Was an insightful chat that covered a range of innovation topics including:
- Creativity as a Process
- How To Innovate
- John Cage
- Blocking as a Tool for Innovation
- Pressurizing Short Term Goals
- Writing Styles
- and more, much more!
Below the video is the transcript with time stamps. We’ve lightly edited the conversation to make it more readable.
If you prefer, here is the Podcast of the interview:
Video: How to Innovate - Builders of Web3 Show
Transcript: How to Innovate - Builders of Web3 Show
Antonio Ivanoski: [00:00:00] All right. What's up, everyone? Welcome to the Builders of Web3 show. I'm your host, Antonio Ivanovski. You can call me AI. I have two very special guests today. I have Jason Frasca and Iain Kerr, and they are co founders and innovation strategies of their own consulting firm, Builders of Web3. Emergent future labs.
I've been reading Jason and Iain's newsletter on LinkedIn, following them for a while now. They also have their own book, which we will talk about later, I'm sure. And Jason used was my professor for entrepreneurship back when I was at Montclair State University. So I'm very excited about today's conversation.
So let's get it started. Welcome, Jason. Welcome, Iain.
Jason Frasca: Hey, it's good to see you.
Antonio Ivanoski: Do you guys want to maybe start a list, [00:01:00] telling me about yourselves a little bit, telling the audience about yourselves? I know you guys are brilliant and I would love to hear a little more than what I said.
Iain Kerr: Yeah. Do you want to kick it off Jason?
Jason Frasca: Yeah, sure. Just real quick background is in the marketing digital marketing specifically and then operational efficiency processes. And and so forth and I've had a couple of careers in nine year careers and along those lines and then ended up with a successful exit in 2012 from a company that I was a partner in, and then evolved over to teaching a professor at Montclair State University, entrepreneurship, marketing, innovation, starting a Innovation Research Lab with Iain called the Mix Lab, where we use innovation excuse me, we use 3D printing to teach [00:02:00] the skills of innovation.
So we have this hard skill, soft skill intersection in our lab, and it's also a great prototyping space for students to support their entrepreneurial. Efforts and collaborations cross campus, so it's been about my background.
Iain Kerr: I'm I'm originally from Canada from Vancouver a long time ago and my background is I studied philosophy and architecture and for,
20 years or so I've been part of a kind of interventionist art design. Collective called Spurs, and we've done a lot of work with communities around ecological innovation and change making as well as, you know, things in the design space at large. And, you know, my focus has always been just trying to figure out how to.
Make change happen at different scales from objects to [00:03:00] systems, and I've taught in all sorts of spaces within the university from art design, architecture, philosophy, ecology entrepreneurship, innovation, what have you and and I think, you know, you, you were saying earlier. Antonio, when we were just talking like that, you're the jack of all trades and the master of none.
I think that's a really important thing to be is that especially with innovation where, you know, the whatever's coming about the new, like, nobody's a master of, you know, and so, you know, everybody should say everybody, but, you know, it's like a position of being an amateur. You know, and so I, I, I really resonate with being proudly a master of nothing.
Antonio Ivanoski: good to hear. Yeah, because a lot of times I feel like, and I've had this conversation with my wife, [00:04:00] she kind of went accounting data science and she's like, well, I know a little bit of everything, but she's like, I wish I knew something like where I specialize in something, but I guess there's, there's pros and cons to, to both.
So that's definitely good to hear you say that. You know,
Jason Frasca: a quick bit about that. The world has kind of gone back to this generalization master of none kind of space 10 years ago. When I, I had that exit and then was transitioning to university having run a business for 10 years, you know, you have your hands in everything, right?
Marketing and, and and sales and then the actual deliverable product, right? And, and accounting and so forth. But came out and emerged as a jack of all trades and the world at that time did great. Not value that skill set of having exposure to all of all of the aspects of business and wanted specificity.
They wanted [00:05:00] specialists and I was basically unhireable. So I didn't want to have a business at that time. I was looking for a job. It was unhireable because it was this. Dean, this kind of jack of all trades, right? But now, if we fast forward in the last 2 or 3 years has become this great emphasis right on jack of all trades.
You've got to know everything. If you have this great diverse background, then you can intersect and work in multitude of fields, right? You can add value to all of the parts that you're contributing to. And so I think it's kind of fascinating how we've come full circle. I suspect at some point we'll go back to specialization down the road back and forth.
But just. Really just an interesting observation about how that intersects with innovation and creativity and
Iain Kerr: contributing
Jason Frasca: in so many different ways.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, and I think that's so when I was at Verizon, it kind of encouraged us to move. Same thing with Google. They want to try out new different things, but I think our audience from builders of Web 3 will be very happy with that.
So, and the Web [00:06:00] 3 blockchain world, they have some, I think, like they call a unicorn is, you know, some data science and then you also can like hold your own and like. Coding and develop software development, but then also you have to know a little bit of design and stuff And now it's even getting more complicated because you wanna you have to manage a community like a discord community That's a totally different skill, you know, so that's it's definitely an interesting world which I think will will come up because it could get it could definitely get overwhelming so I wanted to ask you first, how did you guys get into the, well, first, we'll take a step back.
Right. So you have you thought we wouldn't talk about innovation and when I was trying to come up with questions and when I was thinking about it, I kept coming to the word creativity. So if we start to our question. What, what is innovation? And then is it the same thing as creativity? [00:07:00]
Iain Kerr: I would I would like, I would just say it's like a more useful general answer to start with is that to just see that they're the same thing.
You know, a lot of people want to say innovation is, is about making something creative. Functional and have a purpose and work, you know, it's kind of like just slicing and dicing the same big space. And I think the really important thing for us is that creativity is a process. It's not a thing, it's not something that you could own or possess.
It's not something like we could chop your head open and find it inside you. You know, it's, there's no genetic coding for it. It's a worldly process, right? And it's something we [00:08:00] can enter into, and we see it all around us. You know dinosaurs are evolving into birds. You know, new viruses are emerging all the time.
