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The Importance of Using Design to Solve Business Problems with Paul Stonick, SCADpro and Punks & Pinstripes: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Dec 26, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking how to use design to solve business problems with Paul Stonick. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

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Marketing Smarts: The Importance of Using Design to Solve Business Problems with Paul Stonick, SCADpro and Punks & Pinstripes

Too often, design becomes a purely creative exercise. This is a HUGE missed opportunity. When used correctly, design can be a tremendous asset in helping people think differently, flex different tools in their toolkits, and get to unique solutions that wouldn’t otherwise come to fruition. We wanted you to learn from a trusted expert in the worlds of design and business, so we welcomed on Paul Stonick, Vice President of SCADpro – a collaborative design studio connecting current and future art and design professionals with business leaders to solve real-world challenges. He’s also a founding cohort member of Punks & Pinstripes, a private network of transformation executives. This episode covers everything from design thinking to problem solving. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you use design to solve business problems?
  • What is design thinking?
  • Is creative a process or an adjective?
  • How do you get creativity out of people?
  • What were the “aha” moments in Paul’s design journey?
  • How do we break down creative barriers?
  • What is SCADpro?
  • Is Paul a dog or cat person?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts!

Anne Candido 0:31
I’m Anne Candido.

April Martini 0:32
And I am April martini, and today we’re going to dig into a topic that is near and dear to us at ForthRight People, and that is the importance of using design to solve business problems too often, and you’ve heard us say this before, design becomes a purely creative exercise. And we believe this is a huge missed opportunity, one where the work becomes a beauty contest of sorts, instead of a solution to actual business problems. But when it’s used, right design can be a tremendous asset and helping people think differently, flex different tools in their toolkit, and also really get to unique solutions that would not otherwise come to fruition. Yeah,

Anne Candido 1:06
when I was at P&G, we were definitely guilty of this dichotomy where you want design because you want it to look really, really pretty. And you want it to be really outwardly qualitatively beautiful, but then when you look to see what kind of saw problems and so on for the business, you can rectify the two and then we would get frustrated and then the agency would get frustrated. And then you know what happens after that?

April Martini 1:29
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So all part of the discussion today, and we’re also bringing a guest on to help us discuss this topic. So that’s Paul Stonick, Vice President of SCADpro, and also a founding cohort member of Punks & Pinstripes, which we will talk about a little bit more in depth. But welcome, Paul, please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about you to get started.

Paul Stonick 1:49
Sure. Hey, everybody, Paul stonic, Vice President of SCADpro, I have two decades of what I like to call true digital experience and brand creative visual, you can send me the royalty on that visual UX design. I started in web design back in the mid 90s. Back when the magic was written and then pivoted to UX design in 20 1218 years in E commerce across fashion, beauty, Home Improvement automotive banking 15 years and executive design leader roles I worked for a small company called the Home Depot, you probably heard of it, leading a team for the fifth largest e commerce site and a mobile app where we helped grow revenue over three years from 700 million to $2 billion. My work has been featured in multiple news outlets research organizations like Forrester Knell to Gartner national television spots, and multiple Apple WWDC keynotes. So after 20 years in large corporations, I was part of the entrepreneur Exodus and joined an automotive startup leading design and product, we were acquired, acquired by a larger automotive company. And after the winner being acquired, most of us were laid off just a few months later. So as I was thinking about X, three of my career, and what was meaningful, and what I really wanted to do, well SCAD had an opportunity Savannah College of Art Design to lead SCADpro, where that’s our in house Design Research and Innovation Studio, where we partner with big name brands to solve problem through design thinking. So grooming the next generation design leaders further up in the funnel in higher education that’s really meaningful and exciting work. And it’s been an absolute pleasure and honor to be part of that organization and what we’re doing in the design space.

April Martini 3:19
Awesome. So as everyone just heard, you are uniquely positioned to have this conversation with us today. So with that, we’ll get into the importance of using design to solve business problems. And the first piece we want to talk about here. I know Paul, when you and I talked initially, we really hit it off in this discussion about the overuse term design thinking and how when broken down, it’s really very simply problem solving. And so if we could just, you know, settle on that and stop trying to get too creative, we would be able to have a lot more fruitful discussion. So I would love to just hear your perspective on that the sort of way that design thinking came to be what it means in the world and how you feel like it lives today.

Paul Stonick 4:05
Yeah, it’s a great topic. And I’m actually quoting a friend of mine who uses this expression. And I’ve lifted it from him because we think the same way. And really the worst thing about design thinking is that the word design is in the title. design. Design doesn’t even have to be part of the output. It’s a human centered approach to solving problems. You start by understanding people wants needs, frustrations, behaviors, patterns. Design thinking has been around since the 60s, but it’s recently found fame again with traditional and design led companies as well. So every company wants to be innovative but doesn’t know how to teach their people how to be creative. So that’s where we come in as leaders as well to be able to teach other parts of the organization, how to be creative again. So this is how to be part of the output. We’re not keep coming. We’re not asking people to come in and draw Yes, stick stick figures are just fine. It’s really more about the problem solving process. So enter design thinking when we consider the steps of empathize Define ideate prototype and test, it marries both creativity and critical thinking skills together. So requires teams to generate a lot of ideas, they have to be comfortable with failure and failure doesn’t mean that the game is over. It just means we try again with experience. So it really forces you to keep your mind open, try out many ideas early on. So you really just don’t get invested in one because generally, your first idea is the worst. So the process harnesses creativity through inquiry.

