At a time when the impacts of our businesses are often greater than the sum of our intentions and expectations of businesses are evolving, the HOW of business is more important than ever. Host Lauren Sinreich talks with business leaders about methodologies that uncover power dynamics, new ways of identifying effective metrics, creating the conditions for achieving more rather than just doing more, the most critical skills organizations need moving forward, how values are now a competitive advantage, and more to help guide entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs as we create the world around us through our businesses.
07 Satsuko VanAntwerp on Designing Human-Centered, Equitable AI
Satsuko VanAntwerp is a design researcher and service designer working on creating human-centered AI. Having previously founded a social sector design consultancy for government agencies, you'll hear how she brings her experience in business and the social sector to make more just and equitable AI. In this conversation we talk about:why she sees large scale AI as an opportunity to shift until recently invisible power structuresdata and its implications for businesses and customershow a cross functional AI product team balances desirability, feasibiliy and viabilitywhat happens when you optimize from a biz/tech lens and how to optimize from a human lens and why it generates better resultswhy AI needs to have ongoing learning from humans, making it important to have humans in the loopthe critical but distinct roles that tech and design play in developing explainable AIhow the micro and macro social contract within a company and of a country impacts the adoption of AIRecommended ResourcesCompass recidivism rate researchExplainable AIAlgorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja NobleWeapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'NeilRace After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruja BenjaminInvisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado PerezSatsuko VanAntwerp on LinkedInSelect Highlights"Design, what I'm representing, is the desirability. What does the human want, how do we make this usable? Does this make sense for society, and is it humane and responsible?""In the end, AI is just a tool, but it has the opportunity to do a lot of good if we can get our values in there. Tech is not neutral, right? And so I'm most excited by AI, enterprise level AI, AI that has the opportunity to be used by a lot of people, because it's just another slice of society that we can actually embed values that are good for all people.""Values that are good for all people like equality, fairness, accountability, safety, privacy, all of these things. If we dont intentionally embed this into the technology, it's not going to happen on its own.""As a design researcher, in the end we really believe the user is king or queen. My client may be a cosmetics company, but who I really think of as my client is the end user society, humanity.""AI can be problematic if we dont highlight some of these issues and deal with them. At the same time it shines a light on everything that has already been going on that's not working in society.""What's so helpful about the AI technology, now we have the proof, the data. And now we can't ignore it. Now we have to do something about this. Yes, it's problematic, and it's all of our collective responsibility to act and do something.""It's so granular. I think one of the things thats interesting about AI. I think people think of it as Ex Machina, or HER, or Westworld. And we think of sentient beings, we think of it being very powerful stuff. In the end AI is often very narrow, it's applied to mundane tasks.""Tech is not neutral and what AI can do, what's exciting about it, is that it can shift power. It can rebalance a system. There's so much potential for using AI to create a more just world, the kind of world we want to see. If we just take the data as is, the historical data, we'll just keep perpetuating all these disparities and discrepancies and biases we have until now. But now we do have a chance to rebalance that and to shift power. That's the most exciting part about AI."