It's, you know, so that's the really important thing for us is, is to get people to move from that thing model where it's something in a so called creative's head. To seeing it as a worldly process that we participate in and some of those things lead to very concrete thing outcomes, you know, which some people want to call innovation.
And some things lead to much more speculative outcomes, but you might say, Oh, that's more, you know, about creativity. But I think getting lost in those, the nuance like makes you not see the, the important big picture part.
Antonio Ivanoski: So is. But I, I think I found something very interesting that you said. [00:09:00] Are you, are you saying that creativity is like, you're not born with that?
Because I used to think like oh, I'm a, let's say accountants are not creative, and then our people who are into like the liberal arts, maybe they're more creative. And I, I went for 25 years basically of my life, and I'm 26 now. Thinking that I wasn't creative at all, and I thought I could never do such a thing.
And I know a lot of people who share that same belief.
Iain Kerr: Yeah, I think it's totally misplaced. I would just say, like, obviously, if you're from New Jersey, you know, that accounting is incredibly creative.
But that aside yeah, I think it's like. It's this fundamental error we've made, that's part of our history and tradition, you know coming from a kind of Greco Christian philosophy where, you know, God is the creator and prime mover, and then we've modeled our own model of creativity on that, like, that [00:10:00] it's something internal, and some people are creative and some people aren't.
And it's, it's really, it's a set of skills that are across the board, applied across the board and can be learned and engaged with by anyone. And, and I think it's, it's really important to see. It's also, it's a non human thing, right? It's like all around us you know, amazing things are happening and a big part of.
The creativity we're involved with as humans is because of some strange, nonhuman, unintended creativity, you know, antibiotics. Is the creativity of, you know, microscopic fungi, you know, it's not, it's not like, like, we figured out how to work with but it's not like, it was like, somebody invented it in their head and then was like, I'm going to make the [00:11:00] world do it.
Antonio Ivanoski: So, so you guys have your consulting company do you guys work more with individuals or more with companies? And how do you start teaching that stuff?
Jason Frasca: So I think it's a bit of a mix across consulting with individuals. In deep intensives and meaningful ways, it's professional, personal development and corporate engagements from workshops to long term engagements, but how do we do it is is really, I think what really set us on this path to forming emergent futures lab.
And, and really we're trying to answer two questions, which is what is innovation, which. I think Iain was just touching upon, but how to innovate. And so in that research lab that I was describing you know, Iain and I were sitting there reflecting upon, you know, a [00:12:00] semesters the semesters of work and realizing that students were just generating widgetized outcomes.
They were just slightly better versions of what existed. They didn't really have great impact. They were not maybe, maybe contributing to the positive change that we need in our socioeconomic ecosystemic environments at this point in time. And what we started to kind of break down is one, it was based on the pillar of design thinking, which was which was handed to us in the beginning.
Iain and I are both the first professors in the program, the curriculum, and it was. Decided that we would begin with design thinking as a pillar of our curriculum. And then the second was so we were evaluating that as a widgetized outcome of design thinking, but then started to look through all of the books that are on entrepreneurship and innovation and startups, and they all proclaim the importance of innovation.
And it's about a [00:13:00] sentence somewhere early or a paragraph at most early in the book. And then that's it, nothing else about it. And so when you look in the index of the books, there was no mention of innovation or creativity. And when you look in the table of contents, there's no mention of creativity or innovation.
And specifically, and all it was stating was just how important, how, you know, you must do this great important thing, but no process. No one tells you how to do it. And right, there was no how to. And so that's the second question that we are focusing on answering. How to innovate. And so we've generated a process, you know, over over the last bunch of years that.
That mimics, I think, much of what Iain was just describing, right, getting outside of the head and being of and emergent with creativity processes that are all around us and, and coming up with a a framework and approach to to generating [00:14:00] creativity and innovation so that even individuals like yourself, that.
Feel they're not creative, right? Can participate in, in the process of creativity and innovation.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, no, that is awesome. And that's why I've been reading your newsletter because right, so I create content and I have what we're filming right now, right? And like, how can I do something different? Because I'm just doing a lot of times you just get stuck in the process and just everybody else is doing it this way.
So this is how you continue to do it. Yeah, it gets very saturated. You're not standing out. People get bored. You know, I want people to get value out of this. So that's why I've been spending a lot of time trying to think, but at the same time, you know, I just sit up, let's say I just sit on my couch and be like, okay, I'm going to innovate now and I'm going to come up with a new way.
Every idea that comes to me, something that kind of, I've seen somewhere, I've heard about this. So then by the nature of it, I'm not innovating, right. I'm just trying to copy somebody else's thing. [00:15:00]
Iain Kerr: Yeah. And that, I mean, that's a big. That's a really important point that you raise. And that's, that's like the nature of thinking and ideation is conservative, right?
Like, so if you can have that, if you can turn into words and concepts, you're going back, you're going to the past, you're going to what's known. And so there, you need to figure out a way of going beyond, you know, what you can ideate and what you can think. And that's where, you know, you have to have an experimental approach, like, you have to look at.
You know you know, like you're saying with your what we're doing right now, we're recording something in a certain way, but if you just looked at all the components of it, and you asked yourself, like, what else could they do? And started to experiment with that, like, let's not do the standard model, like, you know, whatever that might be.
Let's just block those key parts. What else could it do? [00:16:00] If we did that? You know, and and then to start, you know, play with that, like, well, that leads to this really interesting thing. What else could that interesting thing do? You know, and then iterate and keep going. And at some point, you know, these kind of exploratory processes hit hit on a threshold where it crosses into something.
Qualitatively different and then, you know, then you're off to the races, but if you just sit in your couch, you know, which is a wonderful thing and you just like smoked open, you know, generate ideas you know, or you do it in a boardroom and you call it brainstorming or you do it with like, innovation expert in a workshop where you are led to supposedly novel ideas. It's all the same thing. It's just conservative idea generation, you know, and it's like, that's part of the problem.
