How Venture Studio Does Product Innovation | Adil Faisal

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In this conversation, Adil Faisal, a product innovation coach and founder of the 8126 Venture Studio, discusses the concept of product innovation and the work he does with his studio. He shares examples of product innovations and highlights the key principles and practices that contribute to successful product innovation. Adil also explains the difference between a venture studio and an incubator, and how they support startups. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the challenges of transitioning from a project to a product mindset. In this conversation, Adil Faisal discusses the challenges and strategies for transitioning from a project to a product mindset. He highlights the resistance that can arise during this transition and emphasizes the importance of addressing it by creating peace of mind and clarifying roles within the new product-focused structure. Adil also emphasizes the need for a clear north star and problem-solving approach in product development. He suggests using OKRs as a lightweight tool to align teams and ensure a clear focus. Additionally, Adil discusses the importance of separating innovation management from the main mission and establishing a crisp, clear innovation management process.

Takeaways

  • Product innovation involves finding new ways of solving problems or improving existing solutions.
  • Successful product innovation requires following principles such as lean startup and design thinking, and practices like iterative development and continuous learning.
  • A venture studio focuses on developing in-house ideas and nurturing them into successful products, while an incubator supports external startup founders.
  • Transitioning from a project to a product mindset involves thinking about the long-term value and continuity of a solution.
  • Challenges in transitioning from project to product include maintaining focus on the problem, avoiding the project mindset, and ensuring continuity of service. Address resistance to the project to product transition by creating peace of mind and clarifying roles within the new product-focused structure.
  • Ensure a clear north star and problem-solving approach in product development to maintain focus and drive innovation.
  • Use OKRs as a lightweight tool to align teams and measure progress towards goals.
  • Separate innovation management from the main mission to enable disruptive innovation and establish a crisp, clear innovation management process.

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Timestamps

(00:00) Intro

(02:32) Adil’s Background and Venture Studio

(09:28) Product Innovation and its Definition

(10:16) Examples of Product Innovations

(15:19) Principles and Practices for Successful Product Innovation

(19:10) Venture Studio vs Incubator

(23:22) How Ideas Get Generated

(29:20) Transitioning from Project to Product

(35:04) Challenges with the Project to Product Transition

(42:42) Separating Innovation Management from the Main Mission

(48:43) Connecting with Adil Faisal

Transcript (Edited by Vit Lyoshin for better readability)

Vit Lyoshin (00:03.282)

Hello, everyone. Today we have our next episode and I have a guest here, Adil Faisal. He’s a product innovation coach and founder of the 8126 Venture Studio. I had a pleasure to work with Adil for a few years in the past and he was coaching some of the development teams I worked with.

And we had great experience working together and we had some actually other than Scrum training or agile training events, like he was running a meetup within the organization. So, which was great. Something additional I’ve never seen before anywhere. So that was great. And also Adil worked with our leadership and they were figuring out the overall agile mindset for the organization and some metrics and best practices for development teams to do software better, CI, CD and all that stuff. So that was great. And I think you brought a lot of experience and innovation to the organization. So thank you for that. And today we have you here to talk about product innovation and project to product transition and the work that you’re doing with your studio and with your partners and things like that.

Adil Faisal (01:42.52)

Yeah, great to be back. Great to be here, Vitaliy.

Vit Lyoshin (01:47.658)

Yeah, thank you. I appreciate your time too. And before we start, if you can just maybe talk a little bit about yourself and your studio and what you guys do in there so people can have an idea.

Adil Faisal (02:02.36)

Absolutely. So yeah, as Vitaliy said, we’ve been together for some time. And my background is actually in startups. Right after school, I went to startups. I always gravitated toward product innovation and small companies, working with small teams. So that was back in 2000. That gives you some idea of how old I am.

Vit Lyoshin (02:30.826)

Ha ha ha.

Adil Faisal (02:31.614)

Right when the during the first dot-com boom, right? We went to startups had good and bad runs and so that one of the good runs landed us in Microsoft. They basically acquired our company. We actually worked in incidentally on the first generation of Web collaboration, I mean not in our wildest dreams we thought it would come this far in about 20 years. But here we are. So after that, about 10 years I was in Microsoft, sorry, in startups and Microsoft together. So even within Microsoft, we were actually in the startup mode. They kept us separate from the big Microsoft office organization, which had very mature products, right?