April Martini 5:27
Well, I think it is, it’s, it’s so important, because the reason I never liked design thinking was there was never any sort of solve to it. Right? You could just kind of like think and think and think and think and think. And so as a terminology, I just never really felt like there was any sort of steps. So the way that you break it down and talk about it, and then also the power of failure within it to then start the process. Again, I think you’re right really does get people in the right mindset and not fearful off the bat, because you’re not asking them to come in and hop on Illustrator, or draw or whatever those types of things are, you’re really just getting at the crux of how are we going to meaningfully learn in order to solve problems the most effective way? Yeah,

Paul Stonick 6:05
exactly. Just having the right people in the room as well, too. So we’re not asking them to draw, but you’re thinking about the different perspectives, or different lines of business that can come together and saw the room. So it goes beyond just the holy trinity of design, engineering and product, you can have data science marketing supply chain, you can even have legal in the room as well to a great, great, great ideas can come from anywhere, right? But it’s also about staying honest to make sure that you’re not building science fiction, you really want to think about the user at the end of the day. And your innovation is one of those words where it’s highly abused in the corporate lexicon right now. So innovation is really about eyes wide open an aha moment, a magic moment for the user where they see something different. If you’re taking it to the press or to the board, you’re serving the wrong customer. That’s not what innovation is. It’s really about creating that aha moment.

Anne Candido 6:56
And so I guess my question is, and we had this question a lot when we were going through all these exercises at P&G is that is creative a process or is creative, an adjective used to describe a person because I feel like people in general will express themselves as being creative or not being creative. Are there certain roles that are allowed to be creative in certain roles that are not you brought the lawyer? I’m like, I haven’t been in a room art. Well, maybe some creative problem solving around claims, maybe. But um, so is it a process? Or is it an additive? And based on how you answer that question, I might have a follow up question.

Paul Stonick 7:35
Great. tivity is the expression of design and great thinking. Everybody’s creative, most people just forgot. But not every not everybody’s a designer. Right? So those are really two different things as well, too. Everybody has creative ideas. They’re just things we forgot along the way creatives are the ones that survived were the kids that survived and came through that the other end so right. So I think it’s an adjective, but it’s a process as well, too. I want to respect the process in terms of creativity and and creatives need time to think they need time to be bored, right to really think through a problem and solve it as well, too. So I really think it’d be both. But not everybody’s a designer. So you know, God forbid Tim and engineering gets a license of Photoshop and starts his Oh, I just mocked this up for you. Here you go. I’m thinking that never happens, right or somebody and you know, somebody’s now using AI to generate these quick concepts. So I thought I’d just mock these up for you real quick. Can you make it pop? You know, so that that’s the stuff you want to get away from to your point. You don’t want it to end? I was struggling to find the words I know use those words a while back about beauty contest. It was driving me crazy. Because I wasn’t making it pretty as i She said something and it’s so brilliant. I’m going to send you the royalty on that one.

Anne Candido 8:49
Well, then I guess my follow up question to that is how do you pull that creativity out of people went in are most of us in our day to day world are like very functionally and tactically focused. But we’d like to get in rooms and quote unquote, be creative. We have brainstorming sessions, design thinking sessions. I mean, I’ve been part of a numerous amount of them. So how do you pull that out of people? How do you get them to really tap into that be open? Yeah.

Paul Stonick 9:17
Yeah, I think it’s right there. It’s being inclusive. Right. So I think that’s really the key. As you think about solving problems. You want to make sure that you’re you’re being inclusive with your teams because like we said, great ideas come from anywhere. The power of design thinking is that brings everyone to the table on a project. It creates empowerment, design teams have to really become the guy and the teacher to others. So that puts your team at the center of the process and adds value as well to going beyond the beauty contest and making things pretty you’re now teaching others how to be creative. And you can also proven that you can solve anything your teams can work on a deeper problem. It’s not just about a Digital design or an output it can be used for organization processes, facilities, sales, internal events, or even got urban services like we do at SCADpro, it can be used to solve anything. So it’s getting that buy in. But I think my favorite piece of it is that if you get enough buy in and you get the right secret society and have the right people joining you, the people in the room, you can really become a Trojan horse or a secret weapon. So if you want to create real change and get buy in, you have to change the way people think. And that’s part of our role and responsibility as well to is not just that the way they behave. And yeah, that was part of the big success that we had at Home Depot as well, through design thinking and bringing that across the organization. So you have to be a leader in that space and get the people to rally around you and buy into it. But they also need to have skin in the game, how does it affect their line of business or their bottom line, we have to be able to speak the language of business as creatives, but also be able to show the math and that’s where I think you start getting the ideation and buy in. Well,

April Martini 10:48
I mean, that brings up another discussion point here and flipping the conversation a little bit. But also, historically, it’s been hard to get design a seat at the table, right. And it goes back to kind of that beauty contest and the perception about what design can actually do. And so, you know, I’d love to hear you talk about a little bit about whether it’s Home Depot or the work you’re doing at SCAD Pro, how you get design the rights to the table in order to hear the business challenges and be part of those upstream discussions so that it is actually a tool in the toolkit and can become like you said, the Trojan horse, or the unexpected outcome or all of those things, because you now have another piece of the pie that a lot of people kind of push off until they’re ready to make the thing.

