Welcome to this week’s episode of #ForWhatit’sWorthwithBlakeMelnick. This is part 2 of my interview with #Dr.TomCarey called #BridgingtheGap”, part of our new innovation series the #ManyFacesofInnovation
In last week’s episode Tom and I discussed the challenges facing Canada around innovation as well as some of the ways in which we can make #innovation more understandable, accessible and actionable within both high ed and workplace settings in order to ensure every graduate is innovation capable and every employee is able to contribute to innovation within their organization.
In this weeks episode Tom and I reflect on many ideas that we discussed in the first episode, originally recorded back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic when the ways in which we approached learning and work were fundamentally changed, and see where things stand now. We also go deeper into the Mindsets, Skills, Knowledge and Experiences that underpin innovation capability and we explore ways in which we can “Bridge the Gap” between academic institutions and workplaces, leading to systemic improvement in Canada’s overall capacity for innovation …For What it’s Worth
And if you like the show please share it out to your networks, and consider making a small donation to the cause by buying us a coffee, using the Support the Show link
The Music for Today's Show, "Land We Knew by Heart” is written and performed by @BlairPackham. Check out Blair's Interview on our Pass the Jam series
Click HERE to visit the Blog post for this episode
Other Important Links:
Knowledge Management Institute of Canada
The Many Faces of Innovation Part 2 – Bridging the Gap
[00:00:00] Blake Melnick: Tom, it's great to have you back on the show again. And I'm really looking forward to revisiting some of the things we discussed in the first episode that was, a year and a half ago. It was a long time ago and see where things stand with respect to some of the predictions that we made and some of the points that were discussed.
[00:00:15] And then of course look forward to some of the work that you've been doing since the last time we spoke. And we want to talk to you in detail about that. So, let's begin by going back to your definition of entrepreneur versus intrapreneur. And I really love that you stated an entrepreneur is someone who starts a new endeavor in order to enable a particular form of innovation, whether it's a product or a service or a new business model or structure an intrapreneur starts a new venture within an established organization.
[00:00:41] And again, that could be a new product line, a new service, a new business platform, or a new business model, but starting something like that within established organizations means you're faced with a set of challenges that are different from those of the entrepreneur. So, I've given a lot of thought to this. I think this is a great differentiator, and it made me [00:01:00] reflect on whether I'm more of an intrapreneur than an entrepreneur. I think we throw everything into one basket and call everybody in entrepreneur. But the intrapreneur is a really interesting distinction because of course, when you're trying to work on furthering the ability of graduates and employees to be innovation capable, the distinction becomes really important.
[00:01:20] And I love the fact that your definition makes some of these characteristics and attributes of the innovator more accessible. Any changes in your thinking around this.
[00:01:30] Tom Carey: A couple of points Blake the term entrepreneur is going through the usual watering down when it hits popular culture and starts to mean whatever people want it to mean. So, I keep hearing folks. Who are say, joining a franchise business and setting up a copy store or storage business or something of that sort, according to somebody else's cookie cutter model and good for them I'm all in favor of that, but when those kinds of people say to me, I'm [00:02:00] an entrepreneur, I'm thinking what's new about that?
[00:02:03] It's new to you. Yes. And there's a financial risk involved in terms of whether your market research is accurate or whether somebody else sets up down the road from you in the same business, et cetera. But the basic product or process or business model has been well-proven and that's why you're paying a franchise.
[00:02:22] So I try not to argue with people about it, but it's just, Hey, that word has a very specific meaning. Certainly, in research circles. And if you water it down, then we're going to have to find a new word. We could talk about an entrepreneurial innovator or something at that, sort. As opposed to an entrepreneurial innovator anyway, intrepreneur isn't out in popular culture yet.
[00:02:45] So it hasn't been watered down. So it at least still has that meaning that I put forward when you interviewed me here a half or so ago. The other point I wanted to make since that time, of course, we've gone through two iterations of our course unit [00:03:00] on understanding workplace innovation in Melbourne, Australia.
[00:03:04] And one of the things that really struck me on our first. Iteration of that. What we in innovation would call the MVP, prototype a minimum viable product, put something out there that provides value for the folks who engage with it. But isn't close to where you think it's going to be down the road, you put it out there in order to test the business case if this minimum viable product meets a need for you and engage with it, and you think it was a good use of your investment, whether it's your investment of time as a student or your investment of money as a customer or whatever, then that's a really great signal to us that we're on track.
