Corporations often focus on returns and results, making it difficult to foster a culture focused on new ideas and long-term wins. To innovate, it’s important to create a culture amongst employees where the staff is encouraged to generate and develop ideas. Understanding where and how you innovative will give much-needed rigor to your innovation framework and strategy
In this video, Bill shares his perspective on how to create a successful innovation program.
[Kacie Lett] Bill and I met two years ago now; Robert was there. It was at that collision conference down in New Orleans. Bill told me, told the crowd actually, so for all of you biz dev folks, here’s a little in. That he hated getting e-mails because they were boring. So Robert and I crafted a really creative, I think it was like a haiku or something about a carrier pigeon. And sure enough, that was the start of what’s been a very funny friendship.
[Bill Maynard] But it worked.
Kacie Lett] It did, he responded immediately so there you go.
[Bill Maynard] I don’t generally check emails so.
[Kacie Lett] That’s what it was. So without further ado, Bill Maynard is the Senior Director, Global Senior Director of Innovation & Enterprise Architecture of Coca-Cola. I think that there are three of my favorite buzzwords innovation, enterprise, and architecture in there. So maybe we can decipher what that actually means in your world. Been at Coke now for seven years. I know you’ve held similar roles but of varying focuses and, from what I know is they’ve always been that intersection of what’s new and different and technology. And so I would love to hear a little bit about what you do. Let’s just start there. Let’s put titles aside and hear about what that means.
[Bill Maynard] Yeah I think you have to start with being innovative by saying, if you’re going to have innovation in your title, you’re not doing it right. So having innovation in my title is something I’ve been trying to work out of right, it just doesn’t make any sense to have it. So what I do and part of the role of architecture is, the real simple version is we build stuff. We build things. We take what our company’s global strategies are. What we’re trying to do at Coca-Cola right now is really about the growth strategy. We aren’t exactly known for being a growth company for the last twenty years. So we’re working on changing that so we’ve enabled these strategies. My team what we do is we build technology programs. So at the end of the day we look at business strategy and try to determine where we have gaps in our technology, and where we have an opportunity to do things that are a little bit better, a little bit different. Hopefully great right. We always aim for great. But sometimes I’ll settle for less. But you know at the end of the day, we’re building a technology roadmap. We’re looking at that roadmap and trying to decide how best we can fit, how best we can enable the strategies of our company. And that’s, sometimes that’s technology, sometimes that’s process. Sometimes that’s a lot of different things. And so you know social engineering and the aspects of what we did right. I don’t code as much as I used to, but at the end of the day, I spend a lot of time around people who are trying get things done. And it’s really about showing them and take a step back, figure out where these things fit in our stack and figure out how to move that forward. It’s all about moving the ball so.
We build stuff. At the end of the day, we build stuff. And we try to be innovative, we try to be innovative and we try to be innovative in a lot of ways. But also when there are things that are, you know big bets. We take shots at big bets. But when there things that are kind of you know, I’ll say SAP/ERP stuff. I know we’re being recorded I’m going to get killed me for saying that.
[Kacie Lett] Sorry PR.
[Bill Maynard] Sorry about that SAP. But yeah in those spaces, you can’t really innovate as much. You can be innovative in ways, you can move to the cloud. You can try to enable things a little bit lighter. But, ultimately we’re looking at place where we can really have a clear path. To do that we have to know where everybody fits.
[Kacie Let] Yeah we’ll get into that a little bit more, but any time that we have these sessions, we always do a little bit of a pre-interview kind of, figure out what I can’t ask you about.
[Bill Maynard] Was there anything I said you can’t talk about?
[Kacie Lett] No you said nothing is off limits, so as everybody is thinking of your own questions, know that. So we talked a lot about that around how, around placing those bids that surround how executives might get excited and, we talked a lot about toys and we’ll get into that a little bit later. I think it will be hopeful and talking about stepping back to just say, how do you define innovation? And that doesn’t necessarily always have to be through the lenses of how Coca-Cola defines it. But you and your world, how do you define it?
[Bill Maynard] You know I will honestly tell you I think that there is, again putting a label on it to talk about you know innovation is being disruptive, innovation is whatever. I don’t think it’s any of that. I’ll be honest, I think my definition changes probably daily, to me it’s, to be innovative is just to have like literally no fear, right? You take chances and have no fear of what you’re trying to accomplish. If That means building something that, if that means buying something. You know I look to be disruptive, and I look to things that other people, it’s not necessarily like I try to do something nobody else has done, right? You know I’m not going to buy new balance and turn into Steve Jobs and have the turtleneck, all that stuff; T-Shirt will probably be enough. But I’m really trying to find, for me, I’m just really trying to find the best opportunity to do something well, and do something different right. And when you work in a corporation there are so many constraints on what you’re trying to do, right? It could be money, it could be resources, a million different things. So for me trying to be innovative is really just trying to think a little bit differently and sort of break the mold? If the answer is “because we’ve always done this way”, I’m generally not going to do it that way. So it’s you know, “no one is doing that”, oh no not today, we’re going to try something different. So it’s me being innovative is just you know, having absolutely no fear trying something different. If that means I fail, well what that’s okay too.