Paul Stonick 11:31
If this is not at the table, you pretty much have a parking lot to deal with. So the design process is probably not fully understood within an organization, the business value has not been clearly articulated, you got design reporting into some strange silo or even worse reporting into product, which I can’t stand. And design really needs to be on the same level as product, or it really just hasn’t been articulated to leadership in a very clear way, or key stakeholders. So as designers and creatives, we have to be able to talk the language of business. In other words, show the math. So if you’re not at the team, that makes it pretty, you’re pretty much in the hole already. So by speaking in the language of business, it really affects the bottom line, so becomes a much different conversation where you can get buy in and support. So the work has to connect back to some sort of KPI, some sort of investment, some sort of broader strategy, and not be done in a vacuum. And that’s why you see a lot of these accelerators and incubators die out because they’re doing it in a vacuum. Nobody knows about it. And it doesn’t map back to a bigger strategy. So we’ve got to be inclusive of our business partners. Like we were saying earlier it supply chain operations, marketing is about getting the right people in the room. And then really making it an interdependent team sport. That’s a lot of what we do with Scout Pro as well, too, we can’t do it alone, we have to be very cross functional in our thinking, and intent. So really making design less of a black box, and doing socialism to the true value and benefit of what design can do. And we did this at the Home Depot as well, too. When we took design thinking across the organization and scaling it all the way up to the executive leadership team. It all started very, very grassroots within my team at interconnected experience. And we were showing the value by getting features into the market faster and with less cost. So we could prove that out, we had the math to be able to show that if we do this feature, we could do it a lot faster through a design thinking, facilitation or sprint. But then other teams start to catch on to what we were doing. So not only did it grow through interconnected experience, then we started going across to HR and supply chain and finance. We even stood up a course in Home Depot University, which was design thinking one on one. And I’m looking at the list of people that are taking this course and like what part of Home Depot is this? And why did they come to my show that shows value because people understood the value we’re bringing to the table at the end of the day. So I love that. And then finally just the end the story, we brought it all the way up to the executive leadership team, no pressure, I’ve got my C suite in the room, and I’m telling my CFO, you need to push past the obvious, and he’s looking at me like, we should work like this all the time. And I said I know you know. So that’s about changing behaviors and mindsets. But look, Home Depot is always going to be a merchant led organization full stop, it’s never going to be designed LED. And we know the design that accompanies and those are the ones that are beating the S&P year after year by 220% because they’re thinking in a different way. But that’s what I love about the Work at Home Depot is that we really changed a lot of behaviors and opened up eyes to a new way of problem solving.

Anne Candido 14:24
Well Paul, would you mind like going a little bit deeper into that and kind of giving some insight into what does that actually look like? What are the two discontent you’re allowed to talk about it? Like what was the problem you were solving and and how did people engage in a I was gonna be for most people a different way. That mindset shift you were talking about in order to be able to solve the problem what was like the eventual outcome because I think they’ll help to kind of tell a graphically bring this process to life for a lot of people

April Martini 14:53
and the aha moments too, because I would love to know like let the CEO example you know, as you go through like, what was it that Meet the light bulb go off.

Paul Stonick 15:01
There were several problems that we were addressing. So we broke them out into smaller groups. But two of the big problems was one, how do you deal with associated rudeness in stores, which is a big problem? And so how do you address that? It’s a big, meaty, complex problem. So going back to what we were saying earlier, that’s not just design is just not part of the output, it could sell it could solve anything. And then also was delivery issues as well, too. That was a paper death by 1000. paper cuts for Home Depot where delivery always seemed to be a problem, how do we solve those particular problems through this process. So we really went through the five steps I talked about earlier, and created these worksheets, where they were able to really able to take the blinders off and have unconstrained thinking in terms of if we were really just to get out of the way and think through how we’re going to solve these problems. And really make it more of a discussion and let them brainstorm and use the process of you’re creating ideas getting up in front of the board, using stickies facilitating God voting and these type of things, they were able to get to a decision a lot faster. And that’s the beauty of the process as well, too, is that it creates this, this open path for thinking, but also making decisions faster. So you’re not 18 months down the road, he’s still trying to solve the same problem. But you can actually take something that’s actionable and countable and say, Oh, we have three or four action items that we got out of this particular session that we did in an hour and a half, you know, so there’s not a whole lot I can go into in terms of the solves, right. But these are big problems that are facing Home Depot, it was a very interesting process to see the eyes light up moment, especially for my CFOs like, Oh, that’s a behavior change turns, we should be working like this. That’s an aha moment for me. And for them, it’s like, oh, this is a different way of working beyond the traditional ways of sitting in a room for three hours brainstorming and going over and over a particular topic.