[00:03:41] So we did that we offered a course unit in term two in Australia, which was August to November of 2020, and limited it to 40 students because we said we really want to know these students and. Be able to read them as we go, because we're [00:04:00] not quite making it up as we go along, but we are doing a lot of revisions as we offer the unit as we see our students respond to it
[00:04:08] The way I had originally proposed the course intrapreneurship was the last topic. So from a logical point of view, you go from the simplest skills for innovation up to the most complex. And intrapreneurship is the most complex activity you can take on as an employee who is in an organization in terms of innovation.
[00:04:27] But fortunately, the lead instructor Dr. Felix Nobus knew the students a lot better than I did and said, no, we should put intrapreneurship up front because the students are going to see people, all the case studies are very exciting. They're very engaging. Students are going to see people like them.
[00:04:44] This is not a tech entrepreneur, and there's just not any Elon Musk. This is somebody who graduated in a field like mine, who happens to be working for that company or that public agency or that not-for-profit, and is doing something really exciting, really innovative with [00:05:00] a lot of pivots involved, as you figure the thing out while you're working your way through it.
[00:05:04] Felix recognized how much that would inspire the students. Wow. Somewhere down the road, I could be doing that kind of thing. And so I now say to other instructors, this is going to sound silly, but you've got to put that Intrapreneurship up front. I had a bunch of video case studies with pointed to, from the league of intrapreneurs and that really generated enthusiasm and energy so there's two comments about entrepreneurship.
[00:05:28] Blake Melnick: I love what you said there, because when I reflect on your definitions intrapreurship is far more accessible to people than entrepreneurship. in so far as people can do it without having deep pockets venture capitalists behind them. It's something that they can do in the context of things that they're already engaged in doing. So do you think there is room or a necessity for a standalone program in higher Ed focused on intrapreneurship rather than entrepreneurship?
[00:05:55] Tom Carey: In a sense, what we're doing in the Workplace Innovation [00:06:00] Network for Canada, is headed in that direction.
[00:06:02] Not directly to intrapreneurship. What we're saying is everybody can engage with and contribute to innovation in the workplace, which I think is your point, right? You can do it where you are, and we start people off with the simplest of those skills job crafting, which is a social process between you and your manager.
[00:06:23] And then we build up from there to say, now, what about a team exercise? What about a cross-functional team with people of different perspectives and come with different interests and different concerns. And that builds up to intrapreneurship. In that model, every student gets a conceptual understanding of intraprenurship.
[00:06:41] We can't the lifetime of a typical higher education course of four months or whatever we can't give you a working opportunity that we can give you a working opportunity with a lot of skills that had you in that direction. And you can now see, Hey, I could acquire those skills. A lot of the skills and intrapreneurship are political.
[00:06:59] How do I get people [00:07:00] on side? If this is a disruptive innovation and some people's current turf is going to change because of that I have to think of all of these things and how to deal with that, how to make the business case for what we're proposing. That, to me, it would be what we think of as a graduate attribute, the same way that.
[00:07:20] Every employee retake in and therefore every graduate from higher education has to be competent in teamwork and collaboration and communication and quantitative reasoning. These are kind of fundamental skills for work in any domain. We think that the capability to engage with innovation and help shape innovation to contribute to innovation, that's going to be a basic competency that we should start building into our higher Ed curriculum because it's going to be showing up in the job ads and the role definitions that companies and public agencies Every organization is going to be looking for.
[00:07:57] Blake Melnick: That's a great point. I think one of those skills and [00:08:00] we'll talk about it later in the interview, but one of those important skills is negotiation, negotiating, how your ideas will fit with the culture of the organization and the hierarchy of the organization, which brings me to another question about the current state of things in businesses.
[00:08:15] Do you think that workplace organization would see intrapreneurial attitudes or ambitions as being a threat? My experience as a knowledge manager in the workplace is that when there are big complex problems that management is trying to solve, typically the answer to those problems reside within the workforce itself. And specifically within the heads of experienced employees.
[00:08:37] But oftentimes these people don't come forward with the answer simply out of fear. They don't want to upset the apple cart. They don't want to upset their manager. Inadvertently create more work for them. Essentially, they avoid speaking up because they see it as a potential career limiting move. So they stay silent. Even though, they know the answer so how do we get beyond this?
[00:08:57] Tom Carey: One of the things we introduced in our Melbourne of course this [00:09:00] year in the 20 1200 version, there was a module at the end about how do you take these skills into the workplace? And half of that is about how do you explain what it is you've done and what you've learned from it, and therefore what you can do for a potential employer.
[00:09:15] So your resume or CV, how do you answer interview questions about what you've done, but the other half of that module is about what do you look for in a company? Because not every company, as you've just pointed out is going to be able to leverage your innovation capability, to create value. There'll be internal barriers.
