Ep 009 | Integrating Innovation into Strategy Frameworks


Integrating Innovation into Strategy Frameworks

NOVEMBER 8, 2023

About this episode

What role does the less conventional career path play in igniting innovation? And how does Innovation contribute to enhancing operational-level strategy execution? 

In this episode, Alanna Hughes, Head of Innovation at Per Scholas, shares insights from her remarkable career journey that spans international development and consulting, culminating in leadership positions in the nonprofit sector.

Alanna discusses the valuable skills and experiences that have enabled her to drive innovation, underscoring the importance of embracing various learning approaches, experimenting, and strategically designing and implementing initiatives.

Key points covered in this episode include:

  • The significance of adopting an experimental mindset and drawing lessons from unique experiences to foster personal and organizational growth throughout the innovation process
  • The exploration of intrapreneurship as a catalyst for change, with a focus on developing skills like emotional intelligence, building relationships, and strategically designing and executing initiatives within organizations to drive innovation
  • How a diverse career path can ultimately lead to roles in innovation and leadership

Guest Intros

Strategy Gap Podcast Guest | Alanna Hughes, Head of Innovation at Per Scholas

Alanna Hughes

Head of Innovation at Per Scholas

Stay connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news and episodes. 

Transcript πŸ“

Jonathan Morgan  [00:00:05]: 

Welcome back, everybody to another episode of the strategy gap. Another exciting conversation in store today. Joining us is Alanna Hughes. Alanna is currently the vice president of innovation at Per Scholas and has an extensive career across roles in both strategy and innovation. She actually began her career leading economic development programs in the Peace Corps, as launched social enterprises in the Dominican Republic, and has also spent time consulting at Deloitte. She has received her MBA from MIT Sloan School of Business and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. So Alanna, welcome to the show.

Alanna Hughes  [00:00:38]: 

Thanks so much for having me.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:00:41]: 

Perfect. Well, I know we'll dive into a lot of different aspects of your background throughout the conversation today. But certainly, one thing that I found really unique about your background is the time that you spent before traditional strategy and actually more of the economic development and social enterprise space. So, to kick things off, do you mind sharing a little bit more about your time in those roles and kind of how that maybe shaped your career for the future?

Alanna Hughes  [00:01:03]: 

Sure. So, I started out in the field of international development, specifically focusing on economic development and income generation in impoverished communities. what set me on that path was I studied international relations and international development and undergrad and really wanted to get some hands on experience. Early on in my career. I started out in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic as a community economic development volunteer. And that essentially meant that I was consulting small businesses. So, I started working with cocoa farmers as part of a community tourism project to help them show how cocoa was commercialized on a Fairtrade market, and how women made artisanal projects from cocoa in the community, helping them with small business skills. I also worked with different youth groups as well. And so, a lot of that was helping startup businesses as well as helping businesses grow and function properly. From there, I had an opportunity both to come back to the US to work for a nonprofit called Ashoka that focuses on social entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas throughout the globe. And shortly after that, I got to actually know one of the social entrepreneurs who is launching a branch of his organization in Dominican Republic and in Haiti and had the opportunity to go and be the founding Country Director for two organizations called Community Empowerment solutions and social entrepreneur core and those were very much focused on helping again start women start small businesses in their communities through the lens of selling we called Social Impact products, solar panels, water filters, eyeglasses, and really helping them go out and be able to market these products or impact and be able to keep the income to help their families prosper. The other part was actually running what we call the mini Peace Corps. It was a college internship for individuals who wanted to come down on and live in the field and consultant community development projects. And through this work, I think it shaped my career and so many different ways. One is very early on, I had to think strategically because there really wasn't any. I mean, there were there were some, I did receive some guidance and in training through Peace Corps, and also advising from my mentor and boss, the social entrepreneur. But that said, there wasn't a really tactical playbook for how to do a lot of this work. So, a lot of it was identifying what was the job to be done, what was what were the outcomes we wanted to achieve, and then essentially piloting different strategies to get a sense of what would work. It also connected me very closely to the operational lens because I had to be a thinker in partnership with community, but I also had to be a doer and executing all the pieces to be able to try to achieve the outcomes we wanted to achieve. And then I think the last lesson I want to highlight and potentially the most important is I wasn't doing this in a vacuum, it was very much in partnership and led by community members and other individuals with whom I was working. And so how can you identify who are the right stakeholders that can enable you to have impact? How can you listen to their ideas? How can you bring groups to consensus? What do you do when you when you don't agree on a strategy? And also, in particular, in these cases, what are the cultural implications of the environment which are operating and how you might be successful. So, all of this really shaped my path forward and helped me immensely when I was in more of the quote unquote, traditional management consulting rolled in us at Deloitte and also here at our school of so my current role, I continue with a lot of those practices and an organization that is now 500 individuals serving multiple communities throughout the US has grown immensely and is very culturally diverse as well.