April Martini 16:43
Yeah, I think that makes a ton of sense. And I also think it just naturally breaks down silos, right? Because I think a lot of times in those organizations, you the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is even working on, let alone trying to solve the same challenges together, or they’re all taking their individual run. So part of this is you’re getting to the bigger picture. But then you’re also going in and coming out in order to actually create meaningful change as you’re in there not just to sit around in the room, like you said, for three hours and talk about it. It’s coming together, working on it together iterating together and making agreement in short order to then go and create action.

Paul Stonick 17:21
Exactly. I think the the headline is that it’s a together alone type of processes as well. So coming together to align on the certain things that we want to take care of, and then alone in terms of okay, we’ll go back into our respective teams and address that problem with the action items that we need to deal with.

Anne Candido 17:39
You had mentioned that there was some companies who do this really well, that they’re more quote unquote, design lead from it just as a culture, which ones are those? And how do you see them different than a traditional quote unquote, corporate culture? Yeah,

Paul Stonick 17:55
so the ones that are top mine, Apple, Google, Airbnb, Nike, a lot of these companies are founder led, right. And so they’re coming in from a different perspective. And that’s the beauty when you have a creative, you’re leading a company, they’re seeing things a little bit differently in terms of how it be how it’s run. And so you go to quote, Steve Jobs, it’s not necessarily how it looks, it’s about how it works. So it’s about thinking differently, and how you approach and how you solve a problem. But these companies are beating out the s&p every single year, because they’re addressing problems differently. And that design thinking process or design processes baked into their DNA is wrapped in from who they were from the beginning. So it’s much easier to scale that way, when it’s part of your DNA. And you’re already on third base when you’re you’re starting a company. But when you’re a larger legacy organization, where you’re 175 years old, and you’re trying to make this change, design thinking groups and companies like the or organizations like the internet connected experience, the Home Depot, you have to be that speedboat out in front of the Queen Mary, that’s really creating change and leading the charge and being able to turn the Queen Mary very slowly in terms of okay, this is a new way of working or opening up eyes or changing behaviors.

April Martini 19:07
Alright, so to change the lens a little bit again, obviously, your role at SCADpro is to kind of teach this younger generation upcoming generation to reframe the thinking from the beginning, because I think what you just said is exactly right, it’s easier to create it from the start. And in this situation, you are quote, unquote, raising people, right to do this level of thinking, this type of thinking and not having to take away bad behavior from before. So when we talked we talked a little bit about and it goes to cut some of Ann’s comments before about like just being a quote unquote, design school and historically what that looked like versus how very differently this program at SCADpro is and what it takes to really teach this learn this, how you get them to think in this way because the foreign nature of it even just the When he went to DAP at UC, right, like, I know what that was like historically, but I learned far more once I got into the professional experience, and had to almost learn how to take what I knew, in theory and apply it to the real world of the jobs I was being asked to do. And then to become a strategist on top of it over time, was a whole other level of things versus this program, which, to me, my perception is it teaches it from the very beginning and you leave with that set of skills and the experience on top of it.

Paul Stonick 20:29
That’s exactly right. So Scott Posey University’s Collaborative Innovation Studio and we generate business solutions for the world’s biggest brands, Google, Chick-fil-A, Disney, Coca-Cola, Ford, BMW, but the work that we do at SCADpro is really the intersection of art design and business. But we don’t consider ourselves to be an art school, we consider ourselves to be a creative University. And career preparation is woven into every fiber of the unit of the universities, like you were saying, you were preparing alumni employment. The recent study, 99% of SCAG, graduates were employed pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. So while we encourage our SCAD bees to be creative, and think big, of course, we strive to never forget the needs of the client. Going back to what we were saying you are saying earlier, is that we really have to think about the product or service for the end user. 45% of the partners are from Forbes top 100 most valuable companies, we’ve done 700 partnerships to date, and over 70 products have been launched in the market. But what we can do at SCADpro, it’s really anything. It’s digital, physical digital, with over 100 different majors and minors and a diverse student population from 120 countries in all 50 states, you really get that diverse thinking as well to great ideas come from anywhere. So that’s what I love about SCADpro in many ways for the students, it’s an inside out internship, they can take it as a junior senior or grad student, they need to have a 3.25 GPA or higher. And not only do they get the hard skills of the discipline that they’re bringing to the table or their major, but it’s also the soft skills and all the things that they’re going to need when they go into their creative profession. They’re going to need listening, communication, collaboration, leadership, all the things that they’re going to they’re going to need to help with their success in their creative fields.

