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Tim Kobe Interview:
tim, book, technical capability, company, people, tactics, work, human, blockchain, business, industry, design, outcome, industrial, create, deliver, experience, conversation, iot, strategy
Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.
Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk the number one industrial related podcast in the universe that celebrates you, the industrial professionals, the companies that get it done, you are bold, yes, you're brave. Yes, you dare greatly. Yes, you solve problems. You're changing lives. And you're changing the world each and every day, we have a great conversation with the gentlemen on this podcast named Tim Kobe. That's T I M, K O B E. He's an author and also founder and CEO of Eight Inc. In his book you got to get his book is so cool, Return on Experience, that is something that I am passionate about, let's get cracking. So I'm at an event. Yep. And I run into Tim Colby. The event was a neon sponsored event. And so we were chatting, and it was great. And one of the things that just sort of jumped out at me, because I think in industry, we have to be about the experience. I think, given the pandemic, given the situation and the current situations within the world, I think for you, and for others to stand out, there's got to be an experience, I think that we're going to have to stretch ourselves. And then here comes Tim, he has his book, and I got to tell you if you're out on video, so you can go to my YouTube channel. It does real talk. The book is fantastic. So as I start to work through it, because once again, my advisory boards are just a collection of books delivered by people who have mad skills, mad insights, and wisdom out the wazoo. And this book does not disappoint. It's well designed as it should be. And one of the things that I landed on is the Eight Inc, that's e IG HT Inc. Experience realm. And I love pictures. Because I'm a picture guy. This is a picture and it talks about the values of the company, whatever you are, and then being able to talk a little bit about the environment products and services, behavior, communications, and how those elements those realms sort of cross section. Anyway. It is and that's that's the people that is where they talk about the people component of that experience. We've got to be about the experience we've got to be and you know, you hear me talk about, we've got to educate Yeah, books galore. Go out to the world wide web, you can educate, there is no excuse, why you cannot educate. And there is no excuse why you cannot collaborate. Look, I'm working. You know, with Tim Kobe met him great, fantastic guy insights like nobody's business. He's making me a better person as well as many within industry. Because I just, you just want to go out and talk to them and see how they look at business look at industry, that human element that must be captured and must be discussed. And then of course, the innovation, the innovation. So I'm reading this book, too. I'm reading. I'm reading this book as well. The future is faster than you think if you're out on video, I'm showing it right now. And it is everything that's associated that we talk about. We talk about 5g. Yep, we talk about digital twin, yep, we talk about cloud edge, IoT, IoT, AI, ml, whatever you might call it, whatever you the digital analytics, everything. That book sort of puts it in a in a way of being able to really
it's real, right? And what's interesting is how they have the convergence of all these technologies. That's why we that their position is that's why it's there's a speed a velocity that exists today within industry within innovation. So once again, educate Yeah, collaborate. Yes. Innovate. Absolutely. It's out there. People are doing it today. But here is the real crux and I was thinking about this when I was working out action. There has to be action. We can educate, we can collaborate, we can innovate, but without action, we're not doing anything, right. It's just words. It's as if I want to lose weight. And I read, I educate myself and I read all the books about how to lose weight and then I collaborate with people On How To Lose Weight, right. And then there might be ways of being innovative to losing weight. But if I don't do any of it, I'm not losing weight, I'm not doing anything, I'm not changing anything, the same thing exists within industry. You have to educate because there's no way you're going to get around not educating, you got to know what pros like Tim Kobe and others are doing, you've got to collaborate, you've got to have that human connection, that dialogue that, hey, I've got something that I need help with, and be able to do that with individuals that possibly could have answers. And vice versa. It makes us better when we collaborate. And then finally innovate, as you take all of that in and come up with an innovative solutions that is truly delivers on experience, such as that book, we were talking about here, return on experience, Tim Kobe book, the same thing exists, but without action. We're not changing anybody's life. We're not changing anybody's community or the world. So we have to take action, and I believe foundationally it has to be about the experience as well. All right. How about that? Well, that was I was just thinking about that when I was working out because I'm trying to lose weight. Action. Alright, Tim, Kobe, go out to a stat card. That's a ti m k OBE. And if there multiple Tim Kobe out there, just put a little comma. Eight Inc is the company. And I'm just telling you right now you're not going to be disappointed. Absolutely. insightful, doing cool things. And I What an honor to have him on industrial talk. Enjoy the conversation. All right, Jim, welcome to industrial talk. Thank you very much for finding time in your busy schedule to talk to the best listeners in the whole wide world.