[Kacie Lett] Yeah we can get in a little bit around, on the failure piece of it. Because I think that you know, you’ve had some successes that makes the fear of failure little bit better than to tolerate there. But I think a lot of times what happens is the folks in this role, they are new to it. Maybe new to the role or to the organization. And organizations and corporations are not necessarily known for being you know flexible and limber and forgiving many times. And so I would be curious to know from your perspective how did you, I think for you as an individual, “I know you, so you”, I think that’s part of how you’re wired, and probably what you were tasked with to come in with this. How do you let your team know? How do you let the people around you? How do you say hey team, procurement, legal, like hey guys we can do this, in a way that can be fearless?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah so that, I guess that comes to the social engineering part. Like you know our team works very differently than if you’ve been around enterprise architecture teams they are typically guys that are about my age, you know 27. And you know its very process governance driven. It’s all of those things kind of wired in, like you know it’s all about here’s the process, here’s a rubber stamp of how you get approved. Our team is just not built that way. We’re not organized that way and we don’t act that way. We’re different, right. And you’ve met a lot of people on my team. I like to think that we’re just really really smart team. I also happen to think that I’m lucky to be the dumbest guy on the team right, and just surrounded by all these incredibly smart people, that are very creative and think really differently. So a lot of times what we have to do is incubate an idea. And we do it a little bit internally right. So if we want to get something out there, I don’t like to go work with a half-baked idea. I like to go with here’s what we have and here’s how we can get works, and here’s the place. So our team generally spends a lot of time sort of incubating things, thinking about how we bring things forward, then the social engineering part starts, where you go to, you know procurement is my favorite example, I”m going to use it forever. You go procurement, you go legal, you go to you know the right executives, you got to find the right senior leadership to make sure that they get it, make sure they understand it’s not a, it’s no science project right. You can do things in a vacuum they can come out as a science project just doesn’t connect. We try to connect and we try to connect with the people that matters to you. And explain it to them, and it’s not about you know, again an enterprise architecture. If you’re into it, you hear a lot things about TOGAF, this architecture, and swarm architecture. Nobody understands that but us. Nobody understands that enterprise architecture, and other architects. Most of the time we’re not writing the check. So we try to translate things in a language that people understand. And we try to bring it back to the business. Then we bring the other groups in and make sure everybody is behind it. So you can move forward because if I had a great idea and I keep it with me, it’s just a great idea. You know for me it probably runs out of my head 15 minutes after I have it. And it makes it that much harder to get things done. I have a whole team of people who understand it and buy in. And that means, not just my team but all the other teams. It’s a lot easier to carry that load.
[Kacie Lett] Yeah there’s a couple of things that you said there that I think are interesting. So one, you’re executive sponsorship, or whoever, the business sponsorship, getting the right people involved. I find that sometimes folks, that sit in this role of innovation, or moving generating ideas. They go to the top. But they forget to have a lot of empathy for that, that mid-level people that have to buy in that. It might be changing their world, their day to day, and to your point making it relevant to them, making it relatable and ownable. And that this is a part of the, you know they can be a part of the solution. I think that’s where a culture of innovation. I think that’s where there’s a realizing a gap in what’s happening. And um, I think that you know, having empathy for people for people that you’re trying to sell this into or get bought in, realizing how it could disrupt your world. Maybe that is, there is some fear behind it. I think that’s an interesting piece that we don’t hear about a lot.
[Bill Maynard] You know if everybody has ownership of a great idea, whatever that idea is, if everybody has great ownership on that idea you know, everybody knows it right. So if it’s just one guy pounding his chest and talking about how cool thing is, it just doesn’t work right. You get, again and a company the size of Coke, you get things enabled because people are excited about it. And if it means, you know if it means us changing some of the stuff that they do, if it’s doing it in a positive light and you’re bringing them into the conversation early. Again a fully vetted idea, bring people into the conversation, show them what’s out there. You’re gonna get, you’re gonna win them over right. Ultimately, at like Coca-Cola, I’ve been there like seven years now. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked at a company in my life because I have massive A.D.D. 15 minutes into working someplace and I’m like alright what’s next. But I’ve been with them for seven years, and you know part of that success that we’ve had is you know, we tried to do things when we got there the first year. When I first walked in the door I had all the answers. I was pretty sure I had it all. It’s like being seventeen, but you know everything but you have no clue what’s going on. I knew it all and when I got there I was pounding ideas forward. And I just wasn’t getting anywhere. I started getting places when, a friend of mine told me a long time ago, I know you’re a smart guy, make everybody else around you smart. And that way everybody gets a win, right? Great ideas, make it everybody’s idea. Great stuff, you know great way to collaborate with people, make it everybody’s. Make it community right. IT is a community and when you bring your colleagues into a conversation you’re going to win. Did I answer that question or did I just completely go?
[Kacie Lett] You did, you did. I’m gonna turn to the audience. You know this kind of speaker series we really try to make it a dialogue that this is really for you all to get out of it what you hoped as well. So I got a lot of questions here, but there are any as we’re going through this whether it’s on that point or others I, you know please raise a hand and we’re happy to hear from everyone here.
[Male] Could you explain maybe say a real example instead of talking in theory, any of those, any examples that you work at, a product, something that you brought to life.
[Bill Maynard] Oh yeah so let’s talk about, so we have a program called The Bridge at Coca-Cola. I would say it’s an incubator start-up, but it’s a little bit different than that. It’s a little bit better, in my opinion, better than an incubator start-up. Of course, I would say it’s better. My former colleague Allan Dame she created this idea and brought it to the enterprise architecture team. And here’s a great way to do this, work with another colleague of mine, Anthony Newstead and if you don’t know Anthony, you’ll meet him eventually cause he’s everywhere. This was an idea not just to bring an incubator, but to bring something to the company that did a couple of things. Give us an opportunity to bring and show true innovative ideas and small companies into Coca-Cola. Not just okay we’re gonna look at 10 start-ups a year, and wow how cool is that. We’re really investing in them, we also gonna take in the stake in them. What we’re gonna do is bring this really good talented base of people into our business problems, and select them based on that. So the idea was we’re going to bring this concept into the company, we’re gonna light it up and just make it work.