Antonio Ivanoski: So how do you get [00:17:00] past that? Are we able to talk about through, like, maybe I know there's a lot of techniques, right?
That's why there's a whole playbook for it, but able to give a kind of like an example, or maybe 1 technique. I know you you mentioned blocking. Yeah,
Iain Kerr: I think blocking is the, like, blocking is really the, the best way to start and really get yourself to understand the processes we're talking about or just look at anything you do whatever it might be, and think of what's one underlying tool, process, habit.
And just say, I'm not doing that. And then it'll force you to figure, you know, to do something differently with things. You might need to add a couple more blockages, but you're just pushing yourself into the unintended, like using things in unintended ways, using things in different. And then you start to notice.[00:18:00]
That some of those are really interesting.
Antonio Ivanoski: So you guys follow. I didn't mean to cut you off. Yeah, that's cool. So you guys familiar with N. F. T. S. Nice JPEGs online, right? It's very popular. Everybody's doing that. But all it is, everybody's just posting a picture of the same different ape or different orangutan, and it's just being copied, right?
So, would you say an example of blocking would be if you tried to innovate, right? Like, how can we take NFTs to the next level? Would an example of blocking be like, okay, we're not going to post a picture as an NFT. And then you block that kind of site, and maybe you are going to do... Use the other senses.
Like, can I send you a voice message that's unique to you? Would that be kind of like an example? You started to using different senses or am I
Iain Kerr: off on that? That could be super interesting. I think the important thing is. [00:19:00] Don't, don't think of like the next thing you're doing as an answer, but as like the beginning of a process, like, you know, so you block, you know, sending JPEGs and you try something else.
It's not like you're just trying to replace 1 thing with another, but you're trying to start a journey, right? That will involve iteration and more blocking and more deviation. And, and eventually you'll get somewhere interesting, but that 1st step. Well, probably like the one you're suggesting, it'll sound even when you say it kind of stupid, right?
You're like, yeah, you know, like, I'm not even sure what I'm saying, you know, use a different sense. Like, isn't that already been done as well? That would just be stupid. Nobody would want to, but it's more important just to do it. And then, and then see, well, what's interesting in it. In the sense of, like, what's different and how could I magnify that and take it [00:20:00] further?
How could I block a bit more? And it has to be really exploratory, right? Where I think we often we want to know before we experiment where we're going to go. Like, this is going to be really cool. We'll get into that space, but that's also, like, pulling us back into what we know. So I think it's important to, to, to recognize, like, the emotions you're having, like, where you're.
Like, that's kind of dumb, that's kind of stupid, but be willing to try it out and, and trust the process, right? And, and not have to have the answer.
Jason Frasca: I would just add, I would just add a bit there here in, in that you can control how much you block or how much difference you generate by how many of the variables.
You leave behind, right? And so if you understand all the elements of an NFT, right, it's, it's imagery, [00:21:00] it's color, it's generally profile pictures, right? It's based on code, a certain type of code, a structure of code, specific languages of code, right? And so then if we start to understand the entire, entire field of NFTs, right, but also understand their possibilities beyond If just this 1 use case that we're seeing repeated over and over.
So to generate the difference, we can block some of those variables to generate a little bit of difference, right? For example, we could block a color palette, right? Or we could then start to block imagery. Right, and start to get into other senses, right? So now we're becoming more different. And then we could block many more variables like we're going to block this way of coding or we're going to block this traditional form of code that has to be in all the NFTs and generate some entirely new.
Let the code generate, right? Because it's all based on code. Let the code generate, take us into some [00:22:00] entirely new place, right? And, and, and I'm sure someone right now is laughing, like, and they're saying, like, you can't do that, right? You can't lock code for something you're coding. That's, that's fucking ridiculous.
But that's how you get to somewhere different, right? So the more variables. The more variables you block, the more difference you generate. And it's that laughter that Iain was kind of touching upon, the dumb or the crazy, the stupid. I, you know, laughter is the human response to new indifference. If it were something familiar, we wouldn't be laughing.
We'd be comfortable
Antonio Ivanoski: with it. That is true, yeah.
Jason Frasca: Right, and so when you're generating that sort of laughter, you know you're onto something that's worth exploring. And treating, and then just treating all of those as... Experimental questions, you know, as opposed to the answer. Right. And so that experimental question you put forth of, you know, maybe it's an audio file.
Great. Maybe it is an audio file. It's not all that different, but it's a start. And instead of it being the answer, we're going to now deliver audio files. Let's [00:23:00] just explore where that takes us and what's possible and see where it leads and keep. Experimenting, but
Antonio Ivanoski: how do you, like you said, if it's, it's, it sounds dumb to you.
Right. And you think this is a ridiculous idea, but you're saying you still have to kind of give it a try because those things I think are like, kind of conflicting in us. Right. We think something's dumb. We don't want to go to our friends and be like, this is what I'm going to do. And people are going to laugh at you basically.
Right. So how do you kind of encourage people?
Iain Kerr: Yeah. I mean, that's where we, we like to, yeah. Invent a lot of games that can get you familiar with these processes. You know, in kind of low kind of risk environments, right, which is what a game is. And because I think the other part is like, when you say these concepts to people, they're like, either that you don't quite understand them, or you also think they're wrong.
Like, I know what innovation is. I know [00:24:00] what creativity is. I'm a creative person. I want to generate great big ideas and speculative fictions and whatever it might be. So I think rather than talking a lot, we try in our workshops and in other scenarios to immerse people in, you know, games and events and situations and then unpack them and so that the things we're saying, are sort of self generated by the participants and they're having the realizations so it's not coming from us so much as it's coming from the situation. So I think that's a really important part. It's like. You know, we, we've learned from, you know, through our schooling, like to, to be idea and concept focused and, you know answer driven and [00:25:00] not experimental and exploratory.
You know, so we have to learn new techniques and you know, lose bad habits and skills.