Joe Krause  [00:04:45]: 

Excellent, I appreciate you highlighting that because it ultimately, we interview a lot of folks on the podcast that go about it two different ways. Typically, when I see it, strategy, execution, strategy, innovation, you name it, either they start at the big firm, and then they do that for a few years. And then they go into public service, or they do what you did, which is a little less common than we see, this is why it's so interesting to talk to you. You were in the public sphere, and then you did a summer standard as well as work for Deloitte full time. In hindsight, do you feel that the like the, because you always hear about the Big Three having such amazing training and ability to really get you ready to go to really help solve big problems? If you could do it over again? Would it be an inverted thing where that would have helped you be better at what you did when you came out of college? Or would you think the way that you did it was perfectly situated? I'm always curious about which way which angle is best? What is your opinion on that?

Alanna Hughes  [00:05:36]: 

I have strong opinions, I guess the first one is, I don't think there's any particularly right way to do it. So, I'm not knocking anybody who does it the opposite way that said, I wouldn't change my path in a heartbeat. I think for me, it was really great to be able to get the foundation in the field first, to be able to start with more of a social impact lens to then go back and with the gaps identified in my skills and knowledge, be able to hone those with my experience in consulting. So, I'm a big advocate for just the value of the skills and experience you can get in the social sector and how that can also then translate to the private sector. And it isn't just the reverse, where if you spend time in the private sector early on, you can also then apply those skills to the social sector. So, for me, I think it really pushed me out of my comfort zone, forced me to learn by doing force me to seek out trainings and be proactive and also asking for help in ways that that I think really shaped how I can tackle ambiguity now within my career, be able to manage up be able to ask for resources, be able to consider multiple perspectives. So again, I wouldn't change it. I'm a big advocate for those earlier on in their career, also spending time both in the social sector and time abroad as well, if you're interested.

Joe Krause  [00:06:50]: 

I think Jonathan would agree that we definitely noticed that the best executors typically are the folks that are coming from an organization that has a very distinct mission. And especially if you're on the field, helping people directly, you're probably in a position where you've been able to execute more than you've ever expected with limited resources, clarity, all the things you mentioned. That's why it's really interesting, you say that some folks think they need to have, I need to get the tool set first, and then I'll go change the world versus let's go out there and just try to see what we can learn. I do think that your opinion is a good one. And we're not casting aspersions on anybody that didn't go that route. I went the opposite route in terms of starting with big industry first. And I'm always curious to hear the other perspective and all those experiences that you mentioned, I'm sure there's plenty of ambiguity and you were able to find your way through it, which is fantastic.