How does that work? To answer your question how did that happen? Start with the idea, bring the idea forward to a very senior leader Ed Steinke, he’s our former CIO, we got his involvement in it. We got a bunch of business leaders involved in it. We bring this program in. We selected 10 start-ups that can help us solve some business problems. And then we just opened the world of Coca-Cola up to these start-ups and let them go off and run and do pilots, and do what they need to do. You know how did it start becoming successful, and it’s like its fifth year now. It started becoming successful because we, you know the first time we brought them in we didn’t quite understand what happens when you bring a start-up to a company like Coca-Cola. And generally what happens is that we beat it to death with just tons and tons of paperwork. So the learning process and how we got better with this, is you know we enable this great idea. We engage a bunch of people, we forgot to engage procurement. We forgot to engage legal, we forgot to engage risk management. And you know when you give a system of 700,000 employees an opportunity to look at start-ups, we didn’t actually give them the tools in order to enable the start-ups. So year two right, so we did pretty well the first year. We brought all in and everything worked really well. It was hard to get things into the process but we, in the second year we started you know, again you wire procurement, you wire these guys understanding that means smarter MSAs and things like that to bring it on. And yeah we’re in the fifth year being very successful with that program. Now it’s run directly at our CIO’s office right now, a guy name Barry Simpson. Who has a very strong vision about how you solve problems with these kinds of ideas. I think you know, my example of probably one of the best things that happened from the enterprise architecture team at Coke is that, right we had a lot of people who hear a lot of noise. People say you know they are there all the time right. Again it will be stricken, the next time you see me on LinkedIn it will be gone from my timeline I promise you. But the idea is you know people say all the time. People say innovate all the time. And you don’t really enable it till you start bringing things online. When you are successful with something like that, it’s changed our culture, which I think is really powerful. It’s changed the way we think about dealing with small companies. It’s changed some of the processes of procurement and legal. And we have this great effect that happens once a year, where people come and really see that we’re doing this and enabling and stuff. And they have a bunch of really great success stories too. There’s a cool website somewhere I’m sure, I’m sure there’s an actual URL somebody could give you, I just don’t know it. But there’s a lot of really great success stories. So that’s I guess maybe kind of our shining example, I think.
[Kacie Lett] Is that helpful?
[Kacie Lett] Great. Yeah.
[Male] Hello, Patrick Paris I’m actually the Bridge liaison for Suntrust. I actually wanted to ask since this our second year in the program, how do start-ups like The Bridge start-up or others fit into your enterprise architecture or innovation strategy?
[Bill Maynard] Did you pepper in these questions? I love those two questions. So I mentioned that we built these technology roadmaps, right so my direct responsibility, that I actually sit down and build is marketing. Which you can imagine is a million pieces in marketing at Coca-Cola. It’s a little bit of a thing when you look at it on a big sheet and see what it looks like. We build these technology roadmaps. We understand where everything is, and most importantly what we do is identify the gaps. So when we look at Bridge companies in the Atlanta Bridge, for example, it’s actually my favorite Bridge. The community is my favorite but, we kind of know where we’re planning, right? So in the marketing stack, I know what I need. It’s all been vetted against our business and vetted against our existing stack I know what I need, I know where I can take risks. And I know where I can, you know again, I know where I can sort of say, I can take a big bet here, or take a soft bet here. We laid it all out against the enterprise architecture. So the reference architecture, to me right, if you don’t have a reference architecture for you know every domain in your business, you’re missing, you’re missing stuff. Because you don’t know what you have and you don’t know what you need. You don’t know where to put those bets. So the enterprise architecture is responsible for all of it, these roadmaps and that tech stacks and the reference architecture around all a that. That’s how we identify all the gaps. That’s how we start picking companies. Makes it easier for us.
[Kacie Lett] That bought-in process is one that we talked a lot about, anecdotally again we’re sure a lot of folks in the audience get this. That new technology a new buzzword has become really exciting, if an executive watching you now, see this morning they heard that blockchain is the next thing. They’re coming to you, saying we gotta be blockchain, what are we doing. And that can become really a vicious cycle, and a productivity suck in many organizations to either figure out what is our perspective on it, or to say I don’t know should we be in it. And I think I audit process that you described, there’s a little bit of rigor and also boundary around that. So when you have you know maybe these new ideas introduced, not to say just to shut down no we don’t want to go do that. It’s also that here are the priorities that we’ve laid out as its worth to business objectives. And it becomes very difficult then for an executive or anyone else in the company to say “no don’t do that”. I mean there’s a lot of logic behind it. So I think you could expand a little bit around how you developed that process and the different parties that are involved.
[Bill Maynard] Yes, so I mean let’s start the idea of the reference architecture and why we find it as important. And again when I first got to Coke, we didn’t spend a lot of time on reference architecture because it’s such a big thing, you know there’s such a lot moving pieces, and we needed to fix things really quickly. You know Barry has a, again our CIO Barry sometimes has just a really strong vision of you know let’s know what we have. Let’s have a real reference architecture for every space. So you know when you start doing that, it enables you to do a couple things, right? We’re a really big company you know and I’m sure we spend a lot a money. Actually, I know we spend a lot a money. Again back to the video, can we get it? But at the end of the day, how do you take a reference architecture and start to manage things. So you look at our reference architecture, and you know our tech stack, we know our vendors. If we have duplication in places that’s actually money that’s going away to do that. That’s actually keeping us from being innovative. So we use those, the idea of picking those reference architectures up and knowing our gaps. And knowing where we have a solving. We have a big strategy, we have great strategy for content management. We have a great platform for that. And it’s in place we have a team around it, it works well. We have all of our brand sites on it. We don’t spend a lot of time there. We don’t have to cause it’s settled. But we don’t double that up we don’t have 14 different content management systems. We do that and that allows us to make money and shift to something a little bit more interesting. So that we can take risks and you know we start the reference architecture, you know that helps us build that roadmap, helps us understand where we’re at. And then that to me, I feel like those are the things that start to actually enable technology and enable us to be a little bit more innovative. Because we know, we know where we’re at, we know what we’re best at, and we know where we have gaps.
[Kacie Lett] Do you have the business coming to you or are you going to the business to identify opportunities?[Bill Maynard] So a little bit of both and you know, again there are some very creative people at Coca Cola. You know I get on it and I get to work with the marketing team. So there are some incredibly creative marketers at Coca Cola. You know but we have something incredibly creative supply chain people as well. So it works a little bit both ways, we got a lot of people coming to us. It’s, to me it’s gotten really, it’s gotten really really good in the last couple years with Barry. You know just as you know as he’s kind of shifted IT to be very, very focused on the delivery. You know a lot of the business people come to us with things that they have done, have already done a great job of vetting ideas. So I’m not having to spend eight weeks evaluating every technology, because you know they’ve done a lot of that work ahead of time. You know a lot of that solution architects are in demand. And they actually come to us almost in the last month. They know they have a gap they work with us up front to help identify the gap, and they go off and kind of find it. So you know it’s a good rhythm of back and forth. And I’ve seen this in other organizations where it can be kind of like you know another marketer brings another platform. But it just hasn’t been that way. Like in the last, really the last two or three years it’s got so focused on where we have gaps and what people know. That it’s really calm that noise down a lot and it got people working on a very focused method.
