Monthly Archives: April 2021

81. Varun

The Iowa Idea: Varun

“It happens all the time.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by researcher, entrepreneur and author Varun Murugesan. Varun is cofounder and Head of Research at Apple & Banana where he believes that everyone can do fruitful research. Varun has spent his career immersed in psychology, technology and design at organizations like Facebook, Unitedhealth Group and Best Buy, along with rising startups across the country. When he’s not sharing perspectives, collaborations and applications of fruitful research, he can be seen teaching his dog how to roll over, going for runs and playing Last of Us.

Varun and I dig into his journey into UX research and finding a more meaningful career. We discuss the founding Apple and Banana, what it’s like to build a company with your brothers, who are identical triplets. We mix it up on ways to improve collaboration, embrace leaderless teams.

Check out the special link that Varun and the Apple and Banana team created for our listeners, as he shares his journey and the things he learned as a UX researcher.

It was a pleasure having Varun on the podcast. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Varun

Varun is cofounder and Head of Research at Apple & Banana where he believes that everyone can do fruitful research. He’s spent his career immersed in psychology, technology and design at F100s like Facebook, Unitedhealth Group and Best Buy along with rising startups across the country. When he’s not sharing perspectives, collaborations and applications of fruitful research, he can be seen teaching his dog how to roll over, going for runs and playing Last of Us.

Links

https://www.appleandbanana.org/podcast/the-iowa-idea

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

80. Scott Smith

The Iowa Idea: Scott Smith

“How to Future”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by futurist and author Scott Smith. How to Future: Leading and Sense-making in an Age of Hyperchange, co-authored with Madeline Ashby, was published in September 2020. I was introduced to Scott’s work by friend and podcast guest Nick Scappaticci.

Scott is a founder and managing partner of Changeist, a futures research and consulting partnership. He has consulted to a range of global institution and has engagements with some of the largest and most respected global financial, retail, telecoms, technology and media brands, such as the BBC, The New York Times, and Comcast. Scott has designed and delivered futures projects, talks and workshops in over a dozen countries and facilitated projects and workshops in multiple languages.

Scott helped create and lead the Strategic Foresight program for Dubai Future Academy, and lectures in the Innovation & Future Thinking program at IED Barcelona, a course he designed. He was also recently named to the Executive Board of the Center for Futures Studies at the University of Dubai.

Scott and I dig into how thinking about the future is a process that makes “sense of new territory” and that considering the future is not about predicting – “it’s much more about the present and eliciting concepts and assumptions about what’s going on.”  Scott describes why “getting operating assumptions out on the table” is important when approaching the future and why the future is hard for many leaders to address. We explore why working on the future is not a linear process. I appreciated Scott’s perspective hoping the client isn’t seeing daily project progress, as much as they’re seeing increasing resolution. Scott also emphasizes why humility is incredibly important ingredient as we collaborate about the future.

It was a pleasure having Scott on the podcast. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Scott

Scott Smith is founder and managing partner of Changeist, a futures research and consulting partnership established in 2007 in the United States, now based in the Netherlands.

Having worked for more than 15 years in futures, Scott has consulted to a range of global institutions, including SWIFT, UNICEF, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, The Royal Society, Nesta, and the Dubai Future Foundation. He has also led engagements with some of the largest and most respected global financial, retail, telecoms, technology and media brands, such as the BBC, The New York Times, ASOS, AXA, VF, and Comcast. He has designed and delivered futures projects, talks and workshops in over a dozen countries and facilitated projects and workshops in multiple languages.

Scott helped create and lead the Strategic Foresight program for Dubai Future Academy, and lectures in the Innovation & Future Thinking program at IED Barcelona, a course he designed. He was also recently named to the Executive Board of the Center for Futures Studies at the University of Dubai.

He has more than 25 years’ experience in forecasting, and has lived in three countries over that time. He currently makes his home in The Hague, where his spare time is currently devoted to developing several fiction and documentary projects. He is also author of How to Future: Leading and Sense-making in an Age of Hyperchange, published by Kogan Page Inspire in September 2020.

