Sometimes You Have To Think Small To Win Big With Heather Kluter

Inside LaunchStreet Heather Kluter business podcast innovation podcast

The Best Way to Eat a Cake is One Bite at a Time

Have you ever wondered how to take your team or organization from no or low levels of innovation to high levels? How to get people to buy into the idea that innovative thinking and processes are important to success? Heather Kluter, innovation thought leader, did that at Hyundai and she’s here on LaunchStreet sharing her experience and how she helps companies continue to think big. We talk about how to break down silos, the “not-creating-here” mentality that kills innovation, and why doing small things may actually be the right approach at first. We even talk about cake and huskies.


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Key Takeaways:

[:58] Tamara brought Heather onto Inside LaunchStreet because she’s pushed back against the legacy systems and has really had to shift the culture to innovation that impacts the outcome. Listen in as you find out how little things affect the big things.

[2:50] You might be surprised to learn that Heather has recently become a dog lover.

[5:13] Heather believes that many companies are not breaking down silos and working together. Innovation hasn’t been ingrained in the culture. This causes them to miss the boat on innovation. Tamara adds that the innovation efforts ebbs and flows. Innovation needs to be spread across the board and consistent.

[8:45] Heather worked for Hyundai for almost a decade. Heather and her team started with little things that they could apply to the concept of improving the cars. They began taking field trips to watch for ways they could improve the car's functionality.

[12:16] What were some of the keys in getting the initial buy-in? How did the baby steps turn into the creation of the innovation team? Get introduced to the term “assertive grace.” Tamara reminds listeners that those baby steps are important and we need to eat the cake a bite at a time, instead of trying to eat the cake all in one sitting.

[16:26] Why were the baby steps necessary? What important lessons were learned in these small steps?

[18:17] Heather talks about how Hyundai broke down the silos and how they developed a core team and an extended team. The core team branded strategy and advanced planning. The extended team was comprised from the thinkers that have the passion to innovate. This included people from finance, service, sales development, and other areas of the company. She talks about how the off-site location in New Port Beach motivated people to be involved in innovation.

[22:45] Tamara points out that getting people out of the offices to think differently can be a positive thing. But, she struggles with innovation happening off-site because it separates the team of innovators. Heather discusses the challenges of working with the Korea team and the U.S. team. Someone always had the “home turf.”

[24:53] Heather breaks down the use of ethnographies versus focus groups. Tamara shares a story about working on a project to make cereal portable. They discuss that how people see themselves isn’t really always the reality of the situation.

[30:50] Heather talks about successful segmentation studies and algorithms. Tamara shares that long-term customer feedback is so important. Blending technology with the personal panel helps to get great feedback. We need to examine where the customer is headed and not just where they are right now.

[35:53] How do you get companies to think bigger? Heather likes to connect companies to other companies so that they can share success.

[38:11] Tamara reminds listeners to think about what other industries and businesses can you tap into that have a similarity to yours? Make a list and start connecting with these people.

[39:10] How can I identify who I should connect with?

[41:19] Connect with Heather on LinkedIn.

[42:03] Heather’s last piece of advice is to not worry about structure, approval, and budget at the beginning. Do little home-grown ideas that you can bring to the process.

Tamara adds that the small steps are OK. Innovators often get frustrated because they tend to try to sell the whole cake at first.

[45:49] Tamara challenges listeners to go out and find a person that shares a similar challenge. Reach out to learn from each other.

Mentioned In This Episode:

The Luxury Marketing Council