Thank you, Scott. Sounds great.
All right. For the listeners, let's level set a little bit. Let's give us a little 411 on who Tim is. And then we're going to go talk a little bit about return on experience. So listeners, we got a great topic to talk about. So give us a little background there, Tim?
Yeah, I have a company called Eight Inc, we are originally founded in San Francisco now have 10 studios around the world. In Asia, Europe and the Middle East. We have been focusing on designing for human outcomes now for more than 30 years, been working with Apple, about 23 years, spent the time that Steve was at the company working directly with him every week, and have been delivering, you know, successful outcomes for lots of lots of people around the world. Got
it. Tim, your Name Dropper, Steve Jobs, you name dropper. So let's, let's start into it. Because I think this is a real important topic. It goes beyond just industrial design. There's, there's more to it. And I like the way we're gonna approach it, you have a book, it's called Return on experience. Give us a little what does that mean? What do you mean by that?
Well, it's using design strategy to help create value and the tools that you need to do that you need to design human experience, ultimately, if you're going to have it have an impact on your business. And, you know, one of the things certainly we learned learned for many years working in the Apple work is that design is not just the way something looks or feels, but it's actually what it does for people. And so that that as a component of the design is is essential. With the human part, are you I
was gonna ask you a quick question if you've got to design. But is it more important to look at that human experience? Does that if I were to look at it from a pie and percentage, is the human experience, the most important component of that whole thought process?
Yeah, so um, we look at something we do what's called an experienced master plan. And we look at that to begin with to frame how you create value. If you're a company doesn't really matter what type of company you have to create value for your customers or you won't be successful. In order to do that your business is simply then a device that aligns to deliver the that value to customers. And so we want to structure the decision making process and the focus accordingly so that you maximize the value in your business.
I think companies and I could be completely wrong, and I'm not here slamming anybody. I think that people focus in on the technology and forget about the customer experience. It's there's an assumption that takes place when I and it might be a great technology. I'm not sitting here just like you It's a great technology. But do we really, truly focus on that customer experience? And do the work in the beginning to say, what are we? What's our human outcome here? And I think that's a real important conversation to have. How do we begin that journey? Tim?
Well, I think the first thing is to distinct distinguish the difference between a technical capability and technology. And what I mean by that is a technical capability, you may have the ability to make foldable glass for example. Okay, now, if I have the technical capability of making foldable glass to influence by design of a product, the real question is, is for it to become a technology, which means it has to be it has to create value with that technical capability, then it has to be focused on what what is the human outcome? Why do people need it? Why do people? Why would they be better off by incorporating that capability. So if you're just building things based on technical capability, you're really not creating technology, because technology implies a portion of that that equation is is serving people. And if you're not serving people, you're probably not creating much value, and you end up with whatever the trend of the week is, that comes down the line, but you actually don't have have a value creation engine.
And there are a lot of stories out there where they had the technical capabilities, but they did not look at the technology and how it fulfills the you know, or satisfies that end user, that customer that that and creates value for them outside of the fact that I was sort of stumbling on foldable glass. Does that exist out there?
Yeah, I mean, you know, you look at you look at some of the Samsung mobile, mobile. So you know, there, I'm just saying that, you know, you can take a technical capability. And people see that as a feature, in which in fact, unless it enables, unless it does something for you, as a user, that adds value, if it makes a bigger display, or it has, it has a function that that creates human value, then you probably are going to have a hard time turning that into a successful product.
So here's the funny thing. I I've seen that Samsung foldable glass, I never heard it was foldable glass. But of course, I'm sitting in there, and I'm just opening and closing it and opening and closing it and looking at it. It look at that it works. Close it. I'm not sure if that is real value in my life. But
that's, that's my point. Exactly.
It sure is a fidget, I just sit there and when is that thing gonna crack? When is it gonna crack and fail? I don't know. I'm sure they've done their study on that too.
No, no, but you know, and there may be a value that they've determined, which is why they produce it as a product. I'm not saying that that particular product is, is either, you know, good or bad. I'm just suggesting that, that any technical capability does not make a product to make a product you have to serve for, you know, human outcome that the experience is that people have with that product. So let's
talk about that. And I'm looking at your, your forum here, eight value creation inches. What does that mean?