06 Sarah Judd Welch on people-driven innovation
Sarah Judd Welch is CEO of Sharehold, a people-driven innovation agency, and started one of the first community agencies when the concept of community in tech was just getting started. Sarah and Lauren talk about:The need for creating a new set of competencies and capabilities and value systems that allow businesses to serve their customers better.How your customers goals can serve as really effective metricsWhy Net Promoter Score (NPS) is limited in measuring the success of communityWhy systems design is so important for serving your community and customers.Why research and other methods of listening to customers is critical skillset for organizations moving forwardHow design research helps you identify whether you're focusing on the right opportunities and identify the worthy mountains to climb in businessReframing the presence of conflict as an opportunity for progressRecommended ResourcesTogether: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Dr. Viveck MurphyBuilding Brand Communities: How Organizations Succeed by Creating Belonging by Carrie Melissa Jones and Charles VoglJust Enough Research by Erika HallBrene Brown Select Highlights:"The capacity to listen to customers, I think thats probably one of the most fundamental skills a company can develop in 2020 for a competitive advantage.""That in order for there to be a relationship between an organization and its quote-on-quote customer, there had to be a transaction, and I felt there was a missed opportunity. We should able to provide value that is mutual and reciprocal rather than transactional. And I saw this to be true in my work in technology as well. I saw the power of bringing people together and treating people well and solving their problems as a purpose of the business.""The role of a business in society is to serve people, therefore you need to be solving the problems of people. And the people who you serve are core stakeholders in your business and that fundamentally drove what my work is today.""Now the idea of a super engaged, community, true relationship driven business is no longer up for debate, the ROI has been proven, and now we're able to play at a significantly higher level of new value creation.""The work that you do to support your team also supports your customers and vice versa. These are reciprocal mirrored relationships is that you need to be able to do both well.""Conflict can be very powerful. In fact, one could argue that progress is not possible without conflict. You need to work through the conflict to progress forward and develop better solutions, and thats part of the reason why diversity is such a powerful asset in any team."
05 Nate Nichols on authenticity and elevating more diverse perspectives
Nate Nichols is Founder of the Palette Group, a Brooklyn-based creative production haus. In this conversation that tears down the silos of the personal vs professional journeys, Nate and Lauren talk about:Business as a platform to explore one's identity and to self-expressFinding the balance between being authentic and unfiltered but also having it resonate with clients and audiencesHow branding is a direct filter and lens for you to do the work you want to do in the world How the agency business model directly impacts the diversity of perspectives in advertisingData is driving the future of decentralized advertising, distribution of content and more diversity of creative contentReferences and Resources:Palette GroupIdeo: Leading for CreativityTraction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino WickmanRun Studio Run by Eli AltmanFreelancer Cyber SummitAllyship and ActionSelect highlights:"There's something in me that when I am self expressed, there is value there.""When you do set those brand values, if you do that work to design the brand values that you want people to see in your company, you'll attract those people you're speaking about, you'll attract those people in the recruitment process who you'll just immediately get along with because their values align with the brands values. So when they do come aboard, it's just easier to be themselves and be self expressed, because they're fully aligned with the brand values. And thus, your organization will just run way more fluid, way more efficiently because everyones just genuinely happy to be there.""Thats the beauty of branding, if you're really true to yourself and your values you'll be able to create messaging and language and creative that represents that position and those values. So people look at you and experience you in a way that you dont even have to talk anymore."
04 Lisa Gralnek on brand-based, values-led strategy and growth
Lisa Gralnek is Founder and CEO of LVG & Co, a values-driven growth strategy firm. In this conversation Lisa explores brand-based, values-led strategy considerations for businesses seeking growth.Why getting back to your values and your customers' values is the most important thing, especially in times of change and uncertainty, and how values-led brands are better positioned to stay relevant in times of change,The difference between business decisions and values-led brand decisionsThe emphasis on growth over the past 10-20 years and the impact that prioritizing growth has on how you do business, and how it has led to toxic cultures for many companiesHow different organizations set goals and KPIs and why they're criticalWhy values are not just a feel good story to tell, they're an effective lens for innovationWhy a company's values should not just parrot what they think customers want, and how context helps you make your values applied to be relevantHow large brands like Walmart have stayed nimble in order to stay true to their core commitments and valuesHow you measure success against you goals and your KPIs are not black and white, and they reflect what you valueReferences and Resources:LVG & CoThe Gap Between Medium article by LisaConsumer Goods Forum articles:The Value of Values: Setting the CourseThe Value of Values: Walking the TalkQuarantine Book Club - Mule Design StudioUN Sustainable Development Goals 2030BLabThrive GlobalLet My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual by Yves ChouinardFrom Green to Gold by Harold EnricoIshmael by Daniel QuinnFuterra Honest GenerationSelect Highlights:"How do you measure success against your goals? That's why KPIs are critical. As they say what you measure grows.""Leadership is really where values come in. Values in themselves are leading principles and leadership needs to own them and infuse them through the organization in order for any of the other stuff to happen.""If we say values are our guardrails for decision making, values are also then our guide for action taking."