Alanna Hughes  [00:07:37]: 

Yeah, I guess one other thing I would quickly add to that, too, is I think early on my career, I had a lot of autonomy that then forced me to step up from a leadership capacity and then going into consulting a little later on where there is more of a hierarchy and structure was something to adapt to, but also made me realize just how earlier on I had honed some those leadership skills by necessity, that that helped me when I was more in structure environment. That's a probably the only thing I would say about that would be in favor of joining consulting earlier on is you do build a lot of those core consulting skills and product development. So, if you think about like creating slides, creating a sales lead Excel models, like that's the type of stuff that I needed to play catch up with a bit because I wasn't doing about as much of that in the field. And so, I'm very grateful for that training later on, because it helps me day to day to now in my work, where I merged those traditional skills with the skills that I learned in the field. But I am really grateful that I had a little bit more of that autonomy and leadership ability earlier in my career, to be able to make decisions on my own and in consultation with the community and really be able to step into more of a leadership role.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:08:44]:

Yeah, absolutely. I think you could definitely hear that coming through. When you talked about your background, and how that's shaped your future career. I'd certainly mentioned a couple of different lessons. And I think one particular I want to dig into is, you talked about the topic of kind of innovation. And I think a lot of people when they hear innovation, they think, Oh, we're going to develop the next iPhone, or it's just like a new idea or something crazy. But I know from our previous conversations, for you, it's much more of a process and like a different way to do strategy. So, I certainly don't want to steal your world, your words and make up kind of my version of that. But I'd love to hear from you. How do you think about innovation? And what does that meant throughout your career?

Alanna Hughes  [00:09:20]: 

Yeah, I think about innovation in several ways. One thing I often go back to, and again, this is where the consulting training comes in is this framework called the Envision matrix. And it's thinking about it from whether it's something that's a core improvement, in my mind, at least as it applies to the personal work that we do, whether we're making incremental improvements on work that we're pursuing, whether it's more adjacent are Is there something out there in a broader market that we want to bring to the organization and pilot and grow? Or is it something that's truly transformational that the market hasn't seen, and we haven't done, and we want to do so I often apply that framework when I'm thinking about what it is that we're trying to do. That said, from an innovation standpoint, at least the approach we're taking per school is that is very much in alignment with the work that I did previously in international development is not saying that we're going to bite it all off at once. For innovation, we typically start small, we want to be able to identify what is the change that we want to see what is the outcome we want to achieve? And then what are ways that we can test and pilot to be able to gather learnings and feel quickly when something isn't working in a safer environment and do more of what is working to be able to learn and grow that to be able to reach more of an effective scale. And so, for us innovation is not let's just commit to a multimillion dollar project and invest all these resources in and just roll it out to the world. It's, again, how can we start with a much smaller budget under a much tighter timeframe and identify what it is that we need to learn to be able to gather that information to determine what our path forward is. So that's both a lot of the work that I do currently at preschool us as well as in particular, when I was working as a country director in the Dominican Republic, we started by piloting our what's called a micro consignment model, but that the business model I described in one region of the country and a couple of different communities. And then once it started working, we brought it to another region in the country. And then once I started working, there we are to another region, all the while adapting and learning from some of the parts that were less successful as much if not more than the parts that were successful.

Joe Krause  [00:11:26]: 

It's funny you mentioned this I was with a client yesterday in the in the government sector in Georgia, and they were talking through the concept of the least what I've seen in my career is that the plans that typically fail, are the ones that are too big, then because most folks think that a strategic plan could potentially just be a collection of all good ideas, and especially with innovation, there's probably no shortage of 20 3050 things that you could do. And I guess what have you been seeing? What have you seen be successful to whittle a list down that maybe 50 things long, and every one of them has merit? And everybody every one of those was brought up by somebody that you respect and trust and tell people No, do the tradeoff conversations and get it down to a manageable list? Because I see a lot of our clients have achieved and struggling with getting their plan down to a manageable level. What are your thoughts on that?