[Kacia Lett] Go ahead.
[Female] Hi Liz Randall from Turner. I’m curious about your innovation process, Is there a consensus among your organization like you had an idea of what happens? Or is it still, like how do you come to the organization for ideas that are not marketing or specific to your process.
[Bill Maynard] You know it’s organic, depends on which things right. But I’m in IT. We have a lot of ideas on IT we made with a lot of different start-ups and VCs. Where we just kind of curate ideas right. There are people that do that for us. They randomly curate ideas and say we’ve got this or this. You know it comes to the organization in a lot of different ways. Technical and R&D have their own method. They have a whole framework for how they do it. You know brand, the ventures and brands like they have a framework for how they do it as well. For IT, we have a framework for how we do it but again it all goes back to building into our digital framework for growth. And all the other areas that are actually doing the same thing right. So we use that that you know that, you’ve probably seen it online if you read anything about a company lately. But you know our digital strategy for growth that was led out of the enterprise architecture team. The development of that you know Michelle Routh actually lead that awhile back for us. To me that’s our map that’s that’s what we go with and the rest of organizations is following that as well. It bubbles up like it does at any company. There are channels that you get to. And then there are just, you find the right people and get the right idea.
[Kacia Lett] Talk a little bit about the growth. Growth strategy or framework that…
[Bill Maynard] Yes so I only know the story because it’s been told to me. I wasn’t actually in the room, but I’m told our CEO guy named James Quincy literally went to the board took a marker and drew out a little diagram for what he thought the growth strategy for the company looked like. And you know it’s CEO, brainstorming ideas and I’m sure he had a room full of people with him. But he whips this thing out on a board and it’s probably the most clear, you know most concise thing you’ve ever seen. And just these are the things that we need to do to enable growth in our company. That goes forward right so that starts to pull forward and they start identifying you know. I think they’re 15 key strategies for the company. Things like e-commerce marketing in a digital world you know, talent in an agile organization. You know there’s a few, again you can find it online. The ones that I sort of rally around are always about marketing and supply chain and talent, a company like ours, if you constantly bring in fresh talent that’s a really powerful thing. So it’s you know again this is what we’ve been marching to for about the last, I think it was about a year ago. Again it’s for a company this size to see us all get so refined on the things that we’re focused on, that it’s clearly, it’s brilliant, right? Clearly, James must be brilliant to whip it out on the board. And have all of everyone on board.
[Kacie Lett] We’ll keep that for the video clip for you.
[Bill Maynard] Thank you so much, thank you so much, perfect for me. For him to be able to just put that on a board, and brainstorm the idea, and for the company to just a few months later to start rallying around and really start driving ourselves to that. I think it speaks volumes for what’s happening in the company. It speaks volumes for how we’re, you know the company again, you think of a big, slow, old, company. And in the time that I’ve been there you see it start to turn, it’s getting faster, you know I’d say it’s even leaner we are starting to do things better. That framework to me just kind of just gave us the lift we needed
[Kacie Lett] Excellent. Go for it.
[Female] Assuming you’re really happy with what you’re doing. And you do it for another two and a half years.
[Bill Maynard] Just depends on what day I wake up.
[Female] What do you want to do next?
[Bill Maynard] Such a big question. I would love to retire. I think the rhythm guitar player job from Vann Halen is taken so I would probably. I honestly would work with one of the start-ups like directly. You know I’ve talked to a couple people I’m just you know, working at, working at a venture firm where I get the opportunity to be around a community of people that are that are constantly creating. So you know I wouldn’t go to label you know if it’s gonna be corporate, or if it’s gonna be consulting or whatever. But I really like for me, I just like working around that kind of community. I want to do things fast. I want to do things really quick. Again, I have a very short attention span so I’ve already forgotten your question.
[Female] I think that’s like a common thing for folks who are working on innovation in the corporate environment. That’s what they want to do next all the time so, we’re also like how do you keep folks like that in corporate, although you know that’s not what they really want to do.
[Bill Maynard] I think its okay to let them go right. Like how do you keep them, like don’t keep them. Let them go. I know more, I guarantee you I know a lot more about bringing a start-up, through a company that, I mean through a company process. I’m pretty sure I know more about it than the anybody and any venture firm ever. Like you know I’ve done it for seven years. It’s a process, it’s I would say, sometimes that process is different for every company. What better idea, and this is kind of what The Bridge is about too. Really what better idea to turn me loose into a start-up community and say okay here’s what you have to do. So don’t go to a corporation and freak out when they ask you for a ten million dollars insurance policy. Just tell them you can’t do it. And let’s figure out how to go rewrite that right. So it’s, I think let them go. Like, don’t try to keep them. Let them go. They’ll come back. Good people will always come back to a great brand. You know I love working at Coca-Cola. You know I literally was looking out my apartment window a little while back going, “hey, I work at that building!”. Which I think is very cool. Very Atlanta, very personal, to be in Atlanta and working for Coca-Cola. If you’re gonna be an IT guy in marketing and you live in Atlanta and you don’t work at Coca-Cola. I mean c’mon!
[Kacie Lett] No offense to everyone else here.
[Bill Maynard] I think it’s just you know let people go. Let them take those experiences bring them into that start-up community. And then let that start-up community you know, how do you keep great people working at startups? You don’t! Like don’t worry, if that start-up is a great startup their going to turn into a corporation eventually. Even Google is not as innovative as most people would think right. It’s a big company and they have a lot of process. So let them go, let them go, let them come back. Again this is a community right? It’s a community of people and we all think that way. We’re going to work out. It sounds a little Californian but…
[Kacie Lett] We did say this was part therapy so, got that, got that. I think I saw some other hands, yeah. Go ahead Zack
Zac: Hey I’m Zack. I got a long time ago to work on a project at Coca-Cola with marketers about improving the velocity with which information might move through some of these very big organizations. Are there things happening in your world, and sort of from your technology perspective about that very difficult social, personal, interpersonal network, that powers how Coke actually works? I think, the kind of key point that we remember from the project is there’s all this deep insights about how to solve the world’s problems, but they’re all just locked on somebody’s laptop. So only one deck on one lady’s laptop. How do you push that out into the company in a better way?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah so we have a couple, again so let’s start I keep saying framework. I probably said it 50 times. Yes, love those buzzwords. So we start with innovation, framework velocity. I think we’ve, I mean…
Kacia Lett: We’ve hit them all.
