Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Design and Innovation with Mauro Porcini

George Grombacher December 1, 2022

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Design and Innovation with Mauro Porcini

LifeBlood: We talked about design and innovation, the role empathy plays in great design, how to make something great that’s useful, profitable and inspired, and how to be creative, with Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer of PepsiCo and author.

Listen to learn the key variables for great design!

You can learn more about Mauro at Amazon.com, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Get your copy of The Human Side of Innovation HERE

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Mauro Porcini

Episode Transcript

Hi this is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful model Pasini Moto, you’re ready to do this.

Unknown Speaker 0:22
I’m super ready and thanks for having me.

george grombacher 0:25
excited to have you on Moto is Pepsi COEs first ever Chief Design Officer and SVP. The past eight years he and his design team have won more than 1100 Design Innovation Awards in 2018. PepsiCo is recognized by Fortune and it’s driven by design that list his newest book is the human side of innovation, the power of people in love with people model again, excited to have you on tell us a little about your personal life. So more about your work, why you do what you do?

Unknown Speaker 0:54
Well, I do everything I do, because I love to do it. And I feel, you know, very privileged of being in that kind of position, even though that has been somehow what I’ve been doing all my life and what even my parents were doing. As I was growing up, I witness them doing that. My father was an architect, he’s an architect, and he was teaching in a school, but his passion was drawing. And so I will see him drawing every single day, since I was a kid all the way to today. My mother was working in finance, she hated finance, she left her job when she was 38, to be close to the family, but mostly to do what she loved there was writing and she’s been writing all her life poems and totes, and together, they’ve been self publishing eight books, not to sell them just out of the passion, you know, for the close family and friends. So I grew up with that idea, do what you love, and then ended up becoming a designer. In and this is a profession, at least in the way I’m interpreting the profession. That is not a job is you know, I’m unlucky, again, privilege that people are paying me for, for, for, for doing something that they love, and they think, is one of the key secret recipes for success, not just professional success, but for success defined by happiness, you know, reaching your happiness in, in the journey, not even you know, by arriving to specific achievement, being happy from the beginning of that journey all the way to the end, because you’re doing what you love. And and and they pay you even for that. And that’s magic.

george grombacher 2:43
That is magic. So in the context of well, what what is design model?

Unknown Speaker 2:52
Well, you know, I had no clue what design was, when I decided to study design in the University of design or Milan called Politecnico. I actually wanted to be either a writer or an artist, probably inspired by my parents. But you know, I was good at doing those things. But we were coming from a humble family, we didn’t have money, so I needed to choose a university that will give me a job right away. And in art and in writing in Italy back then there were not many job opportunities. So here it can a friend of mine and tells me how they just opened his new university called vz new industrial industrial design. The tours were very inspiring for me because design was referring to the word of art and creativity that they loved. In that summer was making the world of art and creativity more commercial was like, okay, there may be more job opportunities. So long story short, I decided to study design. And then I discovered what design really was design is all about observing people, as a Naga first psychologist, understanding them understand their needs, their wants, or dreams and their desires, understanding what they tell you, but mostly what they don’t tell you by observing their behavior. So they interact with each other, what do you do every day, once you observe that you will identify a series of opportunities and opportunity for a new product better than something they are already using today an opportunity for a new service or a new brand, or a new experience. This is what designers do. And then they combine that they mentioned that we call empathy, the focus on the human being with two other dimensions that are critical in the in the in the industry in the word of business. One is what we call the feasibility, technology manufacturing. How can you realize that dream that idea that concept that you have? And then the other word is what we call the viability is the dimension of business? How can you make money out of it, you know, for your company, for yourself, for your business? And so this is what designers do. They observe people, they come up with idea, they create prototypes around those ideas that make sense for our business and are feasible from a technological standpoint. And then And then they go to market with you. And they change the world in all different dimensions at this, as designers, we touch the life of people every single day, everything that surrounds us, in the clothing you’re wearing right now in the books you have behind you, the house, where we are, everything, everything, everything is designed by a human being by somebody unless it was designed by mother nature. So by definition, these human beings have the possibility, but with that, also the opportunity and the responsibility to patch the life of people every day. And you can touch this life in a positive way, adding value adding convenience, style, safety, or some form of value, depending on the industry, the product you design, or you can make the life a nightmare, you can make it complicated, challenging and inconvenient. So that’s why the responsibility is very big, and is a beautiful, beautiful job.

