Taking an inclusive, people-oriented approach combined with a dedication to continuous improvement helped John Saunders grow a modest size business unit into one that made $4 billion a year. John is a former financial services executive and the author of The Optimizer: Building and Leading a Team of Serial Innovators. In this conversation, he talks about the roles that customer focus and learning plays in innovation, why trust is an indispensable ingredient for successful change and how empowerment accelerates buy-in for challenging the status quo.
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1:50 The purpose of optimization
6:36 How customer focus contributes to innovation
10:22 The key people-related ingredients to optimization
13:31 John's optimization journey to develop a multi-billion dollar business
19:27 The role learning plays in optimization
20:50 How leaders can create an environment for learning and innovation
24:05 Why adopting a mindset that craves feedback is so important
28:20 Unmet wellbeing needs in workplaces
What “working with humans” means to John
“…it's about treating people like humans. And it sounds so simple to say. But so often, we all have these busy schedules are all running around. And we can be a little short with people when we interact. And just remember, there's a person on the other side of that conversation that has a family that has their own issues that has all these other things going on. Let's take that moment to pause and say, what's going on here, let's connect here for a minute. So you have that moment to sort of pause and reset, because we have to meet people fresh in where they are to make that connection to build that trust. Because when those things happen, that's when you can drive and execute on innovation. And it's so important. And if we don't take that human element, it makes those things very difficult to drive in and create the change in growth.”