Bill Maynard: I mean we’ve got two more until we hit the magic Bingo. So we started this framework right that’s communicating in the entire company and that’s a great start right. We also built a collaboration site and so it’s being led out of the EA team right now. We built this big collaboration site. What happens is all our business units and bottlers go to the site, and we have these, take these 15 categories of strategy. Underneath those, we actually identify the use cases that we have to enable in order to make that strategy come true. So write your strategy and/or tactics and then what? So that’s what we’re, that’s what we’re at. So you’ve got people rallying around this digital framework community. And inside of that community, the people that are actually in the field right, which is what matters. If you’re in the field and you actually there and selling stuff right. You’ve been in the company you know what’s up. So when those people, the ones who are bubbling up, these are the use cases that we have to solve. And those used cases are directly connected back to the business strategy. And it’s being communicated across all the regions right. It’s 200 plus regions so we are more we have more members than the UN. And that you have to satisfy all of those people, giving them one central place to be able to do that digitally. Right now sending anybody an e-mail is again, who checks email? But not sending anybody an email, not putting anybody on slack, here’s a great place you can come and interact. And you can vote things up and down. That’s sort of making the communication, just it’s really helping everything get out there and get better.
[Kacie Lett] Think that’s a good point around the voting up and down and that there’s a mechanism for it. Met with a lot a companies that have tried to do something similar, building this community and it actually fatigues the internal folks. Because they feel like they’re taking the time and effort to share perspective, share their thoughts and nothing moves forward. And there’s no kind of, where did my idea go? And that it feels, it doesn’t feel authentic. It doesn’t feel like truly that anybody is looking to hear me. That really it was a P.R. play. And in many ways were an internal communications play that truly wasn’t of value. And so the voting mechanism maybe is your way to overcome that, so you can permeate the noise and get something to the top. And then there’s action around it. But that’s a bit of a cautionary tale I’ve heard from several large companies.
[Bill Maynard] Yeah I mean you know again, he mentioned the network right Zack. Yeah, so as you talk about the network of people, and that’s the thing I joked about a while back about Lyle, being the “I got a guy”. Again you know that’s, you really want to get it done. You talk to Lyle because Lyle’s got a guy! So we’re flattening that right. The organization is a lot flatter than it has been. You know in my time there we’re flattening that. We’re bringing kind of, bubbling things forward right. Before I joined Coke I worked at Deloitte Consulting, and one of the things that we always did, was when you finish a project you uploaded your materials. You uploaded them right to our knowledge website and you tagged it, you shared it with all your colleagues and everybody got to see your work. And it was a thing of pride really. Like you know I wanted as much stuff on that site as anybody. Because you know to me it was like I’m doing cool stuff up here. When I first got to Coke it was very much not like that. People kind of kept things in their box and you know that was, they knew that one part. But flattening the organization and really kind of making us about delivery. I just made a lot of that go away. It’s just, it’s so much easier now to collaborate with people and especially in IT. I’m actually co-located with a business right now. Which hasn’t always been true, hasn’t always been true but, I now, I sit right with my business products. And so every hall conversation that happens it’s right outside my office. So you know it’s kind of changing the D.N.A. of the organization. And changing the fabric of how we work. You start by locating with what seems like such an obvious choice right. Locate us with people we’re working with every day. Those conversations are so much easier. But giving people the right tools and the right incentive as you mentioned the right incentive to share.
[Kacie Lett] Yeah I think that incentives and then good system design there. So you know physically having you guys work together not it be over email, call or any of those things. And then the incentive to ship to delivery. I think that you know a lot of times legal, procurement, IT, those groups that are, are more regulation driven, they get a really bad rap. Some of it rightfully so. And then some of it maybe not. To stay you know if you’re charged with hey keep us out of the headlines, well okay well that’s what my metrics are based on. And that’s what I get a bonus on, and that’s what you know I make m boss happy with. Well yeah, I’m maybe, not going to move those ideas forward. We talked a lot about our concept around reengineering those organizations to say what if you incentivize them on how many opportunities they were able to get over the line. And yes, of course, that kind of table steaks that keeps us out of the news sure. But how can you then reengineer that. I think to your point about bringing people in early, transparency was something that has come up and being able to not necessarily have to own the idea. Think that that a lot of times in especially older companies and larger companies having all the, you feel there’s a perception of value if you are the linchpin in keeping something together. Whereas if everybody had visibility, that maybe there’s less about me as an individual. So I think that those are such cultural things to overcome. Some of its change management some of its culture of innovation. But it’s people at the end of the day.
[Bill Maynard] It is really and you know, you asked for a real example earlier, I’ll give you a not so cool real example. A couple, of maybe a year and a half ago, Barry asked enterprise architecture to be responsible for all of the contracts that came to his signing; the CIO has to sign every MSA and you know that’s just how it works. And you know a lot of people, we always take shots in IT. People always take shots in IT because IT is slow. In IT, we take shots at everybody because it’s legal and procurement’s fault right that’s why we’re slow. We’re fast, legal and procurement take forever. So Barry asked us to take over responsibility for the contracts that came to him. This was coming all, they were a million contracts to keep up with. As part of that process, I had to like start meeting with procurement people and legal people pretty much every day. So for the first really the first four months I’d taken over the contract process, it’s what I did every day. And I read every contract for the last year and a half at Coke and they are long and boring. Yeah it’s crazy but in the process of doing it right, the number of contracts that came through goes from you know a hundred every week to about five. And ultimately, he started reducing the amount of noise, that takes work off legal and procurement, that takes work off enterprise architecture, and that keeps people from spinning their wheels around right.