Jason Frasca: I'd also just add that, you know, it takes a bit of courage, right, to be different. It takes courage to be an innovator. You know, all fascinating, you know what, what, you know, Iain likes to use the horseshit example a lot as a, as a, as an example, you know in the late 1800s, you know, there's a horseshit problem in every metropolis that's becoming overcrowded, right?
If you suggested to them, we'd be moving to combustion engines as a solution, they'd laugh at you, right? Right. Right. I mean, like every new sort of, Okay. New innovation is going to be met with skepticism, skepticism because it's uncomfortable skepticism because you cannot imagine the future in this way skepticism because you're [00:26:00] challenging the norms and frameworks in which some people have built their entire lives and careers upon and you're threatening them, right?
Like the people that were making horse saddles. We're like, fuck, if you are going to build a combustible engine, I don't think it's possible, but if you do, right, like I'm going to, I'm going to be out of business, so I'm sure as hell not gonna, you know, buy into that, you know possibility, you know? So there's all sorts of of of restriction, you know, against you moving that, you know, moving the sticks forward in some new entire way.
And that's going to, that's going to require some bravery and sticking your neck out
Antonio Ivanoski: a bit too. Yeah, and I think, yeah, I think the thing I think of is, like, if you get it wrong, and it's like, I told you so, and I told you it wasn't going to work, but then how, I think that's the second thing is, okay, you try something, let's say you have the courage, and me just creating, starting this podcast, you know, it takes courage.
If it doesn't work out, you know, or the episode, let's [00:27:00] say by episode 10, people aren't watching it, how do you get or you're innovating? How do you get yourself to stick through it? Right? Because people are pointing at you. I told you this wasn't going to work combustion, right? This was never a thing.
Horses are better. So you, how do you stick, keep going through it? You keep just iterating. And
Iain Kerr: yeah, I mean, I think the important thing with like the new, yeah. Like, with something genuinely novel, you, nobody can guarantee that you're going to be successful. The, the idea that You know, perseverance will lead to success.
There's no, there's nothing we can say about it. Like, I mean, literally, it's genuinely new. It could be that on the next iteration, some novel threshold emerges. You cross it. There's something cool could turn out that you work on this forever. And it's, there's nothing that, you know, like that. That way of exploring the space of potentiality is [00:28:00] just, you know, it's a giant desert.
So, you know, I think, I think the, the hard, the hard part is like as humans, you have to gamble. You know, and but I think you can set yourself up, especially, like, if we come back into this, you know, the world of artificial life and artificial intelligence is you can you know, use the power of, you know, designing large scale.
You know, algorithmic processes to explore spaces of potential far beyond what you could think of, you know, and so setting up, you know, these kind of experimental generations of possibility are are now what you see a lot of. Companies doing like the pharmaceutical world is full of it. You have, like, generative engines and [00:29:00] design fields.
You know, you're, we're using all of these things to explore spaces possibility. So there's, like, new, there's new models and methods to do it. But I think the important thing is at an existential level is there's no, we're working without guarantees. You know, the, the other thing to say about what Jason was saying with bravery, I think 1 of the really important parts of that is that if you're successful, if you're successfully innovative, you're also betraying everybody.
You know, like he was saying, but, you know, and I think that psychologically that betrayal is really hard. You know, if you look in the arts you know, like, we like to use the example of john cage, who was, you know, a famous 20th century composer [00:30:00] his most important work of art. Was a silent piece of music, you know, but it's like, you know, for all of his colleagues and friends who are also composers and musicians, he's, it's kind of like a giant fuck you, you know, it's meant, you know, it's not a, it's not meant to be like an ironic work or even a critical work.
But at the same time, it's like hard not to see it as like you're saying you guys are all irrelevant, like everything you do is beside the point and that's, you know, I think that's really challenging
Antonio Ivanoski: and I think that's, I see that a lot in the blockchain world. Right? So we have different cryptocurrencies and it's all about decentralization, but that somebody comes along and they're like, yeah, Well, maybe we don't have to be fully decentralized.
Maybe we could have somebody in power [00:31:00] because you get hacked. You call your bank now in the blockchain world if you get hacked, nobody. So now there's some companies and some coins that are coming out and they're like, okay, we're going to be decentralized, but we might have a few things here and there that if you do get hacked, we can give you your money back.
And then on Twitter, and especially with social media, people just go at you, Oh my god, how can you do this? This is not the whole point. And you're like, alright, so I get it, it's not fully decentralized, and the whole point of the blockchain was decentralization, but maybe it's needed somewhere. So I can definitely see, like you're saying, kind of going against what's expected and going against the norm.
You could definitely make some enemies, especially today, people are so loud on social media.
Jason Frasca: Yeah, that's, that's a big problem with decentralization is right. I mean, it's, it's very hard to achieve true decentralization. And. In this particular case, there are some [00:32:00] good reasons maybe not to be decentralized, which is why they had, you know, come up with alternative mechanisms to have some decentralization.
I think the big mistake there is still calling it a decentralized anything, right? It's that's the problem. If they actually renamed it something else. And embrace the difference that they are creating and the difference that they are generating, right? Then you can avoid some of that conflict and be somewhere entirely new, but they were afraid to do that, right?
They didn't have the courage to be something entirely new. You lose some of that marketing sweep, right? Of calling yourself decentralized, right? But did it work out for them? If there's that much blowback, right? And so there's. I think it gets back to that whole thing of betrayal and bravery and and what it means to be an innovator because they may have it entirely right.
You know, I think it's too early for any of us to say right at this point as things are evolving,
Antonio Ivanoski: the market will say, right? You make something and you let the market decide versus [00:33:00] you trying to. Put it into a corner. So how about when you're like innovating and you're going through this? How do you make sure that you are totally not going down the wrong path?
Is there a wrong path? I guess it's the question just by speaking to you guys.
Iain Kerr: Yeah, I mean, I would say the wrong. Like, when, if we're talking in from the perspective of innovation so the perspective of, like, a qualitatively different, something emerging. So, you know, so then you can say what's wrong. What would be wrong is to is to not have something novel, you know, which is to say to to repeat what you already have to some degree, you know, so it's that, you know, that's for us that, you know, the definition of.