Yeah, our value creation engine is actually just a structure in the process that we use to help ensure that the that the questions that are being asked around any design problem, are being framed in a way that's going to lead to the best outcomes. So we start, we start with the first question that has to be answered, what is the human outcome that you're looking you're looking to serve? Why does your company deserve to exist? Why do people want this and so the essentially, you're defining the why for the business, but you're defining the aspects of your company that fundamentally make it valuable. From there, you need to develop a strategy. So with with about with the human outcome at the top, the next piece is a strategy to deliver those outcomes. So you can have lots of different strategies, but if they don't deliver those outcomes that make you unique or special, they're probably not so valuable. And then the third thing is the tactics that you use to support that strategy. And I can say that nine times out of 10 clients will come to us with tactics in mind and want to apply this tactic because they've seen it, you know, with a with a competitive product, or they've seen it elsewhere. And they start with tactics. And that tactical way of thinking is actually to a large degree, the way we're normally wired. But unfortunately, you have a high risk of failure. If the tactics you're employing don't support the strategy, which then delivers on the outcomes. So it's helping us create these three boxes to organize, you know, ideas and endpoints.
So when a company comes to you and says, Hey, I've got this and I, but they deliver the tactics that they think support the strategy. It's up to you and your work. organization, your team to say, whoa, whoa, whoa, once again, let's let's level set here. What's that outcome? What are you trying to accomplish? What is that human outcome? Then we can define. And everybody's got to shake their head. And I would imagine, again, it's not from my perspective, it's never the technology, Tim, it's always just human. It's always the people, it's always gets down to that. And so if you can get people to say, Yeah, that's the strategy, then you can venture into the tactics. There might be overlap, but the reality that and the way I look at tactics, that's, that's like, Do this, do this, do this, do this, that that type of thing, right?
No, yeah. And, and design design as a lot of tactical work, whether it's communications, whether it's the environment, human behavior, that's all tactical work. But unless you frame the architecture of the font correctly, then your tactic could miss, you know, completely, and it may be a perfect tactic for another company. But it may not resonate for you and your, your, your particular business. Do you? So that's why
do you ever go down that road of saying, Oh, we thought the tactics were this, but then you start to go in, and you're heading down that journey? And you realize, no, I think we need to adapt? Do you have any sort of adjustments within those tactics?
Well, you know, we, the year after we finished the first Apple retail store, so starting from the, from the very beginning, finished the first year, a number of of companies called us and said, Hey, we want an Apple retail store, can you can you make one for us, give us give us a white, a white store and put some wood tables, and it will be successful. So they articulated the tactics that Apple use that that, you know, were right for the Apple Retail program, and just naturally thought if they transplant that to their company, they would be just as successful as Apple. And so you know, we start typically, by challenging the assumption around a tactical first structure. And so that's what that's when we start to just switch the conversation to human outcome, strategy. And then tactics.
Say I like that now. Number four, as we've, we've got the outcomes, we've got the strategies, we've got the tactics, everybody's shaking their head, they can get thumbs up, let's move forward. What's number four, and this eight value creation engine?
There's just those three,
17:28ork out, Tim. Number four and:
No, no, we only have those three. But but you know, if we, if we frame that correctly, then basically it's a way to get particularly large companies, but it can be for small companies as well. But it gets everybody on the team aligned towards what we're looking to achieve. So what it does is, it takes an enormous amount of, of noise and inefficiency out of the development process. And one of the one of the reasons companies struggle with developing something new is they considered a lot of risks. They don't manage creativity particularly well. And they don't, they don't have a structure that helps set some some guardrails for them, that will lead them ultimately to an efficient process that will be successful.
Do you ever broach the subject of risk and looking at the tactics and said, okay, here, here's a risk, and we've got to manage that. And in that process, and I know, this happens all the time, I'm looking at my financials, I'm looking at it quarterly, I want to make sure that I hit my financial targets as a company, do you also approach this value creation engine, in a way where I can have like little victories, like I want to be on a winning team, and I want to feel those little victories? do I structure it that way?
Yeah, I mean, I'm particularly larger companies that you know, to get them to just buy into this philosophically as against their, their the normal nature, right? Most organizations are set up in verticals. And we're really saying customer experience happens. laterally, it happens across all the verticals of the business. So that already is a difficult thing for them. But, you know, when you when you look at risk, you know, we've heard lots of people criticize the Apple Retail program at the beginning, because there's going to be this risky proposition. But it was set up in such a way that if if there were failures, or if there were improvements that we could make, we would continue to improve and evolve and and make it better. But, you know, a lot of companies today are on one or the other side of the equation. One is they, you know, they're on the latter part of the adoption curve. So they're, they're waiting for somebody else in their industry to take the risk and then be a fast follower. And then there are those on the front end. But what's happening today is the rate of change is so rapid, that the risk is actually you know, staying still. And so if you're not looking at this just trumping you, you're putting your business at greater risk by doing nothing, then you are by trying some things, making making, you know, smart experiments and learning from them and adopting and adapting as you as you go forward. So I, you know, we're always trying to balance that risk exists either way on either side of that curve.