Anne Candido 22:12
I love the the assimilation of all these different lenses are kind of coming together to really train these kids in a different mindset, both from a skill standpoint, and then from also an approach standpoint, but I want to go back to something I’m gonna I’m gonna poke on this a little bit. And we’ve tried to ask contrarian in the comment yeah, without being without being too contrarian. Because I know my audience here is, I mean, we said, and you said it a couple of times, but I’m going to bring up because we used to say it all time at P&G, but I will tell you 95% of people just didn’t feel like it was true that could good ideas could come from anywhere. Right? So it’s always something that you philosophize, but it never seems to be something that people believe. And I will say, even though I’m outnumbered here, that a lot of the people who don’t believe it are actual people who are designers by trade, or creatives by trade. They don’t believe that good ideas could come from everywhere. They believe that good ideas come from that the design the creative thinking, and I remember facing this a lot within a PNG room where it was like good ideas could come from anywhere, but like, oh, no, wait a minute. No, only good ideas can come from this creative director. No, only good ideas can come from the designer, no, only good ideas could come here. And then we all were kind of like just left to assess the idea, which really wasn’t even valued much because we were not Creatives or designers by trade. And even when you and I were like in the very beginning trying to figure out where we’re going to do the work, we naturally find our work based on creative Well, what was considered creative assignment, what was considered more of a marketing assignment, right, the work I would do versus the work. Yeah, exactly. And so we kind of naturally divided up based on what our natural backgrounds were. But then quickly, when we kind of broke down those barriers, saw that, Hey, um, I thought, I think I do a pretty good job. Written Word creative, right? Yeah, that’s true. And so but then when I would say, I’m a creative April, we’ll just roll our eyes,

April Martini 24:07
bringing all our baggage to the

Anne Candido 24:09
table. But I think that’s a really important thing, because I think it’s what gets in the way of a lot of people feeling bored enough to actually be creative. If the design thinking is the way of the world. So if it’s the way to solve problems, I don’t think a lot of people feel empowered or emboldened to, quote unquote, be creative or to exhibit design thinking, because they’ve been told it’s been reinforced to them, that they’re not creative. They’re not design thinkers, they are lawyers, they’re engineers. They are business leaders. I mean, other people do the creative and design, we pay for it. They must be the creative and design experts. So Anne gets off her soapbox here for a second to ask a real question. But my question is like, how do we break down those barriers? How do people who are not classically trained designers or creatives, how do they get into that conversation? So in fact, good ideas can You come from everywhere? And people believe that I mean, is there traits or skills or rules of engagement? Like, what does that need me look like help and out here help my friends at p&g Because I know that they are going to be the ones who are very interested.

Paul Stonick 25:16
The answer is very simple, really. And yeah, I would say for the people at P&G is like knock down the doors, invite the people to your meetings, you want to have the meeting that everybody wants to come to write in terms of how you can solve problems. So for me, it’s really just making the right invites and having the right people in the room. And if I don’t have the right people in the room, that who is that person that we need to answer that particular question, I would then build upon that say, well, ideas, did you validate it, you know, bring the data in the research, right? The first idea is not necessarily the best one. But going back to what we’re saying earlier, you’re going to iterate, you’re gonna keep going until you find that the idea is actually validated through your user. So the end of the day, you’re building for you’re using your customer, they’re gonna set you free of what’s working, what’s not working. So you really have to go through the validation process as well to to prove that an idea actually works. So I think for me, it’s really just about being inclusive, you get the right people, you invite them to your meeting, and you have them participate, because then they feel like they’ve got skin in the game, then you start getting the buy in, and then you start getting the word of mouth as well to like, Hey, this is something that we should be part of, or how do we actually scale this? How do we get more teams to join? Or how do we bring this thinking across the organization? For me, it’s really just about being inclusive. I know, that’s oversimplifying, but I found that just really inviting people to the table has been the easiest solution.

April Martini 26:29
Well, and I will say, as a person who started as a designer, and then went to the quote unquote, dark side and did the accounting strategy. I faced some of this stuff, too. And I think, what I find interesting about what you’re doing at SCADpro, and what was different about the environments that I grew up in is that there is some of this, like the design team, or the creatives can be wrongly held on pedestals in certain organizations. And so I think a lot of times those are the barriers that need to be broken down. Absolutely. I mean, at the last agency I was at I took on the task of starting their very first strategy department, they had never really had that before. And to what you just said, Paul, a lot of it was having the meetings to get buy in into what I was saying, because traditionally, the organization was a creative lead creative solution organization and what the definition of that was, copywriters and designers led the charge. And so what I love so much about this new approach is, to me, it’s a leveling of the playing field. So it is teaching those creative and design folks what they’re actually doing and how it impacts business and making it mandatory that that becomes part of their success in the situation. And then also giving them the seat at the table with the other folks, but educating on the fact that the problems and the solutions need to be solved by this collective group of people. I mean, and you’re famous for saying, you get more done when you’re working, you know, no one person can singularly really have success, you need the collective expertise of the group. And I think it is through that collaboration and facilitation. And And honestly, I do believe that in some of the typical agency organizations, there still is this problem of, if there’s a creative in the room, they’re making the decision. They’re the ones that know what they’re doing, if it has design tied to it at all. That’s the be all end all. But I don’t believe that that’s the future of any of this. Because I think that that’s the archaic way of thinking, and no longer are we just creating the things. It’s not all about the package or the website or any of that anymore, the organizations that are going to be successful are the ones that are solving these bigger, more complex problems together. I don’t know. Would you agree, Paul, that’s kind of my perspective, hearing both of you talk. Yeah,

