scheme to allow them to do that, I think there are some modifications you can make, maybe to, to put them on longer term incentives rather than a thing, that shorter term, but But this sort of shadow stock, and all these other kinds of ways of giving special incentives, I think you could lead to some very unfortunate outcomes, and there's no evidence that they're needed. What's needed is, you know, this, this, giving them the license, putting them in a position that they can succeed.

Kyle Roed:

You know, I think that's really interesting. And it reminds me of, you know, all the research around incentives, you know, especially monetary incentives, or, you know, short term incentives, you know, that a lot of times we put this this goal in place, or this metric, and we think, okay, if this metric is achieved, here's the incentive, and that is going to impact human behavior in a positive way, because that this is a driver. But I can only assume that in your research and in your work with corporate explores that many of them are probably not as driven by by money, but they're more driven by the opportunity to make a change or make a pact or innovate.

Andrew Binns:

That's right. I mean, and one of the corporate explorers that we talked about, he, he had this idea, so this is Christian coalition in Hungary, he had this idea for a entirely new insurance business model. And in the book, we tell the story of how he gets agreement from his managers to go forward with it. But he also took it to venture capitalists, he had two firms ready to back into spin it out as his own firm. And he makes the choice to stay inside, knowing that the financial rewards would be different. But you know, it's a part of his tolerance of risk, the sorts of risks he wants to take, right? We often miss we think risk is just being one kind of risk and lots of different risks we take. And he was willing to take the risk of moving or being unpopular with his colleagues. Right. And but but but he wanted to stay within a corporate environment, because he liked the assets and the ability to get things done. And he liked the people. He's a part of a system. You know, he actually likes where he is, and the people that he's that he's where he's a part of that community, right. And so that it's for him, the finance wasn't important at what I've done, it wasn't as important. I'm sure he cares about money. But what mattered was that he could do this and reinvent his own firm, because he's a part of that firm. It's a part of that community matters to it. It's part of his values to be that it's part of his value did this from Hungary, for this is now moving across Europe. And it matters to him to be a proud Hungarian as well. And the same is true of, you know, in Ohio, I'm sure. It's like, what the difference you make to your community, to your city to your company, actually, for some folks is a big motivator in all of this.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, just take a look at how many people were like college football teams on their Yes, on their clothes. Sometimes that sometimes that drive is is as important or very important. So I do want to talk, I have one more question and cut out in the same vein. And it's I think it's about organizations who are changing rapidly and becoming more corporate. So you know, going through a growth journey and, you know, naturally when you get bigger, you start to put in more stuff, more bureaucracy, more controls, more, you know, more of a corporate mass to make sure that things are checking and out and everything so, so how do organizations retain? What got them there, that entrepreneurial edge, that innovative spirit, you know, what, what are the strategies to make sure you don't lose your kind of your core purpose there,

Andrew Binns:

they said, This is really important to call and, and we've been, we've consulted to a couple of firms that we would call unicorns. And, you know, they've both gone public, and in the last, in the last year through the SPAC route to going public. And, and it is actually the story, we've always been entrepreneurial, we're now you know, one of them a billion dollars in value in revenue, as well as in value, more value. And, and when there's new things we want to do, but as we started to try to do them, we struggled, we couldn't do the thing. And it comes back down to the founding team. Right? So in both of these stories, what we find is that the entrepreneur that started it didn't have a system for replicating what he did, right. And it is both he and these in the in these instances. And that their response was to, to want to continue to control as much as possible on the grounds that, you know, they're the smartest people in the room. And they structured the organization and its innovation in such a way that everything came back to them. Contrast that with Jeff Beezus. Right. Maybe not our poster child and everything.