Of wrong is that you've lost your difference, you know, you've just reproduced the same. And I think [00:34:00] it's a really, it's a really useful thing to keep in mind, you know, to always, like, figure out how, how to follow that difference further, you know, and I, I think it's a good example with, you know, distributed models and and I think, you know, block chain is just a small example.
But if you look at complexity science reality is inherently distributed, nonlinear emergent you know, and and you can start to see that there are answers to the questions of, is it all bottom up, or is there also some top down part and emergent causality is like, where you have distributed systems producing cohesive holes where the whole makes the parts right?
You know, so that you have system causality. [00:35:00] Which is, I mean, it's getting a little off track, but, you know, I don't think I think, you know, the answer always from the perspective of innovation is that you want to figure out how not to reproduce the same and and it's just that it might be. It might need to be a different difference.
You know, like, so if there's a problem, like, how do you get your money back in crypto? It's not like we have to go back to the 19th century and have a banker somewhere that gives you your money. You know, I think we can push the difference further to figure it out. The obvious solution, because we already know it is to go get a banker.
Antonio Ivanoski: exactly right. That's exactly
Iain Kerr: what's happening. But, you know, the other, the other answer, you know, isn't to get ideological about distributed systems, [00:36:00] but is to actually explore them further, like, which is to say, push the difference. Into new differences.
Antonio Ivanoski: Okay. Yeah, I think, yeah, I think basically what you're the only thing you will be wrong is if you test it out.
And if you're trying to build a product and nobody's buying it. I mean, maybe that's kind of when you start to pivot, right? Because you want to, you want to make something, but you don't at the same time, you don't want to be delusional, you know, because I've seen, like, I watch a lot of shark tank and there will be some people like.
This is new. This doesn't exist. And they're like, well, how much sales do you have? And they're like, well, you know, we have a 10, 000 in the last three years. And the person like, okay, this doesn't work. So, yeah,
Iain Kerr: that's a different question. That's, you know, which is to say, like, if you asked me how to make something radically new.
But if you want to have it to be radically new and have impact. You know, now we're adding [00:37:00] another thing to it, which I think is what Jason's about to get to. Yeah,
Jason Frasca: and
You'll remember this right from our time together in university, Antonio, which is at some point. You take your radically new, right, and you determine how it meets the, how it intersects with the wants and needs of end users.
Right, right. And so that's where the design thinking and we, Iain and I are often accused of, of of hating design thinking. We don't hate design thinking at all. We think it's important. It has a place. We just believe it comes at the end of the process as opposed to the start of the process. And this is where design thinking principles and whether you're doing lean startup or, you know co evolution customer discovery, customer validation, essentially, they're all the same thing, which is to empathize.
With your end user, and so you're taking your radically new, right, and now you're bringing it to others to find out, does it meet their wants and needs? Does it solve their problems? How is it [00:38:00] doing so well? Where's it missing the mark? Taking that feedback, building it back in and iterating, right, until you generate something.
Right. That is qualitatively new. Meeting wants to news users needs solving their problems to the point where they're willing to pay for it. And and then so then the biggest problem you know, that people have with this long winded process that Iain and I have been kind of describing is they want to do.
They want this fast, right? They want to do this in a week. So what I was thinking about. Yeah, like, oh, well, how do I do this in a week? Well, well, it doesn't really work well in a week, right? Like. Innovation is a slow, long, hard process. Validating a anything is a slow, long, hard process. And whenever you skip any of these parts, try to rush it, move quickly.
You're either, you're going to betray the [00:39:00] possibility of something radically new, or you're going to end up in a world of confirmation bias, right? Because you've got to be right to get something somewhere, some end point, right? Or You're going to end up, you know, failing in the last part of that component I was describing, which was generating the revenue in exchange, right?
For wants and needs, because you went too quickly and you skip the part of truly understanding what people want and need. And so you know, there's nobody likes to hear that there's no quick answer here. It's a process. It's a long process and it's open ended. It never really ends. And there's no way to prescribe a timeline.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, and that was the kind of the big thing that I was thinking about. You know, especially with today's world, everything is very fast. Everybody, every day you open up Twitter, you open up LinkedIn, somebody's coming up with a new way, new, there's a new coin, there's a new NFT, just take it back to the Web3.
And I [00:40:00] feel like if I'm not doing something or like, if I'm not producing anything right away, you feel like you're lagging behind, you know, because things are changing, but then you end up copying the same thing that everybody's doing. And in the
Jason Frasca: short Antonio, if we think about that for a minute, right?
Like that new thing that's showing up in your timeline, right? That new NFT, you're like, Oh, I didn't think of that. Like I got to do that now. Right. What I think is being overlooked and ignored is how much time. An energy somebody put into generating that new, right? And so it's new to you, right? And there's, that's this whole, that's this whole misnomer of overnight successes.
I tend to kind of harp on and I'll spend a minute on it. Right? Because there's no such thing as an overnight success, right? It's just overnight has shown up in your feet, whichever you're consuming. Right? It's sudden. Now it's new to you. But what's been ignored is the 9 years. Of work that's gone into that moment [00:41:00] and that person's unique ability, maybe in the last three or six months to pull all of their experiences together to generate this new thing that's showing up in your feed, or it's been in the feed for three or four years, and you just never saw it.
And what is really new, right? Is it new to you? Is it new to them? Is it new to the end user? What, what is, you know, then we can get into all sorts and different things there. So the point is that even if you see something new and unique in your feed and you're like, Oh, I got to do that now. It's still going to take you time to generate and create that.
And so it's, I think it's just this kind of like sticking to your guns, right? Like find some new radical path to follow and follow it, right? Like own it. And see it through and and in some period of time. I don't know what it is. It's 9 days, 9 months, 9 years, you know, it's going to show up in somebody else's feed as new.
