On this week's Industrial Talk Podcast
we're talking to John Nottingham,
Co-Founder of Nottingham Spirk about "Solving Customer's Problems Through Innovation"
. Get the answers to your "Customer Centric Solutions" questions along with John's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!
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JOHN NOTTINGHAM'S CONTACT INFORMATION:
Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-nottingham-a359a9a/
Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nottingham-spirk/
Company Website: https://www.nottinghamspirk.com/
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This industrial talk podcast was recorded on location at Nottingham, Spirk and E and y or Ernst and Young or just EY. Both companies dedicated to your success focused on the future and solving big problems contact Nottingham Spirk and EY if you have a desire for a brighter future
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 good on your hardhat grab your work boots, and let's write
Welcome to industrial talk the number one industrial related podcast in the universe. And I'm not overselling that. It celebrates you the industrial heroes, the people that get it done. You are bold, you are brave. You dare greatly you innovate. You solve problems. You're changing lives and you're changing the world each and every day. And that's what this platform is for you for you. We celebrate you. Alright, we're broadcasting if you've heard the last one we're broadcasting from Nottingham Spirk. You're saying yourself, Scott, I don't know what that is. You will because I'm talking to the gentleman right here. Right next to me. His name is John Nottingham. And he is one of Nottingham sorry, he's not the Nottingham sorry. Let's get cracking. HEY, this is fantastic. Like, I'm telling you, listener, listeners, you need to put this on your bucket list. Big time. Can Can people just come in and see this place?
By LIDAR? No.
Well, do I know somebody that can make that happen?
So contact me and I'll be able to open doors because this is a spectacular, and I mean, spectacular location. For the listeners. Let's just level set real quick here, John, just give us a little I mean, clearly, it's a bigger conversation, but just give us a little background on who you are.
Well, my partner John Spirk and I graduated from design school, and we both got fortune 500 job offers my parents were so proud. And we turned it down.
Then your parents are saying what we found
a garage. And we started an innovation company and our parents said, What are you doing? What is that? We did it? And I never looked back?
See? So the question is why? I mean, that's not conventional thinking, John, it is not. It's not it. And I guarantee you, your parents are saying we need to what, what you just graduated, and that's a heck of a school. Yeah.
But But we wanted to do something different. You know, we wanted to do something big. And we had to start small.
Right? And by the way, if you're listening, that's a helicopter flying over cut, top of us disregard John's more important than that helicopter. So let's listen to John there. But why? What was that inside of you that said, hey, I want to do something because you come here today? Yeah. I mean, you've seen the whole journey. You come here today. It's impressive. Nothing less, nothing short of impressive. Why at that particular time, did you guys say I'm going to go to I'm going to go a different direction?
Well, we've always created, we were always, we're always building things, always designing things, always innovating things. And graduating, we just kept going. We just kept finding companies that wanted to go on a journey. And create something and and grow.
See, this is interesting. I had a conversation with a gentleman and and what stuck out and you guys live it here. Yeah, this is what's interesting. You think of the end user, you think of that person over here, that you're going to be designing something here. And you're going to say, hey, I want to solve a problem. I want to deliver something. I want to I want them to get a user experience, whatever that is. That that was was that a typical thinking at the time?
Yes. So every I don't care what business you're in. You have a customer, right? Yes. Yeah. So
you, let's put it that way. Yes. Or it's a hobby. So
the fortune 500 Number one CEO came to visit us. Ask Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, and I and he's going around our innovation center. Well describe our innovation center. Oh, yeah. Oh, absolutely. And I said Doug here, you know, you're the number one CEO in the world, largest company in the world. He says, You know, John, if I don't deliver to my customer she wants I'm done. I need innovation. I need something to make her say, Wow, okay, yeah. John, that's your job. I said, Your I
see this is interesting. Now I can I can rattle off all of the challenges of the pandemic. Yes. And they're out there got it understand. One of the things that I believe as a positive is the, the the need for businesses to collaborate to solve problems to figure out solutions. And one of the things that popped out is the power of that customer. All of a sudden, I can't get my products. And everybody's a supply chain. Expert. And and it's, it's an interesting realization of how important that customer is. And if you're not pinpoint focused on their needs, you're missing the mark,
part of our secret sauce. And it's so simple. And it's amazing how many people don't do it blows me away with my client partners, I say I want to know your customer. I want your customer inside our Innovation Center, inside our focus room, behind our two way mirror, I want you to see this the twinkle in their eye. I want to see the body language. They may not even say something, but I want you to see your customer. What are you putting your customers now, all of a sudden, now you have a pandemic? HEY, your your your customers freaked out? What are you going to do about it? Here's opportunity. Say every problem. Every every problem that I see is an innovation invention in disguise. Now, yeah, you'll say, I've got rehab 13 150 issued atoms that we have created co created with our with our client partners. 13 150.