george grombacher 5:51
There is a beautiful job, and a wonderful explanation if that thank you. It’s a possibility, opportunity responsibility, the empathy, and then making sure that it’s my of all because we need the thing to actually, I guess, work or people to want to use it. Right? And, and

Unknown Speaker 6:10
making money out of it. This is something very important. You know, designers often are poorest. They’re like, they’re driven by this idea, very novel, of creating value. For other people. This is what you start your school, then they tell you by the way, by the way, you also need to make money with it, because that’s what design is about is creating something that you can commercialize. And many designers are like, wow, okay, I mean, we need to do it is part of the game, even though we are driven by this passion of creating value for people. Now, why is this important because it is the message for the designers of the world. And I have a message for the non designers, for the designers of the word is important to make money, we what we do for a simple reason. Because if the product is financially successful, it means as you say, whether or not people are buying it, and are using it, you want that design effort not to be focused just on the niche on your leads on the premium, you know, part of the population from, you know, financial revenue standpoint, No, you weren’t designed to be democratic, you want value for everybody, you want everybody to access excellence, not mediocrity. And so that’s why the financial component is is important. Because if you make your product financially viable, if people can buy them by any successful, that’s great. It means that you like to do that, yes, impacting as many people as possible. The second dimension is, for all the other people out there people that are running companies or listening to us or people that work in companies in bloom design position, designers are trained to create value for people, if you instead study business, you are trained to be the business to move a business from A to B to grow that kind of business. And they tell you that that’s your primary goal, that’s your priority. That’s what you do as a marketer as a finance person. And then they tell you, Well, you have multiple levers to do it. One is the product, but you have communication and Pricing and Distribution and many other things. And and this is the problem we’re having today that often you drive growth of businesses without creating value for people through those products by just using all the levers. And so this is why this war today needs design more than ever, because design can drive in a purposeful way all these companies big and small, to create real value for people. And making money creating financial value through that today is more important than ever, because in this digital global tech driven world we live in competition is very extreme. And you can’t win any more. Just by creating barriers to entry with your technology, we use K without having this extraordinary products for people. So this approach is not an ethical approach. Just an ethical approach is an approach that makes so much sense in the world of today. Also from a business standpoint.

george grombacher 9:03
I love it. So you would watch your your dad draw every day, and your mom would be writing every day once she was able to escape the world of finance as the Chief Design Officer for this massive company. What what what are you doing every day? Are you managing others? Or are you to tell them