Antonio Ivanoski: That's that's very, very good points. You make there and kind of like, yeah, it makes me [00:42:00] realize, you know, somebody's been playing and by the time you copy it, there's somebody something new. Makes me think that, like, when I'm doing something, and if I see you reacting like that, probably, maybe, when you're working on something, turn off social media for, like, a couple weeks, or a month, or something, and just stick with your guns until you are working on it, because there's always something shiny out there, you know?
You take a break and they say like the you take a 24 hours break from Twitter by the time you come back like Hundreds of things have happened in the in the web3 world but at the same time now when i'm thinking about it talking to you guys how many of those things are just like Repeating themselves or just the same thing over again.
So It's that that foam. All right, the fear of missing out on something. That's making me focus on the short term rather than like
Iain Kerr: the long term. Yeah, I mean, I would say there's like a couple things there as well that you really need to get the pulse on the entire ecosystem that [00:43:00] you're interested in, you know, so that, you know, like the NFT is just one little peak in this, you know, vast.
See, of rethinking distributed systems you know, emergence, what have you. And if you, if you're able to understand that, you know, then you're not just responding to these, you know, immediate five minute changes in the world, but you can, you can see, I think this is another thing we're really interested in helping people is you can see that there's like an assemblage of things.
You know types of code, you know, what have you, all of these parts and they give rise to a field of possibility in that field of possibility. You'll see NFTs over here. Cryptocurrencies over there you know, blockchain security over here, but they're all, they're all, [00:44:00] you know, just an emergent field of connected possibilities that the system has produced, you know, that we can explore the assemblages produced and not to get fixated and thinking of each 1 is a discrete thing or discrete space.
So the other thing I'd say is, like, if you want to be, if you want to be both novel and successful, I think the other part is you have to co emerge with others from the beginning. You know, if it's just you in your bat cave, you know, doing whatever you're doing you have, you're not, you're not building a world and an ecosystem in a space.
And you're just. At the end of it going to pop out with something that doesn't fit anywhere in reality, you know, so you have to kind of co emerge with [00:45:00] a new reality that involves others and, you know building environments and habits and practices and tools and systems, you know, like, you can't invent the 1st car if you're not also inventing.
Like a road, if you're not inventing how you fill up with gas if you're not inventing, you know, the pleasure and the desire of a new type of movement, you know, and so you have to co emerge all of that. And I think, like, you know, you can't just bring it to customers later because. The customers are going to be very happy with what they have, you know, and so you have to make, you know, you're making all of that in the same space.
Antonio Ivanoski: You know, you guys make some very good points. So [00:46:00] going back to kind of shifting a little bit of the gears how does how does 1 find that time for. Innovation for that kind of like, you know, I have work, you know, there's a baby and the things are happening and you want to get everything done. Would you like block out times or.
Is that like a continues going on? Do you have anything like any tips advice on how we can do that?
Iain Kerr: I think it's really you said it you're blocking out time. I think it's, you know, like, it's 1 of these things where it's it's long term. You don't know where it's going to lead. So it always gets punted down the road.
It's like, yeah, you know, like, I got some chore I got to do now. There's something else. I think it's really important to block out time. I would, I would say it's also not something that works well, like, where I just say, like, I'm going to put, you know, 2 [00:47:00] hours on Thursday and then 2 hours on, I don't know, Tuesdays and that'll be enough.
But there has to be a period. You know, this is going to sound crazy, but like you know, half a year where you just don't do anything else type thing. You know, there's this a really great example that we'd like to point to is this famous restaurant in Spain that invented molecular gastronomy called out bully you know, and they every year they closed for 6 months.
And they completely shut the restaurant, and then they went to a separate workshop laboratory. And in that laboratory, the rule was they, you know, they had to do something that was genuinely new, and they couldn't, the goal wasn't to make any new dishes. You know, [00:48:00] like, so nothing to do with their final product of, you know, in a sense, what the restaurant sells is dishes.
But the goal of the 6 months in the lab was to come up with new techniques, new processes, new frameworks, new methodologies, and then they would figure out later. How to turn those into dishes. So that's like a super radical example, which might not be possible. I could see, like, if you're a larger company, for example, you can just permanently have, you know, a whole cohort of people in an innovation lab that are doing this, you know, but if you're like an individual trying to work in something, I think you, you need to, you know, be blocking out, you know, In a weekly basis in time, but there has to be somewhere where you get together with others and you're just like for these 2 weeks, [00:49:00] you know, whatever time is possible.
You're like, we're focused on this, you know, because there's something about that time that allows the unexpected to happen. You know, and if you don't, if you don't have time for the unexpected, because you're like, I only got an hour to work on this shit you know, it, it, it's really, it's not that viable.
I'd add that,
Jason Frasca: you know, it's also these concepts, these techniques, part of the process is something to practice in your daily. Habits, right? So you know, easiest thing to do would be start using your non dominant hand to do some things to understand ways to interact, right? Like blocking use of your non dominant hand.
It could be as cooking, right? Like, I'm not going to, I'm going to make eggs, but you know, I'm not going to use. You know, Iain likes to say heat, which makes it really hard, [00:50:00] maybe something else, you know, even altogether. Right. But but so cooking is a nice way to be able to block ingredients, right?
And take recipes and sorts of new directions. But what, you know, it's as it's as simple as, you know, walking to your car in a new path. Right. To, to be to allow, you know you know, nature and, and experience to kind of hit you. Right. So and, and see what you discover in that new walk and that new path.
So there's all sorts of ways to practice being more creative. In your daily life, which I think then Bill feeds into what Iain was describing, which is if you want to be creative, just as if you'd like to build a reading habit or a coding habit, right? It's just to block time and get it on your schedule and commit to it.
If it's important to you. You'll do that, right? You'll find time and, and then last people always say, well, you know, there's not enough time in a day and, and I [00:51:00] think then the answer is always to sleep faster. Oh, you know, there is no need for 8 hour days of sleeping just 1 day a week, 8 hours and then every other day is 4 or 5 and you can do magical things that way.