Paul Stonick 28:47
and I’m telling you from experience, you know, how we were brought in to solve internal problems as well, too, but the Home Depot, so it wasn’t necessarily external customer facing, but you can use the methodology really to solve anything. And just to go one step further, and the whole concept of idea. And we’ll talk about this in a little bit, it’s really about the concept of presenting outcomes over the idea. Pitch, the outcome, not the idea, right? Show the actual data show the research, we put this feature into a test, and this was the outcome from it. Because anybody can shoot down an idea. If I bring an idea upstairs to leadership, and somebody in a corner office doesn’t like that idea. Well, they didn’t risk anything and they shot it down. But if I come back with the outcome and say, here’s why we actually delivered and here’s the lift or the KPI or the OKR well, that depoliticizes. The conversation a lot more and starts really thinking through Well, what are we actually doing here? And how does that how does that speak through the Language of Business? Right and how does that affect that leaders bottom line, but that’s what they want to hear about. They don’t care about my Pixel Perfect Mona Lisa mockup. What I did is taken care

April Martini 29:44
of pixel perfect Mona Lisa mockup. Right.

Paul Stonick 29:47
They don’t care about the art department sitting in a quarter, painting a picture of their spirit animal, right. They really care about what’s happening on the bottom line. So if you can present the outcome, that’s a much different conversation versus the idea of

Anne Candido 30:01
Yeah, and I resonate with that a lot. And I think that’s exactly what we preach when we talking about brand, frankly, is that brand. And design thinking is really putting brand into action and making it dynamic in a lot of different ways. And we use Brian as a way to solve business problems. And that’s a new way of thinking and really being able to kind of flip it on its head and seeing these elements of being able to really articulate your problem in a way that is first tied to something that foundationally that you can own. And that is authentic to you, and that you can use to create an experience with your consumer, customer and client. And tying that to an overall outcome that you said April, is somebody that everyone needs to contribute to to achieve, I think, is one way of breaking down some of these barriers of like good ideas could come from anywhere, or how do we solve problems are beyond just our own little individual silo? So I think that resonates a lot with me. So my follow up question to that would be then is there like a specific structure that you seen that works like we’ve talked a lot about, quote, unquote, titles, and how titles can get in the way, or the backgrounds can get in the way, or the functions can get in the way Are there specific, like a structure that you see works really, really well in the context of being able to really propagate this process and this thinking? Yeah,

Paul Stonick 31:29
it’s called being a punk. Right. And so look, there’s gonna be a whole level of corporate obstructionism that you’re gonna have to break through in order to get the buy in. So I have found that you need to have the testicular fortitude, right to be able to go through and break through a lot of these layers and just say, I’ve got some clear, crisp thinking here that I want to bring to the table, and find my like minded entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who can all come together and really present the outcome at the end of the day, I think punks have to be they have to be a catalyst, they have to have the rebel in the boardroom. And change can happen without us. So the framework is really pushing freedom in companies where innovation is rarely authorized. And so how do you break through, it goes back to what we were saying earlier, it’s about presenting the outcomes, outcomes over output, present the outcome, not the idea, creating the secret societies. But also, you really want to find that person within an organization who can be your executive evangelist, who is that Godfather, who is that godmother that believes in what you’re doing, understands, maybe has come from a creative agency background as well, too, and understands the power of design and design thinking that will create that lane where you can drive a Mack truck right through it in terms of innovation, and having the empowerment to create, what do you think is a better process as well, too. So building this entrepreneur underground, and finding like minded people who share your mindset, and then enlisting them in the cause as well, too, because once you start having that with your data, and with your research, you really start blending this, this idea of missionary and mercenary as well, too, that, hey, we’re all part of the bigger mission of what the company wants to do. But we’re mercenaries on the ground, rolling up our sleeves and getting stuff done. And I find those had been the best teams and the best solve in terms of breaking through corporate obstructionism. So in short, it’s kind of being a corporate pump.

