From Apple’s first mouse to Palm’s first Personal Digital Assistant, IDEO has helped design some of the world’s most famous and important products. Across the world, and especially in Silicon Valley, they have been looked to as the gold standard in innovation and creativity. So what can marketers learn from this unique organization?
To find out, we spoke with Whitney Mortimer, CMO and Partner at IDEO.
On this episode, Whitney talks about design thinking and how it can transform your marketing, the power of constraints, how to measure and manage creativity, and much more!
5 Key Takeaways: - Design thinking is a strategy that starts with a blank slate and designs around a user's needs and experience. It can (and does) lead to explosive growth. - Creativity can be measured, managed, and taught. Doing so leads to growth, agility, and resilience. - “It’s your job as a leader to stay inspired and to share that inspiration with others.” - For marketers to be successful, they need to be involved in conversations about the company’s deepest aspirations so that they can translate that vision into a narrative. - In an era of increasing automation, employees have a need to self-actualize through creativity.
Bio: Whitney Mortimer (LinkedIn) is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Partner at IDEO, a global design company that creates positive impact through design. Previously, she served as the SVP Marketing and New Business Development at Supercuts. Prior to Supercuts, she held various positions in brand management and strategy with E & J Gallo Winery, Frito-Lay, and American Express International Bank.
Whitney is passionate about bringing design-led innovation to environmental conservation, social justice and the empowerment of women. In addition to being the CMO of IDEO she also serves on the board. Whitney is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Institute at the Golden Gate, part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. For three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017, Whitney was honored as one of the San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business, making her a Forever Influential Woman. How Whitney Plunged into Marketing - (1:29) - Marketing was in her family and it was through Whitney's grandfather that she was introduced to marketing. - Her grandfather got a lot of credit for having been one of the people who opened the markets in the U.S. and then the world to frozen foods. - The roots of Whitney's curiosity also came from her grandfather.
Learning from Gallo Winery - (5:53) - E & J Gallo Winery is where Whitney learned the notion of building the entire pie, not just a slice of it. - "I'm interested in how to create new offers and opportunities that make growth for everybody." - Whitney Mortimer
IDEO - (10:38) - In Whitney's 22 years at IDEO, the company has shifted beyond product development to many more fields. - IDEO is great at constantly reinventing itself. It's also great at exploring the edges of what is possible and is internally committed to helping design evolve to meet new kinds of challenges. - "We diversified in terms of the industries we were working in, the nature of the problems we were touching, the nature of the solutions that we offered. So, being a pretty classic product development firm, to an organization that had an approach or a methodology that was broadly applicable to things that surprised even us." - Whitney Mortimer
Design Thinking - (15:12) - IDEO started using Design Thinking in 2004, but weren't the first to coin it/discover it. - Design Thinking gained a lot of movement behind it after the 1st .com collapse. - It is mostly used in the context of new startups, because according to Whitney, "[20th-century] massive organizations were set up to optimize and exploit rather than explore and be generative."
Conditions For Great Marketing - (20:29) - Whitney sees part of the role of CMO as Sense-Maker in Chief. - "Ask yourself, 'Where is the anxiety of leaders? What are their challenges?' It's a kind of sense-making exercise that requires being close to those strategic conversations where your aspirations are being born and discussed." - Whitney Mortimer - The main conditions for great marketing are an ability to connect patterns, and an ability to articulate a narrative or story. - These conditions can be advanced by being deeply connected to relevant conversations. - "When I came to IDEO, I kind of suppressed that kind of analytical side. But there is a part of me who loves to get really lost in a spreadsheet from time to time." - Whitney Mortimer - The conditions above are able to work and function because of the constant conversation and transparency that happens everyday at IDEO.
Unlearning Before IDEO - (26:25) - Moving away from big research where a lot of work that was being done to understand how many of these things could be sold or who wants to buy these this thing, but Whitney wanted to be able to focus on the questions: What is possible? What could be different? What could be better, other than the incremental improvements around the edges? - Another thing Whitney had to unlearn was her understanding of the framework for creative leadership and how it isn't just meant for higher leadership.
IDEO Now - (33:55) - IDEO is investing heavily in how they're going to measure and manage creativity - "If you start to look at, not the output of creativity, but start to look at the presence of those behaviors among teams or throughout the company, you're on the path to all the things that people want from creativity, which is growth, agility, resilience and all the good things and hopefully a better place to work because fundamentally I think that's what is operating at the heart of this whole thing." - Whitney Mortimer
Requirements for Effective Marketing Leadership - (36:12) - Effective marketing leaders need to be intentional in order to build great, enduring brands that are valuable to consumers, companies, and stakeholders. - Whitney has learned more about getting organizational alignment via Antonio Lucio, Global CMO of Facebook (LinkedIn | Twitter). - Effective marketing leaders need to be able to juggle short-term growth with long-term brand building. - "You need intentionality to build great, enduring brands that are valuable to people, companies, and stakeholders. And you need to learn how to navigate in a growth-focused world." - Whitney Mortimer
Long-term - (42:03) - While product innovation might be enough to build a brand reputation at first, as a brand grows and matures it needs to think about its branding in a more regimented way. Whitney has seen this first hand at IDEO. - For clients, give them guard rails and guidelines to be able to be generative so they know where they can be more inventive vs. more integrated with the goals of the organization as things progress.
How IDEO Deals with the Future - (46:10) -..."leaders, in particular, are very afraid of what it means to step into a digital future, an automated future, a machine-driven future where the fear is you'll lose me or us, or that we'll lose our humanity, which is kind of how I feel some days when I'm using Slack or email. It's like I'm just a robot triaging, you know, this flow that's coming at me as opposed to a creative person who's making meaningful connections that allow me to unlock my creative capacity." - Whitney Mortimer
What Inspires Whitney - (51:53) - The previous CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown (LinkedIn | Twitter) told Whitney, "It's your job as a leader to stay inspired and to share that inspiration with others", and this has resonated with her and influenced her leadership style ever since. - Another source of inspiration came from the current the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty (Bio), who stated in a talk, "Never allow yourself to believe that what has gotten you this far, will get you there."
Pardot Lightning Round - (59:20) - Current favorite app: Instagram - Favorite vacation spot: Cuba - Best advice for a first-time CMO: Go out and talk to everyone inside and outside of the company and suspend your desire to want to jump into these conversations with solutions.
IDEO - Make sure to check out IDEO Shape, a visual, collaborative space to build, test, and refine your ideas, and IDEO Journal, A place where IDEO's leaders share big questions that they frequently see, and how creativity and design are being applied to tackle those questions.
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