Antonio Ivanoski: I like that. That's
Iain Kerr: a tough one, Fresca.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, and I think that's the thing at work when I'm trying to, you know, you want to come up with something new, but like, you know, you have 10 things in your backlog you're trying to finish. So you're like, okay, I want to focus, but there's so much distraction, so much noise. And there's also pressure on short term goals, right?
The company doesn't want to say you're going to accomplish something in 10 years. They want to see in the next quarterly. Reviewer, the next revenue read out, they want to see change or they want to see.
Iain Kerr: Yeah, there it's like. Those are kind of ecosystems, business ecosystems that are just like.
[00:52:00] Unsustainable, you know, there, it goes back to what Jason was saying at the beginning where, like, everybody's talking about creativity or innovation, but if you want to know how to do it, it's not going to look like that where you're. You know, driving people to short term goals you know, quarterly growth figures that are insane.
That might be good for your business, but that's certainly not going to be helpful for innovation. But
Jason Frasca: perhaps there's some balance in between, which could be insane, super important. And then the reality of, you know, short term goals are important too. And so. Doing the work right and and at the end of the quarter demonstrating the value that you've created the value that you've captured the work that you're doing right and get some people excited about how you're going about generating change and some of the things that you're onto [00:53:00] and exploring.
Right? And so maybe it's not this and you know, this perfect product at the end, which most people would like both in their personal life and businesses. Right? But but if you're showing the path that you're on, And showing the work that you're doing and the change you're generating and that you're invested in the process, I think that you can get a lot of people pretty excited about where you're headed because they can then finally, you know, become a collaborator with you, right?
A partner in the journey, as opposed to this, you know, you know, there's always, you know, and I talk about this too, and we do like corporate. Engagements that the boardroom or some, some executive wants to hire innovative, you know, innovation consultants, right? And then just you go do that over there, right?
Make my people innovative. It's like, we've all got to buy into this, right? Like, you've got to be into it too. You've got to understand the process. You've got to be a part of the innovations that you understand and can be a part. Right? And so you're [00:54:00] actually. You'd be from the bottom up recruiting those that are asking you to create change, right?
And getting them to buy in and see the path that you're on so that you can have the time and freedom and the flexibility then to create something. Magnificent without maybe that immediate constraint
Iain Kerr: of time, I would, I would also say press instead of sleep faster. You know, there's, there's just also the trend to work faster.
You know, like, yeah, we don't need, you know, to work, whatever it is, 7 days a week, the type of work we're doing, we could get done and, you know, 2 days you know, much shorter work, work days, like 4 hour work days, 6 hour work days, you know, turn out to be incredibly productive, but just, you know, so I think it's like.
Changing the environment of work, the habits and practices of [00:55:00] work the tools and techniques that all really matters if you want. Genuine innovation to play a role and, you know, that's that's got to that's got to really shift.
Jason Frasca: Yeah, totally agree and subscribe to that. And it's excellent point.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah. So, I know we, we don't have too much left.
So, 1 thing I wanted to touch on is, I know I mentioned your book. Some people might want to buy the book or. Check it out after listening to this conversation. What can expect? Is there like a book where I can sit down and it's going to teach me how to be more innovative and like, how do you want to talk a little bit about the book?
And why'd you write it?
Iain Kerr: Yeah, it's really as Jason was saying early on, like, it's the what and the how, you know, you know, so the book is kind of the 1st, 3rd is offering a better model of creativity [00:56:00] and innovation. Like, we've been talking about. And then the 2nd, 2, 3rds is really. Walking people through the techniques of doing that, you know, the how you know, I think 1 thing that.
Is great in the book. Jason, if you got it right in front of you, it's like it's full of like drawings, diagrams. It's really focused on process. The other thing I would say is if you're buying any 99. 9999% of the books you get out there in the innovation and business space, they're basically a blog post that somebody expanded pointlessly into a book.
Yes, and they're, you know, it's kind of like designed for executives to have some buzzword, you know, and you just buy it and it's pointless. You know, or you already know it, or you get it in 5 seconds. [00:57:00] This book is like the inverse of that. It's like, it's super rich. It's full of. There's like, no wasted crap.
You know, so I think we had, we said something like, if you could turn to any page in this book, and if you don't find a concept that you could apply or use that day. We'll give you your money back because unlike, you know, all that shit you find in the airport about, you know, whatever business, something, you know, choose your topic where there's just like 1 sentence and the rest is toilet paper.
You know, this is this we're really trying to, like, make sure there's value here. And so, you know, that was our goal is like. Write a real book, otherwise we'd have just done a blog post. [00:58:00] And as Jason was saying too, we've been working on, you know, writing this book since we started working together, you know, you know, we've gone through, like, to talk about iteration, you know, we've gone through maybe 35 different iterations.
Starting from handouts, you know, that we would use in workshops with with students and businesses to slowly compiling into this thing. So it's
Antonio Ivanoski: so it wasn't an overnight success
Jason Frasca: and, you know, the in use the right word. Like, it's the inverse of a blog post. It's our blog posts are actually. From generated from the concepts of the book, as opposed to us writing blog posts and like putting them in some order of a table of contents and saying, here's a book, right?
Iain Kerr: the book was written
Jason Frasca: long before any of the content on the site. So the [00:59:00] site and our work on LinkedIn really is a in our blog, our weekly blog, their newsletter, especially is an opportunity for us to take the book Exponentially deeper into these concepts and explore them with. You know, all sorts of examples, some of which we shared today, you know, taking very, you know, very specific concepts and going much deeper down the rabbit hole with them and the research behind them and so forth.
So we're having a lot of fun with that right now. And you know, kind of turning out a lot of content
Antonio Ivanoski: around it. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah. So how do you guys think about so this is more not from the innovation perspective, but more from the content creator perspective. I also we have some audience who likes to create content.
How do you balance between that? Right? Like, you have long, long content, but people really need to commit to it. Right? It's not. the typical LinkedIn content or Twitter where it's [01:00:00] 140 characters or a short paragraph and people just move on to the next thing. Do you struggle with that?