Kyle Roed:

He does have a spaceship. He does

Andrew Binns:

have a spaceship. Yeah. Yeah, the corporate explorer how to innovate without the spaceship, that's what I should have called. For be sauce has has a has a recipe. Right? He has a, everybody gets the right to propose new ideas. And he's got this PR FAQ system, one page, press release, what the customers get out of my innovation FAQ, frequently asked questions, my backup as to the kinds of questions you might have about how we're going to get it done. Right system for how that can get proposed. And if you have an idea that people like, Okay, well, I'll give you a two pizza team. In other words, only so many people can be fed by two pizzas, right to go work that up into an MVP. And we'll take it into trial and find out this is the incubate piece that I talked about. And then when he scales, Amazon has all these separate units that operate with some high degree of autonomy, but they're all linked by two things. They're linked by API's, so everything is interoperable. And secondly, by a management system that is consistent, so they can all all of their performances transparent, and the comparison to others is transparent. And so this is the difference. Do I think I replicate innovation results? Just by my personality? Or do I put in place some minimal system that allows ideas to come up and give them the autonomy without sacrificing the access to the the assets of the core business, if you will? So make sense? We

Kyle Roed:

think, yeah, yeah, that, you know, it's, it's a really interesting example, and I'm just reflecting on, you know, your, you know, kind of your comment that, that corporate innovators have an advantage over some of these VC firms. And it sounds like, to me, it's, I mean, some it's the systems it's the structure that can enable the scaling in the in the incubating and not just the not just the light bulb ideas.

Andrew Binns:

And the fallacy that many of us sit with is that, that it's the ideas that matter, right? We all think that like Polaroid and Kodak and Nokia and these other firms that they got disrupted and kicked out of, you know, sending to bankruptcy because they didn't see digital technologies coming. They didn't see digital photography, or they didn't see app stores and touchscreens and smartphones. totally untrue. They all had the technology. They all had the insights in Polaroid had the world's first megapixel camera in the market in the 90s. The issue is they couldn't execute. It's about how do you use these assets, that makes the difference, not whether you have the ideas. And that is the hard part of it. You know, I've portrayed a very positive story. And my, I've written this book with two professors, you know, Mike tashman from the Harvard Business School, charter writing from Stanford. And so, I've got another story about what it's like to have, you know, Harvard and Stanford professor marking your work every week.

Kyle Roed:

Sounds a little

Andrew Binns:

intimidating. But if God was gonna say that, what did I say before then?

Kyle Roed:

You were talking about the execution. And and then we've had a positive slant on this.

Andrew Binns:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, so my my tashman, my Trashman always says, What are the counterfactuals and it's all very well to have these great stories, but it has to be, and there are counterfactuals in the book, and the biggest Digi, right, and how it pursued GE Digital and, and what killed it was the social network, right. And so a lot of the sort of, there was a lot of view that if you have the CEO support, you must succeed. Well, you had all the support Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE could possibly give him it, the guy stuck his future on this strategy to be a software company. And and and that those weren't the things that killed Bill Rue, the leader of GE Digital, it was the sort of silent killers in the organization, like the system of optimization, and so on. So I do need to, to highlight that this can be tough as well, notion.

Kyle Roed:

That sounds like everything in HR, you know, you start with these great intentions, and then, and then oh, wow, this is, this is a lot harder than we thought it was gonna be.

Andrew Binns:

HR has a has a core explore problem the whole time because, you know, I want to get paid, I don't want to and if I manage it, I don't want to end up in prison for some breach of regulation. Yeah, there is a there is a core business of HR that you cannot screw up. And then there has to be an explore, you have to again, see these as separate. And I think this notion of separating the two may be appropriate in HR as well, rather than trying to make everything I personally hugely dislike, the the the the auto wreck model of the the HR generalist, because the generalist, and it's in that name, I don't I don't think this is, well, I think it's open to challenge as to whether that really is the role of HR, right? And that you because the skills of delivering the repeatable results, on pay conditions, employment law, are completely different to, I'm going to figure out how to do innovation, I'm going to figure out how to contribute strategic skills, I'm going to figure out how to make hires, and refresh our leadership team on board. So I just think that these are two different things as well.