[00:09:32] There'll be not invented here, problems and so on. And so we use the fifth element model workplace innovation, Europe who are really the pioneers with a lot of this. And they include individual capability as one of the key components, but they also look at what kinds of organizational capability do we need, how do we give employees a sense that they have a voice and not just a stake in things, but they can really influence and shape how we move [00:10:00] forward.
[00:10:00] There are folks looking at that and I found some really excellent work on it.
[00:10:03] Blake Melnick: It's a big challenge because as we both know, it really comes down to creating a culture that supports innovative behavior, innovative thinking and so on and so forth. Requires a flattening of the organization, more interdepartmental or inter functional collaboration and knowledge sharing, distributed decision making and many organizations are still very much structured around the hierarchical model and for those people that want to help facilitate change, that want to be intrapreneurs, may find it very difficult to be able to apply those skills and mindsets in certain organizations.
[00:10:38] But I do sense given the circumstances around the pandemic and everything that's brought about, that organizations are being forced to rethink the way they operate, the way they do things, around here in order to attract these more innovation capable employees interpreters entrepreneurs people are spending a lot of time thinking [00:11:00] about where they want to work, what type of organization they want to work for that will allow them to apply their energy, their enthusiasm, their knowledge in a different way.
[00:11:11] In some ways there's a bit of a push me, pull you going on, where organizations are going well. If we really want to attract the best and the brightest, we're going to have to change the way we do things. Do you think that's true?
[00:11:23] Tom Carey: In terms of folk’s attitudes toward working remotely, I have a couple of close family members who are involved in strategic HR planning.
[00:11:30] And they have data saying our employees are quite happy working at home. And so we may never go back to the five days a week at the office. Some of them are setting up the three day a week at the office with one day one, we're all there. And we have an effect Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday group, and a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday group some version of that because the other thing that seems to be under the current of those responses are getting, we're quite happy working with the [00:12:00] office.
[00:12:00] There's likely a caveat as long as everyone else's, as long as we're all in that same situation. If there's a group that's going to be full-time at the office. Seeing each other every day. And there's a group who aren't then maybe that box that I talked about, how happy I was working from home might change.
[00:12:20] the jury's still out on that one. And I saw one company in downtown, Toronto announced last week. Hey, we're all coming back. And what I've heard about the company, we're all coming back so that we can spur each other on, to work incredibly long hours and get our performance bonuses and blah, blah, blah.
[00:12:36] So that culture of really high performance that's maybe based on not the best quality of home life that does dissipate when people are working from home. there are companies who, in response to that, are very likely to say, we want our employees around so that you can tell who's checking out early or actually achieving some measure of work-life balance because we as an organization, aren't sure we want that. [00:13:00]
[00:13:00] So maybe it's going to be easier to separate the sheep from the goats in terms of organizations. I really want me in the office eight don't trust me or B think that I won't be crazy enough to
[00:13:12] Blake Melnick: I remember a few years ago when the head of Yahoo, Marissa and mayor was charged with restructuring the company. And she said, look, this is how we're going to work. You'll be able to work remotely when your work is individual task-based work. But when we need to come together in order to make a decision to launch a new initiative report on a project, you'll be expected to be in the office.
[00:13:37] And isn't it really a simple matter of looking at the work itself. If the work is individual and task based and can be done better at home. Reduce loss productivity as a result of unnecessary travel while giving employees more flexibility, less stress, more time with their families, then let people do the work from wherever they want. But where the work is team-based requires [00:14:00] collaborative decision-making or where consensus is necessary. Then you have to come in. From my experience as an executive, when I needed to get work done. Prepare a board presentation, build an operating plan or something of that nature. I would work from home. I simply couldn't get enough focused time at the office to do this work effectively. There were too many interruptions and distractions. And I was spending a lot of time dealing with other people's issues rather than my own work. So I guess I wonder whether coming out of this pandemic we're going to see organizations actively developing a hybrid mixed work model based on the nature of work itself?
[00:14:36] Tom Carey: That seems likely, but as I say, that competitive aspect is what concerns me a bit that if I think you're getting more. FaceTime because you're at the office and I'm not does my skillset give me enough of a competitive advantage?
[00:14:52] Blake Melnick: That's a good point.
[00:14:52] Tom Carey: So it's yeah. One of the things we found with this course unit in Melbourne last year, when we were setting it up, I had argued very [00:15:00] strongly. We can't do this online the first time we're going to be doing design thinking and a bunch of things that are difficult to do online.