Unknown Speaker 9:27
there are so many things that I do first of all, the difference between me and my parents is that and that’s why I define myself as privileged and lucky. I was able to totally overlap my passion, you know, in life with my job. And my job is is so diverse in nature, because you go from being really really involved in few projects that are particularly important for the company and particularly relevant to me, so indoors I I roll up my sleeve, I’m there with the designers in the team. And we need to find all the details of that specific project. But I can’t do that in all the projects, we have 1000s of projects two or 300 10s of 1000s of projects going on in parallel 300 designers in house, plus hundreds of design firm outside 15 locations around the world. So the second part of my work is to make sure that all those designers are empowered to do the best possible design for the company. So that means I need to create the right culture to inspire them. But I also need to talk with all their business leaders and r&d leaders. So the executives of the company to make sure that we’re building the right strategies to empower design, that design is totally why they’re integrated inside the company. So the second component of my work, is to connect with so many different peoples with different kinds of backgrounds and somehow sell the idea of design inspire them to embrace design. And because of these, over the years, I realized how important people are in these companies. And it sounds so obvious to say, of course, they’re important, we always talk about these. And yet, then when you run projects, design projects, innovation projects, business projects, you’re so focused on the data and the processes and the ways of working. And we’re not focused with the same kind of strategic focus, you know, in the same kind of strategic way, on the characteristics of these people. The book that you mentioned, the book that I wrote, The Human Side of innovation, the power of people in love with people talks about these, these people in love with people. The second set of people is this idea of human Centricity that I just described this new foreclose business focus on creating value for human beings. But the first set of people is the people that often we don’t talk about when a project fail, you’re so focused on understanding what what the business variables that made the project project fail, and you didn’t think about what people were behind that project, do they have the right ability to dream but also their ability to make things happen? They have the right curiosity, the right optimism, resilience, respect, humbleness, I came up with 24 different characteristics. 15 years ago, when I was stealing my previous company in 3am, in the tech company from Minnesota, they use as filters for identify the people to recruit as a compass for myself to understand how to better myself, and the compass. Also, for my teams to grow the culture of the teams I created back then, and the past 15 years, I’ve been pressured, testing all these these different variables. And again, there are some that are more obvious the ability to think big and make things happen. But there are many others that really made the difference. Now I have 25 years of experience in applying them first, intuitively, and then in the past 15 years very strategically. And wow, they made really the difference. Kindness made all the difference in the world in our ability to be effective, to dry quality, to grow these kinds of cultural studies, companies, optimum school yards at respect, I mentioned a few of them. So in the book, I talk about them I explain and one by one in hundreds of pages. And they link the positive, emotional, purposeful and ethical value of these qualities with the business value, kindness and productivity, kindness, return on investment, kindness and effectiveness of your teams in a society that is hyper competitive, where you need to be as effective and as efficient as ever. And yet we talk about productivity when we talk about cutting cost, optimizing processes laying off people, and we don’t talk about investing, improving productivity by investing in kindness. And there is a profound connection between the two words because kindness make your teams more bonded, more efficient, they work with each other, they don’t betray each other, they don’t create a series of redundant activities to protect themselves from one another. That is all a driver of inefficiency inside his organization, and often an invisible inefficiency.

george grombacher 14:14
I love it that makes a lot of sense. Did your mom like your book

Unknown Speaker 14:20
she loved it, I think is spherical. I celebrate my parents a lot in the book not just this love and passion I mentioned but there were two things that they really taught me that I took for granted for so many years and then somehow they saved me in this crazy lively storm that is the life you know, especially moving from either a first minutes author then to New York City, getting you know some form of success and then you reached to lose your way. And but they told me two things that really literally saved me. One was the idea of culture and knowledge and investing in knowing things and seeing life as a good funerals opportunity for drawing. The second key value was the idea of kindness of being a good person of being a human being of being good to others. And so these two dimensions have been so important. And by the way, they they told me to do two more things that this essentially the opposite of this, they told me, I mean, they told me that fame and success, financial success, were shouldn’t be goals. So our shouldn’t be something we aim to. And indeed, they were not. I mean, they were fearing those kinds of things. When I started to make some money, not much a little bit of money more than average, you know, years ago, I remember my mom, I vividly remember my mom getting worried that I could lose my way. And so over the years, you know, this idea of culture and kindness combined with this idea that fame and money are not drivers of happiness, the winning side of me. And somehow they came out with full awareness in the most difficult moments of my life. And literally, when I say they saved me, they say,

george grombacher 16:12
love it. Culture and kindness. In writing the book, it sounds like you’ve been thinking about these, these, these principles or variables for a really, really long time. And then you had the opportunity to actually prove them out through the through the practice of them. Was it easy to write the book, tell us a little bit about your process? Did you write every day?