But if I were to look at if I, if I was a stagnant business, and I was just waiting and looking around and, and hoping something, you're already the train has left the station, and it's a bullet train, and you're not getting on it. And and you're gonna run that risk of being insignificant and insignificant, really quick as a business. That's not where you want to be. That's, and boy, you hit on some really important topics. One is speed, I, I, I am just, I don't know what's happening. I can't keep up. And of course, I'm not the sharpest tool. However, it is fast. And it's it's talking to people like you, who just constantly say, this is where it's going, this is what's happening, this is what we're looking at, and others. And you realize quickly, that if you're not in the game, if you're not trying to figure out what that is, then good luck, I guess is the only thing that's
well, and the other thing is, I think a lot of people are at a loss in terms of what what to do, because they realized the world's changing, but they may not have the tools available to them to respond to that change. So they ended up you know, the deer in the headlights kind of scenario. And so if you have particular levers that you can pull that will help your business be successful. I mean, we look at two things. One is differentiation. The other is emotional connections. So, you know, if you look at the research you asked, 80% of CEOs believe they're creating a differentiated product. And if you ask the customers, 8% of customers believe they're creating a differentiated product. So Where's where's the disconnect, and the disconnect comes from companies emulating one another, and ultimately, commoditizing what you do, rather than defining something as distinct, so that, you know, there are tools available, you know, in terms of processes that allow you to, to be able to move at speed, but you have to you have to be able to get get your hands on those tools.
But it you bring up an interesting dilemma. It's it's, it's where do I start? If I'm a company, and I hear what you're saying, it's like, yeah, Tim's talking. And it's great stuff. And, and I agree, and I'm shaking my head saying, yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't even know where to start. Right? I don't I don't know, do I? Do I contact him and say, Tim, can you just sort of give us sort of on it? We want to, we want to be here. And we're, I think we're here. I don't know, even I don't even know what step one is, what do we do?
Yeah, I mean, I, you know, obviously, we have a strategic design consulting business. So that we, that's, that's what we do for a lot of companies. But it's one of the reasons that I wrote the book was to give people at least a framework around, you know, what we've learned from from 30 years of doing this and how they can apply, maybe think about applying it to their business. So, you know, we're not, we're not trying to keep it a secret, we're trying to share with as many people as possible, because ultimately, you end up with better human outcomes we end up with with, you know, a better world. So the idea of that being a part of the, of the, of the conversation, it can happen at different levels, right, whether it's, it's, you know, deep within a company, or whether whether it's a startup trying to get their head around, you know, what are the key pieces they need? See, and
I just think if you're if your company and you're the books, you know, I depend on books, and I depend on books, because I don't have a team of individuals, helping me, you know, distill what's going on out there. So I am left to reading. And, and it's good. It's got don't get me wrong, but that's where I reside. But I think that the executives, the individuals that have, I think that it's important that they just recognize it, and there's a lot of noise out there, right. You know, is it IoT? Is it I industry for Dotto? Am I manufacturing good? So this one says, What's that? And I think it's imperative me personally, to find that trusted person, team, whatever it might be to be able to have these conversations so that you're not left out there just sort of, I don't know. Dangling these.
Yeah. And I think what you just described, is it IoT is it you know, is it blockchain is why these are all tactics. And if we don't, if we don't have that framework to deliver into, we may or may not be creating value. I mean, there's no reason that startup should fail. Other than that, they make mistakes, right? And, and if you if you frame these things properly, your your ability to successfully successfully create valuable companies, you know are gonna be it's gonna be enhanced because you're you're focused on that value. See, and
you brought up another good point, you just, you just, you just write with good points. The other one was blockchain. And then I, you know I've had that conversation blockchain this blockchain that I've had it I've had all the conversation. For me when we look at your value creation engine, what does that human outcome? What is the strategy around it because some people just pop in, it's like, Hey, here's the blockchain, like, what does that mean to me? What? How does it make my life better? What problems is it solving for me and, and, and that, that and, and in your strategy, that's a tough topic to try to it's so, squiffy sometimes it's like it's not, it's hard to sort of hold on to right. It's, like, in so it's an interesting, interesting dilemma.