April Martini 33:28
Well, and I mean, we, you know, obviously, you’re all about the coin terms, which I totally love and appreciate. But I do think it is, it is interesting, because you do and we talk about this too, is like, when you want to go against the grain, it’s finding those like minded people that are going to join your cause and support it and be brave enough to go and do so. And so I think that that is really what we’re talking about here is, you know, and we talked about, you can be a leader at any level, we talk about that all the time to you like, it’s really hard and not a lot of people will stand up and raise their hand and say, I think there’s a better way, a different way. I want to challenge the status quo, all of those types of things. But that’s really what we’re talking about here. And it was why I so enjoyed our conversation because of the like mindedness of if we just sit in the way that it’s traditionally been been done, or the frustrations that have existed or still exist in corporate environments, or all those things, we’re never going to move past where we are, and or our organizations are going to be passed up. And so it’s really the Forward Thinking notion of even how is design thinking gonna continue to change in order to solve these problems? Or how SCADpro gonna, what’s the next iteration? What are the people we can learn from and what are the new things we need to start to enact to continue to push this forward and the maturation of it? Because I think yes, to the very beginning of the conversation design thinking has been a term for a long time, innovation has been a term for a long time, but the processes and the diligence and the think conscientiousness by which it’s put into place in the right situation, is where you’re really seeing things move. The

Paul Stonick 35:02
pump or the intrapreneur can act alone. Going back to what we were saying earlier, it has to be inclusive, it has to be collaborative, you have to find the like minded people, because the intrapreneur, who goes at it alone is going to be fired or forgotten. And sometimes it will be done publicly as well, too. So that Godfather or godmother I was talking about earlier, in some ways they have to be your bulletproof vest, they’re going to take, they’re going to take a bullet for you first, if something goes sideways. So who do you find any organization that’s willing to go to bat for you, and I’ve had the great fortune of having a couple people in my career that have created that air support, where they’ll go ahead and take a bullet for us as well, too, but also create that lane for innovation and different ways of thinking. And so now in some, in some cases, I’ve been the executive evangelists say, Okay, we’re going to get through corporate obstructionism and remove the BS and say, Okay, here’s what we’re actually going to do to get done. So it takes a little bit of that thinking and being a little bit of a corporate punk, but you’ve got to play pinstripe sometimes as well to say, I gotta be able to show the outcome to Yeah,

Anne Candido 36:02
and I think that was a lot of my experience that you could probably send some kind of working through some PTSD. Or we all deserve it my story for another day, because people have heard that one. But if I was going to child or my favorite Adam Grant, he would say there’s an element of psychological safety that’s needed in order to be bold. And I would say that there was a lot of some traditional, especially those corporate comings have been a long wrote a long time. That doesn’t exist in a way that is easy to sometimes find your crew. I mean, I remember going to Nike, I remember going to Apple, I remember going to Google, everybody getting super excited about the way that they think and then we come back were like, we can’t do that we were not built like that. We’re not structured like that. And so it all kind of fall apart. So do you have advice for people who kind of see that? Know what they’re up against?

Want to try? But no, it’s going to probably take a little bit more time or a little while? And what advice would you give people who want to kind of be that punk, but they’re not feeling brave enough quite yet to do so.

Paul Stonick 37:08
Yeah, I would say start small look, I think we’ve all been there too. We see the Nikes, the apples, the Google, how they work, how they operate, culture, everything else we’ll get, which I’ll talk about in a second. But, and people go into design thinking bootcamp. So we’ll have a consultant come in for a ridiculous amount of money and tell him this is what you need to do to change your design thinking. And then day one arise, like, What the hell do we do, and you have this record scratch moment of like, Oh, we don’t really know what to do. So really, in many ways, putting on my product hat, doing MVP, start small, get the smallest likeable product, I would say, actually, NLP, a minimum likable product, in terms of this is something that we can do that’s realistic, right? And you put SMART goals around and say, Look, we’re not going to boil the ocean and saw this huge problem that’s facing organization. But let’s actually just look at this feature first, and use a different way of thinking to get there. And then you kind of start building it by Lego blocks. And so build your MLP. Build your MVP, build your framework of governance, get the right people together, create a board of directors, if you will, that can help provide oversight and guidance, but don’t go it alone. Right try to get other people to help them listen the call. So I would say start small, which is what we did at Home Depot, we started very small grassroots within my organization, and then just started to build and grow and, and gossip success as well, too. And tell the story up where we could. That’s where you start getting the buy in? Is people starting to look at you like oh, what are they doing over there? We should pay attention. Yeah,

April Martini 38:31
it’s a little bit of the ask for forgiveness. When you have the success. People are like, they don’t remember that you went on your own. They Yeah, product of what you did, and then they want that,

Paul Stonick 38:39
right. I mean, a term that I’ve used with a lot of my teams for the last 12-15 years is JFDI. And that stands for just effing do it. Right? Just, just just effing do it. And I’ll be the one that provides the the air support, I’ll take the bullet and we’ll ask for forgiveness, but just JFDI blast through the corporate obstructionism and politics and get it done. And so but we want to show success and outcomes as well, too. So as long as I can tell the story up, I could put it into one slide. This is what we did. This is what we achieved here are outcomes. And this is how it maps to your KPIs. It politically disarms the conversation.

April Martini 39:16
All right, well, we do have a few rapid fire questions for you. But before we get to that, is there any other comments you would close this out? You know, any other things that you’re just, you know, burning desire to say, I feel like this has been a really great discussion all the way around, but we want to give you your sort of podium toward the end here. No,

Paul Stonick 39:34
I appreciate that. And just to touch on scab pro a little bit more, the work that we’re doing, there is not student work. This is agency level work that we’re doing. The clients that we work with, both of which I mentioned, are really top notch. So if you go to David Right now, David Yurman, the foremost luxury jeweler, we created create joy give David Yurman the holiday campaign so if you see that video on the homepage, we did all that scan.