Alanna Hughes  [00:12:14]: 

Yeah, I mean, I think that's maybe where the more traditional strategy training has come in is quarter strategy is choosing what not to do as much as what to do and so that's something that we also really try to emphasize in the innovation work that we're doing currently. To be able to whittle down that list. A couple of tactics that we use will often apply or and by β€œwe” I mean this is some of the things that I've introduced in my role in innovation is applying criteria for evaluation to be able to first get a sense of how are we defining what our ideal outcomes would be? What are the things that we're measuring against and then be able to get a sense of what we think might be in alignment with our mission and vision with our budget opportunities and constraints. Have an alignment with some of the operational capabilities we already have versus what we'll need to add new, just to give a few examples to be able to run some ideas that we've identified through an initial filter to get a sense of how much in alignment with our core values and our operations strategy. And otherwise, it is to be able to launch something. So that's one piece that we I am one tool that we utilize. Other tools that we use, we often use logic models to be able to identify again, if we're going to pursue an idea what is the outcome that we want to achieve. And this is where some of my social entrepreneur, entrepreneurship training comes in the social entrepreneur boss that I mentioned earlier on, when he first taught me how to use a logic model, he always said, begin with the end in mind. So, we start actually, for those who are familiar with logic models, start with the right side of the model, and what is the outcome that you want to achieve? And then work backwards to understand what that means for what are some of the inputs, you might need resource wise? What are some activities that you want to pursue to be able to identify whether something might work? And what are the outputs you're looking to achieve from those activities. And so that's a tool that we continue to use in our work to be able to whittle down from, like possible ideas like what are the models we want to use and what seemed to be the most feasible models to test? And then also, within that testing framework, starting to identify what are some hypotheses we have for what might be a potential solution? How could we build a prototype around that solution? What would that prototype look like? And can we build it out? So those are just some tools that we can use to move from idea stage to what is something tangible that we can actually test? And through that process, we can often identify, Okay, well, this didn't filter through the criteria. So maybe we shouldn't pursue it. Or once we got into developing a prototype, that prototype might not be sound, or we don't know, the right questions to ask. So maybe this isn't the right opportunity to test. And that helps us hone in on some of the final things that we want to move forward with.

Joe Krause  [00:14:57]: 

You proposed two different methods there. And the first method definitely appeals to the rational side of my brain, right, making sure we do budget analysis and performance and those lovely things. But how do you take into account the irrational brand where that all sounds great, and it does work a lot of times, but somebody's very passionate, or somebody that has a certain level in the organization really wants it? It's having that that weird conversation. And maybe no, never or no, not right now, how have you done with what are the more the soft skills you've employed to work with the irrational aspect of planning?

Alanna Hughes  [00:15:29]: 

Yeah, soft skills. That's interesting. So, I think part of that is communication strength to be able to advocate for or against an idea. Part of it is also building, I don't want to say that I'm, like building a coalition against an idea. But on the other hand, being able to go to different stakeholders within the organization and get a pulse on what are their priorities, and what are some of their concerns and being will elevate it, not just through my own voice, but through the voices of others who have positional authority in the organization is another tactic that I would use. I mean, sometimes the reality also is that if you have a senior leader, or a funder, or a company who really wants to test an idea, and they have weight on your organization, then sometimes you do move forward with it. And if you do move forward with it, then I think that also then comes down to what is the scale you want to be able to test within so at the very least, then saying, Okay, well, maybe because of X reason, we do want to move forward with this and allocate some resources. But let's again, do this in a time bound and structured and smaller scale way. So, we can test the idea further, to be able to determine whether we can invest for the resources. But I guess going back to that soft skills question, initially, I think it does probably come down to communication, relationship, building, building trust, and utilizing relationships with others to be able to have support for a stance that you want to take and bring in their perspectives as well.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:16:58]: 

Yeah, this is all fantastic framework. And I think it's what many people would have would see within product development, whether it's a software or consumer product, but applying it actually to strategy. And certainly, you've had the career worth of lessons to get to where you are today. But maybe for somebody that's listening in and hearing this sort of process for the first time, what's something that they can implement near term, like as a first step to transform maybe that traditional strategic planning process to something that does incorporate some of the lessons and frameworks around innovation?