03 Ara Katz on a systems approach to business and experience
Ara Katz is CEO and Founder of Seed Health, Co-Founder of Luca Technologies and serial entrepreneur recognized by a number of lists and publications. Ara and I talk about transitioning from tech to the health and biotech industries, and how she has merged the thinking of both to build an incredible product and experience. In this conversation we discuss:How company distribution is critical in making decisions that align with your values from the get go, the difference between board votership and input, and how a diverse eclectic group of investors helped to balance Seed's direction and visionHow Seed has found a different, more meaningful way to engage in the DTC market through the subscription model, and some of the risks of the model.Why our current moment in time this difficult look in the mirror can be productive and helpful and help us feel hopeful as a result.How Seed is bridging the gap between clinical data with the holistic experience data as a feedback loopHow company convictions can sometimes differ from traditional metricsWhere Seed is going as a company, and how it operates with integrity to its values.Select highlights:"I think there are always challenges for being first or for being early, and you pay for that. But then the ROI has a lot to do with thought leadership, but then of course the experience, both conscious and unconscious of what it means to be in touch with a company or brand the humans that work there, the product itself. There's that gestalt effect where 1+1 is truly 3, that amplifier.... That's where I believe companies go from 10 to the 2nd to 10 to the 6th.""Sustainability is not an offset program. these things have to start more ecosystemically and foundationally... it has to be in the batter, and it can't be your frosting."If you understand biology and work in science and care about the environment, but also in our world of health and microbes, we just dont see a distinction between human and environmental health.""For the most part, as within without... its very strange to offer something to someones health for their human body while also serving it up in a way that completely disregards the health of our greater ecosystem."
02 Zach Nies on company culture and the purpose of business
Zach Nies is Managing Director of the TechStars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with the Nature Conservancy. He's a serial entrepreneur who was part of the first companies to take a BCorp designated company to public offering and is passionate about how the business, human and technology elements interplay. In this rich conversation, we talk about:Why leaders need to see personal growth as a critical part of their company’s successWhy lean methodology is not just about efficiency, but about company cultureThe difference between a global max and a local max, and why the best entrepreneurs are the kind that have the grit to back track to ensure they're on the right pathWhy the unicorn and the do-good company is a false dichotomy and breaking that dichotomy is where breakthroughs can happenWhy lean and agile are great methods for balancing the paradox of being open to possibilities while being hyper focused on a few given things at any one timeHow stoping to reflect can actually increase your velocity as a company, and the importance of making the distinction between motion and progress Two dimensions of servant leadership: lead by serving and serve by leading.References and resources:TechStars Sustainability Accelerator in Partnership with the Nature ConservancyThis is Lean by Niklas ModigQuotes"How you create the container for progress is different than how you create the container to maximize motion.""If you think about the pressures to grow a business, you can't meet the growth targets by just adding time and often you can't do it by just adding people. There are disproportionate gains from stepping by and going, 'where can we fundamentally improve the business?'""From a pragmatic standpoint, if you’re building a product, you’re going to build it for the human beings using it. And their adoption is largely based on the psychology of how they view your product and how they view their situation. So to me, psychology was an interesting way to understanding the human side of building a business.""We're prone to black and white thinking and I think there's a black and white dichotomy, which is you're either a unicorn chasing all about shareholder value company or you're a do-gooder and you'll putter around with your business for a while and you'll do something interesting and it'll be good for people. To me, the global max is thinking about: how do we break through that black and white thinking and ask ourselves, 'how can we have both?'""You have to do the work, but the key is to do the work that leads to the progress, that moves the business forward in the way you want to. And there's such a belief system, especially in startups especially in American corporate environment, which is the only thing that matters is that we're all working at 100%. There's such a false trap around that."