Microsoft Office Word, Excel, etc. But there I came first to see how product innovation works within a huge enterprise. Right. So that was a very interesting experience for a small fish like us who went in a bigger pond. So after that, actually, there was a about 10 years or so.

I would say from startups because I came from West Coast to East Coast. I actually got married. Our whole clan was here, so I came here. And here everyone does federal consulting, so I went into federal consulting. Now, one thing I retained was every time I felt the need, every professional I have met so far, they always have some great ideas, right? Remember, we talked about and we even worked some of it, right, on the KPIs and stuff like that, metrics, how to measure agility performance, et cetera, right, outcome, right? So every time I came across an idea, not necessarily always business agility related, it was maybe.

Many times it was when I was, I am a father of two kids and I take them online, I take them to different places. Of course, my background is technology innovation. So I gravitated toward, you know, that kind of solution. If you get a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So I used to write it down, right? So I have it, I still have it. A portfolio you can say or wish list or bucket list, right? So I am just giving you a backstory of the 8126 ventures. During COVID, like everyone else, you have some time to sit back and do a retrospective on your life, right? So I was looking at this thing and also during COVID, at the very beginning of COVID, I’m sure everyone had this moment as well that.

Vit Lyoshin (05:42.698)

Right.

Adil Faisal (05:55.96)

You had a seismic shift, right? The kids were going online. My five-year old was doing Zoom, right? That was such a shift. Whole new world, it just opened up. And as a parent, I feel like I’m losing grip on the kids. I don’t know how to control this. And there were no products to help me, like as a parent, because most of the innovations, if you see the social media, etc, etc, and the VC money, the traditional VC money, NFTs, Bored Apes, right? Most of the innovations are targeted toward done by 20 somethings and 30 somethings for 20 somethings and 30 somethings. That’s the huge, there’s a huge momentum around that.

So I keep looking at this ever growing list and I realize that I’ll go to my grave with it if I don’t do anything about it. So I have sometimes, I basically bootstrap to Venture Studio. I didn’t even know that I’m creating Venture Studio. I just started running, starting working on the products. One of the product innovation leaders, so one of the ways I started working because I wanted to also.

There were two, actually there were two motivations for 8126. I already gave you the genesis of 8126 ventures. That’s when it started during COVID. There are two primary motivations. One was actually to work on creating at least some of the products, right? And the second one was, I really, really believe that the current venture capitalist ecosystem that the startup ecosystem there is. It’s hugely wasteful. You know, we come both of what you and I come from lean agile mindset and how to cut down waste and all that, right? It’s hugely wasteful. In some areas, you’d hear that, oh, people cannot even think about launching a pre-seed without like a half a million dollars. They cannot even think about moving, right? So I wanted to actually really walk the walk and figure out I had some assumptions that where it can be hugely improved. I wanted to walk the walk unless you actually do something you can assume. So those were the two primary motivations and we got started.

Vit Lyoshin (08:48.394)

Okay, sounds good. Can you tell everybody what is product innovation? Like in general terms.

Adil Faisal (09:01.226)

Product innovation is, I cannot give you a, I can give you what is in my head, right? So product innovation is, I would say that some new way of doing things that either addresses a pain or makes something better. Right? Does something completely new, which we call disruptive innovation, right? Comes out of the blue, right? Or something that is sustained or incremental innovation, right? You’re doing something this way, you make it a little bit better. There can be different types of innovation, but…

Vit Lyoshin (09:54.506)

So it’s like a new method of solving the problem?

Adil Faisal (10:00.92)

It’s a new method. It can be a method. It can be a thing, right? I mean, iPhone is an innovation. Method or a thing that kind of looks at the same thing in a different way and tries to make the whole, tries to make the system better, right? 

Vit Lyoshin (10:25.802)

So let’s talk about maybe you have a couple of examples to make it more clear and it’s always better to have examples and it’s, you know, that’s how people learn much faster.

Adil Faisal (10:35.928)

Absolutely. So I’ll give you the first example. Out of that bucket list, I chose two things to work on at the very beginning. So number one was, we call it the name right now is called Caravan Funds. It’s a crowdfunding portal. But the core problem that we are trying to solve there was debt free home financing. Like can we do home financing in a way that is that the prospective homeowner doesn’t get tried need to get into debt. Right. That has some like the reason behind it was, of course, I mean, as a Muslim, I cannot consume interest. And if you look at millennials and Gen Z’s, not necessarily Muslims, any Minnaleans, Gen Zs. There also you’ll see that they very debt averse. They don’t want to get into debt because they have seen student loans etc. And you see what happens to the market when it’s interest, it’s related to interest, right? It’s a correlated interest. It becomes very unaffordable. So that was one big problem I felt I saw.