Links

Changeist — changeist.com
How to Future Book Site — howtofuture.com

The Design Squiggle – https://thedesignsquiggle.com/

Related Episodes

If you enjoyed this episode, you might like these other episodes that dig into innovation, future, design, and sensemaking.

https://www.theiowaidea.com/2020/05/15/3-nick-scappaticci/

https://www.theiowaidea.com/2021/03/17/73-dan-klyn/

https://www.theiowaidea.com/2020/09/03/36-mike-maddock/

https://www.theiowaidea.com/2020/09/21/39-michele-williams/

https://www.theiowaidea.com/2021/04/07/78-abby-covert/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

79. Rachel Williams

The Iowa Idea: Rachel Williams

“There are people who work really hard at it.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Rachel Williams. Rachel is a native of Eastern North Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in Art Education and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Florida State University. She is an Associate Professor of Gender Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Studio Art at the University of Iowa where she has worked since 1999. Her writing appears in Southern Cultures, Meridians, the Journal of Arts Management Law and Society, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, Feminist Studies, and Visual Arts Research. She is also the author of Teaching the Arts Behind Bars. Rachel has had two books published this year; Elegy for Mary Turner, and Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed: The Detroit Uprising of 1943. 

Rachel shares her journey becoming an artist, teacher, author and why she’s a self-described fangirl of history.  We discuss her work and influences. We explore her experience working with and teaching art to incarcerated women since 1994. Rachel shares the powerful and disturbing story of Mary Turner, who was lynched while eight-months pregnant. Rachel’s latest books highlight the ugliness of white supremacy and white violence, and how we continue to struggle with these issues today. Please note, if you buy Elegy for Mary Turner, the profits go to The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

It was an honor having Rachel join me on the show. I’d like to thank her for her time and perspective. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Rachel

Rachel Williams, a native of Eastern North Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in Art Education and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Florida State University. She is an Associate Professor of Gender Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Studio Art at the University of Iowa where she has worked since 1999. Her writing appears in Southern Cultures, Meridians, the Journal of Arts Management Law and Society, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, Feminist Studies, and Visual Arts Research. She is also the author of Teaching the Arts Behind Bars (Northeastern U. Press, 2003) Elegy for Mary Turner (Verso Press, 2021) and Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be KilledThe Detroit Uprising of 1943 (UNC Press/Duke Center for Documentary Studies, 2021).

Links

https://uncpress.org/book/9781469663272/run-home-if-you-dont-want-to-be-killed/

https://www.versobooks.com/authors/2510-rachel-marie-crane-williams

https://www.civilandhumanrights.org/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

78. Abby Covert

The Iowa Idea: Abby Covert

“Maybe we don’t know.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Abby Covert. Abby is an information architect, writer, community organizer, and all-around awesome human. Abby served as President of IA Institute, co-chair of IA Summit, and Executive Producer of IDEA. She is a founding faculty member of SVA’s Products of Design program, Design Operations Summit and Advancing Research Conference. She invented World IA Day, bringing IA education to thousands in local communities annually. Abby wrote “How to Make Sense of Any Mess” a book teaching IA to everybody.

I first met Abby in 2018 at The IA Summit in Chicago, when she was the curator of the poster session, and I was lucky enough to be one of the presenters. Ever since she published “How to Make Sense of Any Mess,” I’ve always been impressed by Abby’s intelligence, caring, and commitment to community.

Abby shares her journey about becoming an IA, starting with the early influence of her grandfather, her teaching at Parsons, and creating and curating some phenomenal IA conferences, including creating Word IA Day. We also explore Abby’s process and approach for her next book focused on diagrammatic technique.

We mix it up on the importance of admitting we don’t know and how we can make sense of information messes and dig deep into how we might confront the mind monsters that emerge from the fertile grounds of human and information messes. I appreciate Abby’s perspective on time and how to better manage time and task. For those keeping track, this is the third episode to reference Richard Saul Wurman.

It was an honor having Abby join me on the show. When you’re done with this episode, please check out Abby’s World IA Day talk, which is linked in the show description.  I’d like to thank Abby for her time, perspective, and contributions to the IA community. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Abby

Abby Covert is an information architect, writer and community organizer. Abby served as President of IA Institute, co-chair of IA Summit, and Executive Producer of IDEA. She is a founding faculty member of SVA’s Products of Design program, Design Operations Summit and Advancing Research Conference. She invented World IA Day, bringing IA education to thousands in local communities annually. Abby wrote “How to Make Sense of Any Mess” a book teaching IA to everybody.

Links

www.etsy.com/shop/abbytheia

www.abbycovert.com

www.abbycovert.com/make-sense

Abby’s talk from WIAD21: https://abbycovert.com/speaking/make-more-sense/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

77. Jim Sherlock

The Iowa Idea: Jim Sherlock

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jim Sherlock. Jim is Director of Information Security & Technology Implementation at Pearson. Jim’s teams are responsible for protecting more than 250 million sensitive records that are processed and maintained by Pearson’s global Assessment platforms. Jim is one of the inventors on the US patent on automated testing error assessment systems. Jim continues to push the bounds of Ed Tech and is exploring virtual reality.