So the contract process I would have run from that my entire, in fact, I have run from that my entire career. Like you want me to do what? No thanks got to go. Done. But in doing that in learning what’s coming through the gate and learning how to do and really work like side by side with legal and procurement, you really start to understand how you can you know how you can do things faster to make things real. How you can communicate with people very easily rather than six thousand emails. I can never read an e-mail and I can really not read an email if it’s written by an attorney. So I, it’s just not something I’m very interested to do. But that process, you know I think sort of starts opening up the door for how IT works outside of IT. It’s been invaluable I think. It’s probably been, you know it’s changed the way I work specifically, and the way I understand how to bring new innovative things in the process. Rather just kind of ramming them in, which I’m pretty good at too. Again, understanding how things fit in our overall process. They just matter it makes it so much easier.
[Kacie Lett] Yeah I think that’s a great point. Other questions from the audience. Karen?
[Karen] So Quincy is starting to push open more of the accountability of innovation down into the business units? So how are you balancing the work you’re doing at a global level with the acceleration at the local level and need and desire they probably have to move forward with whatever they have locally.
[Bill Maynard] So yeah let’s talk about that. There’s a couple of mechanisms for that we standardize around strategic platforms for some things. I have an architectural principle that I sort of work by and that’s, you know the size of the company, we’re not one tier model. We don’t have a one tier architect for many things. It just doesn’t work, you can’t have a single standard for, you know consumer data for example. You’re probably gonna have to have a couple of standards. So I think what we do is we’ve pick kind of a multi-tier strategy. Things that we can from a technology perspective know that we can rally around and say that’s a standard, this is how we’re going to do this. This is going to makes us faster and better and all that stuff. Stick with that. Don’t veer from that path. And we have several of those that are big strategic platforms that we work on, and that’s you know you do those you do it well, and you able to be a lot faster. And then we have some others, right and the others are kind of you know like think globally act locally that kind of model. Where if it just works right for that market and we don’t already have something in that space, we let them go right.
Again you can’t be innovative if you were 3,000 miles away from where the innovation is supposed to happen. So how can I measure it and say no you can’t do that? We generally try to enable that letting go they’re really doing something great. You know again I would, I work in a big corporate office so what, it’s, I don’t get the opportunity to really connect things every day directly to a business problem. If they can do it, and they can bring that learning back to us and we can share up with 200 other markets that works really, really well for us. So you know being innovative is cool right. But being able to have a repeatable practice that works in 200 markets, is way cooler. So from a technology perspective if they make sense, if it is not something we already have, they’re off to the races, because we just leveraged that. I try to rally people around data standards more than anything. So we’re all working from the same toolkit on that. So that’s you now that’s it. Just when it makes sense go.
[Kacie Lett] So they’re standardizing the thing that you fell that matter. And then not creating barriers for barriers sake, because it’s simpler to have a one tier and then a two tier.
[Bill Maynard] Yeah if it’s you know again if it’s very easy for you to put a stamp down and say you should only use this. But if you don’t work in the market that doesn’t have the capacity to use that, maybe doesn’t even have the right skills set yet we’re in 200 plus countries, so you have to measure skills right. Do we have the right kind of developers to do that, have the right technology sets to do that? Can you even run certain things in certain countries. You know Amazon is not everywhere yet, so can you do that. You have to balance all this you know again architecture cannot be concrete. You know it’s it’s never going to be written in stone. Because once it is, you’re kind of dead.
[Kacie Lett] I saw a question over there. Yeah go ahead.
[Male] So you mentioned you don’t like email you know. You know you talked a little bit about collaborations you guys have. You have like an internal enterprise-wide communication strategy that you do outside of email?
[Bill Maynard] Let’s see which from the architectural perspective?
[Male] Or just the organization in general.
[Bill Maynard] Yeah I mean is it a strategy? Yes, I’m sure we get emails that tell us stuff I solve. But we do that, again we have a lot of again we’re using this the digital framework community as kind of our starting point for a lot of that. We use a lot of different tools for collaboration you know. We used Chatter for a little while. We used Workplace for a little while. But we have a lot of good tools for collaboration that people can go to and get all of the information that they need. Again I’m sure there’s an e-mail blast that goes out from somebody; I just don’t read them. I know you think I’m kidding, but I really don’t, I like maybe ten percent of my emails. It’s not effective, it’s so like email is just not an effective tool for me anymore. And I’m sure people are shaking their head going “nah you check your emails”. But trust me i don’t check them. It’s just it’s such a blast. And there’s always such a noise around it I’d much rather go to one of our internal sites and see what people are threading. It makes so much more sense to me. Because I can actually follow it and it’s about stuff I really care about, not you know did you approve this contract, when I have no, when I’m not approving that contract.
[Kacie Lett] Go ahead.
[Male] One since you don’t check email could I get your number after this?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah you can.
[Male] Two, you mentioned like how internally Coca-Cola comes up with the ideas and you take those on. But what about externally? I’m sure people approach you all the time with all these ideas coming outside of the company, what is the process?
Bill Maynard: Yeah so that kind of comes to the EA team for a lot of things. You know it goes back to, and I do I mean we get everything. I’ve seen I swear I’ve seen more start-ups than I don’t even remember most of them, comes at me all the time. You know we bring them through the EA team, again we look and see where these things fit. Do they fit in our stack? Is it something that we’re even trying to solve. Like I don’t need another out of stock vendor, somebody has got another shelf that’s going to tell me when things are out of stock, I don’t need any more of that stuff. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen every one of them, even the ones that aren’t built yet. And you know it, we bring them through we vet them against that text stack. It all comes back to you know do we have something in the space or is this something that’s completely different? I actually like abstracts way better than the guy that comes in and says I can solve out of stock. And I go yeah you and everybody else. But when I hear something that’s really abstract about that, and I hear the unexpected, those are the ones that kind of light me up. And those are the ones that will say we might have something here. So again it’s always vetted against our tech stack.
[Male] Okay I’ve got some more questions.
[Kacie Lett] Okay go ahead.