I had some experience how to deal with it, right? So that’s the product we are, that’s the solution we are trying to bring, right? Debt-free home ownership. Another, the second example would be Careerverse. I can share the links with you for both products. Careerverse is basically also something I felt myself like, a career guidance for the lifelong learner. We are all lifelong learners. I mean, right now the game has changed, right? I mean, our career paths are changing so many times. And it’s even more confusing to kids who are getting out of school, right? And to them, like, if you ask them, I used to mentor quite a few kids. They would say. I know if first question when you ask, do you know what you want to be? Yeah, I know. What do you want to be? I want to be in IT. OK. So that’s another example, right? What type of problems you saw? So so one one just last comment on this topic is.

One premise that we followed was to actually first fall in love with the problem, not the solution, right? We start with the problem. And we don’t get into a problem. We don’t start with the premise that, oh, we have to use AI, right? Or we have to use blockchain. We don’t start with that premise. We start with a genuine problem. And if we have to use AI, we would use AI to solve it.

Vit Lyoshin (14:03.37)

Yeah, that’s the key. That’s like you starting from the end where you want to be with this, not necessarily the solution, but like where you want to be the future state. And then you say, which tool will allow me to get there the quickest, something like that.

So when you’re talking about these two products, these two examples of product innovations that you worked on, are those digital products or they’re services or how does it work?

Adil Faisal (16:15.256)

So, great question. Yeah. So because of my background, as I said, when you’re a hammer, everything is a nail, right? So I tend to gravitate toward problems that I see a digital solution for, but not necessarily everything turns out to be a digital product. However, the ones that we are working on till now is mostly digital solutions.

Vit Lyoshin (16:45.962)

Okay. I just wanted to clarify, I wasn’t clear if it’s more like a consulting or services like public service maybe or something like that.

Adil Faisal (16:56.298)

So, the two examples I gave, Careerverse is a software as a solution, software as a service, SaaS product, and Caravan Funds itself as well is a SaaS product. Both of them are SaaS products at this point.

Vit Lyoshin (17:12.69)

Got it. Okay. So what are some of the key principles or practices that may contribute to a successful product innovation?

Adil Faisal (17:28.554)

Principles or practices? Great question. So. We all talk about lean startup design thinking approach, lean startup and lean agile way of iterative iteratively deliver and build measure learn right and.

It’s very hard to stick to the book, but at the same time, I do. I mean, there is there’s great truth in the ideal path. So we try to stick to it. We try to stick to it. It does. It is hard to do lean startup, build, measure, learn. I mean, to actually we have felt it in our daily work as well. Right. But that is actually one thing that I am happy to report in getting two products out the door that a couple more that that are in the pipeline. But that is one thing that has kept the cost and the risk down, I’d say 10X, right? If I did it in any other way, right? That plus a little bit of custom process that we added, which is number one was we start the problem with not to go after seed funding or venture funding too early. That’s another thing, right?

For very early stage innovation, it can be done extremely cheaply. Again, following the Lean Startup principle, right? And quick prototyping that design thinking process espouses, right? You first do brainstorming, right? Diverge and then converge to the most promising solutions. So these two, like sticking to the design thinking process and the lean starter process as much as possible and also not to go after funding but be frugal at the very beginning because that will that makes you think in ways that you won’t think if there is $500,000 in the bank. it will make you think in a different way. And actually the third, there is a third one. The third one is to leverage on subject matter expertise. So what I do is say I am not an AI expert by any means. So I, in LinkedIn, I basically leverage on LinkedIn a lot, right? I engage with the correct subject matter expert and engage them for a very small, very little time, right? 

So leverage on subject matter experts, even though they’re costly, but you don’t need that much time from them.

Vit Lyoshin (21:37.962)

Yeah, so with this principles and practices and how you do these things, I assume you have some sort of, as a coach, you have to go through some sort of training and education period. So do you work with leadership in those startups or is it usually like small groups of people probably who work on this, right? So how does this work, basically.