That's, that's, that's spectacular. I don't have one.
There we go. So you know what? To get a patent, so simple. It's so no, no,
no, no, no, no, no, you're soft pedaling, because. Okay,
go ahead. I'm gonna give you this thing. There's only one criteria for a patent. patent claim. It has to be ready for this. Okay. On obvious. That's it. I'm serious. It doesn't it's it's not a good idea. It's not a great solution. It's if it's obvious, it doesn't get a patent. It only gets a patent if it's not obvious. That's it.
Okay, so I'm wandering the halls here, right? Yeah. And you've got example after example, after victory after victory of just displays. Yes. All excited. It's like, yes, yes. I just I'm dazzled right back. There was one in there. And when you have that definition, it's the baby cradle one, right? Yes. Come on. That's obvious. No, no, it isn't.
Hold on, hold on. You want to know if the patent is? Yes, please. Okay. It's easy to do a bassinet, right. Right there. Okay. Our client wanted to stick out. So we had to do something on obvious. So okay, what do I do? I have my customer come in a mother. She's gonna have a baby. What are some of the issues that are happening? So we look at the trends and there's one trend that mothers are co sleeping with their babies in their bed? That's not a good, a good idea. But I'm not gonna argue it. That's my customer talking. So what did I do? I did a bassinet that is swiveled on to the bottom Hold on a second. Hold on a second. Hold on. It's brought to the mother's bed. And the side has a spring and the mother can cradle and CO sleep with her baby in her bed and the baby is is comforted and safe. Now listen to this. So we so we got a patent on it. Right? An obvious yes, it's Las Vegas to the juvenile furniture show right? At the end of the show, they have an award for number one innovation at show. Guess which one didn't bang go okay. If you or your significant other is going to a baby shower wants a big deal. Maybe gift. It's the Bassen nest bass and nest an obvious Oh, this thing is the number one bassinet in the country because it's on obvious see.
So I'm walking by and I see it and then I realize it's like no kidding. Are you kidding me? This is amazing. Yeah, it is. Yeah. So okay, so as we as we venture in so here's the deal. Alright, so I come to you, I'm a business, I'm going, Okay, God, I need your help. You're going to go and you're going to look at my customer, whatever it is like, what do they need? And you're going to have a conversation. It's real. It's like, what are you looking for? What's what's going on? What's your pain, whatever, you
know, I say, Be careful what you wish for, because it will come true
in it and see, and that's interesting, because it's real out there. Right? What I am fascinated by it, is that you'd say, okay, got this idea. We go through the prototype, you're starting to design it. Right. Very cool, right? But you also throw in, is it? Is it going to be marketable? Is there a business case around that? Yes. And then all of a sudden, you're gonna say, okay, yes, yes. And then you're gonna say, now we have to modify, or we have to manufacture right? This product. Yeah, you're involved there. Yes. And that's why you have such great success, because it's cradle to grave grave. And it is because you, you take into consideration and this is where I find I'm sorry, I'm sure. You can tell. I'm geeking out everybody. This is just too cool. Right? Where it starts to fail is like, Here, here's your here. Here it is. Now. Good luck with it.
Now, let me tell you, that's cool. Let me tell you the secret sauce. Don't tell the other secrets. Anybody? Okay. Remember that? 13 150 patents I say? Now, the US government has given 10 million patents? What percentage? What percentage of those 10 million do you think have been commercialized? What percentage?