[00:15:06] You can do them, but it takes a fair amount of preparation. And really the time unit that we've been given has been set up for face to face activities, and the students won't have those skills. So I argued very strongly that we need to start with a small cohort of students and we need to do it face to face
[00:15:24] then the pandemic hit Melbourne went into a serious lockdown. There wasn't any choice, six weeks from now, you're going to be teaching this online and you better be ready. And it worked, it actually worked and it worked better than I thought part of it was that again, we had many team activities and the students had to collaborate both domestic students and international because we have a lot of students who were in China and Malaysia and other places.
[00:15:46] But for many of them, our course unit was the only one involving teamwork, right? So it was the only one where they actually got to interact with people. Many of the other courses when people had to put them together rather quickly. And so [00:16:00] they were recorded lectures and things of that sort.
[00:16:02] And the students valued our particular course. Got very energized on it because of the teamwork that they got to interact with other students. And some of that was social time. They realize how we can structure this so that we do get to know each other. And we do feel where we have colleagues, we have a cohort kind of experience, even though it's all done remotely.
[00:16:25] I was surprised at the level of student commitment that emerged in the teamwork. It might've been different, had every course involves teamwork, but again, they were all remote. There was, nobody was in a different situation where you could say, gee, maybe I need to be onsite in order to get the same treatment everybody was missing.
[00:16:44] Blake Melnick: You know, it's interesting. You made this point in our first interview where you differentiated between using technology to learn. And learning within well-constructed well-designed learning environments. And I think you've illustrated that case nicely just now it really depends on the [00:17:00] intentional design of an environment.
[00:17:01] Which supports knowledge advancement through deep collaborative discourse and teamwork. It also seems to be there's an opportunity for innovation in this space in the area of technology supported learning as well as in the area of on the job as needed just in time learning in the workplace
[00:17:16] I want to go a little deeper here and explore the future of online learning with you, Tom. I've been following an interesting story about Coursera, the premier publicly traded learning courseware company, which originated at Stanford university and went public in March, 2021. So Coursera recently experienced a significant downward trend of their stock price as a result of the Chegg Inc report that their business was contracting, reflecting a shift of people's time from education back to work.
[00:17:43] And a robust job market as we emerged in the pandemic. But here's the rub. Coursera's numbers don't reflect this at all. Their profits are up as, is their enrollment. This illustrates your point perfectly. Chegg is a company which delivers technology supported learning. According to an old [00:18:00] paradigm, they focus on providing online learning supports for face-to-face classroom learning.
[00:18:04] Whereas Coursera's business model is designed to support on the job training and learning to ensure that students and more importantly, workers stay abreast of disruptive change in the global marketplace. While they are offering degras’s online they're real bread and butter business is micro credentialing, that allows workers to learn while they work and increase their overall value capital in the employment market
[00:18:26] I've taken a number of Coursera courses and I was really impressed with their course design, their thoughtful use of technology combined with the pedagogy which supports online rather than face-to-face learning. And I actually found the level of collaboration, knowledge sharing, teamwork. And the need to negotiate the fit between my ideas, and the ideas of others which of course is an attribute of an innovator far superior to that of the traditional classroom where participation and direction tends to be driven by the most vocal and by those students that possess a more outgoing [00:19:00] personality
[00:19:00] so what do you think that the future is going to be? I think both for academic institutions with respect to online learning as well as workplaces. Do you still see this as a strong viable model for both?
[00:19:12] Tom Carey: The thing to watch with Coursera is, how many people complete, whatever it is they've signed up for. And how many people pay for what they signed up for. And those are the numbers that are rising. The numbers that we're getting into the popular press originally were how many hundreds of thousands of people were signing up for a course.
[00:19:29] And in terms of the bottom line, that's not necessarily number with much meaning. So I think stock market may not have understood that, but I think Coursera is headed in the right direction. And I just want our people offering a platform service to providers. And I think the micro-credential thing, because it's shorter and people can complete it.
[00:19:52] And it's much easier to fit that into the rest of your life. So I would say that should lead to even greater
[00:19:59] [00:20:00] success.
[00:20:00] Blake Melnick: I was advocating years ago for corporations to adopt or to use Coursera, Udacity and some of these other platforms, as opposed to continually reinventing the wheel, spending an inordinate amount of money, developing their own courses, which were pretty much obsolete by the time they finished them.
[00:20:18] And I can remember standing up in a boardroom and saying to all the participants around the table. Coursera, Udacity and other programs developed by the major university serving the United States are offering these open online courses for free. And I said, why aren't we using these for our employee professional development?