[Male] I came a little bit late so…
[Bill Maynard] Oh you missed a great intro
Male: I can sense the energy in the room, I have like two quick sub-questions of each other. How? Being at Coke, there’s a substantial amount of technical debt or legacy debt that you have to deal with on a regular basis, right? Being that start-ups are involved now, how do you delineate your time to like filter all of these new technologies and people at the same time? Most of your energy has to be spent to ensuring legacy technical systems, ensuring the data is right. And then that goes for my next question which is how do you keep testing your assumptions, because if you really think about it your methods are based on sales, so you have to be able to tie because we did this, this is resulting in sales. Like how are you getting this done?
[Bill Maynard] Looks like you’re writing my resume.
[Male] It’s a really hard job so I’m just kind of curious how you handle those things.
[Bill Maynard] Let’s start with the first question. You’ll probably have to remind me of the second one. But how do we balance that as a whole team right, it’s not just me, there’s like 20 people on our team that do this. Luckily you know again, I’ll give the credit to Barry and Ed and Al the guys that really started building out what enterprise architecture should look like. Luckily I’m not really tasked with doing a lot of operational stuff. You know reading log files and things like that, we don’t do a lot of that. When I first joined we were actually charged with not thinking about problems for today, but think about problems that were going to have two three four five years from now. That’s the one you can solve. Don’t skate to where the puck is, skate to where it’s gonna be right. And so I don’t really get attached to a lot of operational stuff. That being said you know I was a JAVA developer and a Python programmer, and I learned programming languages like some kind of weird talent that I learn program languages really fast.
So I do pull into those things but it’s always as advisory. We’re always thinking more in terms of, our team is thinking more in terms of non-operational but, really strategic. And how to move, how to get things in the right place and how to pick the right tools. So you can do that. And I hopefully pick the right tools there, not worrying about a lot of technical debt right as any big company does we have technical debt. But we’re freeing ourselves of a lot of it. We’re freeing ourselves of a lot a that. Most of that is moving things to a cloud. Really really simplifying our environment a great deal. You know moving some things to a cloud isn’t really that much simple, or that much more of simple. But at the end of the day, we’ve simplified our environment greatly. So we don’t do a ton of operations stuff. Your second question I think was how do I look when we start to be in vogue, how do I do that? Again there’s a team of 20 people. And I didn’t start to turn in vogue, I grew up in San Francisco, my whole life has been around people that are you know I’ve got this startup or that start-up. And oddly enough I’ve only worked at like one. Whether it’s a start-up or whether it’s you know whether it’s a huge company that comes to us with a great idea, and you have to look at all of them. And so I did it right. I look at all of them, that’s my job. And you know that’s actually what they pay me to do. So I don’t have to do too much other stuff. But sort of consistently figure out how to make those things real, is probably the harder part. So I see a ton of start-ups. My whole team sees a ton of start-ups. When I’m overloaded I pass them off to everybody else. And everybody goes through them.
[Male] Could you kind of talk a little bit more about what you do to view things abstract. You know makes a lot of sense when people have an idea, or this ear that’s perfect for Coca-Cola, get this great idea you know and carrying that through. But, A kind of how you seek out those abstract ideas and B, how you kind of realize to work backwards and realize how you can apply that to the structures that you have.
[Bill Maynard] Yeah so I know I’ve been joking about how to stock, so I will sort of talk about a really great idea that came to us. An abstract idea, right. It’s a company called Brain in Tel Aviv that created basically like an Uber for the enterprise right. It wasn’t the drivers, it wasn’t the cars, it wasn’t any of that. But it was the technology that actually enabled that stuff. And I was like “oh this is really interesting”. We’re kind of trying to figure out like what in the world would we do with that? And the guy who actually created the software said “you could sell a lot of stock with this”, and I said really, again. And the idea was that we would enable this network of people that basically we have these drivers, and we let people sign up, and when someone ran out of stock they’d give them their location just like an Uber driver, they drive to whatever store needed to be stocked up. An abstract idea it kind of hit me funny I just couldn’t figure it out while we were talking about. And then I was like “oh, wait a minute!” So how do we look, how do I go through the abstract? To be honest it takes people way smarter than me. Because if you know, again I see a lot of different start-up guys. And a lot of those start-up people come in and kind of look at what we’re talking about. I’m really just trying to pitch to them the story. And a lot of the abstract stuff comes out through just conversation right, and the different ways to look at things. And I think that’s why, that’s why you go look for start-up companies, is that you want you want them to look at our problems without the lense of Coca-Cola, without seven years of Coca-Cola history. You want them to look at it that way. And then sort of try to change the way we’re thinking about doing it. So you know a good abstract concept, again to his question, I look at almost every start-up that comes to me. Everyone that gets in front of me I’ll look at them all. You know maybe it fits, maybe it doesn’t or maybe something, you know something bounces off my head. Or somebody brings me an idea says you know what you could use that for that. So it’s you know it’s not a formal thing, right when you look at an abstract. But a lot, people that are alot more smarter than I am are really good at finding stuff like that.
[Kacie Lett] Can someone with a phone and or watch give me a time check? Thank you 10 minutes, okay. Let’s do maybe three more questions. There are some, go ahead.
[Male] Innovation is pretty tough to define, and even harder to measure. How do you measure success, for some of these tools or products that are allowed in? How do you measure success for your job?
[Bill Maynard] Well how do I measure success for tools and products. You know adoption, right. Really simple at Coke it’s adoption. But I also don’t really care if it’s adoption, you know what I mean? Like you learn a lot by trying stuff, you know you learn a lot by trying stuff you fail at. I know that sounds really cliché, but at the end of the day you learn a lot by being able to do that. Just having the landscape to go try something out on, and see if it works right. See if Brain works right. See if it can actually solve out of stock. See if there’s another shelf with a counter that can solve out of stock. I’m good with it. It doesn’t matter if, it doesn’t really matter if you fail. But again at the end of the day I want to see things succeed. And I will, I really think it was successful when they work in more than one market right. So for us some markets are really, you know for us some markets are just flushed with cash. Another market not so much. So if something works in North America, and it works as well in Manila right like that’s, that’s great and that’s really good success. And we have a lot of examples of that. And how do I measure success in my job? Honestly, I measure it by how happy the people that work for me are. Because you know and I have a big fancy title and a big fancy office and all of that stuff. But if the people that work for me aren’t’ really happy, and they’re not really like enjoying what they’re doing, or they’re not being challenged, then I’m not doing it right. And so I don’t, I don’t, you know, how do I measure success? You know really just I have a great team of people around me. And they like what they do. If they stay that way and they stay happy and more importantly, they again kind of like if they leave and go do something else, and they go out to other companies and they say you know I worked for this guy back at Coke. I’m good with that.