I unfortunately know the answer. Because i i I'm very inquisitive. 5%. Baby?
Yes. 5%? Yes. 5%. That is, everybody knows that number. All right. Everybody knows, like, that's
I got a patent award. I was. I was National Academy of inventors. I got an award from the from the commissioner of US patents, and he's putting the metal around my neck. And I reminded him I said, I said, you know that only 5%? Yeah, I see it. He's like, Yeah, yeah. I said, we have 1300 50 patents. 95% have been commercialized 95%. And
the remaining 5% are still in the process of getting commercialized yet.
So So here's the thing. Why is that? Big? Why? Why is the track record of other patents so abysmal? Because they're invented in silos? Yeah, you have an insights group. And that they throw it over the wall, and it goes to a design group, they throw it over the wall, it goes to the engineer that throw it over the wall to the prototype, or they keep trying it over the wall. Okay. And by the time it's at, it doesn't bear any resemblance to where you started. You see him saying, what we do, this is what we do in our innovation center here. And you're looking at it, it's historic Bill, you like this?
That's a whole nother conversation, because I just look at it. And it's like, all I can think of is how did they get the material in here? How did they, they built it. And then when you go when you walk in the rotunda, whatever you want to come back,
you know, you know, the return of our innovation center is bigger than the US Capitol.
Spectacular. That's the first thing I noticed. It's like, whoa, whoa, taking my breath away. I
know. It's impressive.
Very cool. So we're second, the secret sauce that gets thrown over the wall, throwing it over the wall.
We start with a plant partner, they have give me your biggest problem. Give me your biggest opportunity. Just you think it's impossible? On obvious, okay, right. And we put a team together at the very beginning, we have a project manager, okay, the project manager has leads for insights, design, engineering, prototyping, digitization commercialization, and they're all there at the front end all of them. And they very carefully go through a 12 month process to commercialization and 95% get there. That's the difference.
How do you and because I, I interview many within industry, my backgrounds industry, and I and I've been experienced in that, that conference room where somebody comes up with an idea. Okay, it might not, it might be a little off the mark, but there might be some nuggets of truth, right? Yeah. But in industry, it gets shut down.
That's the problem. That's the silo. Exactly. Correct.
Yeah. So create that cool. Okay. So what we do, don't shoot people do we do
is we start with the customer. We start with how right? It's all right. Okay. You start with a customer. So you bring a customer in. Okay. and you start talking to him, you know, what about this product or that product? What do you love? What do you hate? What this? Did you start getting this input, okay? And you get their pain points. And you can you start, all of a sudden you open the customers mind and you start picking their brain, what do they do? What do they want, so forth. That's number one. Then you take all of that great data, and you go into your designers. And now your designers have what we call a creative session. And the creative session is we focus in a room, you have about eight to 12 people. And we focus on what we call mild to wild. Man, it's cool. Alright, so mild is the obvious thing, you know, just get that out of your head. Okay. Yeah. Now, you got that out your head. What's the wildest thing you could say? I don't care if it can't be done. I don't care if the technology then I don't care if it's levitating. I don't care what what is the wildest, wildest thing? Now get that out of your head. Now, everything in between, now you have 100 ideas. 100 ideas, I call that the diverging concept, you diverge, and you just, there's no bad ideas, by the way. Nobody can shoot anything down. Okay, good. And you do that. So now the walls are literally filled with posts, felled, and you're exhausted and you go home. Okay, you go home. The next session is the con verging session. You take those 100 ideas. Now you separate them in groups. You sketch your best ones, and everybody takes turns saying, I like this one, make a presentation. But here's this here's the here's the sacred thing. And I'm gonna give it don't tell anybody. Okay? Don't listen, guys. Everybody has three is everybody can do this. By the way. 333 note cards. Everybody gets three note cards. One note card says, nice. One note card says, Who cares? And one note card says, wow. Okay, now, it's coming out now. Put it down. Yeah. Make your make your passionate presentation on this idea. Now everybody at the same time, put up your notecards. Okay, now, he's made a passion or he or she made a passionate thing. Everybody says Who cares? I don't care. Get rid of it....