Unknown Speaker 16:38
Well, first of all, because I dream, dreams to be a writer, since I was a kid, I knew that sooner or later, I was going to buy the book, it could be even, you know, a self published book, like the ones of my parents, just for myself, I publish it. And that’s it. And because of this, I’ve been taking notes all my life. And these notes, maybe will become the content of speeches that we’ll make, all around the world of articles that I would write, or even chapters of books of orders, and so on, right, at a certain point that I had a lot of material. But for me, writing a book needed to be enjoyable, something that I was having fun doing. And so I needed to find the moment in my life where I have good stability. And the moment came when I met my current partner and, and we were stable with each other. And we decided to have a baby. And so we started to think about that. And, and then I was in a moment in PepsiCo, where things were more stable to add more credibility. So I felt so full, so happy, so full of awareness and stable, I was like, Okay, this is the moment to drive where I’m really going to enjoy. They have so much material. So it’s feasible going back there, my daily job in PepsiCo. And yes, I didn’t realize how complex it was to write a book. And I started to write the book in October before cognitive Tober, the year before COVID. And then talk COVID arrived, and is probably the reason why I was able to write this book. But anyway, I wrote so much more, I wrote the equivalent of 1200 pages of a book Noynoy I already had a publisher, I was talking with the publisher, weekly, I knew that we were never going to publish a book of the size. But once again, I was running for myself. So now to write a book so long and for anybody listening to us their brother booth, you will know that you need to add it and when you need to enable it, you need to do it over and over and over again by yourself with people that help you. So is there is a huge difference between reading 200 pages or rereading 1200 pages all the time. So it’s been really really intense, it came out something that is the base for essentially three books and and so we extract the part of it that became this first book. But again, we started this conversation talking about the love and the passion for what you do this book for me was not something that I needed to do for business reasons was not something that ideally for my pride or ego it needed to be something that was enjoy and mostly you know, I mentioned this moment in my life you know, my stability with my significant other and thinking about the baby this book is literally written thinking about my baby, you know coming and now I have a I have this baby. She’s almost seven months old. But literally what I wrote there was all thinking, this is something I want her to know about that but mostly I hope is somehow a compass there are things that are here that I wish I wish somebody would have told me many years ago and and actually many of those things when we talk about those 24 characteristics of these innovators, I call them the unicorns the people in love with people, well, these characteristics, we should teach them as schools, we should the sorry, this is my dog that was to come on the on the death, let’s say, Bella, she’s bad. These 24 characteristics, you know, we should study mathematics, geography and literature. But we should study also the power of kindness, the power of curiosity, the power of dreaming, and thinking big, the power of making things happen in a proactive way. And so many other things, they’re so important in our life, they’re so important to, you know, for our happiness, they’re so important for our communities, they’re so important for our companies, they’re so important for our society, and nobody teach, teach them to us, nobody will they teach us notions and skills and, and nobody, unless you’re lucky, and you meet a very enlightened professor and teacher, and there are many out there that somehow teach you this explicitly or through their behaviors. But unless you have that kind of situation, there is not a strategic effort to prepare the society from an ethical standpoint, and you know, around those values that could make the society so much better and this company is so much better as well.

george grombacher 21:25
Love it. Love it. Motto. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage and work in they get a copy of the human side of innovation, the power of people in love with people

Unknown Speaker 21:39
while you find it in all the bookstores an easy one is Amazon of course. And then I’m super active in LinkedIn and Instagram my posts every day. So if you want to connect with me, that’s the right platform, the right platforms to do it, multiple cine in Instagram and in LinkedIn.

george grombacher 21:58
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show, model your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Pick up a copy of the human side of innovation, the power of people in love with people wherever you buy your books and find moto on LinkedIn and Instagram and I will link all those in the notes the show, Thanksgiving model.

Unknown Speaker 22:17
Thank you.

george grombacher 22:18
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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