[00:20:36] They have the latest technology. They have the latest research they've been doing this longer than anybody else. Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel here? And maybe it goes back to your earlier comment about if it's not invented here we don't do it but it seemed to me that just from a business perspective it made complete sense
[00:20:55] Tom Carey: yeah. Now the other thing you can do with some of those resources, if you [00:21:00] can insert your own case studies or make it more context specific, then I think the local HR department or training and development department has a role. They can see themselves having some ownership. And as you were suggesting, the argument that we need to do this ourselves is really based around getting stuff in our context.
[00:21:19] And our employees are then not just knowledgeable for the work, but really ready for the work in our context. There's also the notion of being job capable.
[00:21:29] And not only can you do the job as it stands now, but you can help to shape the job for the future and fit it into new contexts and so on. We're running an experiment on that within the workplace innovation network for Canada, in which we are building case stories specific to a particular work domain.
[00:21:47] So in of course that we're going to be offering in January Ontario, there are some case stories from a particular work domain and some case stories that are much more generic, and we're going to see what impact that might [00:22:00] have. Coming up with the instructional design models that would allow a local company to plug and play its own case stories and its own example.
[00:22:08] So that's for illustration or for practice or the actual project where people get more hands-on those projects, you want to be projects based in your own workplace, but getting all those dots connected requires an educational provider. Who understands that and wants you as a partner, not just
[00:22:24] Blake Melnick: I want to challenge you a bit on that point in time, I understand the desire for organizations to have programs and courses written around the context of the work they do. But isn't “adapting” at the heart of innovation. One of the qualities or attributes of innovation. The fact that we should be able to translate something from one context to another.
[00:22:46] Isn't that one of the skills or mindsets that we need to be developing so that we don't need them to be saying in the context of this example, which relates to the work our company does, but here's a context in another industry [00:23:00] that we now can adapt and apply to our own.
[00:23:03] Isn't that one of the capabilities of an innovation enabled worker or graduate?
[00:23:07] Tom Carey: I couldn't agree more. On our workplace innovation network for Canada site, wincan.ca there's a web posts web blog posts from July, 2021, which lays out. What we see now. And so it's a moving target. Of course, what we see now as the professional development curriculum and workplace innovation, the first skill is the one I mentioned before job crafting.
[00:23:29] And the second scale is indeed innovation, adaptation How can we as a local workplace team, systematically analyzing innovation from outside our organization, or at least outside our particular workplace to see how it might work here. And so there are ways to do that. Most of them will come from medicine or social service interventions, but even in education, we know that context matters.
[00:23:54] So you mentioned Coursera predecessor to that was MIT Open Course Ware. [00:24:00] Where MIT made available many of its of course, syllabi and course resources and assignments and exercises online for other institutions to take up. Yep. I remember that. But the institutions that did that found that in many cases, their students had different needs than the students at MIT.
[00:24:17] And the early experience with MOOCS
[00:24:20] Blake Melnick: For our listeners MOOCs stand for massive open online courses. Web-based courses with unlimited numbers of participants.
[00:24:29] Tom Carey: was of that sort, that the people succeeding in the MOOCs were people who might have been successful at Johns Hopkins or Stanford or whoever the provider of the MOOC was. But for various reasons weren't able to attend, but their resources were contextually dependent on certain assumptions about people taking them
[00:24:48] Blake Melnick: I couldn't agree with you. More Tom context is everything. And then my practice in knowledge management, it's one of the cornerstones of what I try to teach my students. Knowledge emerges in context. So you [00:25:00] need the context in order for people to actually demonstrate what they know about a given subject or a given task or problem.
[00:25:07] So it's absolutely critical. And I would also say that we live in a world where we're flooded with information and starved for knowledge.
[00:25:14] Tom Carey: Innovation adaptation has been studied a lot in medicine. We actually took a resource from Surrey Memorial hospital, not too far away from where you're based now which they were using with medical staff to say, when you look at a particular new treatment routine or typical way of organizing an emergency room that you've seen somewhere else here's a systematic process by which you can evaluate what are the issues we would have to face if we tried to bring that in here.
[00:25:42] so that is in fact in the academic courses that were involved in that really is the second assignment that students complete and they complete that for a client. We're starting in January, it's actually a client then university in corporate services saying, how do I get more students to engage in this [00:26:00] cooperative education stream?
[00:26:01] And the first step they do on that is look at car other people doing this, right? Which the hardworking staff within the department haven't necessarily been able to do an environmental scan like that. So they're very happy to have some student labor to help with that. The students are great ones to ask about it because they are the customers in this sense.
[00:26:21] And so it really is customer driven feedback. And for the students they're able to say to them, "look, you're doing the work here as learners. You are a part of our workforce within higher ed. And so asking you to help shape this. All the practices and processes and policies, and we have in place work better for you and work better for us as institutions to achieve our goals.
[00:26:44] And that is workplace innovation folks. Yeah.
[00:26:46] Blake Melnick: I love this discussion, I've trained knowledge managers from companies around the world for many years. And part of our training was always to bring in guest speakers from various industries and academic institutions to talk about their success stories and people would come in and [00:27:00] they would bring this lovely plan.
[00:27:01] And the students from various different companies around the table would say, I need to get a copy of that. We, could just get that copy and we can apply that to our organization. It doesn't work that way. You can take what they've done there, and you can look at what could be adapted in the context of your organization, but it's not a plug and play and every organization's knowledge management strategy.
[00:27:23] Different and based on a different set of criteria that is unique to their workplace and the culture of their workplace. And I've seen this in academia as well, not just in businesses, but I think the problem may be one of time. In academic institutions, there's a little more latitude you can give people the time to make those adaptations. In business organizations, people feel overwhelmed by information and tasks and things like that.
[00:27:49] And there's not a lot of time. So they're really looking for the easiest possible solution to the problem, which invariably is to take what somebody else has done and just plug it in cause it's easier and they have time to do [00:28:00] that. It goes to the next part of our discussion, which is you've done a lot of great work within academic institutions to study innovation, the mindsets, the knowledge experience, and skills of the innovation capable, graduate and employee.
[00:28:13] How do we move that ideal world - The control lab study within an environment that has a bit more flexibility in terms of time and giving people more time to make those adaptations, to learn about those mindsets, to apply those skills. How do we move that out into a different world of work where the time constraints and deliverables are more pressing?
[00:28:34] Tom Carey: It's interesting, Blake that a couple of things I'm involved with at the moment are going in the opposite direction are saying, here's what we know about workplaces outside of academia. Now, how do we bring those lessons?
[00:28:46] What parts of that will fit within our context? We've done that at the level of sustaining strategic innovation in mature organizations. You might say that higher Ed is not just mature by maybe overripe and need [00:29:00] some fresh blood, but there are lessons there from our colleagues in other workplaces that we're trying to bring into academia, similarly with questions about motivation to innovate.
[00:29:11] So our WINCan research team member team member Terry Selious at Queens university in Ontario did a wonderful study with people from a wide variety of workplaces who had been identified by their employers as amongst our most innovative employees. And he did a study with very rigorous research methods on what are the motivational factors that influence.
[00:29:34] These are people who were innovators and what it influenced them. It might be a whole different study with people who weren't innovators and what influenced that. Terry found, there were really four factors that made a difference. One of those was expectancies, how successful do you expect to be, and whether that's a mindset or a sense of self-efficacy confidence in my own abilities in this field that we know is a big factor.
[00:29:58] And one of the things we found [00:30:00] in teaching this with undergraduate students is that folks come into the course unit, not thinking of themselves as innovators, because. Elon Musk and Tesla and how there's an innovation thinking at a rather grandiose scale. And they're thinking largely about tech things.
[00:30:15] And at the end of the course, they realize, I am, an innovator who would've thought. And so that change in identity and that sense of confidence that, Hey I've done a couple things here. I realize now that this is within my grasp and I've built some skills and can demonstrate them. So that expectancy in terms of success, and my capability was one big motivating factor.
[00:30:40] The second big motivating factor was the intrinsic value that I get from an innovative task. For some people trying something new gets me up in the morning. And for some people it's not. And so the intrinsic value that you receive back is important in an innovation setting.
[00:30:56] When you're continually finding out things, you didn't [00:31:00] know obstacles, you hadn't anticipated, issues you hadn't thought of, and continually having to pivot, not just to take a slightly different course for the next step, but to reverse back up a few steps and try to move forward from there. And so having that intrinsic value in the task that you're not turned off when you learn something that you didn't know and realize, oh, some other work I've been doing is, was taking us down a dead end.
[00:31:21] So the expectancy of success, intrinsic task. The third factor that Terry found was this notion of extrinsic value, technically attainment and utility task. What do I get out of this? What is my empire to get out of this? What's the impact that comes from this? And then the fourth factor is the costs.
[00:31:39] What are the risks involved here? What are the barriers that I might face within the organization? Am I going to be appropriately resourced to do this? Or am I doing all this on my side hustle gig? Yeah. Yeah yeah. Which you sometimes have to do. That research to me has been really helpful and I were hoping to get a blog post that maybe [00:32:00] Terry and I can put together to get some of those results up on our WINCan site for people to look at.
[00:32:04] But we haven't been sharing those with students in the courses that we're running now. And giving them some of Terry's questions to respond to, to get this sense of which of these are really important for me.
[00:32:15] Blake Melnick: I believe that. People want to do great work. People are capable of this kind of behavior on a regular basis, as long as the constraints that prevent these behaviors from happening are removed. And that speaks to the notion of intentional design of culture and giving people the time and the leeway and the flexibility and freedom, not just to fail and make mistakes that does happen, but the flexibility to continually try to move beyond their best practices.
[00:32:43] And I think people are intrinsically motivated to do that. We just have to watch small children and how innovative creative their imaginations are. Now. I do think that over time we breed that out of them. Partly to adhere to an industrial model.
[00:32:57] Quite frankly, I don't think really has much place [00:33:00] left in the world, but it's still very much there. This motivation that we all naturally have to continue to improve, to do great work is weeded out because of the risk involved or the repercussions of doing something, stepping out on a limb, bringing attention to yourself is not worth the effort.
[00:33:18] That may change slowly over time as we move to a different type of work and learning model. But I also really liked the point you made about the. Flowing between bi-directional between workplaces back to academia and from academia back to workplace.
[00:33:31] I think we need to see more of that. A co-creation of co collaborative effort that actually results in the outcome that I know we're looking for, which is the innovation capable, graduate, and innovation enabled employee, but it doesn't happen if each group is working in isolation and not collaborating effectively on a regular basis with the other. We need to know that if we're going to school and spending our money to go to university, that we're going to come out with the capabilities to do great work.
[00:33:58] I think that's an [00:34:00] excellent point. We've talked about those four areas of motivation of Terry's work and yours. I want to talk to you now about the skills part, and I do want to get granular here because people can easily relate to skills. What are some of the skills that you've determined are necessary for innovation capability?
[00:34:17] Tom Carey: So let me start that Blake, by making a distinction between what some people call traits versus skills, right? So people talk about taking initiative, for example, as a trait and as you said, we might as well beat that out of students in certain education systems.
[00:34:32] So taking initiative is partly a matter of. What one might call personality trait, but it's also a matter of the cost and benefits, which you've experienced. And so we like to talk about skills, knowledge, mindsets, and experiences as the package that you need to bring together to really produce and innovation capable, graduate, or innovation capable employee.
[00:34:54] So one of the things we found with our work in higher education is that if you can [00:35:00] develop people's skills and give them a set of successful experiences and a knowledge of innovation as not being a tech invention, but really a social process by which you create value for mobilizing new ideas. If you get some of those building blocks and placed on the mindsets follow.
[00:35:20] Blake Melnick: I agree, certainly from my experience of workplace organizations. If we work to try to change people's behaviors, then mindsets will follow.
[00:35:32] So this willingness to take initiative, if I have a higher expectation of success, because I know I have these skills and I've done some of this before, if I see in the big picture knowledge, how my bit is going to contribute and if I've had these kinds of successful experiences, then it's surprising how something you might've thought was a fixed trait or the taking initiative turns out to [00:36:00] be a learned ability.
[00:36:01] Tom Carey: And so we can influence that we can help people to discover their inner innovator, if you will, by providing those building blocks.
[00:36:09] Blake Melnick: It's a great point. And going back to our discussions in June, 2020 we talked about this, in the context of mathematics and the fear that certain people have, and I'm one of those people. Somebody threw mathematical formula on the board and my mind went blank.
[00:36:22] I got to the point where I just couldn't do it anymore. I'd convinced myself, I couldn't do it. And I was not good at mathematics and this is not uncommon. You've stated in our last discussion that you've done some control studies on this to create situations where students can get beyond that and start believing that they are capable of doing mathematics.
[00:36:42] But again it's a control study where you've created the right type of scenario and the kinds of reinforcement that people need to believe that they can actually do this. But when you move outside of a controlled classroom setting where things are very much manipulated to drive a positive [00:37:00] outcome, and you step out into the workplace, how do we make that transition? It's different. You just don't have that ability to create the ideal conditions for people to believe in themselves and their capabilities in an area that they previously thought they were not capable of being successful. So how can we do that within a workplace context? How can we create those conditions?
[00:37:19] Tom Carey: Okay. We think, and what we're working on is we need a gentle on ramp for exactly the situation you've described. Take design thinking, for example, as a bit of a buzzwordy thing, that's become very popular in business circles and rightly but there are some folks who put in that environment without the proper set of experiences to provide that gentle on ramp will indeed get defensive, try to defend their own point of view.
[00:37:44] Try to guard their part of the organization from change and so on. And they have at that point, a kind of learned disability. So in the same way, you can have a learning disability about innovation. You could have a learning disability. Correct. So the way we approach that is to [00:38:00] say, let's start simple.
[00:38:01] Let's start with you changing your own job in discussion with your manager. So it's still a social process. You're discussing it with your manager to ensure that whatever changes you make benefit the organization to improve performance and benefit you through an improvement in your quality of work life.
[00:38:17] we have yet to encounter someone who would say, oh, there's no way I could improve No, there's nothing that I could change about it that would see those goals. We showed them some of the skills involved you can change the relationships with your coworkers or your customers.
[00:38:31] You can change the nature of the tasks you're taking on. You're going to avoid certain things that you find very stressing or getting energizing. So there are skills there in terms of knowing the different things that might be changeable. But we've yet to encounter someone who couldn't find a way to achieve both of those goals, improved organizational performance, improved quality of work life for the worker.
[00:38:52] All of those seem to be achievable. And we've looked at the research based on that. And yes, you can find job crafting [00:39:00] in every field and you can find good results in every field. We think if you can give people that sense that yes, you can be an innovator. Yes, you can manage the risks that are involved in that.
[00:39:13] And it's a social process in which you have others who are helping you with that. And you're not alone inventor working late at night in the lab. Step-by-step you can build those skills up. We're testing that now both in higher Ed and with our workplace partners and external workplaces.
[00:39:28] Blake Melnick: I also wanted to touch on a comment we made around Deval Shaw and the bank of Canada, because I think what he was trying to do. And I believe it's the right path was to determine what are the behaviors that we need our employees to exhibit and to identify those behaviors, because it really does come down to behaviors. And if in the case of the bank of Canada was to support innovation within the organization that they had to get down to behaviors. And those behaviors had to become part of the hiring process. We're trying to [00:40:00] identify people that have these behaviors.
[00:40:01] It's also part of the professional development program within the bank itself. And it’s part of the performance management component so if you were to take, a big lofty goal. We want all our employees to be innovators, then you're going to have to obviously parse that out and take that statement and say what does that mean in the context of, let's say, Procurement or in the context of the job of production or HR or whatever, the functional areas that you have within your organization, you have to take that lofty goal and basically contextualize it within the work of the various departments within your organization and have people define what does innovative behavior look like in procurement?
[00:40:43] What does innovative behavior look like as an HR business partner and use those behaviors as part of a growth plan for the employees as part of how you're measuring their performance just putting placards on the wall and making statements in, and big strategic [00:41:00] documents does very little to inculcate a culture of innovation because people aren't exactly sure what that means in the context of the work they do.
[00:41:09] So that makes a lot of sense to me.
[00:41:11] Tom Carey: Yeah. And I think one of the things we're doing at the moment in particular work domains is trying to illustrate each of those behavioral levels. We tend to call them innovation opportunities, because if you say we're offering a new set of opportunities, it sounds a lot better than, or offer you some changes in your behavior.
[00:41:30] For example, we did some work this fall on professional accountancy. And that was because we had a research assistant who had just graduated and accountants, even working part-time gigs and a local accounting firm. And I was keen to illustrate the job, crafting innovation, adaptations, a.
[00:41:47] Design innovation and so on in accountancy. So we have created examples of those that would say, as an accountant, here are ways in which you could take advantage of each [00:42:00] of those innovation opportunities. So I think that meets the criteria and the people who are asking about innovative behaviors really mean but that's a say an on ramp that people can choose what level they're comfortable.
[00:42:16] So there may be people who are never going to be entirely comfortable in an outright design thinking, start with a blank sheet of paper kind of setting, but are quite comfortable with an innovation adaptation setting. The other thing we've had to do then is to frame those experiences in each case and frame those skills in each case as cumulative.
[00:42:36] So the people that first started a job crafting back in the early 2000's, at least giving it a name and treating it in some formal way with HR policies. They, weren't thinking about this as the first step longer sequence. So we've had to go back and rewrite the way it was being framed so that you can see a link between the skills you built in job crafting and the skills you would use, an [00:43:00] innovation adaptation and the skills you would use in design thinking.
[00:43:03] And so on, right up to intrapreneurship so that there has to be a sequence there where people can say, okay, I understand now how I might develop. My capability to contribute to the organization through workplace innovation and the organization has said, find your own comfort level so that we're not going to say you've got to do this.
[00:43:21] We're going to say, find your own way to be innovative. That creates the most value for us while also enhancing your own quality of world-class.