Kyle Roed:

I actually I agree, 100%. And it's me, and maybe this is just, you know, I'm just happy that you said that, because that's how I've structured my department. But, you know, it's it's the, you know, I agree wholeheartedly, and I think it comes down to the research on, you know, behavioral competencies, and what people are actually good at, and what strengths do they have, you know, the person who is the compliance and payroll, and all of the really, really critical stuff that you can't screw up, that, you know, the competencies that they have, are very different than the competencies that I have, which is strategy and cultural sensitivity, and, you know, being flexible to change and dealing with dynamic situations and really emotional situations. And, you know, it's just, there's a dichotomy, you know, a human can't be all those things, right? It's just the reality of the situation. So I agree. Now for all you HR people have one out there and you got an entire department and you are a true generalist, you know, I feel I've been there too. But if at all possible, if you you know, if you can be aware of that and and as you think about your organization, if there are things in structure to allow for, you know, a little bit of a diversion of how you measure success, but depending upon the the the actual task That would be my recommendation there. So yeah,

Andrew Binns:

yeah, no, that's fine. I should say, it's easy to think about what I'm this corporate explorer story as only being about the largest organizations. But I can give you quite small organizations that have done this as well. Certainly, once below 100 employees, there will be a point at which is hard because you can't split an individual. I get that. So there is a point at which is difficult. But certainly the 20s 30s and upwards, I can point to organizations with corporate explorers who renew themselves.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. Well, this has been just a wonderful conversation. Unfortunately, we are coming to the end of our time together. So I do want to get through the rebel HR flash round questions. Yes, go for it. fascinating to hear these answers. All right. Question number one, what is your favorite people book?

Andrew Binns:

My favorite people book, my favorite people book right now is the one by Reed Hastings around Netflix. That I love the way that he describes, yes, the sort of way in which he, you know, with his HR leader deliberately constructs the culture at at Netflix. But I also love that it starts with a sort of humility, of, you know, we didn't get here with a brilliant, like, Oh, I was always going to do this. We realized we were screwing up, we had a problem we had to solve. And and if we were going to scale this business, we needed to change. I thought that was a tremendous, really fun book, and very insightful because of that humility.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And talk about an innovator, right? I mean, you know, from from mailing DVDs to your house, to Yeah, you just push a button on your remote and you can watch wherever you want.

Andrew Binns:

And they have they have reinvented themselves several times. And there's a Harvard case that will tell you how they could never make a move from DVDs to streaming. People bet against them. At that point,

Kyle Roed:

I wish I would have bought that stock a while yes, no. All right, question number two, who should we be listening to?

Andrew Binns:

So I have to say that I don't listen to a lot of business podcasts. So I listened a lot to a gentleman called Mike Duncan, who has done a bunch of podcasts, one of them the history of Rome, but I'm an addict of his of his very long running sequence of revolutions, podcasts. And he's gone through the British revenue, the the English Civil War revolution, the American Revolution, until I became a citizen, I'd call that the the rebellion. But you know, now I recognize the revolution,

Kyle Roed:

allowed to be a citizen, if you call it that, and I think that's on the test.

Andrew Binns:

That's right, the French, the French Revolution, and so on. And what's really interesting is that when you listen to like these 10 revolutions, you get a few things. And revolutions happen when when people resist change when they tried to stop renewable, right, when they don't explore into the future, adequately, or learn their way into the future. And so in this in these stories of history, you get the same stories of what happens to companies that don't renew themselves. And I just love I love the way he presents it. And, and the so Mike Duncan is who people should listen to.

Kyle Roed:

Awesome, thank you. All right, last question. Great conversation today, just wonderful content. How can our listeners connect with you and get their hands on the corporate explorer?

Andrew Binns:

Well, please go to Amazon or your favorite e Commerce event vendor and look for corporate explorer by Andrew bins, Mike Cashman and Charles Riley, the corporate explorer.com

Kyle Roed:

Awesome. Absolutely. It just wonderful, wonderful conversation today really appreciate you coming on and sharing a different perspective, from the kind of the conventional wisdom and really, really kind of stretching our minds here a little bit. So thank you, Andy.

Andrew Binns:

Thank you, Carla. Enjoyed it enormously. And thanks to all of your listeners and, and people buy the book. Read the book. Love your feedback.

Kyle Roed:

Perfect. Thanks. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe