with a twist.
Bob Niemiec, Managing Partner at Twisthink, and Michael Woodward discuss how design goes beyond looks + function on the JumbleThink podcast.
Twisthink’s Managing Partner, Bob Niemiec, had the opportunity to connect with Michael Woodward on the JumbleThink podcast. Listen in on this discussion as they chat about how design is much more than how something looks or functions. But rather it is a process of bringing the analytical and creative together to innovate and create.
During this episode, Bob shares real examples of how we are helping some of the leading brands find a new approach to their process by incorporating a ‘human-centered’ sense of design. And how our approach brings together design, technology, and strategy to help design a better future not only for the brand but also for the people it serves.
You can find the resources mentioned in the interview down below. Make sure to look around the site to learn more and see the newest resources available. And if you want to connect with Bob Niemiec on some of the topics discussed, fill out the form, and he would welcome the opportunity to connect.
Michael Woodward 0:00
This is Episode 361 of JumbleThink
Welcome to Jumble Think, where we interviewe dreamers makers, innovators and influencers [on] all about their journey of turning their dreams and ideas into reality. Along the way, we’re going to share some tips on how you can turn your own dreams and ideas into reality too. Our guest on today’s show is Robert Niemiec. More about Robert in a moment. Whether you’re a new listener or a longtime fan, if you’ve never subscribed to Jumble Think, now’s the time to do it. Head on over to wherever you listen to podcasts. Search for Jumble Think and click subscribe. To make it even easier, if you head on over to jumblethink.com you’ll find links to Apple podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, and more. So head on over subscribe to the show and never miss another conversation of Jumble Think. Now let’s join today’s conversation.
Michael Woodward 1:08
Hey there friends, welcome to Jumble Think. My name is Michael Woodward. I am your host. We have an incredible conversation lined up for you. But before we dive into that I have an important announcement. Now for weeks, I have been saying we have some amazing things happening here at Jumble Think. It’s true. I have some crazy cool announcements to make. More to come on other announcements. But today I have the first of those announcements.
Recently I joined the team at Podcast Magazine as their category director for TV and film podcasts. That means I’m going to be sitting down with more celebrities, more people doing podcasts around the theme of TV and film. And I don’t want you to miss out on any of those articles. So head on over to Podcastmagazine.com and sign up for your free copy of the magazine. You can also get paper copies. It’s a really great organization. I’ve been friends with Steve Usher who runs Podcast Magazine for several years now. My good friend, Eric Nevins has been on the show. We’ve done Facebook Lives and a bunch of other things. He is the category director for religion. So join a lot of friends on the journey of sharing the story of podcasting. And in here at Jumble Think we’re all about stories. So I’m so excited to be joining them. Matter of fact, the first articles I’m going to be writing and releasing with them coming out this December.
So again, make sure to head on over to podcastmagazine.com sign up for the free copies and get in on the journey of podcasting. All right, so let’s dive into today’s conversation. We are talking to Robert Niemiec. He is the principal the founder of this really cool company called Twisthink. You can check them out Twisthink.com. One of the things I’m super excited to be talking to them about is this whole idea of design thinking. They have a business approach driven by twisting together of design technology and strategy. We’re going to be talking about what that means and much, much more. We’re going to be talking about one of my favorite topics, which is the power of experiment. I could tell you more about Robert but instead let’s go ahead and join the conversation with today’s guest Robert Niemiec. Bob, thanks so much for joining us here at Jumble Think
Bob Niemiec 3:25
Thank you. It’s pleasure. And I look forward to the conversation.
Michael Woodward 3:30
I’m excited about this conversation. You run a company called Twisthink which your wheelhouse is one of our passions, it’s innovation. That’s what you guys specialize in. But the journey of creating this was an experiment. Tell us about how Twisthink came together and how an experiment can lead to a highly successful business, impacting other businesses on how they approach innovation.
“The premise behind the pivot business was bringing together two very different skills to compete as one team.”
Bob Niemiec 3:57
The experiment goes something like this. Twisthink was launched in 2001. And really the premise behind the pivot business was bringing together two very different skills to compete as one team. And those skills are the gate where the talent of industrial design. So traditionally those that maybe get labeled as creative right brain. And gifted in the domain of visualization and the arts and even communicating very effectively that way. That skill has proven to be quite powerful. So it was the experiment; bringing that as part of the core team alongside of the left brain skill of technology-minded individuals. And for us that would be hardcore, electrical or electronic engineers. So left brain, right brain, both creative in their own sense. But the experiment, playing off your word, was bringing them together and competing as one team and then really delivering a service. So we’re consulting for more professional services that, quite honestly is working to help organizations innovate, accelerate and grow.
Michael Woodward 5:40
Yeah. You mentioned industrial design. Now, I want to break that down for a moment. Some people listening might not exactly understand what that means. So when you say industrial design, what does that look like? What are the nuts and bolts of that?
Bob Niemiec 5:54
Yeah, the nuts and bolts? That’s a great question, because that term, still, perhaps is one that is misunderstood. But really, and the background before launching Twisthink in 2001, comes from spending nearly two decades in the automotive industry. And in the automotive industry, that skill of design, I would argue every industry, but historically, industrial design has been embedded in the automotive design, the automotive industry. When you think of the aesthetics and the looks and the visual brand language of a variety of car manufacturers and their portfolio of vehicles. Much of that comes from the craftsmanship, and the artistic bent of trained and talented industrial designers.
Michael Woodward 6:53
To me, one: I have many pet peeves as all of us do. But one of those pet peeves is this conversation of analytic versus creative. And it drives me nuts, because so many people say, “Well, I’m not creative. I’m not a writer, I’m not an actor, I’m not a designer, I’m not whatever, I’m an analytic.” And yet, as a person who works in the web space, and we bridge the gap between design and development all the time because that’s what it takes to create a product for our client. There’s so much creativity on the analytical side. And, I love that you’re marrying that industrial design with the tech minded because when you bring it together. You’re just taking two aspects of creativity, where the analytical side, I think, is written off as very dry. There’s a lot of beauty in that data. And the approach that is creativity and to marry those two. See you do that? Where was that revolution, or revelation? Where you said we could just do industrial design. We could just do tech side. But to say there’s a better way, to bring it together, there’s a happy place that really sets the foundation for something magical.
“We would say the name twisthink, is bringing the skills of design technology and strategy and twisting them together as one. That’s our unique selling proposition to the organizations that we serve.”
Bob Niemiec 8:04
So for me, that experience and seeing that the power of those two skills as one came in my corporate experience in the automotive industry, for a tier-one supplier that in the 80s, and 90s, invested heavily in growing their business with those two skills embedded within the business. And so I had the benefit as a young person right out of university, to see it play out right in front of my eyes and see the impact that once those two skills learned each other language and process, how they could drive innovation into that particular market, which was the automotive industry and this organization dominated from an innovation perspective in the 80s and 90s. And so when you see that play out, and then that company ends up going from a successful global private, to becoming a part of a very successful global public company. So I then got to go through that transition and spend a little bit of time in that jet stream too as the makeup then to what was then launched in 2001. And quite simply, we would say the name Twisthink is bringing the skills of design technology and strategy and twisting them together as one. That’s our unique selling proposition to the organizations that we serve. And we’re simply trying to help them innovate faster, and grow faster and I think before the pandemic and even post pandemic, those are battle cries, which many organizations are continually wrestling in.
Michael Woodward 10:08
You know, we live in a society that has taught people to stay in their lane; to do what they’re always supposed to do. And yet, when you approach it with this right brain left brain, bringing the cohesion together, that is saying that sometimes staying in your lane isn’t the best way to get there. Sometimes you have to cross over from what you’re supposed to do and find a new way. How has bringing this together changed your philosophies, or your strategies or your approach to innovation itself?
Bob Niemiec 10:41
It’s proven, and it takes time to get there. I mean, we’ve been at it for 20 years, and it still is a full team effort. But I’m certain when there’s respect for the other teammates process, and an appreciation for understanding that process and the language around it, that allows collaboration to grow at a different level. And I think what we’ve proven, what I saw in the automotive industry, and now what we’ve applied as a service firm in a multitude of industries, because we’re not just automotive focus. In fact, I would argue that’s probably of the 12, that’s probably the smallest domain that we occupy today. Industrial space is heavy for us. Healthcare is really important to our consumer appliance. So the firm and the team have grown, certainly in that journey. But one thing that’s proven is when that team competes, stays one and works is one, innovation is a natural outcome.
