Day 4 – Cisco & Klutz;

November 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

The final day of tour had us taking in the sights of two very different companies before finishing off with “reflection” at IDEO.We started the day at Cisco who provided a good overview of its innovation processes and how it engages with customers to come up with new solutions for using its product.  They didn’t frame it at all like this, but the insight for me was that as a legacy technology solution and platform they were focusing on evolving their customer relationships to gather insights required for innovation.  The presentations didn’t sound too different to a typical consultancy style of working with B2B customers to understand their challenges.  However the cynic in me was not overly surprised when the outcome of this work leads unexpectedly with a new application or use of its core technology.  I don’t have a problem with this, because it’s a natural outcome we are all guilty of and it makes perfect commercial sense, but whose problems does the innovation process serve; the customer or the company.  Me things the company, which begs the question of sustainability after all we have seen this week!

Cisco highlighted some great insight into what is happening in the retail segment, which confirmed many of the point made by Apple yesterday.  All retail channels are converging and customers expect the same experience across any channel and they have more control because they enter a store with way more information than before and pricing is transparent across all channels and competitors.  This creates a need for retailers to understand the changing role their showroom plays in a customer relationship and experience.

From a technology standpoint, Cisco is developing really impressive solutions using video and the visited highlighted that we will use video communications more in the future.  I still think though, that there is no substitute for having people in the same room especially for creative processes so the jury is still out for me if HD video links etc will take off as some predict.

Moving from the traditional, corporate style of Cisco to an environment that could not be further from that was Klutz, the kids activities book publisher.

What an absolute treat and entertainment. Klutz takes play seriously and it filters through the company and it was a delight to see how some organisations can drive massive growth and creativity while having a hell of a laugh.

While it was hard to find a serious note to the visit, Matt Brown the boss (although everyone, including Matt seem to have difficulty with the concept of a boss) highlighted that if we are moving to a creative economy then play is critical to get the creative juices flowing.

The original best selling Klutz book set out to teach kids how to juggle, and the first instruction is to throw all three balls up in the air at the same time and try to catch them.  Knowing this is near on impossible for the average 8 year old, Klutz helps the child understand that failure is to be expected and should be accepted as he learns new activities, a theme that runs through all its books. Failure is inevitable as you learn and don’t you shouldn’t get too worried about it.

Failure is a key attribute to innovation and being prepared to push the boundaries as you try new ideas, and it was delighted to have such a successful global publisher and company highlight this point in such a fun way.  Thanks to all at Klutz.


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