Now, to me, the the idea of even blockchain, a lot of people are trying to move it into a strategy to define a business. But to me, it lives most naturally in tactics, it's a tactic to, to do a particular task. And that's, and that's fine and valid and, and potentially a huge, you know, huge value to a company. But blockchain in and of itself is not necessarily going to be the solution to deliver the outcome, it may lead to the supporting the strategy that delivers the outcomes, but it's in and of itself, I think it's much more on the tactical side than it is on the on the experience side
spot on. Because every time I look and I have these conversations, I'm going to be ever dealing with the fact that I'm going to I'm going to cement in my memory, human outcomes, if anything out if there's one thing that we get out of this conversation is that human outcomes and being able to truly define that human outcome, that experience. See, I like that. Yeah, your your book return on experience. Does it have all that fun stuff in it?
Yeah, yeah. It's, it's written in a conversational manner. And my co authors, Roger Lehman, who's who's a psychologist, and what what I tried to do initially was capture what we have learned over the over the last 30 years of designing for these companies, and put it into questions and answers. I've been asked a lot of questions. So I tried to answer those questions. But what Roger did as a thread through the book is explained why it works from a psychological standpoint. So a lot of the things we were doing, we actually didn't know that there was a psychological premise behind it that actually made that work. And so he ties it together with with that thread that's built on, you know, research and academic. You know, academic practice.
See, that's pretty cool. And just FYI, let me let me turn around. If you're out on video, you'll see that I have books. Let me turn around. Oh, no. Here's the shameless plug. It's missing a book. Oh, that's
It is. It's it's not there. I'm look, I looked through my library and I haven't had that return on experience. It's not it's not there.
Okay, you're here, but not your tomorrow.
Shameless, but it is out on Amazon. I have it up out now. Great ratings. It's, it's timely. And it's, it's, you know, my challenge, Tim, is the fact that there's just so much that there's so much to learn. And it's exciting. To me, it's all exciting. And so it's like Christmas. And I was like, Oh, I'm all excited. Because this is important stuff. This is important information that industry needs to know. Because we just go down the road and we just, we, we don't do things right. We make mistakes. And then in industry as a whole. That's it. One mistake. You're done. You're off the trade. I'm booting. Yeah, I knew it. And we just can't live life like that. We've got to try and fail and succeed and do it.
Yeah, yeah. I think, you know, having the right type of environment, it's up to the leadership to establish that and, you know, give people the, the opportunity to build on these things. But, you know, from from my perspective, I think many of our problems we we have, we have designed we've created these problems that we are living with today. We can design our way out of these problems as well. And so I I am an as an advocate of using strategic design as a as a way of how hoping to improve things that that, to me, it becomes essential that we, we develop those skills, because it's really no different than other skills we've had to develop in the past. But we just have to become a bit a bit better at understanding other people and a bit bit better at understanding how design can actually be an extremely valuable part of a business strategy.
That's a great way of wrapping it up. Now, listeners, we've got E Tam. You can tell he's got massive skills. Great street cred when it comes to this stuff. Five autograph books. You just got to let me know so I can let him know. I don't have a funnel. Just gotta gotta say, hey, I want to book whatever, we'll get it to you. So I'll figure that out. Tim, how do they get ahold of you? Let's just say in general, I, I like what Tim is saying.
I don't get a hold. Yeah. Well, my my email is Kobe firstname.lastname@example.org e IG HT i nc.com. Easy peasy. Easy. Come
to me listeners and say I can't get ahold of Tim. It's that easy. You were fantastic. Tim.
Thank you. Thank you.
absolute honor to have you on industrial talk. I like it.
Thank you. Got a pleasure.
That's all on this side. All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side, you know, we're gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna hammer again. So don't come to me and say I can't get ahold of Tim because I'm going to make sure that we hammer it on the other side of the break. So stay tuned.
You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.
That was a great conversation with Tim Kobe. Absolutely wonderful. I love that return on experience. Bring it, put it in your heart, man. Put it in your heart. And you've got to reach out to Tim, go to industrial talk.com You know that. Go to his, his landing page, his podcast, all his contact information there. And if you want to book if you want to book, we've got a little link there and just say, Hey, Scott, I want one of his autograph books. I'm telling you right now, you're not going to be disappointed. Alright, once again. We need to of course educate, collaborate and innovate. Yes. Please take action. Think about what Tim and others are talking about from an experience point of view. And it's going to have bottom line value for you without a doubt. All right. Be bold. Be brave, dare greatly reach out to Tim and hang out with that dude, and you're gonna change the world because you're not gonna be disappointed. All right. Thank you very much for joining. We're gonna have another great interview right around the corner. So stay tuned.