Alanna Hughes  [00:17:28]: 

Yeah. I think that one of the big pieces is to be able to identify to take a step back and identify like, what is the problem that you're actually solving and then a tactic around sort of like the five whys of like asking, like, why is that a problem? Okay, well, why do you think this thing why is it that thing and really being able to dig deeper as to like, what is the root of what you're looking at? I think sometimes where we can run up against a little bit of a challenge is when we leave with us Lucien first and say we really need x. Okay, well, why do we need x? Like, what is driving X? Like, what is the barrier that we're trying to overcome? How does this is more of a highway as opposed to a why, but like, how does this tie back to the outcomes that we want to achieve, and then dig in from there. So that's, that's probably a big piece of advice I'd start with is to be able to identify the problem to be solved first. And then when you are building out a solution, do build hypotheses around what you think might work and then potentially look at different solutions. So, this gets into the ideation stage, what are the different solutions you can utilize to tackle a problem. And then that's an opportunity to be able to test out a few different solutions or be able to identify what might be some of the pros and cons to different solutions before moving forward to test one if you're more constrained and want to start with one prototype to begin with.

Joe Krause  [00:18:48]:

Excellent. And I think the shifting gears ever so slightly, we're digging into your background a lot, because you have a lot of things that people either have one or the other. And you have also a very extensive, higher education, resume, that's blush, but obviously went back to grad school twice with a couple other things. And I guess a lot of our listeners, and people, especially at that middle part of their career are starting to think, is it time for me to go back and sharpen my knives? Or am I missing a skill set that maybe is limiting my ability to be effective? And that that crossroads hits at different parts in your career? Now that you're removed from that. How many times a week or a month or a year? Are you then reaching into your toolbox, so to speak, which includes all the tools that you've gotten from your MBA, undergrad? How often are you reaching in there? Or is it mainly you reaching into your work experience toolbox? What's that mix for you considering you have such a balance?

Alanna Hughes  [00:19:40]:

Yeah, it's definitely a combination. And I guess as a point of clarification, the two master's degrees I have was a dual degree program. So, I did it all at once. And I think that that was also very effective, because it was very integrated, and interdisciplinary and multisectoral, which is sort of the theme of my career. And so, when I think about my toolkit, I definitely draw off on my higher education. In addition to what I've learned on the job, I think, personally, I am the type of person who is more geared towards learning by doing. So, potentially, if I had to choose probably what I've learned in the workplace, outweighs what I learned in my degrees. And maybe it's more that, in my degrees, the classes that were more hands on. And action oriented were the ones where the lessons sunk in the most. And so that's why the MBA program and MIT was a particularly good fit for me, because it's very geared towards action learning and testing in a more entrepreneurial approach in building models, and not just pure case method. And so, I think a lot of what I learned and what I experienced through that more hands on approach, I was able to carry it with me and apply on a daily basis, especially now as I'm in this innovation and strategy space. With other degrees, Harvard Kennedy School, for example, Georgetown, my undergrad in international affairs at Georgetown, they were hands on in other ways. And additionally, because they have more of a public administration lens International Relations lens, I think it also really pushed me to understand again, cultural implications, historic implications, how to see things from other people's perspective, how to negotiate within different contexts. So those are all skills, I still very much use on the job. And I guess the last thing I'd say is in going back to my undergraduate degree is one experience that was really invaluable for me was my time studying abroad, I spent six months abroad, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I directly matriculated into a Brazilian University. And so even taking classes in a different language and a different culture, and one of my classes in particular is a little more hands on in the community. That also I think, really helped certain lessons and certain experiences sink in. And I still apply today as I'm working with so many different cultures, even in this in the US. We're a very diverse organization where we train diverse backgrounds for careers in tech and the staff that I work with come from a diversity of backgrounds racially, ethnically, geographically in the US professionally. So again, I think a lot of those lessons that I learned when I was in school still very much apply even referencing University. That's 15 years. I graduated 15 years ago, so a decade and a half out.