[Kacie Lett] Cool, Karen?
[Karen] You mentioned several times talking about your team, could you talk more about your team when you came in? Was it already in place? Did you put it in place? How it’s been built over time, those kinds of things? And how do you use them?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah so yeah when we first came in, my former boss, a guy named Allen Vann, really just came in with the charter of assembling an enterprise architecture team. You know a quirky kind of weird enterprise architecture team that didn’t do governance. And so he called me first. So he called me, so we assembled the team, and we assembled it with a mix of people from you know, kind of my background, some folks from Silicon Valley. But then we also found what I think are the best people at Coke, right? So we had people who had been at Coke for a little while, maybe worked in enterprise architecture and I basically did an inside recruiting job to try and get some people in your company. Or into our team. I felt like you at Coke you have to have a history. But you have to have, you also have a little bit of recklessness to kind of be able to be disruptive and move forward. And so he did that we grabbed some of the best people around. We kind of integrated everybody into this team. We were small in the beginning and I think there were 8 of us when I started. And you know through the course of you know years I’ve been there, I’ve had some people that were either in user experience because I really feel like user experience is super important in enterprise architecture. A lot of people don’t get that, but you know you build a big system and it’s really ugly and nobody wants to use it, who cares. So I felt like you know so we built a user experience part, we sort of added into data sciences now. So we evolved the team to look a little bit more like maybe a traditional enterprise architecture team. But a little bit more of like you know, we do SKUNK works for sure. And we do these things. We’re definitely doing SKUNK works on things that matter to the company. So we just evolved to sort of fit the mold of what Barry’s tasked, which is be about delivery. And be about effective, delivery fast. So we just kind of keep building the team from that. We’re still a good mix of old guys and young guys and new guys and guys who have been around for a while. Was there a second part to that?
[Kacie Lett] How you use them?
[Bill Maynard] How I use them?
[Karen] Well let me rephrase that. How you work with them.
[Kacie Lett] Yeah, exactly. How are the best utilized?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah the question startled me for a second. You know what? So we break up by domains. So everybody takes responsibility for a domain. And everybody kind of rallies and takes, and you have to learn everything about that domain. Cause I don’t want specialists, but I don’t want generalists either. That’s just a thing that’s like impossible to match. If you have somebody who only knows one thing then you’re probably not a good enterprise architect. But if they know one thing really well and they can expand that across many domains, that’s pretty good. So we sort of organize around domains. But then we all kind of collectively get back together and decide, okay how does integration fit into the rest of these domain? You know how do simple things like security, like so simple. How does security work across these layers? So we’re really organized by domain, and we work you know a lot on you know again for the last year and a half, we worked a lot on the big problems and the big things that we’re trying to solve as a company.
[Kacie Lett] And two last questions, Cortlandt and then Anand, and then that’s it. Go ahead Cortlandt.
[Male] So you mentioned a lot things and new initiatives and innovation, you know how do you kill stuff? And advice on how to make things go away?
[Bill Maynard] Get a CIO like my CIO, who when it doesn’t make sense right, and again how you kill stuff? We measure things against this digital framework; or this framework for growth. Is the work that we’re doing supporting that? And if it’s not, it’s out and it’s, I mean it’s the clearest and there’s social engineering and there’s a lot of different stuff that goes on around that. But again, I have a CIO that I sit with you know, I don’t know couple times a month I guess. You know we go through the contract process, we go through things that are happening in the organization in general. And if it doesn’t make sense, and it’s not on the roadmap, we just don’t move forward. And you know it sounds easier than it is, it’s not, trust me people get grumpy and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, leadership that’s what happens. Leadership, makes that happen. And you know getting people fighting over sacred cows and stuff like that, that’s just not going to, that just doesn’t work right. That makes a company old and slow.
[Male] Yeah, thanks.
[Kacie Lett] Last question of the day.
[Male] Really enjoying the conversation so far, so thanks for sharing. What is the learning from failure, kind of in your organization look like? How do you continue to encourage growth in the organization and the people within it?
[Bill Maynard] Yeah well you know learning from failure, it’s you know not being afraid to do it I guess. You know how do you do that? Again, good leaders, good leaders that know you’re trying stuff and realize that you know some things are just not gonna work out. We do a lot just internally with things that have worked for Bridge companies or something like this. We do a lot of that. We kind of share it out. It’s about you know again, how do you learn from something and call a fail a win, right? The way to do that is keep others from doing it. That’s such an easy way to start by saying failure is okay. Cause if I save 200 of the markets from doing something, I’ve actually done something really good. So you know, again, how do you that, you work with these things online. We’re showing people what we’re doing, and we’re connecting them to the right resources that are doing it. So if they want to try they can you know go get those user stories. Then get started and they can kind of learn from what people have done wrong.
You know I think you get it that’s the part about the culture that’s shifted a lot over the last few years, to let people kind of feel free about doing that stuff. So you know we, try and we we share it with everybody I don’t mind failing. I don’t mind doing something that doesn’t work. And then I tell everybody about it. So you know again just being absolutely not afraid to tell everybody, oh yeah it didn’t work. I didn’t do it right or the organization wasn’t ready for it or whatever. If you can save 200 other people or 200 other markets from doing something like that, that works.
[Male] Appreciate it thanks.
[Kacie Lett] Well Bill, this was a fabulous conversation. I really appreciate and I think that we hear a lot from folks that sit maybe in more of a generalist innovation role, or someone that singularly is tasked. And I think hearing from your world of this blend between technology and innovation and how you’re enabling the rest of the business was, it was super fascinating for me. So thank you round of applause Bill, please.