And if I could just maybe throw out there, it’s not innovation as some might misunderstand it, where a group are gathered in a conference room to brainstorm, okay. Innovation is not an event. It’s a process. And it’s a process that needs to be woven culturally into every organization. And so the process that helped drive that, what we would call innovation excellence is something known today as human centered design, or design thinking. And that’s a process that acts as the foundation for any organization to kind of build their really secure their future. Operational Excellence secures the present, its a great quote from one of our clients. Innovation excellence secures the future. And so smart companies do both. And we’re trying to help companies stand on two feet, both operational excellence and innovation excellence.
Michael Woodward 13:10
Obviously, this philosophy comes from leadership itself. So you create a culture in which this is the norm. And I think of Apple as a good example, where you have Steve Jobs, and the difference between Steve Jobs, and what Apple was before, and Tim Cook and what Apple is today. It seems like they’ve moved from a innovation centered excellence to an operational excellence and both leaders are phenomenal, but it seems like Apple somewhere along the line kind of lost that innovative; inventing future forward. And now they’re more on this like micro innovation like, “Hey, we’re gonna be great at what we do.” But they’re not playing big like they did with Steve saying, “Hey, we’re gonna come in and create a space you didn’t even know you needed.” Is that what you’re talking about operational excellence versus innovation excellence and is that a good example?
Bob Niemiec 14:08
I mean, Apple is think, certainly respected on both fronts. Yeah. And, again, the news in recent days is they had another stock split. And that company, even through the pandemic is as profits and growth that are unprecedented. And so, you know, high regard for the brand and the portfolio and how they apply and stand on both feet. Yeah, that would be a company that I would argue is in that rare fied air of innovation, excellence, and operational excellence. So kudos to them, but I think what I’ve seen over the 20 years with this team is that historically, many companies get pulled into only focusing on today, and not legitimately investing in tomorrow. And I’ve experienced it and the clients that we served and the markets and the leaders that we’ve connected with, but I would also cite, Harvard Business Review in 2015, 2016, did a pretty comprehensive survey of both public and private companies. They then reported back that, though most organizations and most leaders would say, “hey, our team is innovative,” the data that they found, the truth of the matter is it’s only like, 9%.
Michael Woodward 16:02
Wow. Thats tiny.
Bob Niemiec 16:03
That’s public and private, both. So you say, “wow, what a great opportunity for a firm that touts innovation, acceleration and growth as their as their deliverables.” Look at how many we can serve. But I think really, what it does is it shines a brighter light on just how hard that space of bold change, and risk and fear of failure, all these things that I think we can all relate to, and how that ends up. stunting the growth of innovation excellence. And quite honestly, I think we can all relate to the fact that it’s far easier to take the call today and keep our focus on today. And, hey, let’s use another great process called lean manufacturing, to pursue operational excellence. Let’s just keep our head down. And smart companies got to do that Tim Cook is doing that at Apple right now. But you gotta have a climate, and a culture and a leadership, that also saying no, but while we’re doing that, we’re also going to secure the future through another great process. And so a lot of our team and our firm as we try and deliver our services, we’re really trying to help amplify this other process of design thinking or Human Centered Design. And I, you know, I don’t want to monopolize our conversation, but I just want to give an appeal to anyone listening that if you don’t understand or you’ve never heard that process, we’ll go Google it and begin to learn about it and study it. That’s point one. And then point two is, regardless of whether you’re a manufacturer or you’re a service company, like a bank, or a law firm, or you’re even an educator, being connected to the skill of design, or industrial design, is critically important. I can’t I’m not a designer by training, but I i’ve been connected to that skill for the last 37 years and have seen the power of strategic visualization in a variety of scenarios and problems needing to be solved. I just want to give the appeal to leaders and, organizations to grab on to that skill set.
Michael Woodward 18:58
We’re gonna continue this portion of the conversation. And when we come back for segment two, as we wrap up this first segment there’s three questions we always ask. The first one is: for you personally, how do you find purpose in what you’re doing?
Bob Niemiec 19:13
Wow, I find purpose in what I’m doing when I see the impact of this team working together as one so I guess maybe the way I’m knitted together. The joy in this journey has been seeing these different skills come together and work well as one team in serving a client. And a lot of the work that we’ve done. I’m sure we’ll get to at some point in this conversation. You know, most of it is about leading clients into bold change, into trying to do something different, into trying to make an impact for the stakeholders that they serve. And I think, even speaking on behalf of our team, the work many times is very challenging and hard. But when you see the team competing together and then delivering results to their client in a way that allows our client to be relevant for another decade or another 20 years, there’s a purpose and there’s joy that comes from that. Our purpose statement is wrapped around transforming how companies create new value. So we’re all about change. We’re gonna be change insurgents for those that we serve, and even for ourselves.
Michael Woodward 20:54
What’s one challenge you’re currently working to overcome?
“I think digital transformation as a strategic priority as somebody recently said to me has gone from number 12, the number two on their corporate hit list”
Bob Niemiec 20:58
One challenge that we’re currently working to overcome. It’s not a new one, but boy, I tell you, it is more important now than it was in January, and that is the power of innovation excellence through digital transformation. And gone are the days where certain service companies or product companies can just dispatch anyone to anywhere on the globe. I think digital transformation as a strategic priority is somebody recently said to me, has gone from number 12, to number 2, their corporate hitlist, and I think this power of connectivity and creating new user experiences via connectivity to the cloud, and again, the mega trend of digital transformation. And for us that is a challenge from a growth perspective that we’re trying to appropriately stay focused on and serve.
Michael Woodward 22:12
And finally, what’s the next big dream, goal or idea that you have?
“Limelight is an outdoor wireless control system deployed across the country, mostly in cities and municipalities, to save energy, and manage maintenance for lights in parking lots, or parking garages, or university campuses or city parks.”
Bob Niemiec 22:18
Well, we have a new offering that we’ve been developing during the pandemic, actually two of them. And both of them wrapped around this domain of digital transformation. So you could say that the 2020 goal, we got six months left in the end, is we’re converting on those as we speak. And this is not uncommon to our 20 year run in 2009, post the financial crisis of 2008. We launched a separate company called Twist HDM. And that was a product, not a consultative service firm. That was a product that we had developed and built that Twisthink called Limelight. And Limelight was an outdoor wireless control system deployed across the country, mostly in cities and municipalities, to save energy, and manage maintenance for lights in parking lots, or parking garages, or university campuses or city parks.
So in 2009, we launched that and grew that over a decade until it was in January of 2019, it was acquired by another great global, private by the name of Lutron. Its now known in the industry as Limelight by Lutron. And, again, it’s creating great experiences for lighting control. So a little bit of our DNA is when these unplanned four storms occur. How do you make the most of it and come out stronger and come out different. And so we did that once. And now we’re trying to do two of those as we speak. So as we roll into August and through the rest of the year, it’s beginning the process now of converting on what we’ve been incubating on.
Michael Woodward 24:46
Love that. Well we’re gonna take a break right here when we come back. We’re going to continue the conversation here a little bit more of how this actually plays out at Twisthink. And what Bob and the team over there is doing to help some really unique and cool companies and nonprofits do amazing things. We’ll be right back.
Chasing dreams and ideas is best with others. But where do you find that community, your tribe of dreamers and idea makers just like you? That’s a great question here at Jumble Think we wanted to help. That’s why we launched the Jumble Think Facebook group, which is completely free to all of our listeners, all you have to do is head on over to jumblethink.com/group. take you right to the Facebook group, join the group, join the conversation, start chasing those dreams and ideas with other dreamers and idea makers just like you. Remember chasing dreams and ideas is always better with others. So join the Facebook group today. That’s jumblethink.com/group. Now let’s continue the conversation.
We are back with Robert Niemiec. Before we dive into the conversation, how can people find and connect with you and your team?
Bob Niemiec 26:12
I think they can go to twisthink.com even in light of this podcast. And you’ll land right where you need to land. The firm name Twisthink has got one t in the middle. So its TWISTHINK and you’ll find all you need to know about the team and the work that the team is doing today. Love that we’ll put those links in the Episode Notes. So wherever you’re listening right now, just click on them. It’ll take you right there.
Michael Woodward 26:45
You know, in the first segment, we talked about this right brain left brain, innovative thinking and innovation, excellence in design thinking. I want to go and actually peel back and see how this plays out in the real world. And I know that you’ve worked with some really cool companies: Charity Water, which is a nonprofit, we love them. You’ve worked with Herman Miller, you’ve worked with Stryker medical, you’ve worked in various different industries. So multiple verticals, when it comes to how business plays out? Can you give us some examples of how this process actually works out in a real world environment?
“There’s there’s four key steps to human centered design, it starts with discovery, analyze, create, and develop”
Bob Niemiec 27:23
We have a client in the mining industry that several years ago, probably three years ago, came to us with the leadership, intrigue and interest in wanting to understand how digital transformation could perhaps and allow them to pivot. And so interesting question to get kind of. What we saw was an online leadership team saying, “Hey, this is something we’d be wise to explore. And in a sense to their credit, they didn’t just delegate it to the masses. They as leaders were engaged with their team to try and get their head around, “Hey, could this impact our firm for good.”
And so for us, in deploying and leveraging the process of Human Centered Design, there’s four key steps to Human Centered Design. It starts with discovery, analyze, create, and develop. So we lead them on that journey of Human Centered Design, following those four steps, using the right tools and methods along the way, in order to clearly paint a clear picture of their customers, heads and hearts. So what are the pain points that their customers are seeing today? Who are their customers today? And what will those clients look like in the future? Who are some of the secondary or tertiary stakeholders like dealers, or even internal teammates to their organizations that should be understood? And again, pain points and opportunities identified with all of the stakeholders, right? That’s what the power of Human Centered Design does, is it gets you into the heads and the hearts of the stakeholders. For many organizations, you mentioned Apple earlier, they’ve been at it for a while. What we’ve seen is the trend is you slowly begin to allow Excel spreadsheets and ROI’s to drive your business process and you take your eye off of the client or the customer.
Michael Woodward 29:58
We recently had Ed Freeman on who really defined that word, shareholder philosophy, not shareholder; stakeholder philosophy versus shareholder philosophy. And I think that that’s one of the pivots going on with businesses right now saying, “you know what our business is more than just about the shareholder, it’s about the stakeholders, which are our clients, our team, our leadership and obviously shareholders too.” But is design thinking and Human Centered Design like this? Do you think that by changing that outcome from being just simply ‘how can we get biggest return on investment for our shareholders,’ to stakeholders, which say ‘there’s a benefit across this, is one of the driving forces behind this?’
“It painted a clear target of what their first step and their first strategy for digital transformation, what that should look like, and what the product could actually become.”
Bob Niemiec 30:50
Yeah, totally. So on this journey with this mining company, we lead them through those four phases, in a period of months. But at the end of it, what it did is, it painted a clear target of what their first step and their first strategy for digital transformation, and what that should look like and what the product could actually become. So it allowed them to visualize, here’s how technology may be added to our portfolio of product. And here’s the outcome that is expected when when the technology gets deployed. And so in a sense, he allows for the the target to be painted clearly, before you then spend a longer window of time and a larger sum of capital to bring it to life. And I think many times this is, even before digital transformation was what it is today, organizations would, in a sense, guess at, “hey, I think our customers will like this.” Yeah. So let’s go develop this. And in a sense, that’s why you see failure in companies really remaining relevant in creating new products and new services. So the point in that example is HCD as the process paints the target, and then you can unleash the capital to at the right time to then convert on what the what what the opportunity really looks like. No guesswork.
Michael Woodward 32:47
Yeah, absolutely. And again those four steps are discover, analysis, create, develop, correct?
Bob Niemiec 32:54
Analyze, create and develop.
Michael Woodward 32:57
So, I look at what you do from the standpoint of somebody might have an idea, they might have a problem. And internally, they don’t have the where with all to walk through this. How much of what you do is about helping them develop a product and how much of what you do is really being their guide on a process.
Bob Niemiec 33:22
So I think it starts out, and this is really our unique capability and offering as a firm. So we can help a client map out the strategy. And we do that via a process. Not winging it, we’re not brainstorming; there’s a process. And we’re going to map out the strategy. And then once the strategy, once the target is painted, we have the team that can then convert on it. The team that can actually develop the algorithms that are going to live on an edge device in the back woods of Australia and reliably collect data and push the data to the cloud and create a new user experience for those key stakeholders. Its that ability to start with the strategy, but then convert on it once it’s brought to life, and then hold ourselves accountable to the results that follow once the heavy lifting has been accomplished; that end to end spectrum that we’re trying to bring to the clients that we serve.
Michael Woodward 34:47
So let’s say there’s a company out there and they kind of are feeling stagnant. They’re feeling kind of locked into what they’ve always done and are different stakeholders in that process. There might bean executive team, a board. It’s hard to get everyone on the same page to go, ‘Hey, we’re going to go on a new journey, we’re going to go through this Human Centered Design.’ What are some things that they can do to condition their team to say, “just staying the status quo and how we’ve been isn’t good enough for tomorrow or the next year?” How do you make that pivot as a company, because that seems like the first hurdle that all of these companies are having to do. Whether it’s this mining company, whether it’s the other organizations you’ve worked with, unless there are teams on board, it’s just gonna burn the process, is not gonna work.
“Let’s establish it in off site greenhouse first, and begin the process of allowing that plant to just carry out the analogy allowing that plant to root out a little bit and grow a little bit before you subject it to the harsher environment of the core domain of that organization.”
Bob Niemiec 35:35
Yeah, you’re right. So you got to have leadership, engagement, you can’t create simply a functional team and kind of delegate it to them to go do that, go innovate, and let me know how it goes next month. You got to have leadership buy in leadership alignment, which in most cases is where it starts, or where it ties up. Keeping the C suite aligned, is really where it begins. And then you’ve got to begin a process, I would argue and we have. We would use language like an offering we have called the greenhouse method. Its all about allowing organizations to build innovation, excellence and momentum behind that using the process of HCD, but not putting it at risk within the current corporate climate of that organization. Because what many studies would indicate is, it’s difficult to get something new to begin to grow within a strong organization that has always been in this market with this thing for several years or decades. So let’s establish it in off site greenhouse first, and begin the process of allowing that plant to just carry out the analogy allowing that plant to root out a little bit and grow a little bit before you subject it to the harsher environment of the core domain of that organization.
And really we refer to ambition arcs. Companies are smart to stay focused on operational excellence and innovation excellence within their core. You got to do that. And you got to innovate there, too. But along with that, what about adjacencies? What about other markets that may be your core could be deployed into those adjacencies? And then, “hey, what about transformative? What about bold change in something that you got to have a roadmap, just like a stock portfolio is appropriately pant balanced. So you have 70%, maybe on your core and 20% investigating opportunity in the adjacencies faces, and then 10% maybe is a little bit more of outside of the ordinary?
Michael Woodward 38:32
It almost seems like in that operational excellence, which is so significant to this journey, you get hyper focused, and you can’t see what is possible, or could be.
Bob Niemiec 38:47
You’re too close to it, Michael?
Michael Woodward 38:49
Yeah. And so in that journey of being too close to it, you know, one of the stats here is that through, Twisthink you’ve helped develop over 200 patents in the last decade, which that alone is just an amazing number. And, and so what you’re doing isn’t just saying, Let’s, let’s just kind of figure out how we can pivot your business. Let’s figure out you’re saying how do we actually create new space? How do we see the potential that isn’t there? How do we innovate beyond just maybe pivoting? And I think sometimes we we think a pivot is an innovation, but really, it’s just a, a structural change of direction. And I think that that’s the problem. You guys are helping to create spaces that didn’t exist. And I think that that’s hard for a lot of CEOs to say, I don’t know how to find the opportunities that don’t exist today. And they might be saying, Well, here’s something that’s adjacent, but I don’t really what are the biggest things that you think in that process of opening the minds to what could be that really hold back creating what could be, to what is
Bob Niemiec 40:00
Yeah, that I mean, I mean, what some of what you’re speaking to is the misunderstanding around innovation, and the power of a diverse team that truly is creative, and has imagination thats wrapped around them, right? in creative imagination, those are skills. And you know, you said something earlier that I think is worth emphasizing, those are skills that we all have, yeah. But, you know, if you don’t exercise those skills, and you know, some might say, you know, for me a lot older, you know, the, education journey that I went on, to go, you know, wasn’t one that really helped foster those skills of creativity and imagination. But we all have them. And so we kind of embrace that and almost look at it as maybe something that can be found, even in this season of a company’s life, or an individual’s life within that company. It’s there.
Michael Woodward 41:12
Bob Niemiec 41:13
You gotta you gotta begin a process of exercising it. And certainly, these disparate skills of great design with great technology is one way to unlock it. And we monitor and manage and track the intellectual property that we produce, because it goes back to the experiment of what happens when you bring great design and great technology as one team. That’s a proof point that we hold ourselves accountable to. It delivers on results in terms of creating something new,
Michael Woodward 41:52
in this world of COVID. I think that a lot of businesses are struggling to figure out how to move forward, and some will go away, they won’t exist, unfortunately, or in some cases, that’s probably for the better. I love that earlier on the conversation, you say, you know, whether it was the recession, whether it’s now you look at this as transformable season of opening up new opportunities. So if you’re talking to a business owner right now, who’s struggling to say, I’ve always this is the space we’ve played in that space is dramatically changed, because maybe they’re a restaurant or maybe they’re, they’re a people centric service, that can’t happen because it’s face to face. What could they be doing to rethink this time and use it as a launching pad into the new future that they could be creating?
“There are still calls for innovation to any organization. And so it’s about taking small steps and building momentum in pursuit of securing the future through innovation, excellence.”
Bob Niemiec 42:45
Well, I mean, that that’s, that’s the opportunity that we all have. And, again, I would just say, the fact that they might be wrestling with that issue is a great science, trying to answer what’s next are wrestling with, Okay, now what do I do, we can all go out and make a hand cleaner from our distillery. Though that’s worked out to be a positive part of this journey. But there are still calls for innovation to any organization. And so it’s about taking small steps and building momentum in pursuit of securing the future through innovation excellence. And so the process of HCD applies the constraints to allow that to be done and to be done consistently. And most often, organizations struggle, leaders struggle, because they view it as an event. And you know what, this ain’t, this isn’t the last pandemic that we’re gonna face. There’s gonna be some other challenge that we face in the future. So, you know, the reality is organizations have to stand on to solid feet and have to lean into this for the long haul. It won’t come in a day, it won’t come in a week, and it won’t come in a month. But if you remain persistent and leaning into it, it’s going to come and it’s going to transform organizations so that they can they can withstand anything.
Bob Niemiec 44:38
Even a pandemic, that for the first time in our history, you know, basically shut down every manufacturing operation in the country. I mean, who would have ever thought. The companies that are going to be relevant for the next pandemic are the ones that are innovating now. The ones that try and hope that it’s gonna return back to normal are going to be gone.
Michael Woodward 45:06
So good. Well, we’re gonna take a break right here. And when we come back, it’s rapid fire questions. We’ll be right back.
Later in the week, we have a really cool conversation lined up for you. It’s actually a really important conversation too, I think with COVID and all of the insecurities in the unknown of the future. A lot of people are struggling to find purpose, they’re struggling to figure out what they’re created to do. That is our heartbeat at Jumble Think. And later in this week, we’re sitting down with a new friend of ours, his name is Mark Delaney to go deeper into that conversation about finding your purpose, and how you can do it in a way that can launch you into a new future. One thing about COVID that is good, it is causing people to rethink the future. So I hope you will join us for that conversation later this week with Mark Delaney. Now, let’s jump into rapid fire questions.
We are back with Robert Niemiec. All right, we’re gonna dive into rapid fire questions. Are you ready for them?
Bob Niemiec 46:30
Michael Woodward 46:32
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Bob Niemiec 46:34
An engineer, just like my dad,
Michael Woodward 46:36
Nice. What is one tip, you’d give someone with a big idea or dream and they don’t know where to start?
Bob Niemiec 46:43
Find a talented designer to collaborate with and visualize it. That’d be one. Don’t get so caught up on going online and doing some business plan, you know, framework that you know, anyone can find online. That’d be one. And then two would be to talk, talk, talk. Go out and get feedback from the targeted market that you’re trying to, in a sense, deliver a new innovation to. So engage with the stakeholders as quickly as you can? Yeah,
Michael Woodward 47:28
Yeah, I drives me nuts. In the world of startups, that people are so guarded about their idea and afraid that someone will steal it, that they’re not willing to have conversations that could inform the decisions they’re making. I think that kills so many startups, because they’re just they’re guarded on something that if they’re not having conversations, then how are they going to actually build something that has significance?
Bob Niemiec 47:51
Yeah, yeah. And then maybe another point, a third point would be, go with minimum viable product, don’t over overthink it and over develop it. Just go for based off of engaging with stakeholders, you know, start with a solid base hit first. I think many times entrepreneurs, overthink it and overbuild it, and then miss the opportunity and then miss the market too.
Michael Woodward 48:22
What’s one change you’d like to see in the world?
Bob Niemiec 48:24
That’s a hard question. Certainly. Well, one is, you know, for four years, we’ve been heavily invested in helping a nonprofit called Charity Water, bring clean drinking water to the 1.3 billion that don’t have access to it on planet earth today. Yeah. And we’re and we’re using digital transformation to bring their unique offering to life. And so as you get into the world that they’re in, day in and day out, and your awareness is is, your eyes are opened up to how many don’t have access to clean water, and then the impact on life because of that. It’s hard not to, in a sense, be motivated and kind of inspired that, wow, that’s a problem worth solving. So I think I can speak on behalf of the 50 behind me that, yeah, that’s a problem that if you know, if our efforts could take the 1.3 down, a few clicks. That’s a problem worthy of our team’s effort.