Joe Krause  [00:22:24]: 

Don't mind me as I've ever been for years. And I'll remind me, how dare you but ultimately, it sounds like it's not a necessity to potentially be successful. But the experience and the skill set you lay that not only helps you with your role and being more effective, but it also is just having good life experience, which makes you more well-rounded, gives you different perspectives to make you more effective, maybe indirectly, sometimes directly, but indirectly, but it seems to be a creative. So, if anybody is on that pathway, it's not necessarily out of necessity for most roles, but it won’t be hard it won't be it will not hurt you in the long time if you did that, because of all the experience that you've picked up along the way, I think that's a sage advice. Appreciate you.

Alanna Hughes  [00:23:02]: 

Yeah, no, my pleasure. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I firmly believe that higher education and elite higher education is that is under backup. I do not believe that higher education in elite education is that is the only pathway to success. And that aligns with a lot of the work that I do right now, I'm very grateful that it was my pathway. And I felt like I've obtained a lot of learnings and a lot of success through that pathway. I also think there are a lot of alternatives that also make a case for being able to learn within the workplace and being able to serve as an apprentice and in the workplace and being able to seek out mentors in the workplace or do more bootcamp style training, or, especially in today's market being ongoing credentialing, continuous learning, being able to, to learn more and continue to upskill, I think has certainly has a place and a value to so I think that's where it's interesting, reflect on all that I've obtained through more formal education, because I think that definitely can be a conduit to other opportunities. And because I've learned so much in the workplaces, where I've worked formally and informally, I believe that so many others can as well and given the right opportunities.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:24:17]: 

Yeah, and honestly, I feel like that's a good segue to one of the last questions I had is, it seems like outside of like your historical career, you do have a passion for this type of work, as well as co-founder at with innovate and some of the intrapreneurship type work, you want to speak a little bit to that and kind of what you're doing met with innovate?

Alanna Hughes  [00:24:34]: 

Yeah, sure. So, thank you for giving me this opportunity outside of my day job at preschool as leading innovation. I also partner with a former Deloitte colleague, as a co-founder of a venture called with innovate. And we're a learning and development venture that we focus where we focus on equipping social impact employees, in particular, those who are earlier on in their career with stronger innovation and introspection skills. And so, we focus on empowering these employees with tools and experiences to help them approach work with new mindsets that are focused more on what we consider an intrapreneurship skill set. So, building intuition, identifying like, with introspection, how you might approach a certain situation, being able to go through more of the innovation process to be able to test out an idea and learn from what you from what you've experimented with. So, what our strategy is, as we take this within part, which is focus more on learning more about yourself and your strengths and development areas, learning, reflecting more on your relationships within your organization, and the organizational processes and culture within your organization. How do you understand that in terms of the change that you want to affect to then identify what is the challenge that you want to solve? What are your policies around that, and then from an innovation perspective, how you might go through an innovation process to be able to pilot an idea, see if it's viable, and then be able to move it forward as a result. And so, this is something that we've had the privilege of bringing to a few nonprofits to date and in more individuals and are in the process of rolling out additional trainings, as well as some coaching for organization. So, it's really been exciting. It's, again, something that we do outside of our working hours, or not even working hours, I would say, but outside of our day jobs, because we feel so passionately about developing talent in the nonprofit space. And so, it's been a true privilege to be able to give back a bit based on opportunities and gaps that we saw earlier on in our career.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:26:36]: 

Yeah. It's very cool. And definitely, you know, heartfelt work that you're doing their mission based work that you're helping others with. One follow up question on that is most of the lessons that you feel like you're teaching people, is it very similar to the types of topics that we covered earlier in this collar? Is there a little bit different from your thinking about how do I train myself? Versus how do I then deploy this within an organization?

Alanna Hughes  [00:26:59]:

Yeah, I think it's similar. I think we didn't talk as much about like the impact of emotional intelligence, for example. But we're also thinking about how individuals understand again, their selves, how they handled some of them and see themselves in certain situations, how they might be able to identify how they might build relationships with others based on some of the skills and experiences they bring to the table. I think another piece within innovations we talked a little bit about constraints is, especially if you're earlier on in career, your career, it might be tough for you to identify where you have authority to be able to experiment where you might have opportunity. And so being able to create a little more of a sandbox for that as well as open up that dialogue with your manager and be able to have more of a transparent conversation about growth opportunities and be able to empower in that way that's something that is core to the work that we're doing. With innovate, it's I'd say something that we're also doing it for school lists as we build teams to tackle larger innovation projects, as well as internally, we're in the process of trying to launch an innovation accelerator where staff can come and pitch ideas and be able to bring them to fruition as a tactic to empower others with innovation skills, recognize that others have creative ideas, and what is a way? What are ways for them to tackle those ideas, and bring them to fruition again, within the boundaries of their current scope and ensuring that they're still delivering on their day to day work? So? So yeah, I'd say that a lot of what we touched upon earlier in my career, and what I currently do for school is certainly influences what we do with innovate. I guess the last thing I'd say is, it's interesting to bring our skills and experiences into it with innovate, because my colleague and I have had a lot of overlap. But we took different paths and Vegas to bring it back, she took a path where she started in consulting right after I would have right after undergrad, and then went into a nonprofit and Foundation, a nonprofit foundation, and then is now at a startup. So, she did do the more traditional to the less traditional, whereas I did more of the less traditional, traditional, and now back into the social sector. So, through each of those unique experiences, we were able to identify what did we really benefit from in those first five, eight years out of college, versus what we might have done differently? Because we came from different sides of the fence on that one.

Joe Krause  [00:29:20]: 

You couldn't have set this last question up perfectly because we always ask our guests that one question at the end. That's the same question so we can compare and contrast. And my question would be if you could speak to yourself, as you were just beginning your career in strategy, what advice would you have given yourself? Or what advice would you give yourself?

Alanna Hughes  [00:29:38]: 

Hmm, interesting. So, I guess I take, I'm gonna give two different pieces of advice. So, when I started my career in more formal strategy, which was coming out of business school and starting at Deloitte, probably giving myself permission to understand that we might not get the strategy right from the outset. And in some ways, maybe that's not okay. Because you're delivering to a client. On the other hand, that's part of the project process, as you're identifying what are the options they can pursue and guiding them towards aligning on what are the best options to move forward with, I think maybe I was harder on myself to feel as though we have to have everything wrapped to the outside. But that's part of the learning and the facilitation we do with the client to be able to land on what our final recommendations were. So I think what I'm trying to get at is it is part of this process, which is part of this innovation process, which is part of what I'm doing right now and what we did earlier on when I was in social enterprise, when I go back to my earlier career, I think advice that I would have given myself would have been probably similar and that I didn't have to have it all figured out. I think that that there was some feeling of pressure, especially knowing that I was working with individuals in different communities who were off the poverty line or below the poverty line. And it really made a difference to be able to generate income for their families to be able to pull themselves on a path of greater prosperity. That was certainly important. That said, I was 22 at the time and learning a lot as I went on. And so, I think knowing that I brought certain skills to the table, but also really being able to lean on the skills of experience and others and be able to collaborate with them was something that I learned. But I think I needed to also maybe give myself a little bit of grace in that process to know that we are all in it together and we'd learn and grow together. And again, if certain things didn't work the first time, then we'd pick ourselves back up and try again and try a new angle to it until we got certain models to be able to work. So just maybe having more wherewithal around that would have been helpful.

Jonathan Morgan  [00:31:52]:

Perfect, definitely great advice. And I know our listeners very much will have enjoyed listening to everything you've talked about today. And hopefully we'll be integrating different examples of innovation into their workplace sometime soon. So Alanna, we very much appreciate your time and look forward to talking in the future.

Alanna Hughes  [00:32:07]: 

Great, thank you both. This was fun being on. Appreciate the time.

Subscribe to The Strategy Gap