Jim grew up in Williamsburg, Iowa and earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees at The University of Iowa. At Iowa Jim, played trombone in marching band and jazz ensembles, hosted a jazz show on KRUI.

Jim shares his journey from education, to cybersecurity, to Ed Tech and we explore the through-line that holds it all together. We explore early World Wide Web tech and the move from server farms to cloud computing, with a deep dive on Amazon’s customer-centric approach to innovation. We also dig into the “last mile” issues faced by schools and districts, when it comes to internet-enabled technology, as well as the potential of tech to enhance future learning environments.

It was an honor having Jim join me on the show. I’d like to thank him for his time and perspective. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Jim

While never a straight path, and certainly not a progression that ones’ high school guidance counselor would have mapped out, Jim’s passion for education and technology over the past 20 years has taken him from the brick streets of small-town Iowa, to the classroom, to the war room, and to the board room. Most recently, Jim has been involved in research related to virtual reality in education as well as the potential to leverage virtual reality as an instrument for assessment.

Jim grew up in Williamsburg, Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communication Studies (BA 98) and a Masters in Social Studies Education (MA 2000). After a three-year stint supporting the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in network forensics and encryption, Jim made his way back to Iowa and joined Pearson to build out engineering teams in the areas of application monitoring, capacity planning, application performance tuning, and performance testing as the adoption of computer-based testing gained momentum across the United States. In his current role as Director of Information Security & Technology Implementation at Pearson, Jim’s teams are responsible for protecting more than 250 million sensitive records that are processed and maintained by Pearson’s global Assessment platforms.

While at the University of Iowa, Jim played trombone in the Hawkeye Marching Band, Johnson County Landmark Jazz band, and was a DJ for six years at the University of Iowa’s award-winning radio station (89.7 KRUI).  During his free time, Jim teaches weightlifting and indoor cycling group fitness classes at two gyms in the Iowa City area.

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

76. Saul Kaplan

The Iowa Idea: Saul Kaplan

“You can’t analyze your way to transformation!”

Welcome to The Iowa Idea Podcast. In this episode, I’m joined by Saul Kaplan. Saul is an innovation junkie, the founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (also known as BIF) and author of The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant when the World Is Changing.

Saul started BIF in 2005 with a mission to enable business model innovation. BIF makes transformational change safer and easier to manage for institutional leaders by helping them explore, test, and commercialize next practices and new business models.

Saul shares his journey from pharmacy to management consulting, to economic development, to innovation. I really appreciated how Saul synthesizes what he learned as a scientist, business leader, and accidental bureaucrat to leverage human centered design to address complex problems.

We mix it up on the difference between market-making and share-taking business perspectives; and why understanding the people in the ecosystem, rapid prototyping, and checking our egos at the door, are essential as we address truly wicked problems.  Saul shares the importance of human centered collaboration and his approach to innovation. I appreciated his insight: “the truth is systems problems require systems solutions.” Another key idea Saul shares is Roger Martin’s innovator definition – “an innovator is someone with a clear and strong point of view, and they know they’re missing something” and they hunt for what’s missing.

It was an honor having Saul join me on the show. I’d like to thank him for his time and perspective. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Saul

Saul Kaplan is the founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory and author of The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant when the World Is Changing.

Kaplan started BIF in 2005 with a mission to enable business model innovation. BIF makes transformational change safer and easier to manage for institutional leaders by helping them explore, test, and commercialize next practices and new business models.

Prior to BIF Kaplan served as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and as the Executive Counselor to the Governor on Economic and Community Development.

Prior to his state leadership role, Kaplan served as a Senior Strategy Partner in Accenture’s Health & Life-Science practice and worked broadly throughout the pharmaceutical, medical products, and biotechnology industry. Kaplan also spent eight years working for the Pharmaceutical Division of Eli Lilly and Company. As a Marketing Plans Manager, Kaplan assisted in developing the launch strategy and successful introduction of Prozac into the U.S. market.

Kaplan holds an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute focusing on the strategic management of technology and a BS in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island.

Links

BIF Bio  https://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/people/saul-kaplan/

BIF Link: https://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/

LunaYou link: https://www.lunayou.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/skap5

Medium posts: https://saulkaplan.medium.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).