An advocate of human-centered design and agent of change, Jinder Kang, Innovation Consultancy Lead at Netguru, shares how to drive innovation through impact and utility.
With more than a decade of consulting with businesses to drive innovation through products, services, and business strategy, Jinder has discovered ways and frameworks to successfully build and test ideas that bring change. He calls himself a problem solver who relentlessly seeks ways to learn and improve. What can you learn from him?
In the Everyday Innovation miniseries, we discover inspirations and insights from global innovators who shape how we live and do things today. True innovation doesn’t happen as an overnight breakthrough — it’s an ongoing process of constant trial and error done by teams and organizations who strive to solve real human problems. Jinder is one of the people who push those ideas forward, making things possible.
🤔 How do you choose one idea out of one hundred?
If possible, I would test them all in the roughest form possible. But I’m looking for impact and utility throughout. Realistically, you would create a number of initial criteria to measure them against, to prioritize which to further develop.
💬 How do you convince decision-makers to back innovative ideas?
A number of approaches can be used depending on the context within which you find the story. Paint the picture by telling the story, or what I like to call “show and tell”. This is where I look to utilize rough prototypes (often paper) and run some quick experiments (e.g. Concierge/Wizard of Oz) and gather real insights from real users.
If I’m talking to the CFO, I would include the financial benefits of the idea, and if I am talking to sales associates, I would paint the picture of the impact this will have on them — Will it empower them to do their tasks? Will it remove a burden?
It’s important to understand who your audience is and how you consequently adjust that story.
Add some real evidence where you can — it needs substance, not just the style.
💼 One thing you’d change about your work
I love to work for organisations with long-term mentalities. From both the organization and client perspectives. I know we have a team that can create impactful change, but in order to do that we need the space to discover and design the instruments of change.
💁🏼 One personality trait that helps you at your daily job
I’m an optimist. It helps me to not only drive myself, but also my team.
💪🏼 What drives you at work?
Well, apart from the idea of impact, I would say my team and knowing that every day you can impact their lives, as they can impact mine.
💭 Your dream profession when you were 20
Professional athlete. I was actually semi-professional at 20, but a year later had to stop because of injuries. Through the arrogance of youth, I had no plan B at that point.
🧗🏻♀️ The biggest milestone in your career path
I suppose when I was trying to be an athlete, I worked in bars which was one of the only jobs available that allowed me to pick a schedule. Two things happened then. I became less introverted and less afraid to share my ideas, and I started to learn how to develop a business. How to create a service and experience that people would want to be part of. It was my first experience in service design and we ended up opening up and consulting at a number of venues all around the world. It also made me realize I wanted to live in and experience more countries and cultures.
🏅 The biggest accomplishment in your career path
It’s down to how you measure an accomplishment. There’s a couple I can’t talk about but the one I’m the most proud of wasn’t one that had a happy outcome. It is also the most frustrating part of my career. I was working on a project to bring education to agrarian societies.
And would have worked for millions if certain funding wasn’t pulled without reason.
The work we put in during our discovery, the insights we gathered, and the solutions we designed, helped to make elements of education accessible to a large number of children.
💡 Biggest source of daily inspiration
The conversations I have with people. I’m driven by impact and utility, and there is no better source for identifying the challenges people face than by talking with them and observing the world around you. I love differing perspectives and viewpoints.
The fact that I work with a team that not only thinks differently to one another, but are open to challenges, is a true inspiration!
📚 Books that inspire you
The majority of my favorite books are definitely fiction, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have an impact on you and how you approach your work. The books I read over and over again are:
- "The Stranger" by Albert Camus
- "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde
- "Incompetence" by Rob Grant
- "Anything" by Bill Bryson
For my non-fiction list I would say the books that really made me think and impacted how I approach my work are:
- "Change by Design" by Tim Brown
- "Thinking Fast & Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
- "Creativity Inc." by Ed Catmull
- "Innovation & Entrepreneurship" by Peter Drucker
- "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen
🗞 Blogs and magazines you follow
- HBR — a great source for frameworks, trends, engaging insights, and contrarian views
- OpenIdeo — not really a blog or magazine but has some great resources and thought pieces
- Design Council (UK)
- CB Insights
🎙 Podcasts you listen to
- After Hours (from HBR presents)
- IdeaCast (HBR)
Not necessarily directly related to work but I find inspiring in one form or another:
- WTF with Marc Maron
- The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts (on repeat)
- Reply All
- Jim Jefferies
🎬 Movies that inspire you
- Hotel Rwanda — having spent a large amount of time researching in Africa, this film made a lasting impression
- The Darjeeling Limited — I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan & every time I watch this film I’m inspired to travel and embed myself within a new culture (but this isn’t my favorite movie from Wes Anderson)
- Big Fish — I can’t even explain why, perhaps the fact that it’s all about storytelling
Want to be a part of the Everyday Innovation series? Shoot me an email at: email@example.com.
Discover insights from other inspiring innovation leaders:
- Everyday Innovation #2 – Luck Can Help Great Ideas. What Else Can? with Pawel Stezycki from Netguru
- Everyday Innovation #3 - Tech Capabilities and Knowledge of Business Drivers with Jessica Constantinidis from ServiceNow
- Everyday Innovation #4 – Fostering Collaboration and Open Dialogue with Åse Marthinsen from DNB
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