Michael Woodward 49:48
What do you want your legacy to be?
Bob Niemiec 49:52
I want the legacy of Twisthink to be that we were a firm that really achieved all that we’re capable of achieving. And that we made an impact such that both in our community as well as globally, we made an impact that brings encouragement and hope.
Michael Woodward 50:22
Where do you find inspiration?
Bob Niemiec 50:24
On the scripture I find inspiration. I find inspiration in my wife and five children and nine grandchildren. And when I have the benefit and privilege to see the the eyes of the team that I work with, boy that that gives me, my tank is full. It’s fired up. I’ll run really hard for that body in any capacity.
Michael Woodward 51:00
I just have to say this, you know, I’m able to look at you, you’re looking at me, you don’t look like you’re old enough to have grandkids. I’m just gonna say it. I’m gonna put it there. That amazes me alone. And five kids, we have two and and that’s a challenge in itself. So five kids? Wow.
Bob Niemiec 51:16
Yeah, it’s all it’s now like, the 20 years that Twisthink, right? It just goes by in a snap. And, again, I think I can speak for certainly my wife. But you know, even the team, we are just so fortunate with the journey we’ve had over the last 20 years. Quite honestly, our goal in the next five years is to double again. Our goal in the next five years is to connect 100 million devices. And, you know, we’re excited by what we see in the future. And now like a lot of your listeners, we know, we got a lot of hard work to do, a lot of learning to do. But again, when you’re connected with a team that you believe in, all of that other stuff, is really pretty easy. And so here we go.
Michael Woodward 52:16
What is one book you think every dreamer should read?
Bob Niemiec 52:20
One book every dreamer should read, I would just point to one book that every leader should read if they’re really trying to sharpen their sword and their understanding in this domain of Human Centered Design. And the book is probably maybe a decade old, but it’s the “Design of Business.” And it’s written by a guy out of Toronto by the name of Roger Martin. And if anyone during this interview, or this collaborative session that we’ve had together, Michael, as wanting to maybe explore that a bit further, I would say, that’s a great, that’s a great book that hopefully will raise awareness and maybe even raise understanding of how the skills of left and right brain thinking can be brought into any organization.
Michael Woodward 53:17
What is one trend? You are currently excited about?
Bob Niemiec 53:20
Connectivity and digital?
Michael Woodward 53:22
And then we’ll wrap it here with our final Rapid Fire question which is: what is one dream that you still want to fulfill in your life?
Bob Niemiec 53:30
I want to compete in one Iron Man triathalon.
Michael Woodward 53:35
Any specific one?
Bob Niemiec 53:37
You have to qualify to do the one in Hawaii. So I guess that would actually mean I’d have to do two. But if I could, if I could figure out a way to get there and do that. Yeah, that’s on my radar.
Michael Woodward 53:53
As we wrap up, I always like to leave our guests have a final thought to all of us listening right now. What would you like to leave us with?
Bob Niemiec 53:59
Your organization can only grow if you stand on two feet, operational excellence and innovation excellence.
Michael Woodward 54:10
Love that. Thanks so much for taking time out sharing your story, giving us some insights into what this world of Human Centered Design can really look like. And just I know for a lot of people, this might be the spark to actually explore what this looks like for them as an individual. But even further for a lot of entrepreneurs right now, this is going to open up new possibilities that they could never imagine.
Bob Niemiec 54:34
I hope so. Yep. Thank you so much, Michael. It’s good to meet you. I hope one day we can meet and shake hands.
Michael Woodward 54:42
Once again. I want to thank Bob Niemiec for taking time out and joining us on Jumble Think go check out what he’s doing. The links are in the Episode Notes. And now for my final thought for you today. We talked a lot about innovation and design. The truth of the matter is that if we are entrepreneurs, if we’re idea makers, if we are dreamers. If we’re not designing the future, it’s not just going to happen. So take some time today to step back to think to process to begin the journey of thinking about how your dreams will impact the world around you how it will impact people, your family, those customers begin the process of designing the business you want not just building a business, but really designing it and thinking through the process of design. I hope you’ll do that today. I hope you’ll take some time and really think about what your dreams are and how you get there. Thanks so much for tuning into today’s episode of Jumble Think it means the world to me that you would listen. I hope today’s episode challenge you and encourage you on the journey of chasing dreams and ideas. Now it’s your turn to get out there to dream big and to change the world around you.
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