Adil Faisal (22:08.792)

Oh, okay, okay. So there’s a little bit of a misunderstanding. That’s because of the nomenclature as well. So there’s a little bit of difference between Venture Studio and say Incubator. Both produce startups, right? Both produce startups, but in Incubator, they, like Y Combinator, Incubator slash Accelerator, they open up to the world, say, hey, give us your ideas, then they will have say 2000 applications. Out of that, they will choose 20 or two and then help them. Those ideas will be submitted by the co-founders, by the founders, by the startup founders. And then they will try to help them and take them from stage A to stage B.

So, and the venture studio usually have a set premise, more like known guardrails. Like we only focus on future of work, wealth and wellbeing, these three areas, right? And we actually own the startups. The startups were spawned inside.

Vit Lyoshin (23:27.914)

I see.

Adil Faisal (23:31.576)

And we take them from zero to there is a stage gate process that each venture studio pretty much follows the same kind of stage gauge. There’s R&D, then there’s your very early stage like problem solutions, problem market fit. Is it even the right problem to solve? Then you have problem solution fit, right? Is it the solution you’re thinking about? Is it even hold any water? Then you have product market, right? So, when just to do is taking that thing from zero to these stage gates and at different points, it actually invites co-founders from outside, co-founders investments from outside. So, at this point, I’m happy to say the Caravan Funds has went through quite a few stage gates. We have crossed problem solution, problem market, problem solution. We are in a product market fit stage and we have some fantastic co-founders who joined us, some investors hopefully will be joining soon. And we have our first client, that’s the main thing, right? First successful client whom we delivered with success. So that’s where it is.

Careerverse is another example where we are doing what the motto is, don’t design for your clients, design with them. That’s the motto. So we actually, this is a great example of that because we started collaborating, that’s the career guidance software, right? So we started collaborating with a superintendent in Wisconsin, right? Pure cold calling, right? Pure cold calling. They are very passionate about it. So now he collaborated with us almost two years now to develop the product. And now it’s ready for pilot in a network of school districts.

Vit Lyoshin (25:49.99)

So how does it work in the very beginning? Do you have an idea for innovation and then you recruit people to organize and find investors and start? Or somebody will come to you and say, hey, Adil. I have this great idea. Can you help me execute it?

Adil Faisal (26:10.68)

Right, so yes. Yes meaning both, right? So there are three buckets. If you go to 8126 website, you’ll see there is a bucket where we have in-house ideas that we are taking from stage A to stage B to stage three. So both Caravan and Careerverse are in that bucket. In those cases, we have, like the venture studio has collaborated with the subject matter experts to validate the ideas very early stage, right? And we are nurturing it through.

Vit Lyoshin (26:40.126)

Got it.

Adil Faisal (26:58.168)

The second bucket is the dojo or the immersive learning environment. I’m sure you heard about agile dojo as well, right? Which is an immersive learning environment. There we are creating a four week dojo environment where we would be collaborating with enterprises. 

Vit Lyoshin (27:54.058)

Can you explain a little bit more on the Dojo model for somebody who may not know what it is? Like really quick what it is, how it works.

Adil Faisal (28:00.664)

Yeah, sure.

So the Dojo model is basically you create a cohort. You create a cohort of people, right? And we give them, then either if the company is sponsoring it, they may say, they may already have a problem space in mind, right? Or they may come to us saying, hey, we are interested in impact innovation, right? And we have this roster of things they may choose to participate in something like that, right? And we have some, of course, you can imagine there are challenges around IP production. Okay, we want to create the most conducive environment so that people don’t hold back their ideas, if they contribute their ideas. So, that has to be very clear, right? Who owns the IP? Usually we tend to propose that the cohort owns the IP somehow and benefits from it, right? Otherwise, I mean, what’s the point of participating, right? And then we go through exactly the same stages that the portfolio part of the the venue studio goes to exactly the same stage right problem market fit problem solution fit etc of course in four weeks you cannot for in four weeks you cannot of course like go all the way to product mostly.

Vit Lyoshin (29:38.696)

Yeah.

This becomes like an MVP basically, right? The first prototype.

Adil Faisal (29:50.552)

Yeah, and we greatly leverage on low code, low code MVP. Nowadays, you can stitch together so much. I mean, you can stitch together a pretty functional application without a single line of code.

Vit Lyoshin (30:03.722)

Right.

Adil Faisal (30:05.048)

And we encouraged like there are some great examples of like Dropbox, then Zappos, how they kind of started just by gluing together some processes, right? So you can create a facade of a service, do some things manually in the background, but still provide the service and validate lots of things, right?