Jason Frasca: So I think Iain and I have vastly different writing styles.
So that's. I think the first thing, but to our benefit and I'll come back to that in a second. But the second, the second thing is, is everybody wants something short and quick. Right? And so we've blocked that. And we're just not going to be bound by the norms of whatever a newsletter is supposed to be, look like, have, or feel.
We're going to going to explore a concept that's deeply important. Right. Right. As we think, you know, makes sense. And we've had a couple of thousand word, you know, newsletter issues go out. And some people are like, Hey, do you have a podcast version of this? I don't have, you know, 40 minutes to read, you know, a newsletter.
And we kind of, that's why we send it on a Friday. It's like, Hey, this is good. Like Sunday reading coffee, reading fireplace, reading in the [01:01:00] wintertime, you know, it's deep, you know, it's, it's definitely deep. It's definitely heady. But then what we do is. Yeah. And going back to the first point I made, which is we have very different writing styles where I prefer, I prefer to you know, style my writing after Hemingway, short, direct, succinct, Iain, you know, prefers, you know I think Iain would one day like to write one newsletter with one sentence, like the whole thing will be one sentence and they're both right, there's no wrong.
And I think, you know, and, and that's, I think one of the best parts of, yeah. Of writing, you know, we, we get hung up in these styles and it goes back to your content creation of these podcasts and these videos on YouTube, right? There's some standardization that's always happening, right? Like evolving of what the best practice of content creation is.
And if you want to stand out, do it differently, right? Block what's being done and create differently. And the closest thing I would say is that we were like, maybe what's her name that does the marginella. [01:02:00] The Sunday reads, I forgot her name, but she's got those really long, beautiful you know, blog posts that don't adhere to the norms at all.
And I, I'd like to think we're, we're kind of following that a little bit more. The other thing is this from day 1, we blocked. Stock imagery. We were not going to have any humans unless it's us in some way, but we're not gonna do pictures of people and we're not gonna use any stock photography. And so every image that you see, we've generated either hand drawn and most of the hand drawns in the bad hand drawn ones are mine.
And then and then I'll use some some computer software, you know, to generate it. Other types of imagery as well. But there's no pictures.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, no, I definitely can attest to that because I remember like, I, one of the first things I saw when I subscribed to you guys, it was like the Romans or the ancient Greeks in this [01:03:00] year.
I'm like, Oh my God, are we starting like 4, 000 years ago? When are we going to get to like how to actually innovate? So it was definitely at first it's a style and it's a, it's a heavy greed, but pushing through it. And then I, I see where it leads up to, but I mean, to be like extremely honest, I think where you, you guys, if you wanted to generate more views and things to go viral more, you probably would do short content and stuff.
But you have your audience, you have what you want to accomplish, right? Because. It's not just a number of LinkedIn followers. I've seen that, right? You can have a hundred thousand LinkedIn followers, but if there's no engagement or people are not learning anything, then it might not be as useful. So that's
Iain Kerr: really the part is that, you know, our audience is a lot of you know, practitioners of innovation, you know, and people who are leading workshops and innovation [01:04:00] who are, you know, Doing this kind of work within corporations and, you know, nonprofits and what have you, and they've already read all that short.
You know, useless ship, and they've already been to countless keynote speeches by somebody who just sounds great. And, you know, so they're coming out of the experience of a frustration. Of like, just, you know, the same shit being served to them, and then the same methods, like, you know get getting watered down.
So we found, like, the more we actually deliver something of value, we just focus on that the stronger and the deeper the engagement is. And then, you know, and for us. The goal is to engage with people off these platforms, like to really work with them and develop new ways of innovating with people that [01:05:00] make, you know, real world changes, you know, so I think delivering value is, you know, leads to those things where, like you're saying, we could.
We could pivot and get whatever 100, 000 followers. I'm not sure if we could, if we're that skilled at that game, you know, which takes great skill, but it wouldn't, it wouldn't have a point, you know, and, and I think that's the part, like, I would say, like, if you're generating content. Like, if it's just to be able to say I have a million followers, like, is that really what you're after?
Oh, you know, or are you really trying to have some type of impact? And that would be the other part I'd say is like, if 50 of the right people read your content, and then that rippled out through the world. That would be the that's impact, you know, if a million people read it, but that it's [01:06:00] just the thing they're going through in the 15, 000 things they look at in a day.
That's pointless. You know, so I think it's really. For us, we've really spent a lot of time trying to attune ourselves. To those people, you know, and and as we see, but. The feedback we get, we change that, you know, so it's, it's very responsive, but it's not, it's not responsive to getting like, another 5000 likes.
Antonio Ivanoski: Yeah, I like that. I mean, you guys know what you what you're after. Right? And if somebody is after the millions of followers, nothing wrong with that, right? If it's entertainment or even if it's educational, right? There are some things you can learn, but you, you are going after a certain audience and you're sticking to it.
So props to you guys, because I know there's definitely a lot of, Outside noises that could try to kind of derail, derail that. [01:07:00] So I know we're, we're at time. I had a lot more topics to also to talk about, but I mean, we covered we cover plenty and I want to be respectable your time. I definitely learned a lot from, from you guys today.
Hopefully you had fun as much as I did and. In the, in the show notes and I'll post your website and the, we can link the newsletter. You guys have for people who want to follow it and listen to it and read it. And maybe 1 day, we'll be listening to you to your own podcast. The emergent future is podcast.
Iain Kerr: Yeah, I
Jason Frasca: suspect that will happen at some point. You know, we've dabbled in those sorts of things. And it's just about time, right? But this has been a lot of fun, Antonio. It's been a pleasure to, you know, chat with you on such a high level after, you know [01:08:00] a former student, right?
So super cool to see you in such a great place. And this was great. And we'd love to do it again. If you have us back, we can keep that conversation going that you'd like to have. Of
Antonio Ivanoski: course. Yeah. I mean, the conversation is can never end. So we'll definitely have to do it again. Thank you. Thanks
Iain Kerr: so much.