Episode 54: Optimize for Better Results

Taking an inclusive, people-oriented approach combined with a dedication to continuous improvement helped John Saunders grow a modest size business unit into one that made $4 billion a year. John is a former financial services executive and the author of The Optimizer: Building and Leading a Team of Serial Innovators. In this conversation, he talks about the roles that customer focus and learning plays in innovation, why trust is an indispensable ingredient for successful change and how empowerment accelerates buy-in for challenging the status quo.

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Episode Highlights


The purpose of optimization


How customer focus contributes to innovation


The key people-related ingredients to optimization


John's optimization journey to develop a multi-billion dollar business


The role learning plays in optimization


How leaders can create an environment for learning and innovation


Why adopting a mindset that craves feedback is so important


Unmet wellbeing needs in workplaces

What “working with humans” means to John

“…it's about treating people like humans. And it sounds so simple to say. But so often, we all have these busy schedules are all running around. And we can be a little short with people when we interact. And just remember, there's a person on the other side of that conversation that has a family that has their own issues that has all these other things going on. Let's take that moment to pause and say, what's going on here, let's connect here for a minute. So you have that moment to sort of pause and reset, because we have to meet people fresh in where they are to make that connection to build that trust. Because when those things happen, that's when you can drive and execute on innovation. And it's so important. And if we don't take that human element, it makes those things very difficult to drive in and create the change in growth.”


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Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.