At a Glance
Haydn Shaughnessy, Co-Founder, Flow Academy Ltd
Focus Areas: Digital Disruption, Digital Transformation, Innovation, Agile
Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio: Haydn Shaughnessy
Latest Content: The Agile Business (to register interest in the agile business community and “Transformation Sprint”)
Thought Leader Interview
Thinkers360 thought leader interviews profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Haydn Shaughnessy, Co-Founder, Flow Academy Ltd. Haydn is co-founder of Flow Academy, the IP owner and developer of Enterprise Flow® and Lighthouse Thinking (TM), a set of concepts and methods for designing, fixing and managing business transformation. His purpose is to make businesses more efficient whilst also making them better places for people to give their creativity. He is a business humanist. His pro bono work is on The Flower Project (coming soon).
An advisor to executive management on business transformation, Haydn contributes to the development of Enterprise Flow’s value discovery tools and Transformation Sprints as well as the Flow Generative Operating Model, and the online resource Flowpedia(TM). Haydn is a keen advocate for new ways to work that embrace improved social interaction (collaboration) and the collective intelligence of a company’s people.
Haydn worked for many years in the US think tank industry projecting future business strategies for Fortune 100 companies and contributed to the Wikinomics research as well as the first papers on modern platform and ecosystems strategy.. He was recently featured in the Thinkers360 article Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Digital Disruption.
Thinkers360: Tell us a bit about your background and areas of expertise
HS: I started my career as a broadcast journalist but got the lucky chance of managing application projects in the very early days of commercial satellite exploitation. I had to come up with applications for what was then a new commercial technology. I was also involved in other areas such as future broadband and mobile applications. I’ve spent the rest of my career since then looking at how people respond to technology and how we can structure our understanding of that so we can innovate more effectively. One of the great challenges recently has been to understand how to remodel or restructure companies in order that they become sufficiently adaptable in a fast-changing economy. That’s the topic of my new book Transformation Sprint, written with my partner Fin Goulding.
Thinkers360: What are your current responsibilities and what’s a typical day look like?
HS: I am responsible for developing tools to help remodel the enterprise or put another way, to design new operating models. I usually start my day with some sketches of how particular systems fit together and then start to think about ways in which people can work differently. I also work on new ways to uncover value in organisations.
Thinkers360: And those feed directly into your new book Transformation Sprint?
HS: Well, the first part does. In Transformation Sprint, we have addressed the problem of why so many transformations fail to deliver on important expectations. We’ve provided some reasoning for that but more importantly. we have provided a simple six-step method for how to get a transformation back on track. The book fills an important gap in the knowledge base of most people. We know transformations go wrong. We have plenty of speculation on why. But we did not have a method for putting them right. Now we do!
Thinkers360: What’s the favorite part of your current role?
HS: It’s creative, as it always starts literally with a blank sheet of paper. But it is also detailed. It is a great combination of conceptual work and pragmatic detail.
Thinkers360: Can you describe your thought process and how your ideas have evolved over time?
HS: I try to avoid the fad ideas of the day. Over the past twenty years, I have been interested in how people innovate successfully. A little known fact here. The coffee product Nespresso took about fifteen years to bring to market as a successful, desirable product. It’s only a cup of coffee right? But the fact is today we expect products to come good quickly. They have to scale quickly to satisfy our fail fast, succeed faster mindsets. Good ideas take a long time. I think the iPad gestation period was about 23 years. So I am interested in how good ideas sustain themselves over time. I am also interested in how companies are structured and how this promotes or inhibits success. And finally, I am interested in the geo-economics of competition, such as the rise of Chinese platforms. Looked at back to front, my thinking is always centred on the way the global competitive environment changes; how that disrupts economies; how enterprises respond; and how their operating models have to adapt to maintain success. For me, that is coherent, logical and accumulative.
Thinkers360: Are there any methods you apply that can help others learn how to become good thought leaders?
HS: My academic training was both as a conceptual thinker and an empirical researcher. The method I use is to switch between these two. As I research, I get ideas about how a mass of information might fit together but as soon as I work on that conceptual element I see the need for new research. I never skimp on that iterative phase of empirical work. Conceptualise, yes, but iterate with research too or you will never be original. A lot of my best work is lost because people don’t want to read the detail. That’s frustrating but I think it is also because too many of us these days are taking short cuts. There’s no rush, really. Take your time and set high goals.
Thinkers360: Do you have any particular wish for how the thought leadership industry and business thinking evolves?
HS: I think we are too dependent on the business schools. Originality rarely comes out of them but they are strong beams of light that attract a lot of moths. I would like to see initiatives like Thinkers360 take on more of a community role and I would like us all to vet each other’s work more. We need to get back to citation. I think too much thought leadership is thought followership and idea plagiarism and it is untested by a peer group. Thinkers360 could play an important role there.
Editor’s Note: See Haydn’s Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio.
Thinkers360: How do you like to work with brands who wish to engage you as a thought leader?
HS: I normally run workshops for enterprises that want to relearn how they create value and how to manage it more effectively. I also do training courses on these topics. My engagements can be quite short but I want clients to understand and be committed to how critical they are for success so first base is: Do you really understand how important this is? IF it is a yes then we can work together to create real change.
Thinkers360: What’s your main advice for upcoming thought leaders?
HS: Keep away from crowded spaces. ~If you are truly a thought leader you will know what the next big issues are. Go there and be diligent about research. Have a method for how to think differently and apply it.
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