Episode 85.5 – Green Apple Slice


How To Build An Innovative Workplace Culture With Experimentation


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Forbes article, “How To Build An Innovative Workplace Culture With Experimentation” by Daniel Newman.


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    John: All right. It’s Monday. That means it’s another episode of Green Apple Slices. I’m here with Rachel Fisch, the head of everything Deloitte Canada when it comes to bookkeeping nationally.

    Rachel: That’s right.

    John: I’m sure there’s a better way that you could say that on your business card but that’s what I say.

    Rachel: Nope. That’s exactly it.

    John: That’s exactly it. But yeah, but I’m excited to share with you this article because I know you spoke to CPA Canada about this topic. Finally get to throw you a bone so you understand what we’re talking about. But yeah, but this article was in Forbes and it was How to Build an Innovative Workplace Culture with Experimentation and it was by Daniel Newman. If you want to read the whole article, you can click the greenapplepodcast.com and get it from there.

    Rachel: Well, what I really liked about this was that it was taking employment culture and employee culture and all of those things and employee engagement and stuff like that that we talk about week in and week out and is kind of marrying it to what we’re seeing a lot in the accounting and bookkeeping industry right now which is digital transformation and innovation and all of those other things that are happening.

    And so how can we — if this is the kind of company that we want to be, we want to be innovative, we want to go through a digital transformation, we know we need to take a look at our internal processes and kind of realign things and reassess things a little bit. But how do we do that with this other culture piece? Are they at odds with each other? Can one feed into the other? And one of the best things that Daniel kind of breaks it down to is basically making it so that your employees do not have that fear of failure and again with the fear.

    But that they are encouraged to experiment and they are encouraged to try new things and then to see if it works. If it doesn’t work, try something else, right? Then test that and then you know, pivot and move on. I thought that was really strong because you can’t have innovation without experimentation. If you can have that, be that open piece in your corporation or in your company, then I think the innovation will come off of that. I saw an interview I believe it was with Sara Blakely earlier this week or a couple of weeks ago and she was talking about it at the dinner table, when you talk about what was the best part of your day? Her dad would always ask them, what did you fail at today? And when the kids didn’t have something to contribute, that they didn’t have anything that they failed at today, their dad would be so disappointed that they hadn’t failed. But what it did was it made it — “You’re grounded. You didn’t fail today.”

    John: Send him outside and go dunk a basketball. Oh, guess what, failed, you failed.

    Rachel: But what it did was it created this environment in the home where failing was not only okay. It was actually encouraged because it’s only through failure that you’re going to learn and that you’re going to figure out how to do it right so I thought that that was pretty strong as well.

    John: Yeah, yeah. I mean absolutely and then just encouraging collaboration and brainstorming and everyone pulling the same direction and rooting for each other and almost where instead of their obstacles there, it’s almost like a game or a puzzle that together we can figure out and yeah, I mean absolutely. I mean another thing that was in the article that I thought was really good was just talking about having that testing environment. Therefore, kind of your failures happen kind of in a sandbox where it’s insulated and because of the testing environment, it doesn’t get out to the public.

    Rachel: But I think that that’s also something that a company needs to build is a safe environment for you to do that is to build the sandbox, right?

    John: Yeah. Right.

    Rachel: Build the sandbox and build the tools and do everything that you can to give your staff everything that they need to do that experimentation and to do that innovation and for as much as we talk about the accounting and bookkeeping industry as a whole being very collaborative, I think one of the most collaborative industries that I think I’ve ever seen people that you think would be not — I was going to say like archenemies, not archenemies but you know —

    John: They wouldn’t be buddy-buddy.

    Rachel: Going after the same client, but you know, yeah. They’re like sharing ideas and working on clients together and referring clients to each other so I absolutely love the collaborative nature of that but innovation — the competition does drive innovation, right? If you’re trying to be the best, the fastest, the whatever, you have to be innovating not only knowing what the current state of things are but also really refining where you think it’s going to go to the point where you almost look like a fortune teller or something like that but that’s where that innovation sweet spot really happens. So one thing that I thought was really cool, I was in a presentation and Jeffrey Moore was there.
    John: Nice.

    Rachel: He had this quote, “When disruptive innovation pushes marginal cost to zero, it changes the design rules.” It’s like anything goes. If we get to the point where nothing actually costs anything to build because everything is digital and not product based, then that’s when it’s like blown wide open, no rules like anything crazy.

    John: Wow.

    Rachel: So anyway, I thought that was pretty cool.

    John: Yeah, no. That’s very cool and that’s when Chris Hooper in Accodex in Adelaide Australia, a guest to the Green Apple Podcast, that’s where he gets to go crazy.

    Rachel: Yeah. He does go crazy a little bit.

    John: No rules, blow the walls out. Yeah. He’s going crazy right now already. When it comes to innovation, he’s rocking it down there. But yeah, I mean I think it’s a cool thing and accounting firms are so risk-averse but if you build that testing environment and just make it part of your everyday routine and it’s kind of like you’re up on a high wire but there is the safety net right there. It’s not as risky and really, really, really cool things come of that that are you know industry changing. So that’s fantastic. So quit using your lotus notes everybody. You laugh but I had a client who did use — I did have a client that last year that still uses it.

    Rachel: Oh, you’re kidding.

    John: Yup. But that’s all right. So everybody get out there, innovate. Let’s make this world a better place. There we go. Not like you have anything to fail at the rest of this week but you know —

    Rachel: But go and fail at something. Have a good week and fail.

    John: I’m pretty sure we just heard six minutes of me doing that so I can check that off for June. But no, but thanks so much Rachel for joining me again. Everyone go to greenapplepodcast.com if you want to see the article. And if you’re listening on iTunes or Stitcher, please give us a five-star rating and a short review and share with your friends. That’s always good. So there we go, Rachel. Have a good rest of the week.

    Rachel: You too, John.

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