Vit Lyoshin (30:23.818)

Yeah, right.

Adil Faisal (30:33.048)

So the dojo model is basically to try it for one month if it feels good. And then basically, as Lean Startup says, pivot or persevere, right? Do you want to pivot to something else, stop it altogether, or persevere means go to the next four week dojo.

Vit Lyoshin (30:53.098)

Yeah, so how many people are usually involved in this process for a month?

Adil Faisal (31:05.784)

So 10 max probably in a cohort.

Vit Lyoshin (31:09.428)

Small team, so the collaboration is there, working day to day with each other.

Adil Faisal (31:11.692)

Small teams, yeah. Small cross-functional team. Now, the good thing about the Venture Studio model, what you’d see is that most startups, if you break down like agile story mapping, right, what they do, right, back office support, like financial, et cetera, et cetera, you’d see that most startups share like 80 – 85 % common stuff, like all the logistics. The innovation is probably is happening in the 15 – 20%, right? So that’s actually one way we will keep the cost down, right? Because many are sharing resources, right? In Dojo as well, benefits from the same approach. Because they leverage on that bulk rate you can say. A good example is say Miro licensing, right? So you just, yeah, it’s a very simple example.

Vit Lyoshin (32:19.658)

Yeah. You can definitely leverage and reuse a lot of resources and pay for one license and use it in many places. And, that helps a little by little. It helps. So we also wanted to touch a little bit on the project to product journey and some transitions. So how does it apply to the work that you do?

Can you give me a little bit background how you work on this and where it’s applicable?

Adil Faisal (32:58.112)

Project to product is not a huge problem for where we are particularly. The only reason because by nature, venture studios, like the lifespan of a product within the venture studios, very early stage, right? The moment it starts showing liife and getting to a point where it will get to a size where the whole PMO functions, it will be a sizable thing so that projects will come in quickly, right? By that time, it’s out of the venture studio, right? Having said that though, I have seen it almost 100% of the enterprise space, right? It’s there. The project mentality comes in, right?

Vit Lyoshin (33:48.01)

Yeah.

Adil Faisal (33:52.888)

And so one thing that I think helps in that shift is to to figure out that a project has a start and an end, right? And so does a product, right? It has a start and at some point it ends, right? But I think one thing that the project mindset does not cover is continuity of service, right? When you think about a product, so if you look at fifth discipline, right, Peter Senge, right? Talks about system thinking, right? Then there’s like human centered design talks about system thinking. So when you’re thinking about project, when you think about product, it forces you, it serves as a forcing function to think about it as a system, right? What will happen when, okay, a project is a feature. A feature development can be a project that you can think of it as a feature, right? Envision the feature, do market analysis, whatever, deliver the feature done, you’re happy, high-fiving, right? But then what? What did the feature do, right? Does it have to be enhanced, right? Does it have to be sunset, right? What is the construct that will help you think about that? You have to think about the product then, right? Because the project is gone already.

Vit Lyoshin (35:20.074)

Right.

Adil Faisal (35:33.944)

I think one easy way of thinking of it or one elegant way, not easy way, elegant way of thinking of it, I believe is that like bring the work to the team and not the team to the work, right? In project, usually like in COVID, we had to do that, right? You bring many people together, right? And did some project, right? That’s fine. We had to react, right?

But at the same time, we cannot stop thinking about, okay, what will happen when the project ends? So I think coming from that angle.

Vit Lyoshin (36:15.402)

Yeah, that makes sense. I think this is one of the challenges or big differences between the mindset for project versus product. Many times what I see, for example, is when you get a funder who wants to do certain thing, you create a project for it because it’s a feature, like you said, or a set of features that they want to do or solve some problem, whatever it’s called.

But it has a very, it has a specific end, a specific funding and only certain people work on it. And once it ends, you hand it off and that’s it basically. Everything that happens afterwards is either like you have to buy licenses for support or you have to like pay for support as you use it, whatever the model is. Maybe there is some free support. It depends on the company and how they do it.

But if you have a product and you treat everything as product and you have like quarterly budgets for enhancements or quarterly budgets for R&D and things like that. And like you mentioned before, you use lean and you use design thinking and just feeding that, creating that feedback loop from usage back to the product backlog and delivering on those. That’s where the product cycle starts spinning.

Adil Faisal (37:13.944)

Yeah.

Vit Lyoshin (37:44.394)

It can spin for a long time with no products that work for a long time.