April Martini 39:59
Now you’re pleased to be Get my language. He’s one of my favorites. Yeah.

Paul Stonick 40:03
i This is their holiday campaign and really this their first virtual production. So social ads TV, the video that’s on the homepage all that was done and shot at sky with Scott students in partnership with David Yurman. We’ve done the work with NASA just in terms of redesigning the ice satellite to website we’ve worked with Uber in terms of research and development of concepts for a common cabin interior user experience. And what does a verta port look like for electric flying vehicles, working with Delta to create new uniforms that we did in combination with Zac Posen? So we’re in healthcare, we’re doing amazing things just in terms of what our partnerships look like. So I encourage you to come and take a look at at SCADpro. And people and companies come to us because it’s unconstrained thinking, it’s Gen Z mindset. It’s multiple perspectives, diverse perspectives as well, too. It’s a lot of fun, as well. So you get and we encourage our partners to really share the experience, what’s unique about us is that you’re part of the journey all the way through from kickoff to research to check ins to midpoint to final presentation, you’re part of the journey all the way through and and so that’s what’s really exciting about the program as well, too, is that you get to be part of it. And then we would hope as well, too, that the students move on to become part of the organization. So we’ve hired almost 300 students directly into these companies, and that supports our mission at the end of the day is preparing students for their creative professions.

April Martini 41:32
Awesome. I know I love that, too. I wish this was around when I went to design school. Yeah. All right, so few rapid fires here. Just to get to know you a little bit better and have a little fun. A person that is no longer alive that you would most like to meet.

Paul Stonick 41:49
I would you know, I’ve been reflecting on John Lennon the last week or so. And only because of the anniversary of his death was a few days ago. And I’ve been reflecting on him and what he was about what he stood for. And he was highly controversial sometimes. In many ways he was right, right. So while we may not know the words, to give peace a chance, we all know the course. And so that’s something that we could stand by and live by and get going back then he was right. And that’s something we could look at today. So I would love to be able to meet John Lennon and I feel like I may have seen him at some point in my youth because I spent a lot of time in New York City when I was a kid, especially in the 70s. And I felt like the Dakota was some was a place I passed all the time, because I was just spending a lot of time in that area where my aunt lived spending time with her. So I feel like I may have seen him in some I didn’t know who he was, but I feel like there’s some sort of connection that I may have seen him at some point. But it’s a pilgrimage I’d like to make every time I go to New York is going near the decoder or being past that area. So John Lennon would be my answer. Ah,

April Martini 42:55
sorry. Yeah. What are you reading right now?

Paul Stonick 43:00
I’m not reading any books right now. So I’m more like I’m more of the short form like articles and things like that. So there’s really no books on reading. But if I were to recommend a book for you to read, it wouldn’t be This Might Get Me Fired, which is, which is by Greg Larkin, who is the founder of punks and pinstripes as well too. And that book changed my life. He and I met five years ago with the house design conference. And we met through a mutual friend and I heard about his book, I read it, and Greg and I became fast friends. And I said, everything you say in your book is exactly what I’m doing at the Home Depot, you’re just using different language. Right. So as we think about secret societies, and evangelists and godfathers of like, this is exactly what we’re doing. You just put it into a language that’s concise and clear. And I love that. So it’ll change your life. It’s a short read, but it’ll probably resonate in many ways. So it’s called this might get me fired.

April Martini 43:51
You both read it down. So we got it. We always are waiting lists. Yes. All right, final one dog or cat person,

Paul Stonick 43:58
cat. I was a, I was a dog person growing up and had dogs for years. And then like 10 or 12 years ago, I just got to a point where dogs kind of started to skeeve me out a little bit. That was just That’s a, that’s a technical term for in terms of, they just kind of grossed me out. And I was just like, you know, not a dog person anymore. So I’ve had cats now for about 1215 years. And we have two cats and I love them to death. But I’ve I’ve not become a dog person. It’s very strange how my mind is flipped, but they kind of grossed me out.

April Martini 44:31
So usually you don’t find people that change, especially that hardcore.

Paul Stonick 44:36
But I don’t even go near this. I don’t even like to pet dogs here. Like I’ll be out in the neighborhood taking a walk with my wife and she’ll go on get down and pet the dog. And I’m like, I’m good. I’ll stand over here.

April Martini 44:49
All right. Well, with that, Paul, this has been awesome. Before we close out, please tell people where they can find you if they want to continue the conversation.

Paul Stonick 44:56
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you again for having me today. This was a lot of fun. And, but connect with me on LinkedIn. And that’s where I live in terms of social media. If you’d like to learn more about SCAD, or potential SCADpro project, just email me at or DM me on LinkedIn, or visit, I’m happy to tell you more about it.

April Martini 45:16
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