Adil Faisal (37:44.984)

And one thing I forgot to mention, you just triggered it, is that one aspect of, even there’s some pitfall, there’s something to, even when you embrace the product approach, one thing to visit and revisit is that, falling in love with the problem not the solution is that is I mean, start, start everything, take everything to the value, to value, basically value would be your North Star, right? That what was the problem that we are trying to solve here, right? Sometimes you will see that in the in the business of doing things, right? The value, I mean, we have started solving some other problem, right? It may be a good problem. I’m not saying the second problem is a bad problem. Yeah. Right. Maybe that’s a point when you spin off another product, you know? Or merge two products, something like that, right? So revisiting that North Star every now and then, that’s why I love product charting. So, but product charting usually we do like just once at the beginning of the product, right? But we are trying to do that like not a heavy duty process. It’s just going through some questions. Hey, are we on course? Did somethings change?

Vit Lyoshin (39:53.066)

Okay, cool. So you also mentioned some challenges. Obviously there are some challenges with this process. And I just want to see, what is there a trend of like the most thing that happened all the time and prevent people from successful transition from project to product, what’s holding up people and how to overcome all of that.

Adil Faisal (40:22.016)

Hmm.

This will depend on when you’re saying people, right? Are we talking about small startups or mid-size enterprise, federal agencies, so different context, right?

In more, as I said, most of the places where the project to product transition needs to happen, I have seen it in the other larger enterprises and agencies. So there one thing I have felt is that sometimes there is, when people start thinking about a product mindset, some positions may feel resistant because they feel, okay, where am I in this big picture? Do I see myself in this big picture? And if that mapping is not clear if that it’s a little bit, it’s a non-technical answer. It’s a human thing. We need to address from the leadership onward that, hey, to give that space and or create that peace of mind that we are not thinking about firing up the people, right? Or something like that, right? So it’s just a reshuffling.

Vit Lyoshin (41:54.122)

Yeah, I mean that’s a big, that’s important. Right.

Adil Faisal (41:59.49)

It’s just a reshuffling of it, right? So the resistance, that’s one major resistance I have. I have even, even, like a far-stunned witness, I was not even a, it’s not a hearsay. I’ve heard people even say that, in a project to product type discussion that some leadership saying that, in a big meaning that he felt so, I mean, so threatened that his thing will go away, right? He said, I am marking my territory. I said, okay. That actually triggered us. Oh man, we are doing it wrong, right? I mean, you have to create that space, correct? So that’s one thing. The other thing is, I think the excitement or one thing that I really, really I think I took from this 8126 adventures or adventure, this adventure, right? Is that when you are really passionately married to solving the problem, everything else will be logistics. How do we fashion ourselves to solve that problem? And at that point, selling the answer that, OK, take a product approach is much easier once people are focused on, OK, we are solving this problem. And was the most efficient way of solving it. So I think value, I mean, that’s another thing we don’t reiterate enough. Each product needs to have a crisp, clear north star, that this product is solving this problem. This is why it’s existing. If in a product portfolio, you look at it and that answer is not clear, then we should rethink should this product be sunset or not. Right. And it’s fine. Right. I mean, people who are working on that product may feel threatened again. Hey, if this my baby goes away, where would I go? There are 20 million problems to solve, man. Right. So, so I think from leadership, it has to they have to iterate continuously. You know how we say the same thing to the kids, right? And to ourselves as well. So, reminding ourselves and our mission is to solve XYZ. So let’s go for it. M is not relevant anymore.

Vit Lyoshin (44:41.066)

Yeah, so there just has to be communication from the leadership and make sure there is safety in this and provide proper training and assure people that even though this is going to happen and we’re going to start new things or do things in a new way, don’t worry, we’ll just have to adopt and try it and like that. This is what also happens at the team level when I work with them and there’s some resistance of doing something or trying a new approach and when I see the resistance and I just tell them like okay guys don’t worry nothing is gonna be broken we’re just trying this for a couple months or three months or whatever and we’re gonna check the results and see how it goes if it doesn’t work we’ll roll back it’s not a big deal we’re just learning here.

Adil Faisal (45:30.328)

Yeah.

One tool wise though, tool wise, I think if we adopt, I mean, the OKR practice top to bottom, that makes a very lightweight tool, right? It’s just, you just set some OKRs which create the North Star at the top level. And then that organically aligns everyone else to create their OKRs, right? So if that’s a nice, like a nice tangible thing to do, right? When we set the North Star, we can use OKRs and great examples of.

Vit Lyoshin (46:16.458)

That’s a good framework for goal setting and for targets and how to measure all of that and periodic check-ins. That’s definitely a good tool to use. So yeah, that’s good. So any other lessons learned that you want to share from either your studio or from enterprise world? Anything that you think is what you’re doing now is really enabled you to do and what those lessons are.

Adil Faisal (46:56.3)

Great question because there’s a couple of very good books. One is Innovators’ Dilemma. I’m sure you have heard about it. Christiansen and then Safi Bakkal, he wrote Loon Towns, right? How to do innovation. And there are some pitfalls that happens no matter who you are. Like it’s built in the system, right? And one of them is the bigger you get, right? The bigger your size gets as a company, you will get from zero to go to that. They definitely did something right. Right. They are they get very good at first. There was some breakthrough innovation. Then they marketed them well and then you start going big and big. Right. And they get very good at sustained, sustainable innovation, incremental innovation.

Like you have a less powerful hard disk, you make a more powerful hard disk, et cetera, right? But at the same time, they lose the capability to respond to change by disruptors, disruptive innovation. It’s like a documented thing that is true.

What I’m seeing is that in our federal agencies and in the enterprise as well, one thing that both those guys suggested in their books and it’s not just a theory, they have proved it in very many ways, that you have to separate out, you have to have some process that is separate from your main mission the disruptive innovation part, the innovation management part has to be separated out. Hence the Dojo concept. I am plugging in the Dojo thing, right? That’s what actually started us with that, that how do you separate it out, right? So we are basically in the Dojo, we envision that we’ll productize this process basically, right? So that people don’t, the agencies don’t have to think long and hard about how do we separate it out? No, you just.

I mean, we have a process, you just come in and do four weeks of stuff here. That’s your separate process. But you have to have a process to separate that out. And not only that, separate that out and give that, so you would probably take some A teams to go there and work on disruptive innovation a little bit. For example, now generative AI is coming, right?

So you have to separate it out and also create the process to crossover. These guys fit into this, these guys fit into this. So there has to be a crisp, clear innovation management process. That’s one thing that I think most of the enterprise is still missing.

Vit Lyoshin (50:23.466)

Yeah.

Adil Faisal (50:47.572)

70% of the CXOs want to have it, but they don’t have it because of the business of the actual keeping the lights on and it’s so busy, people get so busy, they just until you get so threatened by a disruptor who is now taking you out of business, right?

Vit Lyoshin (51:11.69)

So what’s your recommendation or maybe you’ve seen how people solve it effectively? How can you encourage them?

Adil Faisal (51:28.376)

Recommendation is just that once we… First step is acknowledgement, right? That this is something that we want to do. This is important. We want to do it. Second step is, as I said, take some very lightweight approach. We proved in our three years journey, right? That the cost is so very minimal for early stage innovation. As long as you know and you play with the right people. So budget is not an issue. It’s more like an execution. I mean, people is not an issue because the people we are talking about, they have lots of people, right? They can dedicate 5% of that to disruptive innovation, right? How do we manage it?

Just like we think about agile processes in place, right? Agile transformation, DevSecOps transformation. This is not a transformation. It’s just having an innovation management process in place. And these are lightweight processes. You just plug them in. Lightweight by definition, because it has to be outside that huge behemoth you’re supporting. It has to be outside.

Vit Lyoshin (53:01.61)

Yeah.

Adil Faisal (53:02.84)

And you just have to have some communication channels going back and forth, right? So you cannot just let loose these people. These will be brilliant people working on disruptive innovation. You let them loose, they will invent something that nobody needs, right? So there has to be feedback from the market.

Vit Lyoshin (53:20.17)

Sure. That makes sense.

Well, I think we’ve covered a lot. That was a good conversation. You had some good stories to tell us. So let’s wrap up and can you just tell us how people can connect with you and find you?

Adil Faisal (53:48.984)

Oh yeah, so I’ll share my LinkedIn. I’m there in LinkedIn. And of course, I’ll share my whole contact here.

Vit Lyoshin (54:28.842)

Okay, great. Thank you, Adil. And we’ll stay in touch. Thank you very much. Bye.

Adil Faisal (54:30.422)

All right. It’s really nice to talk to you.

Adil Faisal (54:36.984)

Bye.

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About Vit Lyoshin

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